7-Year British Inquiry into Iraq War Censures Tony Blair: Military Action Wasn't Necessary
A damning seven-year investigation by the British government into the Iraq War published Wednesday has found "the point had not been reached where military action was the last resort" and condemns then-Prime Minister Tony Blair for taking the country to war.
Furthermore, "the government failed to achieve its stated objectives," Sir John Chilcot, who led the inquiry, said in a public statement after the report's release.
"The judgments about the severity of the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction — WMD — were presented with a certainty that was not justified," Chilcot said. "Despite explicit warnings, the consequences of the invasion were underestimated. The planning and preparations for Iraq after Saddam Hussein were wholly inadequate."
The inquiry shed light on Blair's relationship with then-President George W. Bush, revealing Blair to be a subservient supporter of Bush. A declassified memo written by Blair to Bush in July 2002 states, "I will be with you, whatever."
In a handwritten note, Blair praises Bush for a "brilliant speech" that "puts us on exactly the right strategy [to] get the job done."
Critics suggest this relationship was a motivating factor behind Blair's decision to invade Iraq in a coalition.
Blair responded to the Chilcot inquiry in a speech Wednesday. He was visibly emotional, his voice cracking at times.
"For all of this I express more sorrow, regret and apology than you can ever know or believe," Blair said, according to the Guardian. Blair described the war as the "hardest, most momentous, most agonizing decision" he ever made:
"I accept full responsibility for it, I stand by it. I only ask with humility that the British people accept that I took this decision because I believed it was the right thing to do based on the information that I had and the threats I perceived, and that my duty as prime minister, at that moment in time in 2003, was to do what I thought was right, however imperfect the situation, or, indeed, the process. At moments of crisis such as this, it is the profound obligation of the person leading the government of our country to take responsibility and to decide. Not to hide behind politics, expediency or even emotion, but to recognize that it is a privilege above all others to lead this nation."
Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party — the political party Blair led during his time as prime minister — censured Blair during a speech Wednesday at the House of Commons.
"Frankly, it was an act of military aggression launched on a false pretext as the inquiry accepts and has long been regarded as illegal by the overwhelming weight of international legal opinion," Corbyn said, the Telegraph reported.
Corbyn argued the war and poorly executed reconstruction destabilized the region, "fostered a lethal sectarianism" and "by any measure, the invasion and occupation of Iraq has been for many a catastrophe."