Should we have gone to war?

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Indy Politics

J G BALLARD

Author

I thought Blair was wrong at the time, and I'm even more certain of it now. The report confirms my suspicions that Blair decided to take Britain to war and was looking for evidence to justify it. As for Butler, it is highly unlikely that a senior establishment figure who spent years in the service of the state would do anything to embarrass his political masters. We saw this with the Hutton report and we see it again in the Butler report.

FELIPE FERNANDEZ-ARMESTO

Author and historian

We've lost common standards in politics. We no longer have an agreed doctrine of just war. [The Butler report] is asking the wrong questions. Legal is not the same as just. I don't need reports telling me there was no justification for war. Butler is a cleverer man than Hutton. He has discovered important truths about inadequacies. It's not true to say it's whitewash, but it doesn't ask the right questions.

BERNARD MANNING

Comedian

It's the usual whitewash with nobody to blame. At the time I thought Saddam was being silly. He was given a chance but was stupid. I don't think we should have invaded, though; we've stirred up a hornets' nest. We're better talking than throwing bombs - wars don't solve anything. It will change my vote; these reports are jobs for the boys. Nothing changes - it's like shovelling deckchairs on the Titanic.

ANN CRYER

MP for Keighley

I opposed the war from the beginning and made my views on that known. But I have to say, it is very frustrating to see the Tories and Liberal Democrats attacking Blair now. Yes, mistakes were made and my views on that haven't changed, but the Opposition were siding with the Government at the time. They were pro-war while I was anti-, and now you would think they had absolutely nothing to do with it.

BEA CAMPBELL

Journalist and author

The Butler report is the third whitewash, after Hutton and the Joint Intelligence Committee. There was deliberate political spin to take us to war and mislead us about the threat from Iraq. I always felt it was about land and power, rather than establishing and stabilising Iraqi human rights. Butler says the intelligence was misleading. What I don't know is why this Prime Minister and the head of MI6 are still in their jobs.

SIR MALCOLM RIFKIND

Politician

The war was unjustified and the Butler inquiry adds weight to that. The allegations to Parliament were untrue and I suspect the House of Commons would have voted against the war had they known. It is obvious now that we went to war on false premises; the intelligence was inaccurate and the process flawed. I'm not one of Blair's greatest admirers anyway, but that stems from before the war.

SIR STIRLING MOSS

Former racing driver

I am appalled. I was not necessarily "anti-war" in the first place, because I was sold the idea on what now seems to be false premises. This is ghastly; we have been misled. There is a long line of command - it is not just the Government which is responsible, but also the people who inform them. People should pay for what they have done; somebody has to take responsibility, and heads should roll.

TRACEY EMIN

Artist

Every other country except America said no to the war, it was against the UN, and fundamentally wrong. Blair should no longer be Prime Minister. I won't vote Labour in the next election, though Tony Blair is not Labour. I didn't vote for him in the last election. As a human he might be OK, but he is not representing the views of the public. As a gentleman, he should resign honourably and immediately.

RICHARD DAWKINS

Academic and author

Nobody will be surprised to hear Butler's verdict that the premises on which we went to war were false. It is also now clear that the intelligence services yielded to Downing Street pressure to sex up a weak case, to satisfy Blair's desire for ammunition to persuade Parliament to go along with a decision already taken in Washington. I find it hard to understand precisely what Andrew Gilligan was supposed to have got wrong.

ROGER SCRUTON

Philosopher

It doesn't sound like a whitewash: maybe the Prime Minister should be exonerated. I think it's the only courageous and upright thing he has done throughout his premiership. I'm against war unless it's to defend the national interest. But it's difficult now because enemies are shadowy - not foreign states but stateless beings. I forgive Blair in the light of 11 September - there could have been a link between al-Qa'ida and Saddam.

MEREDITH ETHERINGTON SMITH

Writer and broadcaster

I think Blair had to go to war. Saddam had huge caches of weapons, he gassed the Kurds, he invaded Kuwait; it was a very unstable region. I think he had to do it. The Butler report wasn't a whitewash but a blanding-out, a levelling-down to be inoffensive. It was a tactful, Civil Service, old-style report. I can't comment about the intelligence services, but we always hear more about their failings than their successes.

WAYNE HEMMINGWAY

Fashion designer

I was against the war, though I think Blair went to war in good faith. He is not a bad man, but has made a mistake. There had to be another way because of the human and financial cost. If there was anyone even half as good as Blair I would vote for them, but there isn't ... It's a shame that Britain is painted with the same brush as America, but it is not enough to get me shouting 'out with Blair'.

JILLY COOPER

Author

What an appalling war. I always thought it was wrong. This has damaged our relations with the whole region. It would be awful if there was a terrorist attack on England ­ and I can't help but think that Blair's decision to follow Bush and the United States is provocation and will make an attack more likely.

GERMAINE GREER

Commentator

The war was unfounded. There were no WMD. An unjust war is bad but an avoidable war is worse. We are still avoiding the main issue, which is how much damage we have done. This was a war on the civilian population. Blair has lost credibility and the world is now more dangerous.

Genevieve Roberts

BUTLER/IRAQ IN NUMBERS

Number of words in Butler Report: 89,920   Number of pages in report: 196   Number of chapters: 8   Number of conclusions: 67   Number of members of Butler committee: 5   Number of months preparing the report: 5   Number of witnesses: 47 Number of ministers who gave evidence: 4   Number who gave evidence who asked not to be identified: 9   Number of former heads of the JIC who gave evidence: 6   Number of UK intelligence heads who have resigned: None   Number of US intelligence heads who resigned: 1   Number of US military fatalities since start of war: 887   Number of British military fatalities since start of war: 60   Number who died since Bush declared an end of major combat operations: 952   Number of US troops in Iraq: 137,000   Number of UK troops in Iraq: 8,300   Number of US wounded: 5,140 Number of journalists killed in Iraq: 30   Number of hostages killed: 5   Number of Iraqis killed: 40,000   Total cost of the war: $126.1bn   Percentage of Iraqis who express 'no confidence' in coalition: 80   Number of WMDs found: None   Number of people to blame in the Butler report: None

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