The former United Nations' chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix has accused both the US and UK government of using spin in presenting the case for war.
He told BBC's Today programme that evidence had been over-interpreted and said he hoped the governments would be more cautious in the future use of special intelligence.
He compared the way Britain and America were sure Iraq had weapons of mass destruction programmes to the way people in the Middle Ages were convinced witches existed and so found them when they looked.
Dr Blix also said he understood that information had to be simplified but people still expected it to be reliable.
Do you believe the reasons were enough for The US and Britain to go to war?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
The reasons enunciated by Blair were not valid - the action was. When will we hear a balanced view from the BBC's anti-US liberals on why the US cannot hand over control of Iraq to the UN? The reason for the US foot-dragging vis-à-vis the UN is the UN's lamentable record in getting anything done! One cannot handle a large complex problem by committee!
A B Davies,
Blix should be ashamed of himself for his blatantly self-serving doublespeak. Yes, the war was justified, but not because of the possibility of WMD. It was justified based upon human rights atrocities committed by Saddam, his sons, and the entire Baath regime. Would Americans and Brits have rallied to war if they'd been given only those reasons? No. Personal comfort certainly takes precedence over the suffering of others elsewhere.
Looking from the outside world (not UK or the USA), Bush and Blair look so stupid and arrogant with appalling lack of foresight and total contempt for the opinion of the rest of world. Two pathetic leaders - poor soldiers and innocent people paying the price for Bush and Blair's figment of imagination (WMD). Dear Americans and British remove these leaders from their offices and the world will be a safer place.
Dah! What was the alternate of not stopping Saddam and company? Continuing to massacre Iraqi opposition in any form? Think for a minute: yes, millions spent on the war, but just what value do we put on a human soul? Freedom always costs, and we in the West should be willing to pay for it.
RG Metzger, USA
I think the biggest point has been missed. The information and intelligence that was used to justify the war was obviously flawed. This begs the question, with all the money that the USA & UK spend on the intelligence services, how can they have got it so wrong? It should also be remembered that much of this intelligence (and its interpretation) was in part derived from Mr. Blix and the other UN weapons inspectors. I therefore do not think that Mr. Blix is blameless. He was happy enough to justify his job (and take the money) in going into disarm Iraq. This surly implied that he did expect to find WMD. I suspect that he is as shocked as the rest of us that they have not been found.
More than the lies - and lies they obviously were - what annoys me most about this sorry affair is that we in the UK (despite the majority of us opposing military adventurism) have now become terrorist targets. Bush, and Blair, acting with a supreme lack of foresight have managed to polarise the world.
Any person with even the least amount of intelligence and common sense would answer no!
Having said that that, I don't recall Mr. Blix being so forthright about his conviction during the build up to the war. Instead we got long-winded and multi-directional reports which only served to confuse and delay.
For those who claim Blix was just keeping his job open - Blix said years ago that he doubted the continued existence of Iraq's WMDs: the job of the weapons inspectors was to prove the point, and that meant continued searching and inspecting to see if anything turned up. Therefore, one of the reasons why Bush & Blair invaded Iraq so quickly was that nothing was being found; so they had to attack before it was proven conclusively. Hans Blix has been a beacon of fairness in this matter for years; and praise like this from a Norwegian to a Swede is not given lightly.
Karl Weibye, Norway/Scotland
Years in the planning by the global elite. Of course the reasons given for war were totally invalid. Invasion and occupation of Iraq as well as Afghanistan is to secure and control the oil. Watch out Iran, you may well be next on their list!
It is obvious that the administration in the US and the UK, must have known their stated reasons for going to war were incorrect. I see several comments to the effect that this is inconsequential: It's done now, and let's move on. What about next time?
Yes, the reasons were full of lies, but ultimately the war was just. It is about time people realised we could not just sit back and 'put up' with watching thousands more die under Hussein's regime. Many of you carp on about your 'rights to the truth', while innocent Iraqis died.
And yes, it would be hypocritical if we did not go after the likes of Mugabe and others after this. Let's settle this once and for all and have a world without dictators and despots. Could you all agree with that, or would we have another 'not in my name' protest!?
Is the removal of a dictator, albeit a contained and toothless one, a good thing - possibly. Is it good enough to warrant the killing of thousands of innocent people as well as some hundreds of UK and US soldiers - absolutely not.
However, those that now claim to be shocked that Bush and Blair were lying all along are equally hypocritical. It was obvious to anyone with an ounce of logical reasoning and knowledge of world affairs that the threat was being talked up out of all proportion, and anyone who believed it must have wanted to believe it at heart.
John Taunton, UK
The problem was that the real reason for going to war - a pre-emptive strike to prevent Saddam from getting nuclear weapons - had no basis in international law. The job of Bush and Blair was to so manage international opinion that such a pre-emptive strike became acceptable and thus establish a principle within international law justifying the war. In this they failed miserably, and so a war which was exactly the correct thing to do for our national interest is now seen as an illegitimate and "illegal" war.
