Iraq Audio Analysis: Should Britain Apologize for the 2003 War?

PHOTO: Iraqi National Museum Deputy Director Mushin Hasan sits among destroyed artifacts, April 13, 2003

This week the front-runner to become the leader of Britain’s Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, said that the party — led in Government in 2003 by Prime Minister Tony Blair — should apologize for the Iraq War.

I spoke with BBC WM Radio on Friday morning about the issues around Corbyn’s statement, from the lies that spurred Britain to war alongside the US, the failures that contributed to the post-war disaster, and the challenges of dealing with Iraq and neighboring Syria today.

Listen to discussion from 9:24

I certainly think the Blair Government, 12 years later, has a lot to answer for — that includes the former Prime Minister, who is still an envoy to the Middle East; his leading Ministers; and his leading advisors.

The Government lied, or at least distorted information, in the run-up to the war — especially about weapons of mass destruction. The Government defied the advice of the Attorney General that the war was illegal under international law. The Government did nothing to prepare for the aftermath of that war, such as the need for a sensible reconstruction. Instead what you got was violence and a descent into civil war that killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and contributed to the instability in the region today.

We need to say that this isn’t just an issue of the past, it’s an issue of the present. We have serious crises in Iraq and in neighboring countries like Syria — how do we approach them more sensibly, rather than charging in with “shock and awe” and making the problem worst?

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Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.


  1. No, but the major British warcriminals implicated in the matter (e.g. Mrs E. Windsor, Mr A. Blair, etc., etc.) should be prosecuted for their vile crimes. As the British ruling mafia is genetically incapable of doing this, these scum must be captured and brought in manacles to the ICC for trial.

    • I going to guess not as the current government members where all persecuted by the Baath Party and many had their friends and families tortured and killed by the mukerbarat.

  2. Should Iraq apologize for invading Iran? Should Libya apologize for invading Chad? Should Ethiopia apologize to Eritrea? Should Russia apologize to Hungry and the Czech and Slovak republics? Should China apologize to Tibet?

    • How about having a special day at the UN when everyone stands up _simultaneously_ and apologises to everyone else ?

  3. “We have serious crises in Iraq and in neighbouring countries like Syria — how do we approach them more sensibly, rather than charging in with “shock and awe” and making the problem worst?”

    The obvious answer is to stand back and intervene as little as possible, as Obama has done in Syria. Ask what Bush II would have done, and do the opposite.

    Has this produced better results than in Iraq ?

    At least we can say, if we leave them to it, that the deaths and injuries are not our fault. And after all, the Arabs did nothing to prevent the Thirty Years War in Europe.

    • “The obvious answer is to stand back and intervene as little as possible, as Obama has done in Syria.”

      I think International Politics are like communication: You cannot not communicate. If such a major player stands back, that comes along with support and weakening of other players. Same if they intervene. The US have been cautious regarding military interventions during the last years, but what they did was to help organize the arming and training of the opposition, more or less secretly. Anyway, vacuums will always get filled and if the opposition relies on countries like Saudi Arabia, Katar or Turkey: Is this due to US-absence? The US is in a position of responsibility, in any case.

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