[pjw] NEWS: Endless war gets longer, British reveal Iraq war unnecessary
Peace and Justice Works
pjw at pjw.info
Thu Jul 7 13:34:47 EDT 2016
So, yesterday was a big day that should prompt anger and action from peace
The long-awaited Chilcot report on Britain's role in the Iraq war was
released. Below is an article from the Guardian outlining many of its
findings, how Tony Blair expressed regret for his difficult decision but
didn't acknowledge he participated in a war crime, and mentioning that at
least 150,000 Iraqis died as a reault of that bad decision. I hope there
is a war cries trial that puts Blair in prison.
Meanwhile, President Obama has backtracked again on pulling out of
Afghanistan, pledging to bring home just about 1000 more troops by the end
of his term and laeaving over 8000.
So, the wars go on and we must keep working to see that the lies and
rhetoric that make them so easy to wage are countered with reason and
peace and justice works iraq affinity group
Tony Blair unrepentant as Chilcot gives crushing Iraq war verdict
Sir John Chilcot delivers highly critical verdict on Iraq war but ex-PM
says: `I believe we made the right decision'
Wednesday 6 July 2016 14.01 EDT Last modified on Wednesday 6 July 2016
A defiant Tony Blair defended his decision to go to war in Iraq in 2003
following the publication of a devastating report by Sir John Chilcot,
which mauled the ex-prime minister's reputation and said that at the
time of the 2003 invasion Saddam Hussein "posed no imminent threat".
Looking tired, his voice sometimes croaking with emotion, Blair
described his decision to join the US attack as "the hardest, most
momentous, most agonising decision I took in 10 years as British prime
He said he felt "deeply and sincerely ... the grief and suffering of
those who lost ones they loved in Iraq".
What is Chilcot?
"There will not be a day when I do not relive and rethink what
happened," he added.
But asked whether invading Iraq was a mistake Blair was strikingly
unrepentant. "I believe we made the right decision and the world is
better and safer," he declared. He argued that he had acted in good
faith, based on intelligence at the time which said that Iraq's
president had weapons of mass destruction. This "turned out to be
Blair also said the Iraq inquiry - set up by his successor Gordon Brown
back in 2009 - shot down long-standing claims that he had lied about
the war to the British public and cynically manipulated intelligence.
Where there had been mistakes they were minor ones involving "planning
and process", he said. He said he "couldn't accept" criticism that
British soldiers died in vain.
Blair's extraordinary two-hour press conference came after Chilcot, a
retired civil servant, published his long-awaited report into the Iraq
debacle. In the end, and seven years after hearings first began, it was
a more far-reaching and damning document than many had expected. It
eviscerated Blair's style of government and decision-making.
It also revealed that in a remarkable private note sent on 28 July 2002
Blair promised Bush: "I will be with you, whatever."
The head of the Iraq war inquiry said the UK's decision to attack and
occupy a sovereign state for the first time since the second world war
was a decision of "utmost gravity". Chilcot described Saddam as
"undoubtedly a brutal dictator" who had repressed and murdered many of
his own people and attacked his neighbours.
But he was withering about Blair's choice to sign up to a military plan
drawn up in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 by the US president, George
W Bush, and his neo-con team. Chilcot said: "We have concluded that the
UK chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for
disarmament had been exhausted. Military action at that time was not a
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`It isn't about a lie': Tony Blair on Iraq from 2001 to 2016
The report also bitterly criticised the way in which Blair made the
case for Britain to go to war. It said the notorious dossier presented
in September 2002 by Blair to the House of Commons did not support his
claim that Iraq had a growing programme of chemical and biological
The then Labour government also failed to anticipate the war's
disastrous consequences, the report said. They included the deaths of
"at least 150,000 Iraqis - and probably many more - most of them
civilians" and "more than a million people displaced". "The people of
Iraq have suffered greatly," Chilcot said.
Chilcot did not pass judgment on whether the war was legal. But the
report said the way the legal basis was dealt with before the 20 March
invasion was far from satisfactory. The attorney general, Peter
Goldsmith, should have given written advice to cabinet and ministers -
one of few findings that Blair accepted on Wednesday.
Lord Goldsmith told Blair that war without a second UN resolution would
be illegal, only to change his mind after a trip to Washington in March
2003 and meetings with Bush administration legal officials.
Overall, Chilcot's report amounts to arguably the most scathing
official verdict on any modern British prime minister. It implicitly
lumps Blair in the same category as Anthony Eden, who invaded Egypt in
a failed attempt to gain control of the Suez canal. Chilcot's
2.6m-word, 12-volume report was released on Wednesday morning, together
with a 145-page executive summary.
The venue was the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre in Westminster.
As families of service personnel killed in Iraq welcomed its strong
contents, anti-war protesters kept up a raucous chorus of "Blair Liar".
