On 12th October, Margot Tudor (WFTA Postdoc) and Lottie Titcombe (WFTA Research Assistant) visited Saint Benedict’s School in Bury St Edmunds to trial some educational resources based on the archival material hosted on our website. Mrs Titcombe kindly invited us to take-over the 2-hour session and turn her classroom into a press conference set in 2003!
The blog section provides longer thought-pieces and deep-dives into topics related to our project
WFTA Working Paper: The Limits of Scrutiny
Working paper given by Dr Owen Thomas at the ‘Intelligence, surveillance, and oversight: tracing connections and contestations’ conference, held by GUARDINT project (‘Intelligence and Oversight Networks: Who Guards the Guardians’) on 26th and 27th January 2022.
The Chilcot Inquiry and Human Rights
By Rhys Edwards
This blog focuses on former Labour MP Ann Clwyd and her emphasis on human rights as a motivation in Labour’s invasion of Iraq in 2003. It examines first, her efforts to prosecute Iraqi leader Saddam Hussain and other members of the Iraqi administration under international law, secondly, her decision to support the invasion of Iraq, and, thirdly, her testimony to the Chilcot Inquiry. Looking back at the 2003 invasion and the subsequent Chilcot Inquiry, how can we think critically about the British government’s interpretation(s) of human rights before the war in Iraq? Can the evidence compiled by the Chilcot Inquiry provide clarity for why human rights were so integral to Labour’s ‘marketing’ of the invasion to the British electorate?
Individualisation of State War Crimes
This week we discuss the critique of the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (or IHAT) that it failed to ‘bring justice’ and address the atrocities committed by British troops against Iraqi civilians during the Iraq war. The IHAT investigation lasted from 2010 until its subsequent dissolvement in 2018, running largely in parallel with the Iraq ‘Chilcot’ Inquiry. This post reflects upon an archival Guardian podcast episode from 2018 titled “Why we may never know if British troops committed war crimes in Iraq” and considers the limitations of international criminal justice and legal forms of individualisation in addressing war crimes committed by state soliders.
An Accidental Admission of Guilt?
George W. Bush mistakenly described the Iraq Invasion as “wholly unjustified” and “brutal” in recent speech. In a recent speech on Wednesday (18th May 2022), former United States president George W Bush reminded the world of the ongoing consequences of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq and the violence of the intervention.
In 1991, following the First Gulf War, Saddam Hussein remained in power in Iraq. However, just 12 years later, a US-led coalition of forces invaded Iraq with the intention of removing Hussein from power. This blog post examines the changes in US and British interests between 1991 and 2003 that facilitated his removal during the Second Gulf War.
Ukraine: Lessons to learn from Iraq
After the second week of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we’ve taken some time to examine what lessons the US and its allies in Europe can learn from the invasion of Iraq in order to inform the West’s response to Russia.
What is the scandal of Afghanistan?
By Dr Owen Thomas
This blog is based a talk given as part of the “Reflections for “Twenty Years of the Global War on Terror: Looking back, looking forward” event, jointly hosted by the Secrecy, Power and Ignorance research Network (SPIN) and the South West Doctoral Training Partnership on 8th September, 2021.
This month, two parliamentary select committees have announced that they will hold inquiries into aspects of the UK’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. An ‘Afghanistan Inquiry’ has been called for many times in 2021.1 But reaction to the Taliban’s unexpectedly sudden seizure of Kabul and the West’s rapid evacuation has hastened and sharpened these calls, such that both the Defence Committee and the Foreign Affairs Committee will use much of their inquiries to focus on that withdrawal. A striking feature of the British reaction to that withdrawal was the shock experienced by those who had been involved in two decades of Western operations in Afghanistan. During the BBC’s Question Time, for example, a British military veteran who served in Afghanistan told the panel: “the only way I cannot be utterly embarrassingly humiliated about my service is if we, a democratic nation, hold those responsible to account and have a full parliamentary inquiry.”
By Georgia Mealings, Research Assistant for ‘Warnings from the Archive’
When studios market wargames, they emphasise the authenticity of experience. The latest videogame technology is so immersive that the graphics, the sound design, the game mechanics, and the worldbuilding all work together to persuade you that are really there, on a battlefield or controlling an aircraft. The studios’ intent is to curate a realistic sensory experience that can offer a taste of the ‘thrill’ of war, without any of the risk.
By Professor Catriona Pennell
Former US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, died on 29 June 2021 at the age of 88. His name will forever be associated with the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Various ‘obitu-mmentaries’ have appeared since his death from across the political spectrum. Former President George W. Bush lamented the loss of ‘a faithful steward of [America’s] armed forces’; American right-wing online magazine The Federalist described him as ‘a genius’ and ‘true American patriot’; many more chastised his poor-decision making as defence secretary, his efforts to cover up inconvenient facts, and his role in the widespread use of torture that has dogged America’s reputation ever since.