Will the Chilcot Iraq inquiry achieve anything?

November 24, 2009

AFGHANISTAN-BRITAIN/OPERATIONSFew investigations can have begun with lower expectations than the Chilcot inquiry into Britain’s involvement in the Iraq war.

Critics have been withering:

— the Chairman Sir John Chilcot, a former Whitehall mandarin, has strong links to the establishment and is unlikely to rock the boat, they say.

— there are no senior legal figures on the panel capable of addressing the key issue of whether the invasion of Iraq was legal. None of the panel members has spoken out against the war.

— there is no political pressure for a radical result because the Tories voted for the invasion and the last thing they want is to let the inquiry rock the boat ahead of their expected general election victory in the Summer.

— the scope of the inquiry is too broad, possibly leading to insufficient detailed inquiries into complex issues.

But Chilcot has denied that his report will be a whitewash, there is clearly a widespread public desire to have all the lingering questions answered and the government has granted immunity from disciplinary action to serving officials and military personnel giving evidence to encourage them to give frank evidence.

Do you expect to learn anything new from the inquiry?

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