Back in 2002 those of us who had been campaigning against the war on terror, just past its first phase in Afghanistan, could see that war on Iraq was firmly in the sights of the then prime minister Tony Blair and the US President George Bush.
The Blair trip to Crawford Texas to visit Bush in April 2002 was clearly a turning point. It was obvious to anyone who cared to read beyond the official anodyne announcements surrounding the visit that there had been a deal between the two to go to war in Iraq.
The memos published in the Mail on Sunday confirm that this was indeed the case. The memo from Colin Powell admits as much and talks expressly about how best to handle the run up to war.
There is no talk of diplomatic solutions to the situation in Iraq. What is discussed is how best to achieve he goal which both men had already set themselves – that of going to war in Iraq. Their motive was clear at the time: nothing less than regime change, the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, would satisfy them.
The problem they had was that such an aim was illegal under international law. So began the lengthy process of lies and deception which paved the way for this completely unjustified war.
Just five months later the dossier claiming Saddam had weapons of mass destruction was published. It was used to make the case for war even though it was a farrago of lies, insinuation and exaggeration. Blair claimed hat he would exhaust diplomatic solutions but this was never his interest. He was determined to go to war.
All the speeches, negotiations, articles, dossiers, meetings with MPs, were part of an elaborate deception which defied much expert and overwhelming public opinion and led to a war and occupation whose consequences are still being played out today, at a huge cost to people across the Middle East.
There are now calls for the Chilcot inquiry to be reopened, which slightly misses the point since Chilcot has not reported on the evidence which it last took 4 years ago. Instead Chilcot should immediately publish its findings, and there must surely be an overwhelming case for Blair and his partners in crime to face trial at the Hague for war crimes.
The need for justice over Iraq is not just about the past but the present and the future. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn promised an apology over the Iraq war when he stood in the leadership election. This memo makes such an apology even more fitting and timely.
It should also serve as an urgent warning to MPs, especially Labour MPs, who are contemplating voting for war in Syria.
There are still huge numbers of refugees from countries when we have already intervened, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, as well as Syria where we are covertly intervening. The consequences of previous wars still weigh like a nightmare on millions of people. Do not make the mistake of prolonging this war in the name of humanitarian intervention. Or on the grounds that something must be done.
We have been doing things in the region for long enough. This memo shows the culpability of our leaders, and the terrible damage that they have caused. We must not make the same mistakes again.
Lindsey Ann German is an English left-wing political activist. A founding member and convener of the British anti-war organisation Stop the War Coalition, she was formerly a member of the Socialist Workers Party, sitting on its central committee and editing its publication, Socialist Review.