Far from satisfactory

The Chilcot report is out; the BBC summarizes.

Tony Blair overstated the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, sent ill-prepared troops into battle and had “wholly inadequate” plans for the aftermath, the UK’s Iraq War inquiry has said.

Chairman Sir John Chilcot said the 2003 invasion was not the “last resort” action presented to MPs and the public.

There was no “imminent threat” from Saddam – and the intelligence case was “not justified”, he said.

The Beeb offers highlights:

  • The circumstances in which it was decided that there was a legal basis for UK military action were “far from satisfactory”
  • The invasion began on 20 March 2003 but not until 13 March did then Attorney General Lord Goldsmith advise there was, on balance, a secure legal basis for military action. Apart from No 10’s response to his letter on 14 March, no formal record was made of that decision and the precise grounds on which it was made remain unclear

It’s hard for me to understand what it even means for one country to decide whether or not there’s a “legal basis” for it to attack another. It seems like a polite fiction, aka a smokescreen.

  • The UK’s actions undermined the authority of the United Nations Security Council: The UN’s Charter puts responsibility for the maintenance of peace and security in the Security Council. The UK government was claiming to act on behalf of the international community “to uphold the authority of the Security Council”. But it knew it did not have a majority supporting its actions

Well that’s the thing, isn’t it – there’s no such thing as “the international community.” It’s a ridiculous label, that nevertheless gets bandied about a great deal. There is the UN, but the U part is another polite fiction – but it is also an aspiration, while the “legal basis” for invasions isn’t even that.

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