Former British prime minister Tony Blair has been blamed in a particularly damning Iraq War inquiry report released on July 6.
The inquiry, headed by Retired civil servant John Chilcot, says that Blair’s assessment of threat from Saddam Hussein was made with “certainty that was not justified”.
Tony Blair with British troops in war-torn Iraq in 2003. AFP/Getty
Further, the report says that the then British government joined the US for the Iraq War based on flawed intelligence and executed with “wholly inadequate” planning resulting in an outcome “a long way from success”.
What is noteworthy is that Chilcot’s report, prepared over a seven-year period, points that the UK did not wait till the “peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted”.
Britain lost 179 soldiers in the Iraq War by the time it ended in 2009. Around 4,500 Americans lost their lives and about a lakh Iraqis. The toppling of Saddam Hussein left a political void that continuously expanded and fragmented the Iraqi society resulting in the birth of the Islamic State which is now the biggest human-led threat to mankind. Chilcot, however, stopped short of commenting on the legality of the invasion in his 2.6-million-word report. Though he did not say whether Blair knowingly misled the Parliament, the report anyhow is a huge blow to the former PM.
John Chilcot led the inquiry into the Iraq War.
In what can be read as a criticism of the United States, the report says that Britain was not included or consulted by the US in the invasion plans and the post-war scenario. Military chiefs were faulted for not providing adequate equipment to UK forces. Chilcot criticized spy chiefs for failing to consider “that Iraq might no longer have chemical biological or nuclear weapons”, which turned out to be the case.
The report has emboldened anti-war activists and relatives of deceased British soldiers who demand that Tony Blair be tried for war crimes.
Blair has always rejected any suggestions he acted dishonestly. The only things Blair admitted to was failure of pre-war intelligence and rise of Islamic State post the invasion, which he did in an interview in 2015 with CNN. He has now stated that he “will take full responsibility for any mistakes without exception or excuse.” Reports say that Scottish National Party might invoking a medieval-era British law, last used in 1806, to impeach Blair in parliament.