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Expert comment Tony Blair is right Prime Ministers must be allowed to take difficult decisions

The Iraq war was a ‘catastrophic error’ and shows us that going to war should always be the last resort, according to Dr Robert Dover from the Department of Politics and International Relations.

However, Dr Dover argues that while the decision was a bad one, history should be kinder about the decision to go to war - a complex decision made within a hectic policy environment with incomplete information, prior to the intelligence reforms that were subsequently seen in the UK.

Dr Dover has written an opinion piece for Think: Leicester, the University’s platform for academic opinion pieces, discussing Tony Blair’s actions in the aftermath of the Chilcot report, which was released on Wednesday 6 July. 

In the piece he outlines how history may remember the Iraq war, as well as how Tony Blair prosecuting a failed war against Iraq led to David Cameron being unable to find the political coalition to act in the Syrian crisis.

“With hindsight we can say that the Iraq war was a catastrophic error. Not just for ordinary Iraqi citizens, but for British armed forces killed or mentally and physically scarred by the conflict. We can say it destabilised a region, and opened us up to a scale of globalised terrorism that would have been unthinkable at the time. I believe Tony Blair is wrong when he says that history will be kind on these points: it won’t.

“Historical lessons are only relevant when they present decisions in the context of their time. The project failed because there was no post-victory plan and on that the defence planners are right to be criticised. But history should be kinder about the decision to go to war: a complex decision made within a hectic policy environment with incomplete information, prior to the intelligence reforms that were subsequently seen in the UK."

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