This March marks the 20th anniversary of the US and UK-led invasion of Iraq to oust Saddam Hussein. Based primarily on unfounded fears Iraq’s WMD (weapons of mass destruction) capability was buidling up in the absence of UN inspection and constraints on the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) safeguards, the decision to go to war has reverberated throughout the Middle East, the intelligence communities, and Western political decision-making ever since.
In the 2002–03 period when UN inspectors were allowed back into Iraq, Hans Blix, chairman of UNMOVIC (UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission) and Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the IAEA, were at the centre of a storm in which they were put under huge pressure to agree with the US/UK narrative on the ‘missing’ WMD.
Their problem was that the evidence they were uncovering did not support the claims, but the war went ahead – and Saddam was overthrown – despite these UN findings.
Much has changed since 2003. As the geopolitical landscape has shifted, so have geopolitics and capabilities. Today’s Russia’s war against Ukraine which includes WMD threats, cyberattacks, and an assertive disinformation campaign has opened up new ways of thinking about communicating information from open source and government intelligence analysis.
This panel explores the experiences of people involved with decision-making at the UN and in the UK in 2003 and how things have changed today.
What were the lessons from the way in which the war in Iraq played out?
How has that influenced the way in which NATO has responded to Russia’s wars against Ukraine?
How should information be communicated within governments and to the public?
How to deal with disinformation campaigns in the days of open source information and social media?
As with all member events, questions from the audience drive the conversation.