Friday, July 08, 2016

The Chilcot report on Britain's involvement in the Iraq War

An official British inquiry into the Iraq War has made its report. Thirteen years after the invasion.

By Steven Erlanger and David Sanger report on it in Chilcot Report on Iraq War Offers Devastating Critique of Tony Blair New York Times 07/06/2016:

The report’s 2.6 million words describe a prime minister who wanted stronger evidence of the need for military action and a more solid plan for occupying Iraq and reconstituting a government there. Beyond its pledge of fealty to Mr. Bush, the July 28, 2002, note warned broadly of the risks of “unintended consequences’’ from an invasion and presciently forecast that other European nations would be reluctant to back the war.

Continue reading the main story
But by the time the invasion was launched, most of Mr. Blair’s warnings and conditions had been swept aside, the report concluded. The chairman of the committee, John Chilcot, said on Wednesday morning that Mr. Blair had been advised by his diplomats and ministers of “the inadequacy of U.S. plans” and their concern “about the inability to exert significant influence on U.S. planning.”

Mr. Blair chose to override their objections.
BBC News provides a bullelt-point summary here, Chilcot report: Findings at-a-glance 07/06/2016.

Paul Pillar contrasts the Chilcot report to the The Iraq War and the American and British Ways of Retrospection The National Interest 07/08/2016:

The release of the Chilcot report ought to be the occasion for Americans to reflect on another asymmetry between the United States and Britain regarding the Iraq War: that it was the U.S. administration, not any British government, that initiated this whole horrible idea. The United Kingdom got involved because Blair was Bush's poodle, who was so concerned about keeping U.S.-U.K. relations harmonious that he wrote to George W. Bush, “I will be with you, whatever.” Americans ought to think about the responsibilities of global leadership, and about how easy it is to abuse a position of power in which even a significant and proud country like the United Kingdom will fall in line that way. Dragging Britain into the Iraq mess was such an abuse of power. It was a betrayal of one of America's most important and staunchest allies. It gives many, including not just in Britain but elsewhere, reason to be less inclined to follow the U.S. lead in the future. [my emphasis]
This is something the Obama Administration could and should have done.

The full report is available online.

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