NEW YORK (Sputnik), Olga Denisova — Richard Butler said on Friday that the major report published in London on Wednesday about Britain’s role in the 2003 invasion of Iraq should serve as a lesson to the international community.
After a seven-year inquiry, the authors of the so-called Chilcot Inquiry found that the 2003 decision by the government of then Prime Minister Tony Blair to join the US-led invasion of Iraq was based on flawed intelligence and assessments and had grave consequences, many which are still being felt.
Richard Butler agreed with the conclusions made by the authors of the damming report and emphasized that military action was “not a last resort."
“Hans Blix, my successor in the arms control mechanism, made very clear that he needed a little bit more time to verify the claims made by the US and UK and it would be best if he had that time to get the further inspections and verifications done. But they rejected that and a few days later went to war,” Butler told Sputnik.
“The information that the US briefed the Security Council with in March 2003 was wrong,” he said.
After the report’s release on Wednesday Tony Blair accepted full, responsibility for the mistakes that led to Britain’s invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Richard Butler said that the leaders of the countries that took part in the military operation must be held accountable for their actions.
“Apparently there are groups of people who we are consulting on the possibility of seeking to bring Blair to some sort of trial or account. I don’t quite know what form that would take. Whether or not, I think that should happen… I think it should actually. That’s my opinion, I think it should. Otherwise political leaders aren’t held properly to account.”
He added that if Tony Blair were to be called to account and put into the court of law in some way, than he did not see any reason why John Howard [Australian Prime Minister from 1996 to 2007] shouldn’t sit there with him.
He admitted, however, that “it’s very hard to bring political leaders to account, especially with big states.”
During his interview with Sputnik Richard Butler said that “greater care should have been taken in using intelligence assessments as a basis of policy or actions.”
“Even those who agreed to the invasion of Iraq, including Tony Blair and John Howard, are now saying there were intelligence mistakes, the information we got wasn't right.”
“One of the lessons that should be learned is if you are going to make a decision on the basis of factual information, you have to admit you're very sure that the facts are what they're supposed to be and they've not being contrived in some way,” he emphasized.
Richard Butler mentioned the fine line existing between intelligence and political decisions based on this information.
“Not just the United Kingdom, there are many countries in the world where intelligence is tailored, is shaped to make a political objective. And I think that's an area that needs to be looked at very carefully. Because if you do something for the wrong reason you always get a wrong result,” he said in conclusion.