So then, the Iraq Inquiry is finally on. Just for sport let me predict what the Inquiry’s headline conclusions will be:
- Those at the top genuinely did believe an active WMD program existed in Iraq
- This false belief was hardened by political interference in intelligence analysis. Anything that seemed to raise the possibility of an active WMD program was given more weight than anything that contradicted it. This cemented the ‘group-think’ faith in the WMD case.
- We did not plan sufficiently for the post war ‘occupation’, Or at least we didn’t protest enough to the Americans that they were not planning sufficiently.
- We faced a greater threat from Afghanistan/Pakistan and our energies would have been more usefully spent there.
There you go, Inquiry done. Millions of man hours and tax payer’s money
saved. I’ll link back to this post when the Inquiry is done and we can see how close I got…
I’m always very sceptical of these quasi-judicial show pieces. Think Bloody Sunday, think Arms-for-Iraq, think Diana, think Butler. Millions is spent, much is said, the documentary record is completed – but then what? Don’t get me wrong – I will avidly follow the Inquiry for two reasons: First, you hope that at least a small grain of genuinely new information comes into the public domain. Second there is a guilty schadenfreud. Watching people being grilled by armchair generals who have the benefit of 20/20 hindsight is like picking a scab. You know it is of little benefit but you can’t stop yourself doing it.
Sadly, the outcome of these things rarely has a material impact – those who had inklings before the Inquiry that align with the final judgement will jump up and down saying ‘I told you so’, those who leaned the other way will reject the outcome and use the words ‘government white-wash’. The lessons learned that are produced will be filed, then ignored, then forgotten, then repeated. It was ever thus.