SPOTLIGHT: UK IRAQ WAR REPORT BASHES BLAIR
After seven long years, the Chilcot report on Britain's role in the Iraq war was released this morning. As anticipated, the report, which was initially supposed to be concluded in 2011, is very critical of former Prime Minister Tony Blair and of how he led Britain into the war.
The team led by Sir John Chilcot, a longtime British civil servant, concluded that the UK "chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted," and not as a "last resort." Speaking about the threat of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, Chilcot said that the conditions in the lead up to the March 2003 invasion "were presented with a certainty that was not justified," and added that the policy on Iraq was made "on the basis of flawed intelligence and assessments."
But the report on Blair's role begs the Bush question: Why was the U.S. administration so intent on pursuing this particular war at that particular moment? The harshest critics talk about oil money and a president struggling with the shadow of his father's past. Some note that Sept. 11 attacks were still fresh in the American and Western consciousness. Others say Iraqi opposition figures played Washington for fools. Chilcot's conclusions, in any case, are worth further study.
- The report contains 2.6 million words. That's three times more than the Holy Bible.
- Sir John Chilcot said he hoped his report would make it impossible "in future to engage in a military or indeed a diplomatic endeavour on such a scale and of such gravity without really careful challenge analysis and assessment and collective political judgment being applied to it."
- Some of the families of the 179 British soldiers killed want to see Tony Blair in court. "Because the consequences for the people they send is that some of them die doing the job they were told to do," a father told The Independent.
- Writing in the Daily Mailbefore the report's publication, conservative commentator Peter Oborne warned that "if Chilcot fails to nail Blair's lies, it's final proof our democracy is broken."
- The Daily Telegraph's chief foreign correspondent David Blair (not related to Tony) argues in a comprehensive piece that neither the former prime minister, nor indeed the West, are the only ones to be blamed for what happened in Iraq.
- Follow the latest updates live on The Daily Telegraph's blog.
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