06/07/2016 Newsnight


Evan Davis with detailed analysis of the Chilcot Report.

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There was no secret commitment to war. Intelligence was not full set


fight and the decision was made in good faith. -- intelligence was not


falsified. There were no lies. Parliament and Cabinet were not


misled. We were discussing this literally,


26 times I think we discussed it in Cabinet and a lot of these were


detailed discussions. Look me in the eye and tell me you did not mislead


the nation. I can look not just the families of this country but the


nation in the eye and say, I did not mislead this country, I made the


decision in good faith. There is one terrorist in this world that the


world needs to be aware of. His name is Tony Blair. The world's worst


terrorist. APPLAUSE


I accept full responsibility for these points of criticism even where


I do not fully agree with them. Well, we've had a sense


in the last two weeks of an old political establishment


taking a beating, but today it suffered another really hefty blow,


with the Chilcott Inquiry's excoriating findings on the build up


to the Iraq war and the conduct It is no surprise that it makes


sober reading: the war led to the deaths of over 200


British citizens and over But the catalogue of mistakes,


the mismanagement, the misjudgements,


Sir John Chilcot's summary puts the system of British


government to shame, however generously you interpret


the intentions of leading players. We have concluded that the UK chose


to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament


had been exhausted. Military action at that time


was not a last resort. We have also concluded that:


The judgements about the severity of the threat posed by Iraq's


weapons of mass destruction - WMD - were presented with a certainty


that was not justified. Despite explicit warnings,


the consequences of the invasion The planning and preparations


for Iraq after Saddam Hussein of the Chilcot report as a study


in confirmation bias. We all have it, the tendency


to see only the evidence The best you can say of Tony Blair,


is he was suffering from a particularly severe case


of that affliction. He is not called a liar, but he set


out the intelligence on WMD, with more certainty


than the Intelligence merited. He used the phrase "established


beyond doubt", which was his belief, it was not what the


intelligence showed. And Mr Blair omitted


to give the full picture. In the House of Commons on 18 March


2003, Mr Blair stated that he judged the possibility of terrorist groups


in possession of WMD was "a real and present danger to Britain


and its national security" - and that the threat


from Saddam Hussein's arsenal could not be contained and posed


a clear danger to British citizens. Mr Blair had been warned, however,


that military action would increase the threat from Al Qaeda to the UK


and to UK interests. Tony Blair himself gave


an emotional response His defence was that he acted


in good faith, that the intelligence services clearly did believe


there were WMD, that he was worried about the threat that terrorists


might get weapons from Saddam, and that even if we hadn't gone


into Iraq, tragic consequences Above all the politics back in March


2003 was about making difficult decisions. We had come to the point


of binary decision, right to remove Saddam or not, with America or not?


The report itself says this was a stark choice. And it was. Now the


inquiry claims that military action was not a last resort although it


says it might have been necessary later. With respect, I did not have


the option of that delay. I had to decide.


Tony Blair is not the whole story,


perhaps not even the main story, there is so much


And a lot of reaction too, today - the families of the soldiers


But let's follow up on some of these themes starting with


Here's our diplomatic editor, Mark Urban.


EXPLOSIONS It was a war of choice. Something


Britain did not have to do but with which Tony Blair, a few of his


allies and the service chiefs felt they had to get involved with. The


meeting, one year before the invasion, at President Bush's ranch


in Texas would prove pivotal. When Mr Blair met President Rush at


Crawford, Texas, in April 2002, the formal policy was still to contain


them using -- President Bush. But by then there had been a profound


change in the UK's thinking. The government was stating that Iraq was


a threat that had to be dealt with. It had to disarm or be disarmed.


Three months later Tony Blair wrote this to President Bush.


Britain joined the US in trying to bring the matter to a head via the


United Nations by sending weapons inspectors into Iraq. But when that


did not produce the evidence, they started to plan for war. In the


absence of a majority in support of military action we considered that


the UK was in fact undermining the security council's authority. As the


forces got ready to in fate Iraq the Cabinet was kept on the sidelines.


