The long awaited report of the inquiry into Britain’s role in the US-led Iraq War, released in London early Wednesday questioning the basis of the war that was launched before peaceful options exhausted.
John Chilcot, chairman of the British inquiry into the country’s role in the Iraq War, said in releasing the report that Britain joined the invasion of Iraq “before the peaceful options had been exhausted,” and that preparations for the aftermath were “wholly inadequate.”
UK policy was based on “flawed intelligence and assessments,” he said. “They were not challenged and they should have been.”
Hindsight was not necessary to identify the risks of what would happen to the country post-invasion, he said: “The risks… were each explicitly identified before the invasion.”
Furthermore, the legal basis for the war was “far from satisfactory,” he said.
“The people of Iraq have suffered greatly,” he said.
Inquiry set up by ex-PM Gordon Brown in June 2009 to look into run-up to 2003 US-led Britain’s decision to go join the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003 was perhaps its most controversial foreign policy decision in the modern era.
Britain’s Parliament approved the war — ostensibly to remove Saddam Hussein and rid the country of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) — shortly before the invasion, although U.N. approval was not gained and millions marched in the streets in protest.
Hussein was removed and later executed. But the WMD threat was found to have been exaggerated and the promise to turn a dictatorship into a democracy was never delivered on.
Instead, the country descended into years of vicious sectarian conflict, with large swathes seized by terror group ISIS.
1. Sir John Chilcot’s Iraq War inquiry report is published after seven years
2. UK joined Iraq invasion “before peaceful options for disarmament exhausted” – military action was “not last resort”
3. Invasion based on “flawed intelligence and assessments” that went unchallenged
4. Threat posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction were “presented with certainty that was not justified”
5. Consequences of action were underestimated “despite explicit warnings”, Sir John says
6. Tony Blair says decision to take military action made “in good faith” and what he believed to be in “best interests of the country”
CNN reported, “Military action in Iraq might have been necessary at some point, but in March 2003 there was no imminent threat from Saddam Hussein,” John Chilcot, chairman of a British inquiry into the UK’s role in the Iraq War, said Wednesday.
The “strategy of containment” could have continued for some time, he said.
Speaking ahead of the release of the long-awaited report in London, Chilcot said former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was warned of the risks of regional instability and the rise of terrorism before the invasion of Iraq, but pressed on regardless.
The UK failed to appreciate the complexity of governing Iraq, and did not devote enough forces to the task of securing the country in the wake of the invasion, he said.
Blair’s decision to invade Iraq was influenced by his interest in protecting the UK’s relationship with the United States, he said.
That relationship “does not require unconditional support where our interests and judgments differ,” said Chilcot.