July 6, 2016 Last Updated 10:57 am

Media coverage of Chilcot today, Iraq coverage yesterday

The long awaited Chilcot report was made publicly today, leading to widespread condemnation of the politicians responsible for possibly the greatest foreign policy decision in over 70 years. But while the press looks bad at the arguments for war made by UK and US politicians in the lead up to the war, few in the press want to talk much about the media’s role in the war.

Here are but a few excerpts of today’s coverage, along side a few clips from coverage from the same papers before the war.

The Washington Post:

Today: Long-awaited British inquiry into Iraq War brings scathing critique of Blair

The report spans a breathtaking 2.6 million words — five times longer than “War and Peace” — and addresses nearly every facet of Britain’s decision to jump into the war alongside its American allies in 2003, as well as Britain’s role in Iraq for the next six years.

The findings raised the prospect of legal action against British leaders who held office during the war years. The conclusions also cut deeply into the logic behind Britain’s decision to invade Iraq side-by-side with U.S. troops while other European partners stood strongly opposed.

2003: ‘Drumbeat’ on Iraq? A Response to Readers

Probably no editorial page sin could be more grievous than whipping up war fever for some political or trivial purpose. And we do not take lightly the risks of war — to American and Iraqi soldiers and civilians first of all. We believe that the Bush administration has only begun to prepare the public for the sacrifices that the nation and many young Americans might bear during and after a war…

…Some argue now that, because Saddam Hussein has not in the intervening half-decade used his arsenal, Mr. Clinton was wrong and the world can rest assured that Iraq is adequately “contained.” Given what we know about how containment erodes over time; about Saddam Hussein’s single-mindedness compared with the inattention and divisions of other nations; and about the ease with which deadly weapons can move across borders, we do not trust such an assurance. Mr. Clinton understood, as Mr. Bush understands, that no president can bet his nation’s safety on the hope that Iraq is “contained.” We respect our readers who believe that war is the worst option. But we believe that, in this case, long-term peace will be better served by strength than by concessions.

The New York Times:

Today: Chilcot Report on Iraq War Offers Devastating Critique of Tony Blair

The report is likely to underline in Britain the sense that Mr. Blair was “Washington’s poodle,” the phrase widely used by Mr. Blair’s critics at the time. The report says the lessons from the British government’s conduct are that “all aspects” of military intervention “need to be calculated, debated and challenged with the utmost rigor,” and decisions, once made, “need to be implemented fully.”

Mr. Chilcot, speaking for the inquiry as a whole, concluded that “sadly, neither was the case in relation to the U.K. government’s actions in Iraq.” And he emphasized that Britain’s relationship with the United States was strong enough “to bear the weight of honest disagreement.”

2003: Thomas Friedman – A War for Oil?

Our family spent winter vacation in Colorado, and one day I saw the most unusual site: two women marching around the Aspen Mountain ski lift, waving signs protesting against war in Iraq. One sign said: ”Just War or Just Oil?” As I watched this two-woman demonstration, I couldn’t help notice the auto traffic whizzing by them: one gas-guzzling S.U.V. or Jeep after another, with even a Humvee or two tossed in for good measure. The whole scene made me wonder whether those two women weren’t — indeed — asking the right question: Is the war that the Bush team is preparing to launch in Iraq really a war for oil?

My short answer is yes. Any war we launch in Iraq will certainly be — in part — about oil. To deny that is laughable. But whether it is seen to be only about oil will depend on how we behave before an invasion and what we try to build once we’re there.

The Guardian:

Today: The US needs its own Chilcot report

House Republicans’ investigations into Benghazi has lasted far longer than any sort of investigation into Iraq, despite there being little doubt that the Iraq war was the biggest foreign policy disaster of the last quarter century. Not only did it lead to the deaths of well over a million people, but the US has spent trillions of dollars fighting it, and its chaotic ripple effects throughout the Middle East continue to dominate US foreign policy. Most notably, the war spawned the terrorist group Isis, which the US will likely spend the next generation fighting.

Coincidentally, a scathing new biography of Bush was published Tuesday by renowned historian Jean Edward Smith, and it sounds like it’s closer to an indictment than anything an official governing body has come close to producing. Smith, who devotes a substantial portion of his book to the lead-up and aftermath of the Iraq war, concludes: “Whether George W Bush was the worst president in American history will be long debated, but his decision to invade Iraq is easily the worst foreign policy decision ever made by an American president.”

2003: Iraq: the case for decisive action

A war with Iraq has become more likely in the past week. Thursday’s discovery of undeclared poison gas shells was insufficient to trigger war alone. But here was the first concrete, and predictable, confirmation that Iraq’s co-operation with Hans Blix’s UN weapons inspectors has been less than complete. And Saddam Hussein’s defiant speech on Friday even disappointed those who still hope that the Iraqi leader might choose comfortable exile in Libya or Belarus.
One thing which has been stressed too little in recent weeks is that it is Iraq’s choices that have brought war closer…

…War with Iraq may yet not come, but, conscious of the potentially terrifying responsibility resting with the British Government, we find ourselves supporting the current commitment to a possible use of force. That is not because we have not agonised, as have so many of our readers and those who demonstrated across the country yesterday, about what is right. It is because we believe that, if Saddam does not yield, military action may eventually be the least awful necessity for Iraq, for the Middle East and for the world.

The Independent:

2002: Saddam may be a risk to peace, but Mr Blair has failed to make the case for war against Iraq

Let us be clear: Saddam does represent a risk to peace, but he is not such a substantial danger as to justify unilateral military intervention. If we were to march into Baghdad, say, what then? Where is his replacement to be found? Are we to have a repeat of the situation in Afghanistan, where the US just bombs the old regime out of existence and then ships out? What effect would such a vacuum have on the stability of the region, particularly Saudi Arabia? What would a $60 barrel of oil do to the world economy? A pre-emptive strike by the West may even place Saddam in a position where he feels he has nothing to lose, and it may actually provoke him to attack Israel. In other words, awful as Saddam is, a war to remove him could easily make matters far worse.

The real threat to Western security, as 11 September demonstrated, comes from individual acts of terror. A war on Iraq would create hundreds of thousands more volunteers for al-Qa’ida and similar groups. If we really want to make the world a safer place, we have to make the Middle East a safer place. That means a lasting peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians. War on Iraq would only render that prospect still more distant.

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