Four months before it up and the Cabinet Secretary told the inquiry


preparations were becoming public with no discussion in Cabinet. The


reservists had been given notice, purchases were being made, and


assets, troops, had been moved, and ships had been dispatched on


manoeuvres, or on exercises. The next day, that is reported to


Cabinet. OK? So you can see that the extent to which they are brought


into the story lacks a long way behind the degree of firstly,


thinking, and by this time, preparation. If there is a key


takeaway from this it is the degree to which Tony Blair kept vital


decision-making to himself and one or two close allies. Sir John


Chilcot flags up 11 occasions when he said Tony Blair should have had


close consultations with Cabinet colleagues and officials and allowed


them to have their say but did not do so. As drafts of the government


's WMD assessments evolved towards the dossier of September 2002, many


of those steeped in the intelligence started to be alarmed. The claims of


the threat were massaged in London, I do not know by whom but I can


guess that they were massaged in London to present a more certain


picture than that we believed. And those of us or worked on it


including weapons inspectors like David Kelly in the defence


intelligence staff were surprised by this process. As to the extent to


which the intelligence services for the doomed to group- think, today's


report reveals this. Worth, Chilcot discovered that and


MI6 Iraqis by whose reports were breathlessly circulated by the


service, was found and reliable even before the war started and MI6 did


not tell anyone -- worse. One of the conclusions that Lord Butler came to


was that those who were doing the assessment of what all this means,


trying to get an explanation of what is going on in a country like Iraq,


need to know more about the raw material that they building the


assessment on. That did not happen in particular case. -- in that


particular case. As for the legal basis for war,


honed down and changed a few days before fighting broke out, Chilcot


says this. We have however concluded that the circumstances in which it


was decided that there was a legal base for UK military action were far


from satisfactory. Tony Blair and his chief of staff, as late as 12


days before operations started, asked that the Attorney General's


legal advice should be tightly held and not shared with ministerial


colleagues without No 10's permission. And when push came to


shove, the Attorney General simply said that the key decision, whether


Iraq was in material breach of United Nations resolutions, was Tony


Blair's call. Once that determination was made the way was


clear for operations to begin. Mark bourbon that, more from him later.


Sir David Omand served as security and intelligence coordinator


in the Cabinet Office from 2002 until 2005.


That meant he was a member of the Joint Intelligence Committee


I asked what went wrong with UK intelligence concerning Iraq.


It went wrong both at the level of intelligence collection and in terms


of the assessment. But given the intelligence that was in front of


the joint intelligence committee, I think the conclusion that we all


reached, that Saddam had retained material unlawfully, and that he was


anxious to keep this capability, was a perfectly reasonable judgment on


the basis of the information. Chilcot does save the intelligence


services should have pointed out to the Prime Minister that the evidence


does not suggest it was beyond doubt that there were these weapons -- he


does say this. It was in the foreword to the document, not in the


document itself but we all know... As I said in my evidence, with


hindsight we would have spotted this difficulty and we would have done


something about it. But we didn't. We didn't really put together what


the implication of that kind of language in the mouth of the


premised and other senior politicians would be. -- the Prime


Minister and other senior politicians. There is a big lesson


there for the future. Bluntly, the intelligence services, MI6 in


particular, filed under enormous pressure to deliver to their client,


the Prime Minister. The example of the rogue agent, who early in


December 2002, getting very excited about evidence coming from one


particular agent and by November they realised that he was picking


stuff up out of movies. But was not good practice. Another example was


the curve ball, the Iraqi engineer, the defector, who was interrogated


by the German intelligence services. And they produced lots of reports,


all extremely plausible but we were never allowed to speak... That's the


kind of material. You guys see the government, the Prime Minister, as


the client, not the public. There was a lot of political pressure and


the Chilcot Report is very good at explaining that. But it did not


distort the intelligence. The intelligence was not spun. And again


Chilcot comes to the same conclusion as Robin Butler. It is not about


making up intelligence. Not about trying to please political masters


by inventing stuff. But the trade craft was not as good and part of


the explanation for that is the pressure everyone was under.


What should the public think? They pay for this intelligence service,


it is not Tony Blair's David Cameron's. How good is the


intelligence service? A lot of people think the brand was


tarnished. The brand is tarnished, no doubt. I think what the public


should remember is that in the last 18 months, seven attempts to attack


the United Kingdom by terrorists were stopped by those same


intelligence agencies. That is a pretty successful record. Thank you


very much. I'm joined from Barcelona


by Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair's communications chief


at the time of the Iraq War, and in the studio by Clare Short,


the former International Development And Sir Jeremy Greenstock,


who was Britain's ambassador to the United Nations


at the time. Alistair Campbell, if I may start


with you, we have what looks like the definitive account of everything


now. I wonder whether you accept the conclusion that intelligence


evidence for WMD was not beyond doubt. Well, I actually agree with


virtually everything that was said there, but ended it is only fair to


accept that a Prime Minister does rely on the intelligence services


and it is not fair to say that none of that was challenged or tested. I


think the other thing I would say in Tony Blair's defence about the


intelligence is that he was seeing this, and developing in his own


mind, a judgment that Saddam Hussein was becoming more of a threat, not


less. It is true that a lot of that was based on the intelligence but I


think David was being fair are there in saying that yes, the intelligence


agencies were under pressure, but not under pressure to come up with


evidence that did not exist. It is fair for me to say, talking to a


programme on the BBC, that the accusations went to her than that.


