Stop the War Coalition is going strong in the South-West

Stop the War Coalition


Last week saw the publication of the Chilcot Inquiry’s report into the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died along with 179 British soldiers. Millions more Iraqis became refugees. Thirteen years after the war started and seven years after the inquiry was set up, it would be easy to think that the report is unnecessary and has nothing new to tell us. This is far from the case.

The report rightly offers serious criticism of Tony Blair, former ministers and intelligence officials. The report should have dealt the final blow to Blair’s reputation – something that will surprise nobody. Except perhaps Tony Blair who lives in a world where ‘doing what you believe to be right’ justifies laying waste to an entire country.

The lies that were told have been obvious for years but are now laid bare. Blair and his friends will find it impossible to deny them. But we musn’t forget all those in parliament and the media who were happy to accept and repeat those lies as if they were irrefutable facts. The inquiry confirms there were no weapons of mass destruction; Al-Queda had no presence in Iraq; Saddam Hussein wasn’t a threat to Britain.

George Bush wanted to invade Iraq in an attempt to re-shape the Middle East and gain control of oil supplies. In July 2002 Tony Blair agreed to support him . A war for regime change would have been openly illegal. So unreliable evidence of weapons of mass destruction was inflated to sell the war to the British public. Nothing was allowed to stand in the way of doing what Blair had already decided to do. Even though two million people marched through the streets of London on 15th February 2003, parliament voted for war.

But the Chilcot report doesn’t stop at the invasion in March 2003. It also looks at the occupation that followed, where a much wider range of people are criticised. Much of the media coverage has concentrated on this part of the report. The tone seems to be that ‘our intentions were good but it all went wrong’ – if only there had been more planning or more troops it would all have gone well. This allows those responsible for the decision to invade Iraq off the hook. If someone sets light to your house and then says they’re not sure where to get enough water to put the fire out, the cause of the destruction isn’t a lack of water. The arsonist is still to blame for starting the fire. And the fire Blair and Bush set iin 2003 is still raging across Iraq and beyond. Only this week, 250 people died in a bomb explosion in Baghdad.

The criticisms of those who opposed the invasion of Iraq have been borne out. The results at home and abroad may not have been foreseeable to Tony Blair but were perfectly predictable for many others. The world has become more violent and unstable. Terrorism has increased. Millions of refugees have been forced out of Iraq and neighbouring countries. At home there has been an increase in racism and Islamophobia. Our civil rights have been undermined.

But we have to recognise that Chilcot’s emphasis on the problems with the occupation of Iraq will be used by this government and future governments to lay the ground for more wars. We will be told, ‘this time we’ve got the planning right’. We cannot allow this to happen. The real lesson of Iraq, not spelt out by Chilcot, is that Britain has no right to invade and occupy other countries. No right to dress up military ventures as humanitarian acts. This is as true today and tomorrow as it was in 2003. Policitians of all parties need to acknowledge this.

The deception over the invasion of Iraq led to the distrust of politicians which was a major factor in the EU referendum. The inability of our government to shake off the questions raised by the invasion have overshadowed many recent foreign policy decisions. In the media and parliament, many of those who are hounding Jeremy Corbyn supported the war in 2003, while Corbyn himself was at the head of those opposing the war, inside and outside parliament.

Chilcot has told us what we knew – we were lied to.Tony Blair took us into an illegal war, having agreed to join the US attack long beforehand. Chilcot hasn’t brought justice for those whose lives were destroyed by the invasion. This fight for justice will continue.

Bristol Stop the War Coalition has helped ensure that the issue of Britain’s involvement in this illegal war has been kept in the public’s eye. If you want to help us make sure that the real lessons of the invasion of Iraq are learnt then get in touch by emailing

Source: Bristol Post

12 Jul 2016

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