On 9th September 2021, we held our virtual workshop ‘State-Led Inquiries as Political Devices: Lessons Learned and Lost from British Interventions, 1853 to the Present Day’ with fascinating contributions from Dr James Strong, Dr Max Drephal, Dr David Saunders, Leyla Belle Drake, Dr Huw Bennett, Dr Louise Kettle, Dr Glen Rangwala, Dr Alan Ingram, and Hannah Richards. We were also incredibly luckly to welcome Professor Richard Toye, Professor Martin Thomas, Dr Tom Bentley, Professor Andrew Williams, and Dr Elspeth van Veeran as discussants for our panellists.
Weekly recommendations from WFTA
A quick update on what the Warnings from the Archive team have been listening to/reading/watching this week. The pieces that have caught our interest and develop the themes and topics explored by the project.
Iraq, War Economy, and Cultural Restitution
On 28th July 2021, the United States agreed to return to Iraq some 17,000 archaeological treasures dating back 4,000 years and looted in recent decades in an “unprecedented” restitution, the culture minister in Baghdad has said. A diplomatic arrangement had been arranged when Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi met with US President Joe Biden in Washington, DC last week.
Why Blair really went to war
This blog post is republished from a piece published on 5th July 2016 in The Conversation and Newsweek.
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.
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.