They were that we falsified intelligence, and I am glad that


that has been laid to rest. Well, do you accept Chilcot, not David Omand,


finding that the evidence for WMD was not beyond doubt? I ask because


the words, not beyond doubt, was used as the foreword in the


document. Do you accept that? I accept that the intelligence


agencies did not offer the foreword to the dossier. Tony Blair did with


help from the officials. The intelligence agencies did see it. I


also think we're going over every word, and I do understand that this


is a big report, on an extra narrowly serious issue. But at the


time, let me remind you, the general media reaction, between you and your


colleagues at the time, was that there was not that much new in it.


Tony Blair was entitled to make judgments and he did make judgments


and ultimately this is what leadership at the top level is


about. He had to make judgments, and many people disagreed with that


judgment. Ultimately only he could be in that position. Chilcot think


the judgment was incorrect and the public mistook his belief that it


was beyond doubt with the intelligence services. But you have


now conceded, I think, that that was his judgment and that you can accept


Chilcot believing the judgment was wrong. Can I ask a second one? But


also, I think it is important to say that the document itself was the


work of the intelligence agencies. It was not the work of Downing


Street, it was not the work of people like me or Tony Blair. It was


Tony Blair's attempt to share with the public why he was more


concerned, because of the intelligence he was seeing. The


forward we are talking about, and I accept that the intelligence


community was responsible for the body of the report. But the second


thing, Mr Blair had been warned that military action would increase the


threat from Al-Qaeda to the UK and UK interests. That was not reported


to the public. You have today said that there was no lying or deceit,


do you at least accepted that there was a selective presentation of the


evidence, because Mr Blair did not tell us that by the way everything


he has been told, there is actually more danger from military action


than from terrorists? I think there was a live debate about that at the


time. There were people making that point in Parliament. I know of -- I


know that there were people of that opinion. But we did not know the


intelligence services was saying that was a view they shared. I mean,


we are all able to make that judgment ourselves, but we did not


know that the official advice was that. OK, but the dossier that Tony


Blair presented to Parliament was about our assessment of Saddam's


weapons on mass destruction programme. But that debate was


lively and there were people advising Tony Blair that might well


happen. Equally, as he has said today, I think one of the threats he


was most concerned about is actually the indiscriminate threat of,


regardless of whether the decay was involved, that countries would come


under attack by this virulent form of global terrorism which is real


and does exist. Let me put these points to Clare Short. You were in


the Cabinet. I want to know whether you felt deceived or whether you


ought to have known you were being deceived, because at that time you


went along with that. I went along with the view that we should get the


inspectors back in and that we should examine, and get rid of WMD,


which we believed was there, although not an imminent threat.


Chilcot says the certainty was exaggerated. That is very settled. I


supported the strategy to get inspectors back in, to try to


disarm, to get sanctions. What happened, and what's Chilcot has


said, is that the imminent threat was exaggerated, and the rush to war


was not necessary, Hans Blix was not allowed to complete his job, and we


could have taken longer to prepare afterwards. All of these things,


Chilcot has spelt it out. Did you ask to see the legal advice at any


point? Yes. I asked repeatedly about it because there was a rumour around


Whitehall that the Attorney General had said there was no legal


authority and the military had said they would not go in that case. So


you were willing to basically back a war, unclear about the legal advice?


That is not the case. Because I believed that we were going to go


for the second resolution. And I believed that what we were seeing in


the media was that there would be doubts about the authority without a


second resolution. And then at the last minute, stunningly, the


Attorney General says there is absolutely no doubt, there is


unequivocal authority for war without a second resolution. That


was surprising. He said it in a cabinet meeting. No, he read out


something that was then tabled as a Parliamentary answer. The Cabinet


was supposed to see the legal advice and that was not done. Did you have


reservations at that point? I had enormous reservations right through


but I believed in what was meant to be the strategy, which was to get


the inspectors back in, to let them complete their inspection, and as


Chilcot said, they were not allowed to complete it and was no imminent


threat. And Blix could have completed his job, he was starting


to report doubts about whether were any WMD. Ballistic missiles were


destroyed through his process, and suddenly they started to smear Hans


Blix because they were determined to go to war on the American timetable.


