For Immediate Release
Statement on the Chilcot Report by the Iraqi Transnational Collective - London Chapter
LONDON - While the Iraq War ended the brutal Ba’ath dictatorship, it unleashed a whole host of other forces on the country which have contributed significantly to the dire situation on the ground today. The Chilcot Report published today presents a scathing, although at times inconsistent, indictment of the Blair government in relation to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Its findings are limited however, by its own remit, never intended to discuss criminal or civil liability on the part of Blair, Straw and their principle spin doctor Alastair Campbell among others. Unless the findings of the inquiry lead to the impeachment of some or all of the guilty parties, the Report will be of no real relevance to the Iraqi civilians, and the British soldiers, killed or impacted.
The inquiry, officially launched on 30 July 2009, intended to examine the decision making process that led to the war and to identify whether relevant lessons had been learned. Although the Iraqi Transnational Collective - London Chapter (ITC London) opposes war, as did the one million British people that took to the streets in protest, we welcome the Report’s findings in relation to the reprehensible actions of then Prime Minister Tony Blair and his government. However, the Report only lends credence in the world of officialdom to what, in the inquiry of public opinion, has long since been established - that the decision to go to war was based on misleading evidence and wholly disingenuous arguments.
The ITC- London finds the seven-year wait unforgivable and unjustifiable. Twelve volumes and over £10 million of public funds later, the findings reveal little that was not known before the war began. As expected, Blair has quickly tried to absolve himself by claiming that the post-conflict violence in Iraq was not a result of the war. Whilst the ITC - London does not deny the role other actors have and continue to play, it is our position, supported by the findings of the Report, that the worst excesses of violence which followed the fall of Saddam’s regime in Iraq could have been mitigated. On release of the Report. Chilcot stated that the “the scale of the war effort in post-conflict Iraq never matched the challenge.” The Bush administration and their counterparts in the British government failed to formulate and implement an effective aftermath strategy which looked to secure more than country’s oil fields.
Blair has responded to the Report claiming that it should lay to rest allegations of bad faith, lies or deceit on his part. Nonetheless it is clear, and supported by the findings of the Report, that Blair exaggerated the threat from Saddam’s regime, which was by no means imminent. The Report also finds that he presented the evidence with a “certainty that was not justified,” which is tantamount to fabrication. Eager to launch a military campaign, he did not exhaust all non-military options to deal with the alleged threat from Saddam and made an unconditional commitment to Bush to go to war. Despite explicit warnings and objections from the Security Council members, the consequences of war were not taken seriously. As confirmed by the Report, the UK’s most consistent strategic objective in relation to Iraq was to leave the country as quickly as possible.
Legal scholars have spilt much ink in discussing whether or not the war breached international law. Strong arguments have been made that, without a specific UN resolution authorising military action in relation to the invasion, Blair was acting illegally. Indeed, the Chilcot Report confirms that that the legal basis for military action was far from satisfactory. The UK not only undermined the Security Council’s authority, the Report confirms that there was no evidence that Iraq had committed the relevant “material breaches” under Resolution 1441 as stated by Blair. In response to the Report, Blair has emphasised that the Attorney General opined at the time that there was a lawful basis for military action, overlooking the fact that Lord Goldsmith had initially struggled to find valid legal authority to the support the war. His prevarications lend no credibility to his final opinion.
The Report concludes that there was no imminent threat from Saddam to the UK and that the strategy of containment and continued inspection could, and should, have been adopted as an alternative to military action. The non-existent weapons of mass destruction, the “dodgy dossier” and now the findings of the Chilcot Report, among other things, provide material, which can and should be used to ensure that Blair and his compatriots are charged with war crimes.
The dead cannot be brought back, and wounds are still healing for the millions of Iraqis, and the British that have been affected by the decision to go to war, and the negligent post invasion actions of the warmongers. Despite this, Iraqis continue to resist and pressure their government for better conditions with weekly demonstrations across the country, and a host of civil society initiatives led by Iraqis fighting for progressive change.
The Report’s statement that the UK military role ended a very long way from success is as obvious as it is of inconsequential to the people of Iraq. Strong criticism and re-interpreted evidence is not what the people of Iraq and the families of British soldiers killed want. They want to see justice done, and may find some solace if those responsible are punished. Blair did not heed the warnings of those who said that war would destabilise the entire region, arguing that intervention in Kosovo had worked. Putting Blair, Straw and Campbell on trial will serve not only as just punishment but may in fact serve as a deterrent in the future for those who so casually roll the dice of war – and all the better.
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