You’ll never see another election year like this. Everything seems to be upside-down. Now we’re back to talking about George W. Bush’s Iraq War. But it’s the assumed GOP nominee who claims to have been against it, while the “peace-and-love” party prospective nominee voted for it, and still defends her vote. Hillary Clinton has said that she voted with President Bush, primarily, to thank him for his swift and substantial support of New York after 9/11. Hillary was New York’s senator then. Quid pro quo.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump said in February—on the debate stage in South Carolina—that the Iraq War was a “big, fat mistake,” and that George Bush lied to us to get public support–and should have been impeached for it.
In fact, Trump continues to say it was a big, fat mistake—and even that we’d be better off if Saddam were still in charge.
Donald Trump has been lamenting the death of Saddam Hussein for months. On Tuesday, in yet another sign that the general election is less hospitable territory than the Republican primary, his repeated praise of the late Iraqi dictator finally caught up with him.
“He was a bad guy — really bad guy,” the presumptive Republican nominee told supporters in Raleigh, North Carolina. “But you know what? He did well? He killed terrorists. He did that so good. They didn’t read them the rights. They didn’t talk. They were terrorists. Over. Today, Iraq is Harvard for terrorism.”
Trump has maintained that he opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq from the outset, although he offered support in September 2002 during an interview with Howard Stern. (“Are you for invading Iraq?” Stern asked. “Yeah, I guess so,” Trump replied.)
On Wednesday, the British government released 12 volumes—2.6 million words—of investigation of Britain’s decision to attack Iraq in 2003, “alongside the U.S. on the back of unjustified intelligence and assessment, inadequate preparations and exaggerated statements.” Time Magazine has suggested four main conclusions that should be drawn from the massive report.
1. Tony Blair agreed to go to war at least 8 months before invasion
In one of several letters published alongside the report, then Prime Minister Tony Blair wrote to President George W. Bush on July 28, 2002, eight months before the invasion, and before getting the approval of the British parliament, that he would support military action in Iraq. “I will be with you whatever,” he wrote.
The letter contradicts Blair’s previous claims to the public that he never privately committed to join the U.S. military action in Iraq in the year before invasion. The letter also said that getting rid of Saddam Hussein was “the right thing to do. He is a potential threat. He could be contained. But containment is always risky. His departure would free up the region.”
2. The invasion of Iraq was not a “last resort”
Chilcott said Wednesday that Blair took Britain to war before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted. Although Hussein was a brutal dictator, he said, the case that removing him from power by military force was the only way to deal with him did not add up.
Blair famously told the Commons—based on a so-called “dodgy intelligence dossier ” –that Saddam could deploy WMDs against the West within 45 minutes. But these claims were presented to lawmakers :with a certainty that was not justified” by the strength of the intelligence, Chilcott concluded the final nail in the coffin for the idea that Saddam posed a serious, immediate threat to the West.
3. The U.K.’s legal basis for military action was flawed
In March 2003, then Attorney-General Peter Goldsmith changed his legal advice and gave approval for war after being informed it was Blair’s “unequivocal view” that Iraq was in breach of a U.N. resolution to get rid of WMD. The report states that it is unclear how Blair came to that conclusion: “It is unclear what specific grounds Mr Blair relied upon in reaching his view.“
At Wednesday’s press conference, Chilcot said that Goldsmith should have asked for written advice “explaining how”—in the absence of a majority in the U .N. Security Council—Mr Blair could take that decision. . .”this is one of a number of occasions when policy should have been considered by a cabinet committee and then discussed by cabinet itself.” He also added that final decision to invade Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was made with no evidence of major new Iraqi violations.
4 . Preparations for Iraq post-invasion were “wholly inadequate”
The report states that there was equipment shortages for troops on t he ground in southern Iraq due to there being “little time to prepare the three brigades” that were deployed there. Chilcot said that Blair was aware of the difficulties ahead but was“ wholly inadequate” in his preparations. This stance is ruled in the report: “U.K. planning and preparation for the post-conflict phase of operations, which rested on the assumption that the U.K. would be able quickly to reduce its military presence in Iraq and deploy only a minimal number of civilians, were wholly inadequate.” It also said that the U.K. “failed to plan or prepare for the major reconstruction programme much needed in Iraq.”
The British Independent did not hide its disgust with Tony Blair, who was British Prime Minister at the time.
Tony Blair convinced himself with unjustified certainty. . .of the presence of the non-existent WMDs that he sent British troops into Iraq when diplomacy might still have resolved the crisis. But the secret intelligence reports he had been shown “did not justify” his certainty, Sir John Chilcot concluded.
Sir John Chilcot’s damning report into the Iraq War also revealed that Blair and US President George W. Bush were made fully aware that Iraq could descend into sectarian chaos after the invasion – directly contrary to what Mr Blair told the inquiry.
The issue of whether the then Prime Minister lied to Parliament to justify the UK’s involvement in the Iraq war has been a source of damaging controversy for more than 13 years.
Blair took responsibility in a speech almost immediately after release of the study.
I will take full responsibility for any mistakes without exception or excuse. . .
Above all I will pay tribute to our Armed Forces. I will express my profound regret at the loss of life and the grief it has caused the families, and I will set out the lessons I believe future leaders can learn from my experience.
At the time of the war, Blair was often referred to as “Bush’s poodle,” since he went along with anything the American president wanted. Even today, Blair is denying it.
Mr Blair made clear he shared Mr Bush’s judgment that the toppling of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was a desirable goal. . .
Mr Blair acknowledged that people had described him as Mr Bush’s “poodle”, but insisted the accusation was false.
The conclusions of the massive study are pretty clear. Will they have an impact on the American presidential race? Will Hillary expand her explanation of why she supported the war? Will Trump say, if elected, that he will take legal action against George Bush? Stay tuned here for more exciting adventures!