A just war fought for the wrong reasons. Why couldn't Bush and Blair just have been honest? If they had made a humanitarian case to rid the world of a brutal dictator they would have by now secured a great moral victory. Instead they have shown themselves to be liars and hypocrites and not worthy of leading our citizens.
When it was thought likely that WMD would be found, Blix was saying he was interested in seeing what would come out of the basements of Iraq. Now these arrogant assertions. Talk about trying to cover your bets. He should be running for President of the US as a Democrat!
Mr Blix is absolutely right. The witch-hunt continues even today. The US will always find a scapegoat to cover up the utter failure of its policies in the Middle East.
The world has moved on, Hans Blix is still stuck in the past.
Of course they were not valid. Tony Blair and George Bush know this only too well. I have absolutely no trust in the UK or US government. Tony Blair must go.
Yes! It is quite rich for Hans Blix to come out now to say that Iraq destroyed the weapons in 1991, when he and his cronies were looking for them till recently at vast salaries paid for by the world taxpayers
Thank goodness for Mr. Blix's sane and knowledgeable commentary - of course the reasons for war were insufficient. We have Mr. Blix to thank for an articulate, authoritative voice concerning the actual (non-existent) state of threatening Iraqi weaponry. Britain was, nevertheless, shrewd enough to join the US war, since your country has now bolstered its relationship with the world's pre-eminent possessor of weapons of mass destruction. This bolstering has come at the cost of integrity and credibility, however, and it remains to be seen if this shrewdness will pay off in the long run. I hope not, but the politics of power are apparently far more important than those of moral behaviour these days.
Stop calling it spin and call it what it is - lies. Blair took us into war following Bush, continually telling us how dangerous this man was to us. There's no WMD and no link to 9/11, so was it all about oil then? Doesn't mean I'm not glad to see Saddam gone, but shouldn't the parents and families of soldiers lost, at least have known the truth before they saw their loved ones leave?
The reasons given to the public, were, of course, made up. That is obvious to almost everyone (with the exception of Americans who can be forgiven for trusting Bush, because of 9-11). I can't believe the question is even being asked, I think the media only asks it to give people the idea that it's not so obvious, when really it is. We knew they were made up even before the war began. The real question is, and has always been, why DID they want a war?
There is absolutely no proof that Iraq posed a significant or imminent threat to either the UK or the US. Even if there was evidence it is still debatable that we should have invaded a country pre-emptively. The state that Iraq is in now, and the lack of control the coalition has simply demonstrates the shoot now think later mind set the two countries had when entering this illegal war.
There were obviously plenty of reasons to go to war, but none of them were the ones given to us. It was obvious that nothing substantial in the way of WMDs was going to be found. Let's be honest - this was a good old-fashioned colonialist war about the control of resources. And, I'm ashamed to admit it but that is probably a perfectly acceptable reason for many of us in the West.
Mac McCarthy, UK
Apart from George Bush, Tony Blair and their close cronies who are trying to protect their own jobs and reputations, I don't see how anyone can defend the reasons used to go to war. There are no WMDs, there was no 45 minute threat, there was no threat to the region or internationally and there were no links with terrorism. The whole thing was made up to sell the war.
The 'reasons' we were given have been whittled away, leaving nothing. Yes, Saddam was a brutal dictator, but what has essentially happened, is a war to remove someone whose methods didn't meet with the west's. There are many more dictators in the world, are we going to invade their countries, indeed, has a precedence been made where we invade if they don't meet our western values?
Chris Mckenna, UK
The only reason we were given which hasn't turned out to be a lie (or exaggerated at least) is that Saddam was a bad man. That is not a valid reason to kill thousands of innocent Iraqis. That is not a valid reason to put thousands of our soldiers in the line of fire.
It is not the UK/US's job to police the world. That is for the UN (who were ignored). And there are plenty of regimes just as bad as in Iraq. Why single this one out?
I am very angry with our government and anyone who was in support of the war.
The only reason Britain went to war was because of economic relations with the US. As far as the Americans is concerned only George Bush had reasons to fight Iraq. Now is time to pull out and let the UN forces deal with it.
The reasons as stated at the time of going to war have been proved to be wrong. So, no it was not valid. The UK had stated we would go only with a UN mandate. This vote was not allowed to happen and we still went to war. Why? It seems now because Tony wanted it! That's no reason.
The validity of the decision to go to war depends on what was believed by the decision makers at the time. If they believed that there was an imminent threat from Weapons of Mass Destruction then it was a valid decision - whether or not there were such weapons in fact. If however they believed that there were no such weapons, and used them as a pretext, then we were lied to - even if such weapons were subsequently found.
Roger Steer, UK