Chilcot's lessons on Iraq

时间:2019-10-08 责任编辑:莘牟 来源:银河娱乐网投官网 点击:178 次

The has now set the stage nicely for potentially significant revelations about the build-up to the invasion of Iraq. We shall see whether these transpire, notably when Tony Blair and Lord Goldsmith, the then attorney general, give evidence early in the new year.

Chilcot has not dwelt on the invasion itself, described by Sir Jeremy Greenstock, our man at the UN at the time, as militarily a "". It has so far concentrated most – in terms of hours of testimony and number of witnesses at least – on what allowed Greenstock to use that arresting phrase. That is to say, the aftermath of the invasion and the scandalous, indeed criminal, lack of preparation and foresight devoted to it. The absence of intelligence, or intelligent thought, given to the state of Iraqi society either before or after an invasion was as shameful as the way intelligence was abused by the Blair administration about Saddam Hussein's putative WMD programme.

No other Iraq-related inquiry – neither nor – addressed the invasion's aftermath, largely because they had more specific terms of reference and because their inquiries were too early to consider fully the "lessons learned", a phrase repeatedly used by Chilcot and his four-member panel.

It is not just a matter of ensuring that in any future conflict, more attention must be paid to economic and humanitarian problems, to embrace "hearts and minds" by giving priority to the supply of water and electricity and other basic necessities. It is a matter of international law.

Under the , adopted in 1949, occupying powers are obliged to protect the civilian population of the country they are occupying. No wonder the British and American governments backed away from the description of "occupying power" – – even though that was their formal status established by the UN.

Some well-placed former public figures involved have said privately that prominent policy-makers in London and Washington at the time could be tried more easily for war crimes for breaching the fourth Geneva convention than for other acts or omissions.

This lack of preparation for the post-invasion occupation of Iraq led directly to other crimes. The lack of proper military training led to the abuse of Iraqi detainees by British soldiers, the subject of two public inquiries forced on the government by the . One is investigating the circumstances surrounding the death in British custody of , a Basra hotel receptionist, in 2003. The second is investigating allegations that British soldiers abused, and in once case murdered, Iraqi civilians detained after a fierce battle, , in Armara, north of Basra, in 2004.

The lack of preparation and ignorance of international law also led to allegations, which in two cases are being investigation by the police, of abuse by officers of MI5 and MI6, Britain's security and intelligence agencies.

Lessons are being learned now. More should be when Chilcot finally reports.