Were you aware that this government was dysfunctional? Yes, but there


was not a cabinet government at that time. You were there too long, in


hindsight? I'm not saying that. I am saying that I had booked my place to


make my resignation speech the same day as Robin. But then on the


reconstruction, there was the promise that we would get a UN


resolution which would have given it more legitimacy and not have been an


occupation. I stayed for that but that did not happen. So many aspects


of this to talk about. Look, the finding is that actually the UK


undermined the security council's authority while taking the guise of


being supportive of the UN protocols. As the UN ambassador,


were you aware of that being the case? It was not the case. I think


Chilcot is being too categorical. Where is the US in that statement?


We're working very closely with the US and Spain and Bulgaria. It was


not just the UK on its own. Secondly, you can say that the


authority of the Security Council is undermined whenever the permanent


five vie with each other. It is an intergovernmental process. The


security council cannot act if the members do not agree. It does a huge


amount of good when it agrees but it falls apart when they do not.


Thirdly, what was Saddam Hussein doing that undermined the authority


of the Security Council, for the 12 years up till 2003? The security


council was doing nothing about that. That judgment has to be


qualified by the other things. But Jeremy, Chilcot says we could have


taken over, there was no need to rush to war. And that is an


important point, because everything could have been properly done. It


was the inspectors who were undermined. I helped to bring the


authority of the Security Council back into play in the resolution in


May. Did you feel the government's attempts to involve the UN were


sincere? Once we got to January 2000 and three. Clearly they were sincere


in the earlier part, trying to persuade the Americans to use the UN


as a vehicle. But once it was clearly... It was saying to the


Americans, we can only come to you if we go through the UN but we now


know that Blair had said, I will be with you whatever. There is more to


it than that. The Prime Minister was genuine about it, although the


Americans were not. He thought there was a chance that Saddam could be


made to back down before we had to use military force. For a while,


George Bush agreed with them but other people behind Bush did not


agree. It was a genuine attempt by the Prime Minister to see whether


the Security Council could put such pressure on Saddam Hussein that


military force was not necessary. And we failed in that, obviously,


but he did try. You did not because there were in fact no WMD so in


fact, you succeeded. Can I come in here? Just a couple of things that


clear has said, I think it is very unfair to say about Peter Goldsmith,


the Attorney General, that he was lent on and came up with this


opinion. The reason he presented was because he went to Washington and he


had it explained to him the negotiating process. I am sure that


Jeremy was involved in the process, where the French had wanted to


insert an obligation to go back to the second resolution and have


specific go ahead and military action, should that be resisted. So


the logic of 1441 is clear. The Kaz allusion the Kaz allusion -- and I


also think that Clare is wrong to say that Tony Blair had somehow


decided what he was going to do. Read that mammal, the one that says,


I will be with you whenever. It goes on to say, pressuring George Bush to


go down the UN route, and that had considerable success of the time. At


the end, we did not meet our objectives. It is right that the


Americans did not deliver as much as we thought they would, but to land


this on Tony Blair's doorstep... I think it was the right thing to do,


to go with America, come what may, and I think that is what Tony Blair


thought. But I think we should have taken longer, and tried to pursue


the Hans Blix process and it was a big disaster.


Well, let's turn to the war and the occupation.


Now, over the years, we've had a sense as a nation


of things we do well and things we don't.


And we have tended to believe that when it comes to the military,


But today, the standing of our military takes an official knock.


Sir John is clear that service personnel showed great courage


and deserve respect, but the military in a broader sense


did not understand its limitations, was ill-equipped, and the MoD


And, the planning for the post invasion phase was every bit


Did Britain even have to send a large army to Iraq? Today's report


argues that the size of it was largely discretionary.


Immediately the military found itself struggling to control


large-scale looting and disorder. Mr Blair told the enquiry that the


difficulties encountered in Iraq after the invasion could not have


been known in advance. We do not agree that hindsight is required.


Before the war, Whitehall had made live assumptions about the UN or US


taking charge of stability and reconstruction. But instead the task


fell to Britain, which was ill-prepared for it.


