Chilcot Report damns the charade of Iraq War

tags: Iraq War, Chilcot Report

Andrew J. Bacevich is the author, most recently, of “America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History.’’

Reduced to a Tweet, the just-released Iraq Inquiry might read like this: “#Tony Blair a poodle? Verily.”

That’s the key finding that emerges from the 2.6 million-word official investigation into Britain’s involvement in the Iraq War, informally known as the Chilcot Report. In the wake of 9/11, the British prime minister and his colleagues fancied that by supporting the George W. Bush administration in its determination to overthrow Saddam Hussein they could exercise a positive influence over US policy more generally. Instead, they allowed their country to be dragged into an unnecessary, poorly planned, ultimately unsuccessful, and arguably illegal war. In the end, the United Kingdom and its people gained nothing and paid dearly.

The report provides copious evidence to support that negative judgment. Along the way, the report demolishes what remains of Blair’s reputation and the entire Anglo-American case for taking down Saddam. By extension, it also offers this cautionary note: Any ally expecting that signing on as a junior partner in some American military adventure will translate into leverage in Washington should think again. Blair sought to steer Bush; in the end, he got used. 

The Chilcot Report confirms that Bush “decided at the end of 2001 to pursue a policy of regime change in Iraq.” Senior British intelligence officials had by then already concluded “that Iraq had played no role in the 9/11 attacks on the US.” They had found “no evidence of links between Iraq and Al Qaeda,” correctly noting that Saddam and Osama bin Laden were “ideologically poles apart.” Nor had they uncovered any “credible evidence of covert transfers of WMD related technology and expertise to terrorist groups.” Indeed, they found no credible evidence to support Washington’s claims that Iraq retained a viable program for developing weapons of mass destruction. 

None of this dissuaded Blair from throwing his government’s support behind the United States. He nursed the hope that he might persuade Washington to act only after having gained UN Security Council concurrence. He also hoped that Bush might agree to promoting a new peace initiative between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. But these were nonstarters. Bush and his inner circle disdained the UN. And they saw the peace process as a waste of time. Their aims were far more ambitious. Indeed, the underlying US rationale for toppling Saddam, according to the Chilcot Report, was “to clear up other problems in the region.” London’s role was to endow the endeavor with a multilateral gloss. ...

Read entire article at The Boston Globe

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