The UK’s Chilcot inquiry was released on Wednesday, and while it is no secret in the US that the invasion was a failure, nothing so damning as the 2.6m-word British inquiry has been released by an independent US government body.
“The Chilcot report is an example of what we could do if there was any kind of political courage to reckon with the after-effects of the global war on terror that we were pushed into,” said Matt Howard, who was deployed to Iraq twice while serving in the marine corps.
Congressional reports have shown that the US invasion was based on faulty intelligence, but none were as crushing as Chilcot, which provoked the mother of a British soldier killed in the war to declare former British prime minister Tony Blair the “world’s worst terrorist”.
The inquiry found that President George W Bush and his aides exaggerated intelligence to make a case for invading Iraq, and that planning and preparations for Iraq after Saddam were “wholly inadequate”.
“The fact that we haven’t done a report like that – and there haven’t been any moves to do that – makes it a whole hell of a lot more likely that we are going to go right down the same road and make the same mistakes we did less than 13 years ago,” said Howard.
He is now codirector of Iraq Veterans Against the War, which he joined after seeing the gap between how the war was being described by the government and the media and what was actually happening in Iraq.
Nearly 5,000 US soldiers died in the war and disillusionment is high among those who survived – only 44% of veterans who fought in post-9/11 wars said the invasion of Iraq had been worth it, according to a 2011 Pew Research Center survey.
But the response to Chilcot, which supported allegations that the invasion helped spawn terrorist groups like Islamic State, was muted in the US. Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, a prominent not-for-profit group, did not have a comment on the report.