Throughout 2004-2005 militias increased their hold on Basra and


those sent to keep a lid on and increasingly unstable city knew they


did not have the resources to do it. We had treble British Italians to


keep order in Basra until we could generate Iraqi and capability. --


two British Italians. I think in my time there were 13. How it was


thought we could look after Basra with that amount of resource I am


not sure. Got an audience! As the militia started using mob violence


against the British and infiltrated the police the Army's dilemma became


clear, the more it handed over to the Iraqis, the stronger the militia


grip on the city became. Could we speak to this shift commander,


please? GUNFIRE


. By the time the British launched operation Sinbad, trying to regain


control of Basra in 2006 they were too weak to prevail over the


militias. The operation ended with Buster in the hands of the militant


militia and death squads with the Iraqi security forces not able to


impose that alone and maintain the rule of law. With operations picking


up in Afghanistan, another thing the generals had pushed for, the


remaining British force in Basra and dub striking a deal with the militia


and retreating to the airport, awaiting withdrawal and attracting


the scorn of the Americans. It was in mediating that the UK reached a


position in which an agreement with a militia group -- humiliating, a


group that had been targeting UK forces actively was considered the


best option. Mindful perhaps of sacrifices made in Iraq Sir John


chose not to call it all a failure but almost everyone involved would


not claim that all those years in Basra was significant with precious


little cost and precious -- significant cost and precious little


to I'm joined now by General Sir


Mike Jackson, the head of the British Army


during the Iraq War, and by Sharon Turton,


whose husband Kris was killed Sharon, how did your husband die? He


was patrolling the province on the Iran- Iraq border, there was a


convoy from the battle group, the lead vehicle went to the back


because the detectors failed on the vehicle so that made my husband's


vehicle the lead vehicle. There was a daisy chain of eye you de-s. I


believe the first two exploded, and killed my husband instantly. And


killed a corporal. The gunner of the vehicle, only 18, was quite badly


injured, and the commander of the vehicle behind, James Jenkins, was


badly injured as well. Was equipment and issue because Chilcot does find


that we were in prepared and ill-equipped for the conflict. I


don't think the armoured vehicles supplied to the forces at the time


equipped with adequate armour. There were other vehicles out there with


better armour than British military vehicles. Was that correct, general?


We had what we had on a fairly short notice deployment. It is worth


remembering that for domestic political reasons, in the UK, will


not given the green light until Christmas or even perhaps New Year


2002. But our involvement in the war was discretionary. The Americans


would have done it without us. What was your advice? Were you telling


the politicians, we are not ready, let the Americans take this one


because we are not ready? This "Not ready", I'm going to push back a


bit. We got the green light at Christmas- New Year 2002. The


Americans would not delay beyond late March so we had this narrow


window. If the exam question was, can you get the allocated forces in


that time, the answer was a broad yes because that is what happened.


It's very interesting, all of this, that the conventional... We got


there in time but we did not have adequate equipment for all the


troops. Chilcot, you say we got there in time, Chilcot goes through


some of the shortages... We've just heard about Sharon 's husband... We


had Addicks adequate equipment that the conventional fight against


Saddam 's forces. The difficulty came in the aftermath. That is a


different story indeed. In the aftermath, you were one of those


advocating that we also went into Afghanistan. Ramped up into


Afghanistan. Chilcot is clear that we did not have the resources to


fight on both fronts. Would your job not have been to say, listen,


politicians, you are way over stretching the British forces, we


are ill-equipped in Iraq. Would that it was so simple. The commitment to


Afghanistan was a result of Nato taking over the command of the whole


operation. And, at two 2004, or thereabouts, the military presence


in Afghanistan had been, please..., Nato concluded that the military


footprint needed to go over the whole country. And there was a


timetable to do that. Did you warn the politicians? Did you say, you


are overstretching us? Or did you say, we can do it? The assumed


departure date from Iraq was 18 months later. So for 18 months, you


are quite right in this sense, we had to juggle but it was not a lack


of thinking it through, it was events. Sharon, what do you feel as


you hear this description of the mistakes, we thought we would be out


of Iraq in 18 months, two, we are overstretched and we don't have the


equipment and we are not doing it properly? I think they were


overstretched. Chilcot thinks they were. At the time I worked in a


military training camps so I saw the guys and the girls coming through,


day in, day out. Michael Jackson, did they do enough to restrain the


politicians for Britain to be a player in these wars? Honestly I do


not think I am qualified to answer that. I don't think I know enough. I


have a lot of personal opinions but I am not in a position where I have


to make these decisions. I'm not defending anybody they are in


difficult positions, but obviously, being a widow... You are at the end


of it. It is not just me and the other families, it is the guys and


girls came back injured, and physically scarred and their


experiences, what they saw as well. We will leave it there, thank you


both very much. Well, I want to turn


now to Paul Bremer, He was appointed as US


Presidential Envoy to post-invasion Iraq -


a kind of governor general. He ran the Coalition Provisional


Authority, and on his watch, A decision not to use the Iraqi


army after its defeat, and to engage in de-baathification,


purging Iraq of many people who had been running the country


and keeping it secure. Thank you for joining us. . The


de-baathification process is criticised in the Chilcot Report. Do


you accept it was too deep and too ambitious and left the country and


governable? No. I agree there was a mistake made in de-baathification.


