Iraq war inquiry - lessons to be learnt
After six years, the deaths of 179 British military personnel and countless more Iraqis, the government has finally agreed to set up an inquiry into the war that toppled Saddam Hussein.
Yet before it has even held its first session, it faces the charge that it will be an establishment stitch-up held behind closed doors whose conclusions are timed to come out after the next general election.
The prime minister can reply that he has granted just what the Conservatives have spent years demanding - a private inquiry by the great and the good - just like the Franks Report into the Falklands War.
He deploys the vastly expensive and interminably long inquiry into Bloody Sunday to argue that public inquiries all too often focus on the defence of individuals rather than the search for truth or lessons to be learnt.
Ever so quietly, some in Whitehall add that the Hutton Inquiry into the death of David Kelly proves that no inquiry - however public - will ever satisfy some.
Nevertheless, today's announcement is already facing criticism from keen advocates of the conflict as well as from its bitterest opponents.
The Chilcott Inquiry is being presented as an examination by experts of the lessons to be learnt from the Iraq war. The men Gordon Brown has chosen are familiar with the complexities, the compromises and the uncertainties involved in British intelligence, diplomacy and military planning.
It will not be a naming of the allegedly "guilty men", nor an opportunity for a public airing of the political wounds opened by the Iraq war. Nor a healing process.
The reaction to today's announcement suggests that may never actually be possible.