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.
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.
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.
As Sir John Chilcot’s Iraq Inquiry findings are published, we should resist what’s become the easy refrain: “Blair Lied. Thousands Died.”
If we actually want to learn from what happened, we should recognise that Tony Blair has been remarkably consistent in his view that the removal of the regime was necessary, whether or not Saddam Hussein actually possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Blair, it seems, genuinely believes that the war was in our best interests because it may have prevented an unlikely (but not impossible) catastrophe. This way of thinking has not gone away.
Olivia Noden, University of Exeter
In present-day society, the United Kingdom’s participation in the Iraq War typically incurs criticism, both from the British public and mass-media publications. These criticisms have been louder and more prevalent in the public domain since the publication of the Chilcot Inquiry in 2016 which delivered a damning verdict on Tony Blair’s decision to join the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. However, at the time of Blair’s decision, the majority of UK newspapers supported the Prime Minister as he committed troops to the Iraq bilateral invasion. Despite this, reflections on the UK invasion have rarely addressed the role of the UK media in advocating the moral case, or humanitarian responsibility, of the intervention.
This spring, the Ministry of Defense acknowledged enlisting the RAF and other coalition planes to engage in air raids across the Makhmur (or Makhmour) mountains, an independent region to the north of Baghdad. The mountains contain a series of limestone caves, thought to be a favoured Isis hideout by British intelligence services. These air attacks targetted the caves to destabilise the Isis stronghold in the Makhmur region and demonstrate a sustained interest in regaining control of north Iraq. The Guardian reported that the number of civilian casualities killed in the spring 2021 air raids have not been authenticated as the cave complexes have yet to be cleared by Iraqi ground forces.