Good faith and (dis)honest mistakes? Learning from Britain’s Iraq War Inquiry

Publication Date01 November 2017
AuthorOwen D Thomas
Date01 November 2017
SubjectSpecial Section Articles
2017, Vol. 37(4) 371 –385
© The Author(s) 2017
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DOI: 10.1177/0263395716688488
Good faith and (dis)honest
mistakes? Learning from
Britain’s Iraq War Inquiry
Owen D Thomas
University of Exeter, UK
The recent ‘Chilcot’ Inquiry judged that British participation in the 2003 Iraq War was neither
right nor necessary. When reading the final report of over 2.6 million words, I warn against
seeking accountability solely in terms of intent and individual culpability, such as questioning
whether the government deceived the public. There also needs to be an examination of the
rationalities and power relations that allowed figures such as Tony Blair to believe, and still
believe, that the war was for the common good. Doing so reveals how the preemptive logics
behind the war endure today.
Blair, Chilcot, deception, Iraq War, preemption
Received: 31st January 2016; Revised version received: 15th August 2016; Accepted: 1st November 2016
If there’s one thing that makes us hot, it’s tougher questions, GO CHILCOT!
Blair lied. Thousands Died.
Blair, you are a war criminal and a wanker.
– Chants and placards at The Iraq Inquiry, 2010
On 6 July 2016, the British Government published the findings of the Iraq Inquiry, led
by former civil servant Sir John Chilcot. The inquiry concluded that it was neither right
nor necessary for the United Kingdom to have participated in the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair and other senior government figures had firmly
argued their belief that the invasion was an act of collective security and a continuation
of the doctrine of the international community (Ralph, 2011). The doctrine states that
intervention can be legitimate provided that five tests are met. The first two tests are as
Corresponding author:
Owen D Thomas, Department of Politics, College of Social Sciences and International Studies, University of
Exeter, Penryn Campus, Penryn TR10 9FE, UK.
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