The Iraq war has faced criticism since before it began. In 2009 The Iraq Inquiry was set up by Sir John Chilcot to look at the process of decision making that led to the invasion of Iraq, which many think was a pointless endeavour. 7 years later, the Chilcot report has finally been published. It covers everything from the summer of 2001, the war on Afghanistan and the build up to Iraq, all the way to when the enquiry was announced.
It’s 2.6million words and 12 volumes – three times as long as the complete works of Shakespeare – so we’ve broken down the most important points for you.
If you fancy a summer project, you can grab your own version of the report for a meagre £767.
Military action was not needed yet at the time
The UK chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the alternative, more peaceful options for disarmament had been discussed. Aka, the idea of Military action was not seen as a last resort at the time. It may have been necessary later on, but as of March 2003 there was no approaching threat from Saddam Hussein; the strategy of prevention could have been adapted and continued for some time, and the majority of the Security Council supported continuing UN inspections and monitoring.
The military was not prepared for the attack
The report states that there was “little time” to properly prepare all three military brigades for deployment in Iraq. The risks of deployment were then neither “properly identified nor fully exposed” to ministers, resulting in “equipment shortfalls”. Between 2003 and 2009, UK forces in Iraq faced gaps in some key capability areas – including armoured vehicles, reconnaissance and intelligence assets (locating enemies) and helicopter support.
Organisers did not estimate Iraq and Suddam Hussein’s weapons accurately
The report details that the judgments about the severity of the threat of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction were presented with unjustified certainty. The intelligence team had “not established beyond doubt” that Saddam Hussein was producing chemical and biological weapons.
The government didn’t even achieve it’s objectives
That’s right, the government failed to achieve the objectives it had set itself for Iraq. Over 200 British citizens died as a result of the conflict, and the Iraqi people suffered greatly. By July 2009, at least 150,000 Iraqis had died, and it’s suspected there was many more. Over million were displaced. The report also adds that despite explicit warnings, the consequences of the war were underestimated.
There wasn’t really a legal basis for invasion
Chilcot wrote that the circumstances on which the it was decided that there was a legal basis for UK military action were “far from satisfactory”, and that the policy on Iraq was decided on the basis of flawed intelligence assessments.