Former Prime Minister Tony Blair involved the United Kingdom in the Iraq invasion “before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted”, Sir John Chilcot concluded in his report. The British privy counsellor, who was given the task of heading the inquiry into UK’s involvement in the 2003 Iraq War, on Wednesday said, “Military action at that time was not a last resort.”
The official report added that the government’s military intervention “went badly wrong, with consequences to this day”, The Telegraph reported. Chilcot found that Blair’s justification for the operation was made on the basis of “flawed” intelligence about weapons of mass destruction that Iraq allegedly had.
Reacting to the conclusions, Blair said he will take “full responsibility for any mistakes without exception or excuse”, Reuters reported. While he “profoundly disagreed” that global terrorism today was a result of the invasion of Iraq, he agreed that their intelligence assessments were wrong, and that the aftermath of the war turned out to be more hostile than imagined, he added.
There was “no imminent threat from Saddam [Hussein]” in March 2003, when operations in Iraq began, according to the report, which added that UK did not have the military capacity to wage wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan at the same time. “The UK military role in Iraq ended a very long way from success,” Sir John said while unveiling the report, adding that the “government's preparations failed to take account of the magnitude of the task”.Concluding the findings, Sir John said the invasion was “an intervention that went badly wrong, with consequences to this day”. He also said the turmoil and violence that Iraq faced during the invasion and after withdrawal of troops should have been foreseen. More than 1,50,000 Iraqis were killed by July 2009 as a result of the invasion, Sir John said, adding that millions had been displaced by the war.
Around 28,000 British soldiers were said to have taken part in the 2003 invasion. The United States and Britain were joined by troops from other countries including Australia and Poland. Then US President George Bush had said the aim of the coalition's mission was “to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, to end Saddam Hussein's support for terrorism, and to free the Iraqi people”.