On Wednesday, British authorities released a scathing report on the Iraq War. The result of a seven year investigation led by Sir John Chilcot, the Chilcot Report confirms many people’s worst suspicions about the war and came as a blow to former UK Prime Minster Tony Blair.
During the lead-up to the invasion, both U.S. and British officials portrayed Saddam Hussein’s regime as clear threat to the peace and security of both countries. However, the report concludes that Iraq posed “no imminent threat” and was based on intelligence that was intentionally manipulated to strengthen the case for war. Pre-war intelligence argued that the Iraqi regime was producing weapons of mass destruction, but UN investigators found no evidence of this and such weapons were never found after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s government.
Prior to the Iraq War, both President George W. Bush and Blair argued that Iraq was a haven for terrorism and that the fall of the Iraqi regime would make the region safer. Opponents to the war argued that overthrowing Saddam Hussein’s regime could allow terrorist organizations to gain a stronghold in the region. As the report points out, those arguments were ignored, but were later validated when Iraq became a haven for Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.
Blair expressed sorrow and regret for his part in leading the UK to war and claims that he received incorrect intelligence – though, as the report mentions, such intelligence was intentionally manipulated to bolster the case for war.
‘I express more sorrow, regret and apology than you may ever know or believe. the intelligence assessments made at the time of going to war turned out to be wrong…The world was, and is in my judgment, a better place without Saddam Hussein.’
The report’s findings have led to an increased call for criminal prosecutions against Blair and members of Parliament are considering formally censuring Blair. However, the report does not comment on the legality of Blair’s actions. Chilcot himself said the issue could “[o]nly be resolved by a properly constituted and internationally recognized court.”
It’s unlikely that legal action will be taken against Bush or Blair, but we can hope that both countries will act more cautiously in the future and treat war as a last resort instead of the first.
A video of Blair’s speech in response to the report can be seen below: