Unjustified and unjust, a damning report that won’t rescue the lives destroyed by war


After seven years of waiting, the Chilcot report is finally here.

Those hoping the report would condemn the war as illegal and call for the immediate arrest and imprisonment of George Bush and Tony Blair may be disappointed, but the report still goes further than many of us dared to hope. Its findings weren’t exactly shocking; it is the same things many of us have been saying for thirteen years.

The report has found that war was not the last resort, that Saddam Hussein posed no immediate threat to the West, and the claims that Iraq had powerful WMD were not only false but may have been based on a 1996 film starring Nicholas Cage.

The war was based on incredibly dubious evidence that has now been debunked, and those responsible need to acknowledge what they have done. Over 250,000 people have died since we invaded Iraq. Millions more have lost their homes during the war and the subsequent rise of ISIS. The war in itself was a failure, but the lack of a solid plan was a catastrophe. The power vacuum that was inadequately filled by the new Iraqi government has allowed ISIS to spread. The horror that Iraqi citizens have lived with for the last thirteen years has allowed radicalisation to thrive.

Whilst some Iraqi citizens, particularly the Kurdish population who suffered extreme brutalities at the hands of Saddam Hussein are still in favour of the war, many others say things are no better than they were under Hussein’s regime. No one is going to say Saddam Hussein was a good man. He committed genocide against his own people, he had his many war-hungry moments and he ran a brutal dictatorship. But the fact is that there are many dictatorships still existing today that harm their own people, and we never tried to do anything about them.

The war was never about the Iraqi people. I remember back in 2003 when they were insisting Iraq had weapons of mass destruction that could reach the USA in 45 minutes, and that the regime was definitely planning on attacking the West. This is what we were told, over and over again. It was so obviously far-fetched at the time, and the Chilcot report has simply confirmed what we already knew.

I was ten years old in 2003, and it was obvious even to me that it wasn’t true. It was all so rushed, so conveniently timed. I remember going to anti-war demonstrations, including the one that attracted two million people. We knew then, as we know now, that the war was based on false evidence and extremely flimsy fabrication.We knew it wasn’t justified. We knew it was going to lead to further wars. Many papers, including the Guardian and the Mirror, also knew that the war was a very bad idea. We knew, and we were ignored. But we were right.

Why was Iraq so special? Was it perhaps because of the rich revenues of nationalised oil that we couldn’t get our hands on before the war, that America has been benefiting from ever since we invaded back in 2003? Was it because we needed an enemy to legitimise the ‘war on terror’? Was it a misguided attempt to control the Middle East and meddle in a country without knowing what to do once we took control of it? Was it a mixture of all these things?

The war on terror has created more terror, both in the UK and in the Middle East. One of the damning findings in the Chilcot report is that rather than make the world a safer place, the war in Iraq actually led to an increase in terror threats. The head of MI6 from 2002 till 2007 has said there was an increase in terror plots after the invasion, and the explanation she gives is that our involvement in the Middle East helped radicalise a generation because they saw the attacks on Iraq and Afghanistan as an attack on Islam itself.

What hasn’t really been mentioned is the effect these wars would have on the people of Iraq. Whilst it wasn’t exactly the best place to live before 2003, there is no denying that the effects of war have been devastating. These are prime radicalising conditions because desperate people need to find something that gives their life meaning. If reality is so terrible, and death seems so certain, people have to believe that this isn’t all there is, and they are vulnerable to anything that seems to offer a solution, that makes sense of the suffering. Of course, you can never excuse the actions of anyone involved with Isis, but you should understand the conditions under which they have thrived.

For many people, the Chilcot report is too little and too late. But at least those who were always against the war have had their suspicions confirmed, and hopefully we can use this experience to ensure such a catastrophe never happens again.

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