It was not the one that the commission focused on. It's


important to remember how it came about. It was part of the prewar


planning, the one part that we got right. It was modelled on the


de-Nazification programme in Germany in 19 90 -- 1945 that more mild. We


are talking about 20,000 people. And all that and said about them was, it


could no longer have jobs in the government. -- they could not. They


were free to set at a newspaper or a radio station if they wanted to, a


business, or become farmers. The mistake I made was turning the


implementation of this narrowly drafted decree over to Iraqi


politicians, who basically used it as a form of political pressure on


their opponents. And I had to eventually... That was the mistake I


made, I should have found a better way to do it. What Chilcot says is


that the British thought it should be a much more limited


de-baathification, 5000, not 20,000. Yet the British had very little say


in this provisional authority government. They were just


informally nudging you, often ignored, and Chilcot said the


British vision was right and your vision was wrong. First of all, it


wasn't particularly my vision, it was the vision of the American


government, the decree was prepared before I was even back in


government, when I was a businessman, it was cleared by the


US government. What discussions they were with the British before the war


I don't know. I wasn't in government. I was very well served


by Abel British civil servants and ambassadors including Jeremy


Greenstock, who you just had on the show, who was one of the three


British deputies in the CPA when I was there. They had full axis to me


at all times. I know the Chilcot commission says there should have


been more formal meetings. I wonder what they were thinking, we were in


a wars, working 18 hours a day with gunfire coming in, was I supposed to


say that we need a table with the green baize cloth and we should all


wear suits and said around the table in a formal way? That is not the way


things work. Jack Straw, in his response today, the former Foreign


Secretary, he gets some criticism, and he describes the decisions made


as an extraordinary unilateral edict to disband the army and other


forces, consequence Iraq is still living with. He says that edict


blindsided key members of the US administration as well as members of


the British government, including Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice. I


wonder if Jack Straw is not pointing a lot of the blame for the mess


afterwards at the decisions that you took them. Well, that particular


decision was approved by the President of the United States, the


secretary of defence, the joint chiefs of staff of the United


States. It was previously discussed by my national security adviser with


The Authority 's in London ten days before it was issued, he received no


objections, and John Cirencester the Chilcot commission that he raises no


objections when I briefed him, the senior British official, on the


ground. So whatever else one can say, as far as I was concerned,


where I was, it had been checked with the British government and with


the American government. And I believe it was the right decision.


Thank you very much. Thank you for talking to us this evening.


You don't need to us to tell you today, of the grim aftermath


of the war and occupation; but if we are learning lessons


from the whole experience, it is worth looking


From apparent chaos did come a surge in American troops,


But Iraq then sadly descended into sectarian division,


becoming one of the hubs of the great transnational battle


Gabriel Gatehouse has been looking at what went wrong.


The invasion in 2003 was supposed to


remove an oppressive dictator and replace him


13 years on, Iraq is a country fragmenting.


Consumed by violence and run by sectarian militias.


This is the story of how that came about.


Not Shock And Awe 2003, but July 2016, last weekend,


a busy shopping area, 250 people are dead.


Chilcot speaks of an intervention that went badly wrong,


In Baghdad this evening at the site of


the explosion people gave their reaction.


When the British Army went into Basra, they were welcomed.


In the overwhelmingly Shia south, the removal of Saddam Hussein,


who had always favoured the Sunni minority, felt like a liberation.


But in the vacuum left behind by de-baathification,


the full scale dismantling of the Iraqi state,


Shia clerics like Moqtada al-Sadr built large followings


Backed by Iran, they began to cause trouble for


In September 2005, two men were stopped at a police


They were SAS operatives dressed as Iraqi civilians.


When they flashed their military IDs there was a confrontation.


They opened fire, killing an Iraqi officer.


He told Newsnight how he and his comrade were dragged


We were taken into an outhouse at the side of the checkpoint,


slowly but surely they removed our clothes, body armour, weapons.


Mock executions, light beatings, interrogation.


And then a chief police officer came in with red lapels,


told us it was mistaken identity and they were going to take


Loaded us into four or five police 4x4s and on the way back


to where the palace was, they took a left instead of a right


and went into the police station and took us in there.


The police had been infiltrated by the militia.


The British military, powerless to get the men released,


In the aftermath, angry crowds surrounded a British


These images shocked a nation that thought it was winning


As Chilcot identified, the militia, not the British Army,


had become the dominant force in Basra.


This event was a turning point certainly in the public perception


It was the point at which many people realised that softly,


And in the ensuing battle between the British military


and the Iranian-backed Shia militias, it was the militias that


Two years later, the Brits cut a deal with the militia


From then until their official withdrawal from Iraq


the British Army was in effect confined to barracks


As Chilcot makes clear, American planning for the postinvasion phase


They faced an insurgency in the West, led by a coalition


of Al-Qaeda and Sunni tribes that soon spread to other parts of Iraq.