The report concluded:
o There was no imminent threat from Saddam Hussein.
o The strategy of containment could have been adopted and continued for
o The judgments about the severity of the threat posed by Iraq's
weapons of mass destruction - WMDs - were presented with a certainty
that was not justified.
o Despite explicit warnings, the consequences of the invasion were
underestimated. The planning and preparations for Iraq after Saddam
were wholly inadequate.
o The widespread perception that the September 2002 dossier distorted
intelligence produced a "damaging legacy", undermining trust and
confidence in politicians.
o The government failed to achieve its stated objectives.
The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, apologised for his party's
"disastrous decision to go to war", calling it the most serious foreign
policy calamity of the last 60 years. Jack Straw, the foreign secretary
at the time, and who largely escaped Chilcot censure, said that Blair
was never "gung ho" about war.
Other allies also came to Blair's defence. Alastair Campbell, his
former press secretary, said Blair had not given Bush a blank cheque.
There were no easy decisions, Campbell added. In a statement on
Wednesday Bush acknowledged mistakes but said he continued to believe
"the world is better off without Saddam in power".
The report, however, disagrees. It sheds fresh light on the private
discussions between Blair and Bush in the run-up to war. The report
says that after the 9/11 attacks Blair urged Bush "not to take hasty
action on Iraq". The UK's formal policy was to contain Saddam's regime.
But by the time the two leaders met in April 2002 at Bush's ranch in
Crawford, Texas, the UK's thinking had undergone "a profound change".
The joint intelligence committee had concluded that Saddam could not be
removed "without an invasion", with the government saying Iraq was a
threat "that had to be dealt with".
`I will be with you whatever'
Blair sent Bush a series of private notes setting out his thinking.
They included the 28 July 2002 note, released for the first time on
Wednesday, in the face of opposition from the Cabinet Office, which
said: "I will be with you [Bush] whatever."
It added: "This is the moment to assess bluntly the difficulties. The
planning on this and the strategy are the toughest yet. This is not
Kosovo. This is not Afghanistan. It is not even the Gulf war."
At times, Blair's notes read more like stream of consciousness than
considered policy documents. The note continued: "He [Saddam] is a
potential threat. He could be contained. But containment ... is always
risky." It says "we must have a workable military plan" and proposes a
"huge force" to seize Baghdad.
Asked what "whatever" meant, Blair said on Wednesday his support for
Bush was never unconditional or unqualified. He said that he had
persuaded the US president to go down the "UN route". Blair also linked
his actions in Iraq with the ongoing global struggle against Islamist
Related: The Iraq war inquiry has left the door open for Tony Blair to
be prosecuted | Joshua Rozenberg
According to Chilcot, however, Blair shaped his diplomatic strategy
around a "military timetable" and the need to get rid of Saddam. He
told Bush in his note this was the "right thing to do". Blair suggested
that the simplest way to come up with a casus belli was to give an
ultimatum to Iraq to disarm, preferably backed by UN authority.
Chilcot rejected Blair's view that spurning the US-led military
alliance against Iraq would have done major damage to London's
relations with Washington. "It's questionable it would have broken the
partnership," he writes, noting that the two sides had taken different
views on other major issues including the Suez crisis, the Vietnam war
and the Falklands.
The report said that by January 2003 Blair had concluded "the
likelihood was war". He accepted a US military timetable for action by
mid-March, while at the same time publicly blaming France for failing
to support a second UN resolution in the security council authorising
Chilcot was again unimpressed. "In the absence of a majority in support
of military action, we consider that the UK was, in fact, undermining
the security council's authority," he said.
The report also demolished Blair's claim made when he gave evidence to
the inquiry in 2010 that the difficulties encountered by British forces
in post-invasion Iraq could not have been known in advance.
"We do not agree that hindsight is required," Chilcot said. "The risks
of internal strife in Iraq, active Iranian pursuit of its interests,
regional instability, and al-Qaida activity in Iraq, were each
explicitly identified before the invasion."
The report is critical of the Ministry of Defence and military
commanders who were tasked with occupying four southern provinces of
Iraq once Saddam had been toppled. "The scale of the UK effort in
post-conflict Iraq never matched the scale of the challenge," Chilcot
said, noting that security in Baghdad and south-east Iraq deteriorated
soon after the invasion.
In the end, 179 British service personnel died before UK forces pulled
out in 2009. Chilcot said the MoD was "slow in responding to the threat
from improvised explosive devices". He said that delays in providing
properly armoured patrol vehicles "should not have been tolerated". Nor
was it clear which official was in charge. "It should have been,"
As part of his remit, Chilcot also set out what lessons could be
learned. He said that Blair "overestimated his ability to influence US
decisions on Iraq".
He added: "The UK's relationship with the US has proved strong enough
over time to bear the weight of honest disagreement. It does not
require unconditional support where our interest or judgments differ."
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