After seven years and millions of dollars in taxpayer money, the United Kingdom’s long-awaited Chilcot report was released Monday, and confirmed aspects of the controversial Iraq war that were already abundantly clear a decade ago.
Among the unremarkable findings, the report claimed former Prime Minister Tony Blair took the U.K. into war based on inadequate intelligence. It also noted planning for the invasion was “wholly inadequate” and the results were “a long way from success.”
John Chilcot, the retired British civil servant in charge of the inquiry, said “the U.K. 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.”
Chilcot’s 2.6 million-word finding noted “the people of Iraq have suffered greatly” due to the military invasion “which went badly wrong.”
Questions over the legitimacy of the Iraq war have existed since the war began. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence engaged in a years-long investigation of the intelligence used to legitimize the Iraq war, releasing a report in 2008 that made claims similar to the Chilcot inquiry. Former Bush administration officials have been on record for years for their criticism of the intelligence assessments.
Paul Bremmer, former President George W. Bush’s de facto governor of Iraq after the invasion, readily admitted to the Chilcot inquiry in 2010 that the aftermath of the invasion had been poorly planned.
“It was evident to me from the start that the pre-war planning had been inadequate, largely because it was based on incorrect assumptions about the nature of the post-war situation on the ground in Iraq,” said Bremmer in his statement to the inquiry.
“The U.K. failed to plan or prepare for the major reconstruction program required in Iraq,” said the Chilcot report.
Several other key figures both within and outside of government have been vocally critical. Even Colin Powell, Bush’s former secretary of state, has reiterated since 2005 what he believes are the mistakes made by the administration. Powell himself was tasked with putting forward the administration’s case for war with Iraq to the United Nations Security Council, famously defending the invasion as a necessary action to stop former Iraq President Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction programs. Powell would later say the move would be a permanent “blot” on his record.
Chilcot interviewed 150 witnesses and poured through 150,000 documents during his inquiry, yet did not conclude whether the war itself was legal. He also did not accuse Blair of intentionally misleading the public and the U.K. Parliament.
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