British Election and the Middle East: Paying the Price

As an election issue, Iraq is neither finished business nor just about trust. It’s about how policy is framed; parliamentary democracy, cabinet responsibility and the international rule of law. Britain’s international position has been changed too, putting at risk influence, commerce and even lives.

The World Today
Published 1 May 2005 Updated 15 October 2020 6 minute READ

Rosemary Hollis

Former Director, Olive Tree Israeli-Palestinian Scholarship Programme, City, University of London

Why did the British government take the country to war in Iraq? The answer has much more to do with calculations about how best to handle America in the aftermath of September 11 2001 than a sober appraisal of what caused those outrages and the pros and cons of military action for Iraq and the Middle East. Yet neither the consequences for the transatlantic relationship nor the fallout in the region were debated in the run-up to war, or since.

Back then perhaps the British government simply did not trust parliament and public to agree with its judgements. Certainly there was a fear that an airing of all the issues would have acknowledged the probability that Washington was unstoppable and thereby damaged the British strategy to make the project legal.

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