The UK’s public inquiry into the Iraq war (the “Chilcot Inquiry“) has featured testimony from major figures at the time of the invasion and has further strengthened criticism of the war on multiple fronts. Testimony affirms that pre-war intelligence did not paint Saddam Hussein as a threat, that the coalition had decided to wage war before weapons inspections were completed, that non-military options were not seriously pursued and that, in the opinion of many, the war was illegal.
A selection of notable quotes from the inquiry:
- “I am of the firm view that it was an illegal war, and that was the firm view of most international lawyers.” – Hans Blix, former United Nations chief arms inspector.
- “Our involvement in Iraq radicalised, for want of a better word, a whole generation of young people – a few among a generation – who saw our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan as being an attack on Islam.” – Eliza Manningham-Buller, former director-general of MI5 (British military intelligence).
- “We regarded the direct threat from Iraq as low.” – Eliza Manningham-Buller, former director-general of MI5.
- “When I kept reading them [intelligence reports], I kept saying to myself, ‘Is this intelligence?’ It was not very substantiated but clearly was robust.” – Lord John Prescott, former deputy prime minister.
- “The real problem, which I did draw several times to the attention of London, was that the contingency military timetable had been decided before the UN inspectors went in under Hans Blix … you had to short-circuit the inspection process by finding the notorious smoking gun … and we – the Americans, the British – have never really recovered from that, because, of course, there was no smoking gun.” – Sir Christopher Meyer, UK ambassador to the US (1997-2003).
- “In my opinion, that use of force had not been authorised by the (United Nations) Security Council, and had no other basis in international law.” – Sir Michael Wood, senior legal adviser at the Foreign Office in 2003.
- “I feel responsibility but no regret for removing Saddam Hussein. I think he was a monster.” – Tony Blair, former Prime Minister.