StudySmarter - The all-in-one study app.
4.8 • +11k Ratings
More than 3 Million Downloads
Lerne mit deinen Freunden und bleibe auf dem richtigen Kurs mit deinen persönlichen LernstatistikenJetzt kostenlos anmelden
Nie wieder prokastinieren mit unseren Lernerinnerungen.Jetzt kostenlos anmelden
Britain's involvement in the Iraq War and the consequences of it remain among the most controversial topics in modern British history - but why?
The Iraq war served as a statement of developing U.S. foreign policy in the 21st century against terrorism. Essentially the war was begun to oust Saddam Hussein from his dictatorial position over Iraq in an effort to liberate civilians with democracy.
Following Hussein's deposition in December 2003, the Coalition Forces, led by the U.S. and Britain, occupied Iraq in an attempt to bring democratic political and economic stability to the country. The main opposition was from sectarian insurgent groups such as al-Qaeda and supporters of Hussein who wished to control Iraq and its resources without U.S. involvement.
The Iraq war was so controversial because the U.S. and Britain engaged in the war against Hussein without full United Nations (UN) support. Although it was agreed that Hussein's rule had been violating human rights, some saw the war as a demonstration of Anti-Islamism, and others as a U.S. initiative to secure oil exportation. The legality of the Iraq War is still debated, especially when regarding the amount of Iraqi civilian deaths, the fabrication of Iraq's weapon arsenal, and the treatment of Iraqi prisoners throughout the conflict.
The Iraq War began on 20th March 2003 and lasted until 15th December 2011. However, British involvement in the region did not last the entire eight years.
British forces stayed in the Iraq War for six years and eventually declared the end of their combat operations on 30th April 2009.
Below is a brief timeline of the British involvement in the Iraq War.
Iraq War Dates
Since Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, Iraq and its leader Saddam Hussein were viewed as threats to democracy in the Middle East and stability in the region.
29th January 2002
George Bush, US President, made a speech entitled State of the Union in which he describes Iraq as part of an "axis of evil".
12th September 2002
George Bush threatened military action in Iraq unless it complied with UN resolutions on disarmament at the United Nations General Assembly.
24th September 2002
The UK published the September dossier, claiming that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. At this point, Blair did not support a US invasion of Iraq, preferring attempts at a peace agreement.
8th November 2002
The United Nations attempted to create a first resolution (No. 1441) which required Saddam Hussein to prove that he had abandoned all weapons of mass destruction.
15th February 2003
Mass demonstrations took place worldwide against military action in Iraq.
18th March 2003
Tony Blair achieved backing from the House of Commons to send UK troops into Iraq.
20th March 2003
U.S. and British forces invaded Iraq.
6th April 2003
British forces entered Basra, an Iraqi city located on the Shatt al-Arab. Despite the lack of support, the operation was initially 'successful'.
It was reported that 46,000 British troops were in support of the Iraq operation. However, by end of May 2003, this was down to 18,000.
17th July 2003
David Kelly, the UK weapons expert involved in the September Dossier, took his life after being implicated in a BBC report that claimed the government had "sexed up" intelligence on Iraq's banned weapons.
13th December 2003
Saddam Hussein was captured; by this time the nation had entered a civil war. The removal of Saddam Hussein worked to destabilise the nation of Iraq and made it a breeding ground for Al-Qaeda and Islamic extremists.
28th January 2004
An inquiry into Kelly's death found Tony Blair's government innocent of faking intelligence to justify war.
16th December 2007
Britain handed over Basra province to Iraqi forces, effectively ending nearly five years of British control over southern Iraq.
30th April 2009
UK forces lowered their flag over the city of Basra to signal the end of their combat operations in Iraq.
18th December 2011
The last U.S. troops left Iraq, marking the official end of the Iraq war.
The Iraq war consisted of two key phases. The first phase was the initial war between Saddam Hussein's Iraqi forces and the so-called Coalition Forces led by the U.S. The second phase regarded the civil war that ensued after Hussein's removal.
|Phase of Iraq War||Combatants|
|1st Phase||Coalition Forces/Multi-National Force in Iraq||Saddam Hussein's National Progressive Front and its Iraqi army|
|2nd Phase||Coalition Forces and the U.S.-backed democratic Iraqi government army||Sectarian groups such as al-Qaeda and other Hussein-supporting insurgents|
During the Iraq War, the U.S. called on various allies to aid the fight in Iraq, calling it a 'coalition of the willing'.
