The Debate Over Iraq Has Been Placed on Mute in Washington

On July 28, 2002, the British Prime Minister Tony Blair wrote a memorandum to American President George W. Bush about Iraq. “I will be with you, whatever,” Blair wrote with teenager’s diction. It was a pledge that Blair would keep through the year and into the illegal war against Iraq that the Bush administration prosecuted in 2003. Not only did this war break Iraq—a country weakened by the sanctions regime and its earlier wars—but it also severely threatened the legitimacy of the West in the eyes of the world. It took six years for an inquiry to be opened in Britain.


Finally, after much delay, the Chilcot Report—all of 2.6 million words—has been released. It tells a great story of deceit. There is no Chilcot inquiry in the United States, where perhaps it is most needed. Both of the major political parties, the Republicans and the Democrats, are damaged by their unity on this war. Bush led the way, but Democratic front-runner for the presidency, Hillary Clinton, voted for the war in Congress. Controversy over the lead-up to the war remains in the U.S., but none of the major political parties would like a Chilcot inquiry in the U.S.

In the U.S., the debate over Iraq has been placed on mute. Hillary Clinton’s vote for the war means that Democrats do not want to make this an issue in the presidential election. Donald Trump, the Republican candidate, had supported the war in 2003. He now says he opposes it. But his entire party bears culpability for the war. In a primary debate, Trump attacked Bush for the war. It was an unusual moment. Bush’s brother Jeb Bush was on the stage then. He defended his brother, and also stood up for his party. Trump has since been silent on the Iraq war.

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