On the 28th of July, 2002, Tony Blair sent a “Note on Iraq” to President George W. Bush. It began: “I will be with you, whatever.” And with those six words, the British Prime Minister sealed his fate, committed his country to a disastrous war, and ultimately wrote the phrase that will endure on his political headstone.
On Wednesday that epitaph was confirmed by the publication of the official report into Britain’s involvement in Iraq. Chaired by Sir John Chilcot, a veteran civil servant, the report is utterly damning, all the more so for being written with the dry understatement in which Whitehall specializes.
The case for war in Iraq was made with a “certainty which was not justified,” based in large part upon “flawed intelligence,” and on assessments that were “not challenged and should have been.”
Overall, “the circumstances in which it was decided there was a legal basis for military action were far from satisfactory.”
The “planning and preparations for Iraq after Saddam Hussein were wholly inadequate,” and the “scale of the U.K.’s effort in post-war Iraq never matched the scale of the challenge.”
Chilcot concludes, in what may now become a euphemism for catastrophic failures, that “the U.K. military role in Iraq ended a very long way from success.”
No part of the case for toppling Saddam survives Chilcot intact.
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