The Ba'ath Party had seized power in Iraq after the 17th July Revolution in 1968 but sought to increase its political influence through coalitions with other political parties. The National Progressive Front (NPF) formed in Iraq in 1973 and consisted of a coalition between the Ba'ath Party and the Iraqi Communist Party (ICP), and came to include the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) after the Kurdish War in 1974.
Saddam Hussein was the vice president of Ba-athist Iraq in 1968 and helped to orchestrate better relations with other Arab nations, such as Iran, Egypt, Sudan, Jordan and Turkey. This helped to unite the Iraqi Ba'ath Party's influence against its rival Ba'ath administration in Syria.
Hussein became president in 1979, and at this time the National Progressive Front consisted mainly of the Ba'ath party due to failed negotiations with the other political members. Hussein led the NPF from 1979 until 2003, and his brutal authoritarian rule and increasing military power furthered tensions with the U.S. and Britain.
Controlling Iraq through the NPF, Hussein had become a significant foreign risk to Western nations with his support of terrorism and his supposed increasing arsenal of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). This led to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.
The Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party was founded in 1943 in Syria and sought to unite Arab nations into one state. The Arab world consists of 22 countries across the Middle East and North Africa and is known as the Arab League in the present day. Saddam Hussein used the ideologies of Ba-athism and Arab nationalism to gain influence and place Iraq at the powerful centre of the Arab world.
Now we have a brief overview of the conflict, let's find out what were the causes of the Iraq War.
The compounding factors that led to the Iraq War, and Britain's involvement, were:
The Gulf War, also known as the Persian Gulf War, was a major international conflict that broke out after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990.
During Iraq's occupation of Kuwait, the Iraqi government and troops engaged in systematic pillage and theft of Kuwait's economic assets.
The Iraqi government was condemned internationally for their occupation of Kuwait and economic sanctions were imposed against Iraq by members of the United Nations Security Council. Eventually, several nations joined in a coalition to fight the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait. The US was the largest contributor to the coalition, followed by Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, and Egypt.
On 29th November 1990, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 678 which authorised the use of force if the Iraqi forces did not leave Kuwait by January 15, 1991.
Saddam Hussein failed to comply with the terms of the UN security council, so on 17th January 1991, an aerial and naval bombardment began in an attempt to drive Iraqi troops from Kuwait. Iraq was defeated on 28th February 1991.
As the allies gradually left the coalition, the United States and Britain continued to patrol Iraqi skies, to ensure peace was maintained.
Following Iraq's defeat in the Gulf War, Kurds in the North of Iraq and Shias in the South of Iraq rose in revolt. These movements were brutally suppressed by Saddam Hussein. His regime became increasingly oppressive to the Iraqi people.
UN inspectors had been instructed to monitor Saddam Hussein and make sure all illicit weapons from the Gulf War were destroyed but in 1998, Iraq refused to cooperate. This led to a brief resumption of hostilities.
New British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his U.S. ally George W. Bush became increasingly concerned with Saddam Hussein's refusal of a weapons inspection and began to make arrangements to forcefully remove Saddam Hussein from power.
This led to increased tensions between the United States, Britain and Iraq, and led to the 2002 UN resolution, which called for the return of weapons inspectors.
Tensions peaked by the end of 2002.
UN weapons inspectors returned to Iraq in November 2002. The result of this inspection was that members of the UN Security Council differed in their assessments of Iraq's cooperation with inspections. The conflicting assessments did little to ease the concerns of the United States and Britain, nor provided any proof that Saddam Hussein had destroyed his Gulf War weapons arsenal.
Tony Blair led Britain into the Iraq War; what exactly did he believe led to this decision?
An intergovernmental military alliance consisting of the United States, Canada, Britain, and 27 European countries: it was founded by the North Atlantic Treaty (1949) for reasons of collective security.
Tony Blair was particularly concerned with the fact that Saddam Hussein had been allowed to remain in power after his actions in the Gulf War. These concerns were further heightened by Saddam's actions following the Gulf War and his refusal to cooperate with weapons inspections.
As part of his beliefs and his concerns about Saddam Hussein, in September 2002, the Prime Minister addressed the House of Commons and argued that Saddam Hussein must be removed from power.
We must uphold the ... United Nations, we must show rogue states ... that when we say we intend to deal with the issue, we mean it.
