Rather than solely considering the culpability of former politicians, Chilcot’s implications for the future of British foreign policy ought to be a focus
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 publication of the Chilcot Inquiry’s Report into the Iraq War, and the subsequent debate about the actions of the government at the time, but warns that we should now focus on the implications of the report for the future of British foreign policy.
Extensive examination and coverage of the government that took the UK into Iraq is appropriate and necessary. Nevertheless, Chilcot raises much bigger questions for the future of British internationalism. No foreign intervention can ever be preceded by perfect political consensus or total certitude of the facts on the ground; these conditions did not exist prior to any of the successful British military actions in the country’s history. The central question is not whether politicians should make these kinds of challenging judgements in the future (such decisions will need to be made whether we like it or not), it is how these judgements ought to be made.
HJS Executive Director Dr Alan Mendoza commented: “It is natural that early attention should focus on the role of Tony Blair in the run-up and conduct of the Iraq War. However there are much broader questions of the UK’s future ability to exert influence on the world stage that now need to be examined.
“Chilcot has stated that lessons need to be learned. But to set an impossibly high burden of absolute proof and political unanimity in order to act abroad in future will damage British security and international interests. Our politicians must still take hard political decisions about such future action and to think otherwise will be to draw the wrong conclusions from this process.”