EDITORIAL: No remorse for Iraq invasion
THE 2003 INVASION of Iraq was again in the news last week as former British prime minister Tony Blair was being re-examined before the Chilcot Commission of Inquiry into the legitimacy of the war.
Mr Blair, in a belated apology, said he regretted the death of the many thousands of Iraqis, but this is cold comfort to their relatives. He however remains intransigent that he did the right thing in prosecuting the war.
Unfortunately, it is of little moment now as his belligerent attitude in waging an illegal war against one of the once prosperous Arab countries on a fictitious legal basis has plunged the world in an unending nexus of uncertainty and terror.
Despite the military casualties on all sides, the Iraq invasion led to a staggering number of civilian dead – estimated between 200 000 and half a million – and destroyed much of Iraq’s infrastructure and ignited sectarian and ethnic strife, which has made it difficult to govern the country.
Unfortunately, many people in Britain want Mr Blair tried as a war criminal, and there were shouts of “too late”. His decision continues to dog him and has tarnished his otherwise successful period in office. All wars are cruel, and all governments make a case for them one way or the other.
What was unusual about the Iraq war was the blatant manipulation of information and so-called evidence by the governments in London and Washington to justify the invasion. The panoply of untruths ranged from the “sexed up” intelligence dossier that spoke of a “45-minute warning time” of an Iraqi attack to the fake uranium trail that led to Niger.
The United Nations (UN) Security Council had authorised the then Hans Blix Commission to verify and locate the weapons of mass destruction which Saddam Hussein was supposed to possess.
As Mr Blix later reported to the UN, he found no “smoking gun”. Still, without waiting for a UN resolution authorising war; which most legal scholars agreed was necessary; the power and might of the United States and Britain prevailed and overrode any legal niceties which could have derailed their decision to have a go at the oil-rich country.
The invasion and occupation have reportedly cost about one million lives and destruction of wealth of trillions of dollars. This should not go unchecked in the annals of history and is in dire need of a serious judicious probe with the explicit intention to punish the culprits.
The recent terror attack in Russia reminds us of the continuing consequences of this pernicious decision. Our only hope is that such calamities do not reach our shores.