Iraq Inquiry Leaves No Questions about UK’s Involvement

ImageThe UK has been stirring the political pot lately – from the Brexit vote, to Cameron’s resignation, and Theresa May’s new position as Prime Minister. Last week, the government formally published the Iraq Inquiry, a gargantuan report that delves into every aspect of the UK’s involvement in the Iraq War. The report looks at 8 years of information, from mid-2001 until July 2009 “embracing the run-up to the conflict in Iraq, including the way decisions were made and actions taken, to establish, as accurately as possible, what happened and to identify the lessons that can be learned.” From Chairman Sir John Chilcot’s statement on July 6, the two main questions for the Inquiry were: “whether it was right and necessary to invade Iraq in March 2003; and whether the UK could – and should – have been better prepared for what followed.”

One overarching theme stands out: the Inquiry Committee believes that the UK’s role in the militarized conflict in Iraq could have been avoided. From the Inquiry’s perspective, the UK government was constantly preoccupied with “the issue of influencing the US”. However, in an effort to maintain shoulder-to-shoulder support with the US, the UK entered into a position in which military action was executed without first exhausting all diplomatic courses of action. As the report notes, “a military timetable should not be allowed to dictate a diplomatic timetable. […] The US and UK are close allies, but the relationship between the two is unequal.”

Reading the report, faulty is another adjective that pops up quite frequently. Faulty intelligence and faulty leadership. The lack of verified intelligence regarding weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq combined with the political rhetoric regarding those alleged WMDs has “produced a damaging legacy, including undermining trust and confidence in Government statements.” Yet, the one with the most damaged legacy is almost certainly Tony Blair, who is largely blamed, at the very least by the British public, for the country’s involvement in Iraq despite robust public opposition. The Washington Post’s coverage of the Inquiry also includes a video from Tony Blair, commenting on the release of the long-awaited report. As he stands before the press, he says “I express more sorrow, regret and apology than you may ever know or can believe.”

Although many critics and those who lost loved ones in the Iraq War hope that the Inquiry will open doors for legal action against those involved in the conflict’s mishandling, the Inquiry does make it clear that it “was not established in order to investigate criminal offences nor was it equipped to do so.”

This report leaves no stone unturned, although it does leave a sour taste in one’s mouth, especially when the Inquiry regards the UK’s planning, preparation and execution of operations in Iraq as “wholly inadequate.”