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UK report on Iraq War highly critical of Tony Blair and poor preparation

Opinion Piece

The long-awaited Chilcot report on Britain’s decision to invade Iraq has finally arrived and it is no surprise that it is damning to the UK political and military establishment, particularly former prime minister Tony Blair.

Retired civil servant Sir John Chilcot has completely demolished the reasons given for the war on Iraq, most notably the claim that Saddam Hussein’s regime possessed “weapons of mass destruction”. This failure of intelligence has long been at the centre of Iraq war criticisms.

Sir John is adamant in his 2.6 million-word report there was no need to go to war in 2003 and that Saddam could have been contained. He is also extremely critical of the poor preparations of the three British brigades sent to Iraq, and the fact there was no clear policy on what to do after the war — which has seen Iraq locked in a brutal internecine war between Sunni and Shia Muslims, stoked first by al-Qaida and regime hold-outs, and then so-called Islamic State.

In a two-hour press conference after the report was released, Blair accepted responsibility for the decision and expressed his deep sorrow to those who lost family members. But he says he still believes it was the right decision and the world is a safer place with Saddam Hussein gone.

While Saddam was a brutal dictator, it is clear that Iraq is now much worse off. ISIS controls large parts of the country and only a few days ago killed 250 Iraqis when a lorry packed with explosives blew up on a crowded street in Baghdad.

The 2003 invasion of Iraq was the most unpopular war in British history. More than one million people marched through the streets of London opposing it.

Many will now want Blair, who they call a war criminal with blood on his hands, to face some sort of prosecution — and the Chilcot report has left that door open.

The Iraq war was a disaster for the UK in every sense, with 179 British troops and at least 150,000 Iraqis killed. It is the people of Iraq who have most to regret from Blair’s decision to support George W. Bush in a monumental and bloody blunder.