Sussex father says his son ‘did not die in vain’ in Iraq

Second Lieutenant Jonathan Carlos Bracho-Cooke SUS-160707-091622001
Second Lieutenant Jonathan Carlos Bracho-Cooke SUS-160707-091622001

A Sussex father has spoken out after the publication of the Chilcot report saying his son ‘did not die in vain’ and that Tony Blair should not be prosecuted.

The report into the Iraq war by Sir John Chilcot was published on Wednesday, after a seven-year enquiry.

Some of the families of the 179 British soldiers who were killed have called for legal action against former Prime Minister Tony Blair following the report’s revelation that he had exaggerated the threat that Saddam Hussein posed and rushed into war before peaceful options had been exhausted.

However, Hove parents Jonathan and Patricia Cooke said their son, Second Lieutenant Jonathan Carlos Bracho-Cooke, did not die in vain.

Lt Bracho Cooke was 24 when he died in southern Iraq in February 2007. He was the 100th British serviceman to die in action – just months before he was set to be married to his fiancée Laura Bottomley.

Responding to the Chilcot report, his father, Jonathan, said: “Whatever the rights and wrongs of the Iraq war, and it is clear that serious mistakes were made in terms of fact, legality and preparation, my son, Jonathan, and all the men and women of the armed forces followed orders, as they were legally bound to do, and did the best that they could with the limited resources that were available to them.

“They gave due service to their country and we should be proud of them and honour the fallen regardless of the outcome of the conflict.

“Tony Blair must, of course, bear responsibility for the mistakes that were made but would any useful purpose be served now by prosecuting him when clearly he believed that Saddam Hussein was a threat to peace?

“He has made clear in his memoirs, which I have read, that he firmly believed that Islamic jihad posed the greatest threat to western civilisation at this time (not that Saddam could be described as a jihadist).

“Moreover, government is the collective responsibility of the cabinet so if there is to be legal action it should be against all of the cabinet members at that time.

“I do not believe my son died in vain. He had a job which he was very keen to do, and he was leading and protecting his men in the process.

“Had his time not come when it did, the risk of something similar happening in a future conflict would have remained. And at least the world was successfully rid of an evil and dangerous dictator.

“Some degree of instability after that was inevitable, even if not on the present and unforeseeable scale, and Iraq does at least now have some semblance of a democratic government.

“What lessons can be learned from this? Many in the short term but, in the long term, the biggest lesson of history is that mankind does not learn the lessons of history.”

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