8.8.2 Alignment with the Chilcot Report
There was broad agreement between this book’s original analysis of the decision to invade Iraq in 2003 and Sir John Chilcot’s Report of the Iraq Inquiry [citing paragraph numbers from its Executive Summary]:
- Both documents traced the efforts to obtain UN approval for the invasion of Iraq, recognising the importance of doing so; the issue was the subject of almost 20% of the Executive Summary [100–293].
- It was not necessary to go to war against Iraq at that time: “At the time of the Parliamentary vote of 18 March, diplomatic options had not been exhausted. The point had not been reached where military action was the last resort” .
- Attacking Iraq had been predicted to increase the threat posed by terrorism: “the JIC Assessment concluded: … Al Qaida and associated groups will continue to represent by far the greatest terrorist threat to Western interests, and that threat will be heightened by military action against Iraq” . Patterns of Power Edition 2 had made the same point (7.4.3 and 8.7.1).
- Insufficient planning was done before launching the attack: “When the potential for military action arises, the Government should not commit to a firm political objective before it is clear that it can be achieved” . The lack of due diligence was identified in this book’s original analysis of the decision to invade Iraq (8.7.6).
- The attack was politically motivated: “The issue of influencing the US, both at the strategic and at the operational level, was a constant preoccupation at all levels of the UK Government” . The Inquiry, though, concluded that Britain could have refused to support the invasion of Iraq without unduly damaging its relationship with America, although the Prime Minister disagreed with that conclusion [359–389].
- Tony Blair used all his skills of advocacy to persuade Parliament that the invasion was necessary. The report quoted extracts from his speech to Parliament on 18 March 2003, where he persuaded MPs that, in his view, Iraq presented a real and present threat to Britain [297–309].
- The report quoted Robin Cook’s resignation statement of 17 March 2003, which disagreed with Tony Blair . That speech, and Blair’s speech the following day, were also quoted in Patterns of Power Edition 2 (8.5.5).
The BBC published an interview with Sir John Chilcot on 6 July 2017, a year after publication of the Chilcot Report, entitled Tony Blair ‘not straight’ with UK over Iraq, says Chilcot. Sir John noted that “Tony Blair is always and ever an advocate. He makes the most persuasive case he can. Not departing from the truth but persuasion is everything. Advocacy for my position, ‘my Blair position’.”