As you may have heard, it’s been all quiet on the home front of British politics recently, so the powers that be have decided to release a report covering the reasons the UK invaded Iraq in 2003. The inquiry– also known as the Chilcot Inquiry, after its chairman Sir John Chilcot – has actually been ready to go since 2012, but a string of delays has kept it under wraps. It’s now finally being revealed to the public on July 6.
Who created it, and why?
Sir John Chilcot was appointed to head the inquiry in 2009 and tasked with investigating Britain’s dealings with Iraq from 2001 to 2009. This includes both the period building up to the invasion, the war itself, and the subsequent occupation. Ostensibly the inquiry will help prevent such a disaster happening again; the war was (and still is) deeply unpopular, and forever tarnish Tony Blair’s legacy.
What has the Iraq Inquiry examined?
A lot. Testimony from various governmental figures involved in the war, including Tony Blair, memos between Britain and the US, and telephone conversation transcripts. One of the reasons it has been delayed for so long is so that key information that could “damage public interest” has to be taken out – this includes supposed risks to national security and international relations. Notably, the Foreign Office successfully blocked the publication of a conversation between Blair and then-President George W. Bush shortly before the invasion began.
Why has it been delayed for so long?
There have been several challenges regarding the release of the Chilcot Inquiry. Initially, the publication was timed so that it would be released after the 2010 election; it was promised to be released shortly afterward. Then, in 2013, the US government effectively blocked publication as to not damage the so-called “special relationship”.
In addition, the peculiarly British process of “Maxwellisation” has consistently delayed the report. This allows those criticised in the report a chance to read it and prepare responses beforehand. Surely Tony Blair must have had a thorough read and is has a cacophony of speeches about global security, spreading democracy, and other early ‘00s offal. Since the scope of the inquiry is large, it’s to be assumed that a lot of people are in the same position – from civil servants to foreign secretaries.
But the hour of reckoning is upon us (again), and you can assume that Tony Blair will be under some flack over the next few weeks. Sadly, it’ll be a welcome distraction from the power vacuum in Westminster.