An exhaustive report by the U.K. Iraq Inquiry, chaired by Sir John Chilcot, has offered a scalding review of former Prime Minister Tony Blair's decision to wholeheartedly join the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Launched in 2009 and finally released on July 6, 2016, the report asserted that the U.K agreed to go to war against Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein before peaceful options had expired and based on insufficient intelligence, Business Insider reports.
According to Chilcot’s investigation, the intelligence that Blair and former U.S. President George W. Bush used to justify the Iraq invasion had been presented to the public “with a certainty that was not justified.”
Chilcot also dissected the U.K.’s preparedness for the invasion and its aftermath, deeming the effort to be a complete failure.
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The report found that the planning for the Iraq invasion was inadequate, that Blair failed to discuss the specifics of the operation with Britain’s cabinet and that he failed to plan for the aftermath of toppling the Hussein regime.
As for the reconstruction of Iraq, the report found the U.K. had failed to respond to the opposition ground forces or the development of IEDs on the ground and concluded that the resources dedicated to the effort “never matched the scale of the challenge.”
In 2003 alone, 179 members of the British military were killed during the Iraq invasion while an additional 251,000 soldiers and civilians died in the ensuing aftermath.
Following the report, Blair offered his apologies, taking full responsibility for the blunders of the U.K.’s involvement in the Iraq War, according to The Telegraph.
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“If I was back in the same place, with the same information I would take the same decision because obviously that was the decision I believe was right,” Blair said.
“All I’m saying today, because obviously some of the intelligence has turned out to be wrong, the planning wasn’t done properly, I have to accept those criticisms, I accept responsibility for them,” Blair added.
“A decision had to be taken and it was for me to take as prime minister,” Blair concluded, his voice emotional. “I took it, I accept fully responsibility for it, I stand by it.”
A recently declassified memo Blair had sent to Bush on Sept. 12, 2001, indicates that the prime minister felt that extraordinary actions had to be taken to prevent a weapon of mass destruction from falling into the wrong hands, The Daily Beast reports.
“Some of this will require action that some will baulk at,” Blair wrote. “But we are better to act now and explain and justify our actions than let the day be put off until some further, perhaps even worse catastrophe occurs.”