Tony Blair is right: Prime Ministers must be allowed to take difficult decisions

Posted by ap507 at Jul 07, 2016 10:33 AM |
Dr Robert Dover discusses the aftermath of the Chilcot report

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 7 July 2016

The Iraq war was a ‘catastrophic error’ and shows us that going to war should always be the last resort, according to Dr Robert Dover from the University of Leicester.

However, Dr Dover argues that while the decision was a bad one, history should be kinder about the decision to go to war - a complex decision made within a hectic policy environment with incomplete information, prior to the intelligence reforms that were subsequently seen in the UK.

Dr Robert Dover from the University of Leicester Department of Politics and International Relations has written an opinion piece for Think: Leicester, the University’s platform for academic opinion pieces, discussing Tony Blair’s actions in the aftermath of the Chilcot report, which was released on Wednesday 6 July. 

In the piece he outlines how history may remember the Iraq war, as well as how Tony Blair prosecuting a failed war against Iraq led to David Cameron being unable to find the political coalition to act in the Syrian crisis.

Dr Dover says: “Blair prosecuting a failed war against Iraq led to David Cameron being unable to find the political coalition to act strongly in the Syrian crisis: something which has allowed Russia to assert strong influence in a conflict that Europe and the United States sees as a strong threat to its security and interests. 

“With hindsight we can say that the Iraq war was a catastrophic error. Not just for ordinary Iraqi citizens, but for British armed forces killed or mentally and physically scarred by the conflict. We can say it destabilised a region, and opened us up to a scale of globalised terrorism that would have been unthinkable at the time. I believe Tony Blair is wrong when he says that history will be kind on these points: it won’t.

“Historical lessons are only relevant when they present decisions in the context of their time. The project failed because there was no post-victory plan and on that the defence planners are right to be criticised. But history should be kinder about the decision to go to war: a complex decision made within a hectic policy environment with incomplete information, prior to the intelligence reforms that were subsequently seen in the UK.

“Iraq was a decision for Blair and his colleagues to make. And his central defence is that if any one of us were to have been placed in his shoes as Prime Minister, with the information and advice he had, we would have likely made the same decision. And even if that decision was a bad one he made it in all good faith and that is all the public can ask of their leaders.

Read the full article ‘Tony Blair is right: Prime Ministers must be allowed to take difficult decisions’ hosted on Think: Leicester here: https://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/press/think-leicester/politics-and-international-relations/2016-1/tony-blair-is-right-prime-ministers-must-be-allowed-to-take-difficult-decisions

Read an article by Dr Robert Dover on the Chilcot report for Think: Leicester here: https://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/press/think-leicester/politics-and-international-relations/2016-1/four-lessons-from-chilcot-and-the-iraq-war

ENDS 

Notes to editors:

For more information and to interview Dr Robert Dover email rmd27@leicester.ac.uk 

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