Whatever happens, Saddam will be disarmed,
We have complete and total determination to do this. ... It's not conflict that is inevitable, but disarmament is inevitable"
- Source, CNN, 'Blair: Iraq War inevitable'
However, Blair personally believed that the UN was often slow to act in matters of diplomacy due to the organisation being bound by red tape and various legislatures.
One of the major catalysts of the Iraq War was the events of 9/11, and the subsequent beginning of the 'War on Terror.
The Iraq War operation fell into the US/UK's larger mission and commitment to fight the War on Terror.
The phrase "War on Terror" is used exclusively to describe the military campaigns conducted by the United States and the United Kingdom (and their allies) against groups and regimes they identify as terrorists.
It is difficult to fully define the War on Terror because it is a multifaceted campaign that is still ongoing.
In its broadest sense, the term terrorism can be used to define the use of intentional violence to achieve political aims. However, the phrase War on Terror is applied to acts of Islamic extremism exclusively.
On September 11, 2001, Islamic Al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four commercial planes. Two of these planes were flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York, one flew toward the US Pentagon, and one crashed. This incident killed around 3000 people and injured thousands.
This attack began the US' ongoing War on Terror and saw Tony Blair immediately announce his commitment to fighting alongside the United States to prevent such acts of terrorism. Blair stated that Britain stood shoulder to shoulder with America and would fight to promote a free and democratic world against terrorism. This attack re-ignited Britain's long-standing special relationship with the US and saw Blair send British troops into Afghanistan in 2001 and later to Iraq in 2003.
After 9/11, Tony Blair became President George W. Bush's closest and most dependable ally, a relationship that would define Blair's tenure as prime minister, and play a crucial role in Blair's involvement in the Iraq War.
In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, President Bush stated:
We've got no better friend in the world than Great Britain.
We've got no better person that I like to talk to than Tony Blair."
- Source, Yale Law School, 'Remarks by President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair of Great Britain in Press Availability 5:15 P.M. EST; November 7, 2001
Blair was dubbed Bush's 'poodle' at the time because many believed that he had allowed himself to be dragged into a war that solely served the interests of the United States and was costly for Britain.
However, many political historians, such as Chris Suellentrop argue that this argument overlooks the sense of conviction that inspired Tony Blair to engage in the Iraq War.
Blair was known to be a strong advocate of liberal interventionism before the events of 9/11 and Blair believed in the use of military force to promote international democracy. Historians such as Owen Thomas view Blair's entrance into the Iraq War as highly motivated by his own belief in liberal interventionism.
As a response to the September 11 attacks, George W. Bush issued a warning to the Taliban government of Afghanistan on 20th September 2001. Al-Qaeda was believed to have their main base in Afghanistan, where they concealed several terrorists, including Osama Bin Laden, who orchestrated the September 11 attacks. Bush demanded that the Taliban turned over Osama bin Laden and all al-Qaeda leaders in the country, or face conflict.
Afghanistan, which was then ruled by the Taliban, responded by asking the United States to provide evidence of Bin Laden's link to the September 11 attacks. The Taliban argued that if the United States provided tangible evidence then they would agree to a trial in an Islamic court.
As a result, in October 2001, the US and the UK, as well as other coalition allies invaded Afghanistan to bring down the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. The official invasion began on 7 October 2001.
Al-Qaeda is an Islamist militant organisation founded in the late 1980s by Osama bin Laden.
The Taliban, also known as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, is a militant Islamist group. It is generally believed that the Taliban was formed in 1994 as one of the foremost factions taking part in the Afghan Civil War and were primarily comprised of Pashtun students (Talib) from eastern and southern Afghanistan.
The Afghanistan War and the Iraq War
Although the Afghanistan War is arguably not a direct cause of the Iraq War, it still formed part of the ongoing War on Terror.
The failure to capture Taliban leader, Mohammed Omar and Al-Qaeda leader Bin Laden, played a crucial part in the continuation of the conflict into Iraq.
American and British historians argue that although Iraq was not the initial focus of the conflict, the failures in Afghanistan made Iraq come to be used as an example for the UK/US to show that terror regimes and oppression would not be allowed to prevail.
David Frum, a political historian and commentator, who personally wrote speeches for George W. Bush argued in a piece in The Atlantic that:
Something had to be done against Islamic terrorism that was not Afghanistan; the Iraq War became that something."
