The Chilcot report has laid bare the US-British plot to remove Saddam. This is the second time (that we know of) where the US and the UK have conspired to remove a Middle Eastern leader. "The world is safer" claimed former British Prime Minister Tony Blair in justifying the removal of Iraqi president Saddam Hussein. More than a decade after the event and following the seven year wait for the Chilcot report, it is too early to say whether this is the case.
Blair's refusal to admit error, coupled with his jet-setting lifestyle earning millions as a consultant to a variety of distasteful regimes, means that his epitaph will be a cruel one. And judging by his haunted, haggard look at last Wednesday's surreal press conference, he knows it. What he does not know, and what he refuses to acknowledge, is what it is like to live in the Iraq that he and Bush have created.
But if we allow Blair to carry the blame for the disaster of Iraq alone we are deceiving ourselves. He was aided and abetted every step of the way by the Labour Party and the Conservatives, by the overwhelming majority of the British press, by vast sections of public opinion, both on the patriotic right and the worthy left -- in short, by the entire British Establishment.
As we approach the first anniversary of the Iranian nuclear deal, tens of thousands of activists and Iranian dissidents are set to rally this Saturday in Paris, calling for Tehran's nefarious conduct at home and in the region to be tackled. One of the primary messages at this rally will be to condemn Iran's role in the massacre of the Syrian people and to demand an end to its assistance to the Assad government.
The publication of the Chilcot Report into the UK's involvement in the 2003 Iraq war has as its focus the events that led up to the flawed decision over the UK going to war, and to some extent the other side of the equation; the impact of this flawed decision-making on the conduct of the subsequent 'nation-building'.
The publication of the Chilcot Report will lead to renewed soul searching over our future international commitments. I was neither for nor against the war, rather I served in it. As an elected representative today my duty is to scrutinise the basis for that decision with dispassionate care. We must freely and frankly debate the mistakes that were made so they may never be repeated. We need to undertake our analysis in a forensic manner. Only by doing so will we regain the trust and confidence of the public in making these decisions.
Over the coming weeks and months MPs and experts will be poring over the detail of what is in John Chilcot's report. I have all twelve volumes sitting on my desk right now and I aim to read as much as possible. It's crucial that this report doesn't 'put to bed' the Iraq War. The families of the British troops and Iraqi civilians who died deserve better than that. Instead this moment should be a springboard for making the changes needed to ensure that there is never another unjustified and bloody intervention like the one we embarked upon in Iraq thirteen years ago.
While much of the commentary on the Chilcot report is on the decision to go to war, it is important not to miss the lessons of Britain's occupation of Southern Iraq. How it went from a brilliantly successful initial invasion to a rapidly deteriorating security situation and finally what Chilcot described as the 'humiliating' spectacle of doing a deal with violent militia groups to stop attacks on British troops holed up in their bases is an important story.
Women, who are among the most disadvantaged, have become responsible for protecting and providing for themselves and their children with next to nothing in hand yet they bring enormous resilience to the task of survival and step courageously outside traditional roles to keep families afloat. That's why we must continue to invest in these solutions.