The Chilcot Report – long-awaited for six years, will be released on July 6th 2016. Launched back in 2009 by former PM Gordon Brown, the report will investigate the UK’s role of participation in the Iraq War – a level of participation which led to the toppling of Saddam Hussain. As George W. Bush described such an event himself, “the tyrant has fallen and Iraq is free”. But the maintenance of British troops on Iraqi soil for six years proved that such a freedom of Iraq was largely questionable.
Specifically, the report will delve deeply into the run-up, conduct and aftermath of the Iraq War – for example, the role of the Department for International Development, the role of sea power, air power, operational and tactical issues. For many families of those who served in Iraq, this document has been painfully awaited. Despite the initial worrying suggestion that those families would have to pay in excess of £700 to access the document, the government have scrapped those charges. Yet however important the document will be to these people, what strikes me the most is what the Chilcot Inquiry has not looked at.
Tony Blair is in fact already in position to pounce and embellish the report afterwards in his own personal review; as an article in The Independent argues ‘We’ll hear the gospel according to Saint Tony’. “This may not be a written text, more a collection of stories handed down by apostles, generation after generation, only later formed into a codex”. No doubt, he will try to water down the problematic nuance of the Iraq War, where approximately 500,000 deaths occurred as a direct or indirect result of the chaos.
Nagging and tugging between the US and Britain has meant that the Iraq Inquiry has already been postponed from publication in 2014. This is largely due to the practice of ‘Maxwellisation’, which means that individuals who are criticised will be warned of such criticism before the publication of the piece, so that Blair and others can respond beforehand. This is concerning, as the Inquiry will largely etch the image of the British conduct, whilst failing to draw the distinct parallel between the importance of Iraqi loss of life, and British loss of life.
The effects of the Iraq War were catastrophic, and partly as a result of the centralist economy of the nation. Not only the heads and shoulders of Iraq were damaged, but their teachers, doctors and vital organs which a society requires to function. The sinews of the state were broken down. And more poignantly – if it takes two million words (four times as long as Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace’) to tackle whether our troops were properly prepared, I wonder how many words it would take to justify British troops on Iraqi soil for six years.
Words by Lydia Ibrahim