Should the UK have gone to war in Iraq? Did it have the necessary legal basis and intelligence to do so? And did it mess up once involved militarily in the country? Sir John Chilcot’s Iraq Inquiry finally published its report this morning, and these are the key conclusions that he reached in his statement:
- While military action against Saddam Hussein ‘might have been necessary at some point’, in March 2003, he posed no imminent threat, the strategy of containment could have been continued for ‘some time’, and the majority of the Security Council supported continuing UN inspections and monitoring’. ‘Military action at that time was not a last resort,’ Sir John said in his statement.
- The way in which the government decided that there was a legal basis for military action was ‘far from satisfactory’.
- ‘Flawed intelligence and assessments’ formed the basis of policy on Iraq. Chilcot said ‘they were not challenged, and they should have been’. The judgements on the severity of the threat posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction were ‘presented with a certainty that was not justified’.
- Planning for a post-Saddam Iraq was ‘wholly inadequate’. The Inquiry took a dim view of Tony Blair’s claim that the difficulties encountered in the country could not have been known in advance, arguing that ‘we do not agree that hindsight is required. The risks of internal strife in Iraq, active Iranian pursuit of its interests, regional instability, and Al Qaida activity in Iraq, were each explicitly identified before the invasion.’