The Chilcot Inquiry, set up to look into the British role in the war in Iraq,
reported on July 6, and although it was overshadowed by the political fallout
from the Brexit vote to leave the European Union, received a largely favorable
reception from the media and commentators. It is unclear why those commentators
judged it to be “hard-hitting” because in terms of its conclusions all it did
was tell us what we already knew.
Then British Prime Minister Tony Blair pursued a war that
was arguably illegal has had disastrous consequences, not least for the 179
British servicemen and women killed and their loved ones, but also for Iraq,
its people and the fight against terrorism.
I was staggered by the rush to say the report was hard hitting.
It wasn’t. It simply laid out the facts in a narrative format and let the reader
decide. Those facts were of course damning but I struggle to find anything in
the report that a well informed reader of British newspapers wouldn’t already
It was a very workmanlike narrative of what happened taken
from secret documents and witness testimony and therefore providing far more
detail than had been previously available but it was not anything like a proper
inquiry in the real sense. It was more like a neutral court report than the
solid analysis which was required, and what we actually got from the curiously
much derided Butler report.
As a result of the Chilcot’s failure to carry out any detailed
analysis of the evidence presented to his inquiry, it completely missed the
extensive and conclusive evidence of a ten-month illegal air war by Britain
and the U.S. designed to provoke Saddam Hussein into giving the allies an excuse
to go to war in Iraq.
All modern wars begin with an air war in which the enemy positions on the ground
are “softened up” to make them easier to overcome. The Iraq War was no different
in many ways. Except there was a difference. George W. Bush and Tony Blair didn’t
tell us it was happening.
So why does this matter now?
It matters because the Iraq War didn’t begin on March 20,
2003 as everybody thought, it began ten months earlier on May 20, 2002 when
the allies started the secret air war. It was definitely illegal because it
started six months before the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1441 which
Tony Blair’s government later used to claim the war was legal.
(U.S. readers might also care to note that it started five months before Congress
passed the so-called Iraq Resolution which authorized military action against
The secret air war, codenamed Operation Southern Force, was carried out under
cover of the UN-authorized operation under which U.S. and RAF aircraft patrolled
a so-called no-fly zone over southern Iraq to protect the Shia majority from
Lt.-Gen. Michael Moseley, the U.S….