The Iraq War had far-reaching consequences - let's start with the most immediate.
The exact number of death from the Iraq War is difficult to define. However, the Lancet medical journal released two reports on the estimated death toll from the Iraq War, the first in 2004 and then in 2006.
The report in 2006 estimated that about 600,000 Iraqis were killed in the first 40 months of war and occupation in Iraq, and another 54,000 in non-violent war-related deaths.
Lancet Medical Journal, 'Mortality before and after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: cluster sample survey', Les Roberts et al.
Lancet Medical Journal, 'Mortality after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: a cross-sectional cluster sample survey', Professor Gilbert Burnham et al.
During Blair's leadership, many questions were asked about the justifications for the war. To this day Blair and his government are criticised for their involvement in the war. In 2016 after the release of the Chilcot inquiry into Britain's role in the Iraq War, Blair stated:
I believe we made the right decision and the world is better and safer
On 24 September 2002, the British government published the September Dossier. In the paper, the government reported on an ongoing investigation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq. This report was the single most important piece of evidence used by Blair in order to argue for British involvement.
According to the report, Iraq also possessed chemical weapons and biological weapons; weapons of mass destruction. In the dossier, it was even claimed that Iraq had reinstated its nuclear weapons programme. This was found to be false.
In particular, two sections were the focus of much debate, criticism and media coverage:
Iraq was accused of seeking "significant quantities of uranium from Africa". This allegation was huge as uranium was a known nuclear power source and gave basis to the claim that Hussein was beginning to create a nuclear weapons arsenal.
Tony Blair personally wrote in the foreword of the document that "the document reveals that his [Saddam Hussein's] military planning allowed some WMD to be ready within 45 minutes of an order to use them."
In 2003 Blair was accused of 'sexing' up the dossier to start an unjustified war by BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan.
The government was also blamed for human rights abuses carried out by US soldiers in prisons, as well as not providing troops with sufficient resources to fight the war.
Abu Gharib Tortures
Deep divisions emerged within the Labour party due to Blair's foreign and military policy on the Iraq War. Several Labour ministers resigned and members of the Labour party began to vote against Blair's policies.
Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary declared in his Commons resignation speech that Blair had
neither international agreement nor domestic support.
In March 2003, 139 Labour backbenchers revolted against the Iraq war, which was not only the largest foreign policy rebellion during a Labour government but also the biggest rebellion against the party whip in 150 years.
Blair’s links with Bush further aroused hostility due to Bush's unpopularity in both Europe and Britain.
Blair effectively had to fight two fronts in the Iraq War:
Saddam Hussein in Iraq
To win over the political and public opinion at home
Both were largely unsuccessful.
Backbenchers are members of parliament (MPs) who do not occupy a position in government or seniority within their party. They are the opposite of frontbenchers, who are senior party spokespersons. Instead, they are elected representatives of their constituents.
The main charges against Blair came in July 2003, following the suicide of Dr David Kelly. Dr Kelly had worked as an expert in the Ministry of Defence and was one of the main proponents that argued that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
Blair found himself in the hot seat. Before Kelly took his life he admitted that much of the evidence for Hussein's weapons of mass destruction was fabricated.
Although the inquiry found Blair innocent of faking intelligence, the scandal had a devastating impact.
In 2004, a period now labelled as the 'wobble', Blair’s authority looked to be in danger. Blair faced a series of issues that had their root cause in the Iraq War operation:
Suffering relationship with Gordon Brown
The Hutton Inquiry
The Iraq mission was not going as planned
Public and Media outcry
There was even press speculation that Blair might resign before the next election.
Despite the blows to Blair's reputation, he managed to win a third consecutive election to remain Prime Minister in May 2005. Blair, however, did lose some ground in terms of seats, losing 57 seats from his 2001 election, but still holding on to a comfortable majority.
This election and 'wobble' began to highlight how damaging the Iraq War had been to the political landscape of the nation. British historians such as Paul Whiteley and Marianne C. Stewart argue that the weakness of the Conservative opposition allowed for Blair's 2005 election success.
After the 2005 election, more than 40 MPs called for Tony Blair to resign due to his role in the Iraq War, and in September 2006 Blair stated:
I will resign within a year
In June 2007 Blair officially tendered his resignation as prime minister.
On 7th July 2005, four separate Islamic extremist attacks occurred on the London Transport network killing 52 people. A similar bomb plot was foiled two weeks later at the last minute when police arrested the perpetrators.
