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 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
…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
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?
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.
Today: The US needs its own Chilcot report
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
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.
2002: Saddam may be a risk to peace, but Mr Blair has failed to make the case for war against Iraq
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.