In 2006, a massive bombing in Samarra at one of the holiest


Shia shrines sparked a sectarian Civil War.


By the summer of that year, 100 people were


I got back to Iraq at the beginning of 2007, and every morning


there would be dead bodies found in the street.


And you could tell what sect they were by the way


whether they had been drilled through the head


There was so many dead bodies on the river,


washed up, that people stopped eating fish.


They said the fish were starting to taste differently because they


The United States deployed an extra 30,000 soldiers.


Sunni tribes joined the Americans in the fight against Al-Qaeda.


US troop deaths declined, so too did civilian killings.


Emma Sky witnessed it firsthand as advisor to General Ray Odiemo,


I really felt that the war had been won, and by 2009,


the violence in Iraq had dropped dramatically.


And everybody in Iraq thought the Civil War was behind them.


Iraqis had changed their strategic calculus.


It wasn't that all the bad guys had been killed,


it was that they had decided they could achieve what


they wanted through politics, rather than through violence.


But in the end it was politics that was to be Iraq's undoing.


In March 2010 there were parliamentary elections.


The Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, and his coalition of Shia parties,


won two seats fewer than a secular coalition which had garnered support


Neither had enough seats to govern on their own.


Iran saw its chance and seized the initiative.


Behind the scenes the Americans were trying to negotiate a way out


And it was eventually Iran that managed to broker a deal that


would seek Nouri al-Maliki, their favourite candidate,


In return Nouri al-Maliki would demand a complete


So Maliki got his second term thanks to the Iranians.


When he was secure in his seat second term the first


thing he did was go after the Sunni politicians.


He accused them of terrorism and drove them out of


He says he had made to the Sunni tribes, the Sunni awakening that had


fought against Al-Qaeda in Iraq with the support of US forces, and he


arrested Sunni is en masse and in such an environment, Islamic State


was able to rise up out of the ashes of Al-Qaeda in Iraq and present


itself as the defender of the Sunnis against the Iranians backed regime


of Nouri al-Maliki. Today, Islamic State is in retreat, pushed out of


cities like Falluja by a coalition of Shia militia, and Sunni fighters


who have turned against the jihadists. They are backed by US and


British air power but on the ground, it is the divisive Shia militias


that holds sway. In the battle scarred towns, Sunni militias are


subjected to revenge attacks and as bombings last weekend showed,


Islamic State's capacity to kill remains under in. As the Americans


withdrew at the last of their trips in 2011, one man told me that Iraq


is becoming a place where other countries come to settle their


scores. Nearly five years later, that is exactly what has come to


pass. Let's finish by stepping into the


role of future historians and trying to assess what they will say. About


all of this, about Tony Blair and the humanitarian military


intervention. Joining me to discuss


the legacy of the Iraq war, how it shaped the landscape


of our politics and culture, is the novelist and commentator


Will Self, from the Financial Times, Roula Khalaf, and the MP


Rory Stewart who was senior coalition official in Iraq


between 2003 and 4. We have had a parade of people on


the programme who were involved at some level in the run-up to the war


and the conduct of it. Everyone gives a plausible sounding account


of themselves but we know the outcome was disastrous. I'm stuck


wondering whether someone ought to pay for the mistakes or whether it


is just off the difficult and we do our best and things do not always


work out. I think that is too easy. Too easy an answer. This war in


particular was a war that was unnecessary and avoidable. That is


not to say that Saddam Hussein did not deserve to be removed. But if


you are going to invade a country like Iraq, a conjugated country like


Iraq, then at the very least you need to have a plan about what you


do it after. We have heard this evening about big mistakes that were


made, de-Baathification, the dismantlement of the army, but


probably given the state of Iraq, you would have needed more than


that. Now one mistake is enough to explain it. You would have needed


total occupation. I remember covering Iraq before the fall of


Saddam and this was a country that had gone through decades of


dictatorship and ten years of the most crippling sanctions. Rory, help


us out. Should somebody be going to jail for the mistake of the Iraq war


or not? I don't think that is the correct response. The correct


response is for us as a country to be more serious and more honest


about what went wrong. I cannot you, personally being on the ground in


Iraq, the complexity that you were facing, Iranian intelligence


officers coming across the border, new Shia militias emerging that no


one had heard of, there were about 52 new Shia political parties


emerging in my province alone and almost nobody, and this was not a


question of fact, it is true we did not speak enough Arabic or know the


country well enough. We did not have enough troops. But that is only the


beginning of the problem. Within a few months it was obvious that we


should not have been there at all. We were out of our depth and the


same was true for the United States. Even the big stuff that you have


been hearing off, the surge of David Petraeus, it did not have a long


enough effect. The real conclusion is that we need to be much, much


more serious as a country. We need a total reform of the Foreign Office


and the military and our political system if we are going to get


engaged in these kind of things. Basing it on the opinion of one


person is not where you would go. Will self? The trope, punching above


our weight, on the international stage, that says it all. You should


not punch above your weight because you get knocked out, morally or


physically. Iraq was a watershed and glory and I were talking beforehand


and he was saying, what does this amount to? Why are we doing this?


