The former head of the Royal Navy has admitted that he was told that Britain would join the US to invade Iraq nine months before the decision was announced to the public. Admiral Lord Alan West, who sits in the House of Lords as a Labour peer, made the revelation while giving evidence before the public administration and constitutional affairs committee on Tuesday. The committee was examining the role of parliament in the authorisation of the use of military force.
"I was told as commander-in-chief (Fleet) in June, after the Camp David meeting, that we would be invading Iraq with America in the beginning of the following year," he told MPs, according to Mail Online.
West accused Tony Blair's Labour government of trying to find an excuse to go to war: "It was quite clear the Government were thinking we have to get Parliament and others on sthe ide. But what was interesting was that as it developed, there was all this stuff on weapons of mass destruction and everything, and it did seem to me that people were looking for a casus belli that they could discuss in Parliament."
West explained that he had issued a message to the fleet and the Royal Marines to be "ready for war in the Northern Gulf by December 31," three months prior to the invasion in March 2003 as part of a US-led coalition. British forces joined the coalition under a cloud of political controversy about the legality of military action and amid intense public opposition to the conflict.
The invasion led to what is widely considered to be one of the worst foreign policy disasters in recent history. Over a million Iraqis are thought to have died since the invasion and occupation. The instability caused by the decision to invade made by Blair and US President George W Bush is believed to have paved the way for the rise of Daesh, the so-called "Islamic State" group.