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Is historian the best judge of Iraq war history?

Michael Crick | 16:02 UK time, Monday, 15 June 2009

I'm interested to see that the distinguished war historian Sir Lawrence Freedman has been appointed to the new inquiry into the Iraq war, announced by Prime Minister Gordon Brown today.

Critics of the war might argue Sir Lawrence was himself one of the causes of the war!

The professor once told me how, back in 1999, he was contacted by Downing Street seeking his thoughts for a speech on humanitarian intervention which the-then Prime Minister Tony Blair was about to make in Chicago.

When was military action justified for, liberal, humanitarian reasons?

Sir Lawrence says he was astonished when he heard and read Mr Blair's famous Chicago speech - perhaps the most important of Blair's premiership - that it was based largely on the memo he had sent to Number 10.

And the rest was history.

Nor will critics of the war be very happy about the appointment of the other historian Sir Martin Gilbert, the official biographer of Winston Churchill.

In 2004, he went so far as to compare US President George W Bush and Mr Blair to Roosevelt and Churchill.


  • Comment number 1.


    Play all the old footage of Blair doing what he does best about the war.

    Play the footage of IDS (quite recently) saying how persuaded he was by Blair's 'conviction' (note the far-away look in his eyes).

    You will then have all the evidence needed to establish how we went into the Iraq war.

    Knave + Fool = War

  • Comment number 2.

    Held in secret and conducted by pro-Blair/pro-war people?

    I think we can already guess that the inquiry will support the decision to go to war!

  • Comment number 3.

    "To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole."

    Nuremberg Tribunal 1945

    "Declaration on the Inadmissibility of Intervention" (Reinforced the view that a forceful military intervention in any country is aggression and a crime without justification)

    UN Resolution 2131

    Browns little speech-utter garbage.But no doubt tin stars for all concerned.

  • Comment number 4.

    the neocons in the uk [who clearly control the FO] will escape blame.

    some say the destruction of the western economy in general and of the uk parliament that voted on a lie is divine punishment?

  • Comment number 5.

    I hope that the British people will treat this enquiry, whatever the outcome, with the contempt it deserves. Brown shows himself to be totally disinterested in public accountability, fundamentally dishonest about his commitment to open government and willing to submit himself to redicule rather than expose his predecessor to scrutiny.

    I have not so far joined in the chorus of disapproval for this miserable apology for a prime minister but HE MUST NOW GO.

  • Comment number 6.


    Have I got this wrong? If IDS had not whipped his party-pathetic ciphers into the war lobby, would Blair not have been defeated, opening the way for disruptive ramifications to his brinkmanship? In the ensuing hiatus, all manner of skulduggery might have come to light, as the 'support our boys' disgraceful ploy, could not have been laid on populace and media?

    Methinks the 'Quiet Man' has been allowed to remain judiciously quiet for far to long. Let's hound him without mercy, to learn what went on in that very limited skull, that led him to support such an obvious fabrication by one of the most overtly deluded men of our time. Let's have our own enquiry into Iain Duncan Smith, and hope ensuing revelations crack open the whole evil business.

    HELLO IAIN! Have you seen what Blair has done since you backed him? Would you still back him now - or even buy a second-hand country from this man?

  • Comment number 7.

    6 - barriesingleton

    Fair point but IDS could only rely on what HMG told him. Buck passing simply gets Blair off the hook. Brown clearly wants it that way. I wonder why.

  • Comment number 8.

    Don't you people realise how prejudiced YOU all are about the Iraq decisions? You have only ever had your information from the anti-press and a few with agendas, no-one else. Yet you swallow it all willingly, true or not, as it confirms your own opinions.

    You sat in on NO meetings,and yet you KNOW it all.

    No wonder Brown is not willing to have an "open" inquiry.

    You have all decided anyway. So there is nothing new that would convince you. And in the meantime in an "open" inquiry we would likely have released all sorts of information which NEEDS to be kept secret. All to no avail, as the Deciders have already decided.

    It was Blair wot did it, with the help of Brown, IDS and the Tories.

    To the Hague with the lot of them!

    You have NO idea how foolish you sound.

  • Comment number 9.

    #8 - BlairSupporter

    We know exactly how foolish we sound.

    But was it us who bleated about open government, the right of the people to know the truth, public consultation and all the rest of what has turned out to be claptrap?

    I think not.

    The time may have come, however, to dispense with all this hypocricy - including possibly yours.

  • Comment number 10.


    Do you 'read' Blair as a philanthropist?

    Do you need to sit in on Brown's meetings when you can see the finger nails and sense the inadequacy?

    #7 Do you 'read' IDS as a man of depth? I repeat: I watched him 'explain' his backing for Blair quite recently - he made no mention of data; just the Blair dazzle (of the vulnerable).

    We all pick up such signals, daily, to smooth the business of living. Why stop when assessing politicians? e.g. Does ANYONE need data to 'read' Mandelson?

    I rest my case.

  • Comment number 11.

    OIL + Unfinished American presidents business through Son + dash for major long term military base in Middle east to protect US and EU oil interests + need to be in area to look out for islamic fundementaist nuclear ambitions..... that equals a genuine need for a conflict to keep us all safe in the future.

    every person in the west needs oil, every person in the west needs nuclear security, every person in the west needs a large threatening military presence somewhere in the middle east. We may not like the moral reasoning we may not like the way it was done in our name, we may not like our politicians for doing it, but underneath we know that we need it and this is the best way of being able to mobilise significant force in the region any time we may need. Like the Falklands War could have been avoided by a larger presence in the south atlantic we will never know what conflict and terror will be avoided because we have a mass of troops in the area. Not good but required, sometimes out politicians have to do what is not palatable to get things done thats what we pay them for. I supported the war from the beginning and I still do.

  • Comment number 12.

    And so it goes on: the government taking us all for idiots. The inquiry will be conducted by a group whose conclusions are entirely predictable. After the farce of the blacked-out lines, what further evidence is needed that the people of this country are being treated like children?


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