Report must not be used to score political points or to stop UK exercising hard power in event of a future conflict that requires our intervention
The Henry Jackson Society (HJS) – a London international affairs and security thinktank originally conceptualised as a response to the debate about the Iraq War raging in foreign policy circles – has welcomed the imminent publication of the Chilcot Inquiry’s report today, but has warned that there is a danger of the Inquiry’s likely conclusions being wrongly interpreted in contemporary foreign policy decision-making.
The chairman of the UK’s inquiry into the Iraq war, Sir John Chilcot, has already said he hopes future military action on the scale of the Iraq War will only be possible with more careful analysis and political judgement. But HJS experts have warned that there is a fine line to tread between the need for accurate analysis and requiring an impossibly high burden of support for any future foreign policy action.
Commenting on the report’s publication, HJS Executive Director Dr Alan Mendoza said: “Foreign policy decision-making, like the domestic variant, must always be subject to the toughest tests of analysis and scrutiny, and the Chilcot Inquiry will rightly suggest ways this can be improved further.
“However, it would be a fatal error for British security and international interests to be held hostage now to impossibly high standards of absolute proof and overwhelming political support before future actions are undertaken. We wouldn’t expect that of important domestic policy considerations, and it isn’t realistic in the international context.
“Our leaders must always be held to account for the decisions they make, and the way in which they make them. But we must accept that there will be challenges in the world going forwards that may be paramount to British national interests and that may therefore require British action delivered in a quicker and less united fashion than Sir John Chilcot himself appears to be suggesting.”