Following the release of the British Chilcot Inquiry report into the Iraq war, former US president George W. Bush has defended the decision to invade Iraq together with the UK in 2003. Bush said on Wednesday that the world was a better place after the ouster of Iraq’s former dictator Saddam Hussain. The remarks came hours after the publication of the lengthy inquiry, led by Sir John Chilcot, into the UK’s role before, after and during the war in Iraq.
The 2.6 million-word Chilcot report said that the invasion of Iraq was not the “last resort” action presented to British MPs and the public. It added that there was no “imminent threat” from Saddam at the time and that the intelligence case was not “justified.” The report also said former British Prime Minister Tony Blair overstated the threat posed by Saddam’s supposed Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs), deployed ill-prepared forces to the Arab country and had “wholly” inadequate plans for after Saddam’s ouster.
Bush’s spokesman Freddy Ford said in a statement that Bush was hosting wounded military veterans for a bike ride in his ranch in Texas on Wednesday. “Despite the intelligence failures and other mistakes he has acknowledged previously, President Bush continues to believe the whole world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power,” Ford said. “There was no stronger ally than the United Kingdom under the leadership of Prime Minister Tony Blair,” he added.
Some 179 British troops were killed in Iraq between 2003 and 2009, when the UK decided to withdraw its forces from the country. Families of the dead soldiers have said their loved ones had died unnecessarily. Speaking at a news conference after the release of the Chilcot report, Blair once again said his decision to involve the UK in the invasion was “right,” noting that he did not agree with the idea that those who died or were injured in Iraq “made their sacrifice in vain” as they had played their part in “the defining global security struggle of the 21st century against the terrorism and violence which the world over destroys lives, divides communities.”