Many critics saw the bombings as a direct consequence of the Iraq War and the foreign policies of Bush and Blair. It was claimed that the conflict in Afghanistan had effectively dispersed the al-Qaeda network, making it even more difficult to counteract terrorist attacks.
British history and politics writer Arun Kundnani argued that Britain's involvement in the War on Terror had created a deep anti-British sentiment among Muslims.
7. 'The Issue Agenda and Voting in 2005', Paul Whiteley, Marianne C. Stewart, David Sanders, Harold D. Clarke
Although the exact number of deaths during the Iraq war is unknown, an report in 2006 estimated the total death toll to be around 600,000 in the first 40 months of war.
The Iraq war started on the 20th March 2003 when the Coalition Forces, led by the U.S. and Britain, invaded Iraq to depose Saddam Hussein.
There are many contributing factors to the start of the Iraq War and it is still debated today. U.S. president George Bush demanded that Saddam Hussein step down as president of Iraq because of his violent authoritarian rule that had violated many Iraqi human rights. When Hussein did not step down, the U.S. invaded Iraq to depose Hussein and facilitate a democratic government in the country. The culmination of the War on Terror following the 9/11 attacks catalysed a harder response to Middle Eastern terrorism, which also fuelled Iraq War.
The Iraq war officially ended on 18th December 2011 when the last U.S. troops withdrew from Iraq.
It is difficult to ascertain whether there was a "winner" in the Iraq War. Although Hussein was deposed and the Ba-ath regime dissolved, many Iraqi civilians lost their lives in the conflict. The U.S. and Britain received a lot of criticism for their illegal warfare, and furthermore, the unfounded claims of weapons of mass destruction demonstrated the growing culture of Anti-Islamism. The Iraq war generated massive cultural, economic, political and human costs for both sides.
Why did the Iraq War start?
The compounding factors that lead to the Iraq War, and Britain's involvement in the Iraq War were:
When did the coalition forces invade Iraq?
On the 20th of March 2003, American and British forces began the invasion of Iraq without formal UN sanction.
What was the single most important piece of evidence used by Tony Blair to argue for British involvement in Iraq?
The September Dossier
What did Tony Blair allege from the September Dossier?
Tony Blair argued that Iraq possessed chemical weapons and biological weapons; weapons of mass destruction.
Tony Blair was accused of _______ the September Dosssier
In 2003 Blair was accused of 'sexing' up the dossier report
What was the Chilcot inquiry, and what was its purpose?
The Chilcot Inquiry, known as the Iraq Inquiry, was a British public inquiry examining the role of the government and nation in the Iraq War.
What led to the Lord Hutton Inquiry, what was it, and what were the findings?
What was the 'wobble', and what were the reasons for it?
In 2004, a period now labelled as the 'wobble', Blair’s authority looked to be in danger. Blair faced a series of issues that had their root cause in the Iraq War operation.
There was a backbench revolt against the Iraq involvement.
The relationship with Gordon Brown was going badly.
In 2004 Hutton Inquiry had reported back on Blair's evidence of weapons of mass destruction and Kelly's suicide.
Iraq mission was not going as planned.
Public and Media outcry.
When did Tony Blair resign?
On 27 June 2007 Blair officially tendered his resignation as prime minister.
When did Tony Blair's backbencher's rebel, and why?
In March 2003, 139 Labour backbenchers MPs revolted against the Iraq war.
What was the significance of the backbencher rebellion?
The significance of this rebellion under Tony Blair lies in the fact that the only backbench revolt larger than this occurred around the time of the Corn Laws revolt in the 19th century, when the franchise was enjoyed by just 5% of the population and before anything resembling modern political parties existed.
of the users don't pass the Iraq War quiz! Will you pass the quiz?Start Quiz
Be perfectly prepared on time with an individual plan.
Test your knowledge with gamified quizzes.
Create and find flashcards in record time.
Create beautiful notes faster than ever before.
Have all your study materials in one place.
Upload unlimited documents and save them online.
Identify your study strength and weaknesses.
Set individual study goals and earn points reaching them.
Stop procrastinating with our study reminders.
Earn points, unlock badges and level up while studying.
Create flashcards in notes completely automatically.
Create the most beautiful study materials using our templates.
Sign up to highlight and take notes. It’s 100% free.
Over 10 million students from across the world are already learning smarter.Get Started for Free