Chilcot Inquiry: Blair’s half-hearted apology doesn’t heal Iraq’s pain

The Iraq Inquiry, also known as the Chilcot Inquiry after its chairman Sir John Chilcot, has finally been published – more than seven years after it was commissioned, longer than the Iraq war. The inquiry was originally expected to last around a year.

The questions for the Inquiry were:
• whether it was right and necessary to invade Iraq in March 2003.
• whether the UK could – and should – have been better prepared for what followed.

The report concluded that “the UK chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted. Military action at that time was not a last resort.” also stating that “The judgements about the severity of the threat posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction – WMD – were presented with a certainty that was not justified. Despite explicit warnings, the consequences of the invasion were underestimated. The planning and preparations for Iraq after Saddam Hussein were wholly inadequate” and “The Government failed to achieve its stated objectives” – a pretty damning verdict.

“In 2004, the UN secretary-general Kofi Annan said that as regime change was the prime aim of the Iraq War, it was illegal. With great sadness and anger, I now believe him to be right.” – John Prescott

As Coalition Forces respond to a car bombing in South Baghdad, Iraq (IRQ), a second car bomb is detonated, targeting those responding to the initial incident. The attack, aimed at the Iraqi police force, resulted in 18 casualties, two of which were police officers, during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.
As Coalition Forces respond to a car bombing in South Baghdad, Iraq (IRQ), a second car bomb is detonated, targeting those responding to the initial incident. The attack, aimed at the Iraqi police force, resulted in 18 casualties, two of which were police officers, during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.

The report is pretty damning on Tony Blair in particular (many predicted it might not be – and that a whitewash might be the result). On 28 July, Mr Blair wrote to President Bush with an assurance that he would be with him “whatever”. But what does the inquiry actually achieve? Precious little, and it certainly does nothing to make amends for the numerous lives lost and for the state Iraq and the Middle East still finds itself to date.

The acts of the British and American’s in Iraq left the country in a disorder and disrepair, and arguably contributed to the destabilisation of the Middle East as a whole: certainly leading to the emergence of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), who thrived in the power vacuum and feeling of hatred for the west left in the region. Since the coalition forces pulled out of the region the bombings have continued, and Iraqi’s still live in fear. The war may be over for us, but not for them.

“The war was not in any way a last resort. Frankly it was an act of military aggression launched on a false pretext and has long been been regarded as illegal by the overwhelming weight of international legal opinion.” – Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party

Tony Blair (left) and George W. Bush at Camp David in March 2003, during the build-up to the invasion of Iraq

At the time of writing this article, there have been 179,567 documented civilian deaths since the start of the Iraq war. Opinion Research Business survey predicts there might have been as many as 1,033,000 deaths as a result of the conflict. Iraq has suffered an almost unfathomable amount of pain.

Tony Blair gave a half-hearted apology, claiming that he takes “full responsibility” – but nothing can bring back the lives that have been lost,  now is the time to call for him to face the music for his actions.

Because when there aren’t consequences for such actions, doesn’t history just repeat itself? Politicians from all sides have been calling for ‘lessons to be learnt’, but we have proved nothing has changed since: after voting to launch airstrikes in both Libya and Syria. The use of the term “collateral damage” in reference to civilian casualties is shameful and inhumane, yet even post Iraq and Afghanistan it  continues to be a political buzz word where military action and the Middle East are concerned.

You can only  begin to imagine emotional damage caused to service members and their families as well as the destruction to the homes, social fabric, and psyche of the Iraqi people. Yet still, the International Criminal Court have said they will not investigate Mr Blair: would this be any different if it were an African or Middle Eastern warlord, and not the head of a Western power in question?

The sad truth, people make money out of war – we live in a world where it is in some people’s interests to sanction the murder of innocents. Whilst Blair gallivants around as if nothing has happened this behaviour is unlikely to change. Of course it can’t end with Blair, former US president George Bush must also be held accountable.

“We don’t live alone. We are all members of one body. We are responsible for each other.” – from An Inspector Calls by J.B Priestley

Life comes with responsibility, we are all be held to account for our actions at one point or another. With high office comes even greater responsibility, so why should it come with immunity from the same justice system we would all face? The Chilcot Inquiry stopped short of calling Blair’s actions illegal, but it is pretty conclusive that he mislead both Parliament and the public.

Blair and Bush must be brought to trial, to try and ensure such an atrocity can never happen again. There must be justice for the immoral, illogical, ill-conceived and disastrous war and all the lives that were lost as Bush and Blair played their war games. They will not escape the history books, but they must not escape from facing justice for their crimes either.

Sam Chipman
Actor, Musician, and photographer. Proud flat-cap wearing Yorkshireman. Founder and Editor of The Daily Spectacle.