And it is because we are stuck in this embolism of intent are row will


to you. We cannot move on from Iraq. We cannot move on because we will


not be serious, either about failures or about what it would mean


to be the kind of nation that believed it could have done that.


There is an interesting line in Chilcot saying that one of the


arguments for putting three brigades in, which was overstretching us, was


that there would be comment that we were not pulling our weight as we


did in Kuwait. And Chilcot also says that, and I am sure Rory will be


familiar with this, that people lobbied to go. It was perceived as,


we will be home by Christmas. And it is a bit sad, the Chilcot Report


coming out at 8000 pages, and even we you who are interested in this


will not be able to read the whole report. It been about changing the


world and making a difference. And I am afraid it is not, it is not a


rigorous or analytical and often. -- analytical enough. What worries me,


personally I think it is very good that there has been the Chilcot


Inquiry. I think it is extremely forensic and details. Hopefully this


will be kosher. But what worries me is that I feel as if the lessons of


the Iraq war have been over learned in a certain way. In our attempts


today to be so careful and so forensic about all of the


information that we have, in our attempt to over assess, what we risk


is paralysis. I compare Iraq in 2003 with Syria in the last three years.


But truly the true paralysis is in our consideration of this itself. If


Chilcot is damning about one specific thing, and I never thought


that he would be a reading of times -- war crimes trial, if Chilcot is


damaging about one thing it is the idea that they had to do this to


maintain the special relationship. Since Iraq, nobody questions the


special relationship. And you say that there is paralysis in Syria,


but what about Libya? There are other theatres that have gone


disastrously wrong. Libya is an interesting case because everyone


said, OK, Libya, it has to be very limited intervention because of


Iraq. Look at what you ended up with. Syria. We cannot intervene


because of Iraq. The shadow of Iraq permeates everything, everything


that happens. My gut instinct is that the heart of this is winning


back any kind of trust of the British public. I sense that anybody


watching this programme will think, here they are 13 years on, and it is


all the old conversations. We need to convince people, and may be


places like Bosnia and Syria where we did make a difference, and where


you can contribute. -- Bosnia and Serbia. If we are to do that again,


we need to regain trust and part of doing that is showing that we are


actually serious and really having the confidence in the British public


to believe that we have people leading us to know what they are


doing. What about only player? How will history judge him? I think they


will judge him harshly. I think what was clear from his statements today,


this is a man, and those who were out there chanting Blair lie on the


streets in 2003, not even us could deny that this is a man torn apart


by his conscience. You can see it written on his face. Whether his


conscience is made up of his own revulsion, the failure of his


hubristic ambitions, I am in no position to judge, but it does not


look good. In ten seconds, who will they remember a ruck? How will they


look back on it? Some people will look back on it as a form of


liberation that went terribly wrong. Some people will look on it as the


moment when the Sunni of the Middle East became the Sunni franchise --


became disenfranchised. Thank you very much indeed.


Perhaps the best thing you can say about government in Britain,


is that while it makes huge mistakes, it does also


have the capacity for extraordinary self examination,


of which the Chilcot Report is such a good example.


No-one to my knowledge is calling it a whitewash.


Over the next few days, there will undoubtedly be far more


to come out of it, given the length and weight of its conclusions.


Parliament will have two full days of debate next week.


We thought we might leave you with the man who resigned


from the Blair cabinet in protest at the Iraq War,


and who on can safely say would have found


Iraq probably has no weapons of mass destruction in the commonly


Namely, a credible device capable of being delivered


The longer I have served in this place, the greater


the respect I have for the good sense and the collective wisdom of


On Iraq I believe the prevailing mood of the


They do not doubt that Saddam is a brutal


dictator, but they are not persuaded he is a clear and present danger to


They want the inspections to be given a chance.


And they suspect that they are being pushed


too quickly into conflict by a US administration with an agenda of its


Above all, they are uneasy at Britain going out on a limb in a


military adventure without a broader international coalition and against


the hostility of many of our traditional allies.


I intend to join those tomorrow night who vote


It is for that reason, and that reason


alone, and with a heavy heart, that I resign from the government.


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