East Antrim DUP MLA Sammy Wilson says that the Chilcot report’s findings should not prevent the UK from “intervening in foreign wars when our interests and security are under threat.”
Mr Wilson spoke out after Sir John Chilcot published his report for The Iraq Inquiry, which contains his analysis of the UK’s involvement in the 2003 Iraq War.
The report was ordered by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown to identify lessons that could be learned from the Iraq conflict.
Responding to its publication, Mr Wilson stated that Britain must “avoid an over-reaction which prevents us from intervening in foreign wars when our interests and security are under threat.”
He added that the “work and sacrifices of those who went to that hostile environment to serve their country should not be undermined.”
Mr Wilson said that the report made three things clear.
“First of all a decision to go to war and intervene in foreign countries is a very serious issue and should only be made on the basis of the best information available free of spin and fully presented,” he stated.
“The report indicates that the Blair government was not fully transparent in its dealings with the House of Commons and did not seek to ensure that all the alternatives were tried before putting the war option.
“The report does provide evidence that Tony Blair was driven by commitments he had made to the US President to support him come what may and no doubt that did colour his attitude towards legal advice, exploration of alternatives and intelligence available to him.
“Secondly it would seem that the capability of our armed forces was not properly assessed.
“The report highlights how overstretched they were, slowness in equipping them properly and requirements for them to carry out tasks they were not suited to.
“Lastly the failure to have any proper planning for what would be in place once the Saddam regime was toppled has been responsible for many of the terrible events which have occurred in Iraq since and contributed to the present destabilisation of that country.
“The unwillingness of the US to involve the UN, the failure of the UK government to test the plans which the US had to restore government in Iraq today seem incomprehensible yet were not seriously questioned in 2003.”
The elected representative said that the DUP’s decision not to support intervention in Syria was “influenced by the lessons of Iraq.”
“However we cannot turn our backs on our responsibility to intervene to stop terrorist sponsoring of security threatening regimes in future,” he added.
“Good government has a duty to use force to defend its citizens when occasions justify it what the story of Iraq highlights is that such a decision must only be taken when all the risks have been fully and honestly explored.”