The Chilcot Inquiry


2016070620160709 (R4)130 sessions of oral evidence,150 witnesses, 150,000 documents, more than 2.5 million words - the Chilcot Report on the Iraq War was finally published on the day of this programme. The inquiry was set up to examine our reasons for taking part in the US-led invasion of Iraq, how the war was prosecuted and its aftermath. But was the decision to go to war morally justified? Chilcot confirms that there was a massive failing in intelligence in the lead-up to the decision to go to war, especially around WMD; it accepts that Tony Blair was acting in good faith and did not deliberately mislead Parliament and the public about that intelligence. The relationship between morality and consequences is complex and sometimes contradictory. If Tony Blair and his government were acting in good faith but the consequences of that war were so catastrophic, can we still describe the decision to go to war as a moral one? If the government were a limited company, isn't this the kind of gross negligence that would lead to directors being prosecuted for corporate manslaughter? On the other hand, if - being wise after the event - we were to hound all politicians for making decisions that went wrong, wouldn't that produce sclerosis and the replacement of democratic judgement with technocracy? Is this a counsel of moral perfection that produces only paralysis of the will? When does ignorance become a moral failing? Is that contingent on outcomes? What if the war had been a success and Iraq transformed into a flourishing democracy? Would we still be worrying about whether it was moral? Would we have spent £10m on an inquiry about it? Chaired by Michael Buerk with Michael Portillo, Matthew Taylor, Giles Fraser and Melanie Phillips. Witnesses are Prof Michael Clarke, John Rentoul, Haider Al Safi and Dr Dan Bulley.