Today Sir John Chilcot released his report on the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq and its aftermath (you can download the report here). He summarised his findings in a televised speech (available here). report on the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq and its aftermath – the report is now available online. The very first impression from Chilcot’s statement is that the findings are damning for the US-led coalition that decided to invade Iraq, and particularly Tony Blair, whose actions were at the centre of the British inquiry.
The report expresses major doubts over the legality of the intervention, and it makes it clear that military intervention at that stage was not necessary. The strategy of containment as per UN Security Council resolution 1441 could have continued for some time – Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was given the option to disarm under international monitoring. Blair and Bush went to war before all options for peaceful resolution were exhausted.
The intelligence on the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq used by Blair to justify the war was flawed, and Tony Blair and his government did not challenge it, as they should have. Tony Blair was warned of the risks of increased terrorist activity, internal strife and regional insecurity posed by a military intervention, but he did not make effective plans for a peaceful and viable post-conflict strategy.
Although it comes several years after the fact – the inquiry was set up in 2009 – this remains a major indictment on an event in world history that continues to affect the global current state of affairs. Several hundreds of thousands of civilians died in Iraq since the invasion, and many more were displaced. Soldiers on both sides also died for an unjust an unjustified war.
The report gives some hope at a time when similar mistakes are being repeated over and over again in Syria and the Middle East, and increasing militarisation across the globe is fuelling deaths, unrest and instability.
De-escalating existing conflicts and pushing for a concerted effort to re-establish world peace remains the key priority of our age. The grave mistakes of the Iraq War clearly show that peace cannot be delivered through war and conflict.