I Will Be With You, Whatever
Our headline is taken from the voluminous, seven-year official investigation into how and why Britain went to war in Iraq. Britain’s investigation by the independent Iraq Inquiry was unequivocal in its findings. Britain, like the United States, used flawed intelligence to justify the invasion, that Iraq posed no immediate national security threat, that the allies acted militarily before all diplomatic options had been exhausted and that there was a lack of planning for what would happen once Mr. Hussein was removed. Referred to as the Chilcot Report after the chairman of the committee, John Chilcot, the 2.6 million words describe a prime minister who wanted stronger evidence for military action and a more solid plan for occupying Iraq and reconstituting a government there. On July 28, 2002, roughly eight months before the American-led invasion of Iraq, Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain sent President George W. Bush a personal note that alarmed some of Mr. Blair’s top national security aides — and was greeted with relief in Washington. Blair wrote, “I will be with you, whatever,” in what could be described as a promise of Britain’s support if the USA went to war against Saddam Hussein. 14 years later, we know what happened and the results have haunted Iraq, the USA and Britain ever since: more than 200 British dead, including 179 soldiers, at least 4,500 American dead and more than 150,000 Iraqi dead, most of them civilians, as sectarian warfare, terrorist groups and actors like Iran have filled the vacuum left by Hussein. Within hours of the Chilcot Report’s release, Blair acknowledged the missteps and intelligence failures but defended his decision to go to war. The big question now is, could Chilcot steer the way for a United States independent Iraq Inquiry? And, what will the ramifications be for the USA and the overly shambolic lead-up to the Presidential election? To help us understand the consequences for the United States and all the players involved, frequent contributor, the scholarly, Dr. Binoy Kampmark will join the next edition of Life Elsewhere.
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