2003 Iraqi War In The Name Of WMDs And Democracy: It Was All A Sham

In a report released in Britain today, July 6th, 2016, Sir John Chilcot has stated that military action was not a last resort and that despite explicit warnings about the aftermath of the invasion, the UK decided to go into war. He went on to state that the imminent threat posed by Iraq was overstated and that other options of disarmament had not been fully exploited.[1] The report comes after seven years of inquiry into the validity of the decision to go to war in Iraq. It was found that there was insufficient evidence to warrant going to war and that other diplomatic channels to resolve the Iraqi problem had not been exhausted. The report covers everything from the decision to go to war, preparation of the troops, how the conflict was conducted, and the planning that there was for its aftermath.[2] The report follows an inquiry that was called for by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown into how the decision to go to war in Iraq was made.[3]

The decision comes amid years of debate about the validity of the decision by the UK and the US (under the George Bush administration) to wage war on the country after the 9/11 attack on the US. Critics  had been alleging that the unspoken reason that the US went to war in Iraq was to get access to the oil in the country,[4] and that the reasons given that the aim was to save people from the Saddam administration, bring democracy to Iraq, and prevent the use of WMDs (Weapons of Mass Destruction) were a cover up.

The main points of the report are that; the UK chose to join the invasion before peaceful options had been exhausted, Blair deliberately exaggerated the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, Blair promised George Bush that he would be with him no matter what, the decision  to invade was made in unsatisfactory circumstances, George Bush largely ignored UK advice on postwar planning, there was no imminent threat from Saddam, Britain’s intelligence agencies produced ‘flawed information,’ the UK military were ill-equipped for the task, UK – US relations would not have suffered had the UK not gone into war alongside the US. Nonetheless, Blair ignored warnings on what would happen in Iraq after invasion, and so the government had no post-invasion strategy, the UK had no influence on Iraq’s post-war US-run administration, the UK did not achieve its objectives in Iraq, and the government did not try hard enough to keep a tally of Iraqi civilian casualties.[5]

The BBC, in its program ‘World Have Your Say,’[6] hosted some veteran soldiers to give their view regarding the judge’s ruling. They expressed regret over the war, stating that the report did not come as a shock to them and that it merely confirmed what they already knew: that war had been waged under false pretexts. One of them stated that her country’s (the US) policies of going to war in other countries in the name of protecting the country’s security needed to change since the aftermath was catastrophic; with innocents being killed and the countries being brought to their knees. For her, Iraq, though not a perfect country, was one that had infrastructure and systems in place and the war had wrecked this and made a bad situation worse. She further opined that the country needed to change its belief that it could simply make regime changes in other countries and impose its views on them. She said that instead of waging war, they should seek to solve the problems in those countries in other ways and rebuild.

In his book, ‘God, Spies and Lies’, South African journalist John Matisonn wrote about attempts by former South African Presidents Thabo Mbeki and Nelson Mandela to prevent the two countries from waging war in Iraq. President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa even sent a team of people to Iraq to carry out investigations on whether there was evidence of weapons of mass destruction. The team was sent in alliance with intelligence from both the UK and the US. In January 2003, President Mbeki sent a delegation to the US and then, on February 1st, 2003 he met with then UK Prime Minister Tony Blair to inform him that, with the help of the two countries, they had established that there were no evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, therefore the war should not be waged. His findings were rejected and the relationship between South Africa and the UK suffered. President Mandela stated that the fact that George Bush was acting outside of the UN mandate showed that his motives were questionable and he merely wanted to fight Iraq. Former President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia also tried to intervene but failed. [7]

Many people also protested against the war; through the UN showing that they did not back the move.

Mr. Blair defended his decision to go to war in Iraq, following the report’s publication stating that his decision to join the US attack was the ‘hardest, most momentous and most agonizing’ that he took in his 10 years as the British prime minister. He went on to express his sadness at the grief and suffering of those that lost their loved ones in Iraq but, he was adamant that he made the right decision and that the world is safer and better.[8]

The report is a significant move that could hold powerful governments, such as the US and the UK responsible for their unjustified roles in foreign countries. However, the inquiry is not a judicial one and, it is therefore limited in that it may not be used as a basis to seek compensation. Nonetheless, some former soldiers have been quoted stating that they are not ruling out going to court to seek compensation. It could be argued that based on the report, the two countries could be made to incur the costs of rebuilding and could be made to take in the refugees from such war-torn areas.

While intervention is definitely necessary where violations of human rights are ongoing and where those affected will suffer irreparable loss if no action is taken, it is evident that the research done should be sufficient and forecasts should be done on whether such war is, in the first place, necessary. Further, the impact that such war would have on innocent people should be assessed beforehand. Also, plans should be made in regards to what should be done to deal with the aftermath. Most importantly, war should cease to be a first resort or solution so as to avoid situations like that in Libya. For instance, the situation in Libya was recently admitted by US President Barrack Obama to be the biggest mistake of his administration. [9]

The international community also needs to consider making it a crime for leaders to take up such decisions that lead to great losses in other countries following the waging of unjustified wars. There has not been a precedent of UK politicians being held criminally responsible for decisions like that made by Tony Blair in 2003, and should such action be taken against Mr. Blair, history will be made.

[1] Chilcot Report : Tony Blair’s Iraq War case not justified; //www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-36712735

[2] Chilcot Report: Findings at-a-glance; //www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics

[3] John Stone, Samuel Osborne; Chilcot Report: Inquiry into Iraq war to be published 6th July; //www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/chilcot-report-inquiry-into-iraq-war-to-be-published-6-july-a7020881.html

[4] Antonia Juhasz; ‘Why the war in Iraq was fought for Big Oil’; April 15th 2013 //edition.cnn.com/2013/03/19/opinion/iraq-war-oil-juhasz/; Nafeez Ahmed; ‘Iraq invasion was about oil’; Thursday 20th March 2014; https://www.theguardian.com/environment/earth-insight/2014/mar/20/iraq-war-oil-resources-energy-peak-scarcity-economy

[5] Chilcot report: key points from the Iraq inquiry; https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/jul/06/iraq-inquiry-key-points-from-the-chilcot-report

[6] July 6th 2016

[7]Karthick Arvinth, December 1, 2015; Iraq War: Tony Blair ‘Ignored’ South African intelligence on WMDs; www.ibtimes.co.uk

[8]Luke Harding, ‘ Tony Blair unrepentant as Chilcot gives crushing Iraq war verdict’, Wednesday Jul 6th 2016; www.theguardian.com

[9] President Obama: Libya aftermath ‘worst mistake’ of presidency, 11th April 2016; www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-36013703

Hawa Gaya