British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said on July 6 that public opposition to the war in Iraq had been “vindicated” — and called on politicians who ignored pleas for peace to “face up to the consequences”.
Speaking in parliament after the publication of the long-awaited Chilcot report, Corbyn said its conclusions proved the 2003 invasion of Iraq was “an act of military aggression launched on false pretences”.
He said parliament had been “misled” by then-Labour prime minister Tony Blair, describing the infamous “dodgy dossier” claiming Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction as “only the most notorious of many deceptions”.
Directly referring to Blair, Corbyn concluded: “Those who took the decisions laid bare in the Chilcot report must face up to the consequences of their actions, whatever they may be.”
Corbyn detailed the consequences: the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians and 179 British service personnel, the displacement of millions of refugees and an explosion of sectarian civil wars and terrorism.
The fallout was still being felt on July 3 when an Islamic State bomb attack in Baghdad killed more than 250 people.
Corbyn said the invasion and subsequent “colonial style occupation” had been a “catastrophe” for Iraq, “fuelled and spread terrorism” in the Middle East and “led to a fundamental breakdown in trust in politics” at home.
The veteran anti-war campaigner added: “The tragedy is that while the governing class got it so horrifically wrong — many of our people actually got it right.
“On February 15 2003, over 1.5 million people spanning the political spectrum and tens of millions of other people across the world marched against the impending war, in the biggest demonstration in British history.”
Corbyn said though he was “not satisfied” but “saddened” in the wake of the report. Turning to the lessons that can be learned, he called for a “more open and independent relationship with the United States and for a foreign policy based on upholding international law”.
He also called for a new War Powers Act, which would give parliament the final say over any military intervention, and is set to be debated by MPs in coming days. Corbyn met with families of British and Iraqi people killed in the conflict last night.
[Reprinted from Morning Star Online.]
Jeremy Corbyn's apology: "I now apologise sincerely on behalf of my party for the disastrous decision to go to war in Iraq in March 2003.
That apology is owed first of all to the people of Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost and the country is still living with the devastating consequences of the war and the forces it unleashed.
They have paid the greatest price for the most serious foreign policy calamity of the last 60 years.
The apology is also owed to the families of those soldiers who died in Iraq or who have returned home injured or incapacitated.
They did their duty but it was in a conflict they should never have been sent to.
Finally, it is an apology to the millions of British citizens who feel our democracy was traduced and undermined by the way in which the decision to go to war was taken on the basic of secret 'I will be with you, whatever' understandings given to the US president that have now been publicly exposed."