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1 Blair s Just War

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3 Blair s Just War Iraq and the Illusion of Morality Peter Lee Lecturer in Air Power Studies, King s College London, UK

4 Peter Lee 2012 Softcover reprint of the hardcover 1st edition 2012 ISBN All rights reserved. No reproduction, copy or transmission of this publication may be made without written permission. No portion of this publication may be reproduced, copied or transmitted save with written permission or in accordance with the provisions of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, or under the terms of any licence permitting limited copying issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency, Saffron House, 6 10 Kirby Street, London EC1N 8TS. Any person who does any unauthorized act in relation to this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages. The author has asserted his right to be identified as the author of this work in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act First published 2012 by PALGRAVE MACMILLAN Palgrave Macmillan in the UK is an imprint of Macmillan Publishers Limited, registered in England, company number , of Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire RG21 6XS. Palgrave Macmillan in the US is a division of St Martin s Press LLC, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY Palgrave Macmillan is the global academic imprint of the above companies and has companies and representatives throughout the world. Palgrave and Macmillan are registered trademarks in the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe and other countries. ISBN ISBN (ebook) DOI / This book is printed on paper suitable for recycling and made from fully managed and sustained forest sources. Logging, pulping and manufacturing processes are expected to conform to the environmental regulations of the country of origin. A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. A catalog record for this book is available from the Library of Congress Printed and bound in Great Britain by CPI Antony Rowe, Chippenham and Eastbourne

5 For Lorna, Samantha and Fiona

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7 His talk is as smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart; his words are more soothing than oil, yet they are drawn swords. Psalm 55:21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. John 3:21 Let your Yes be yes, and your No, no, or you will be condemned. James 5:12

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9 Contents Preface Acknowledgements x xiii Introduction 1 1. Blair and just intervention Are we sure of our case? Views from the academy Authority, legitimacy and war Regime change Confronting tyranny Protecting the weak Fighting the fight Reflections 174 Notes 187 Speeches by Prime Minister Tony Blair 201 Index 202 ix

10 Preface I would prefer to live in a world where books like this were not written, where war was no more, military hardware gathered dust in museums and ancient enmities were long forgotten. However, with the whole of human history shaped by the spear, the gun, and, more recently, the precision guided missile, it looks as unlikely as ever that wars and talk of wars will cease anytime soon. It was never my intention to write about war, let alone a war to which I had some personal connection. In 2001 I joined the Royal Air Force as a chaplain, hoping to make some positive contribution to the spiritual, moral and personal welfare of those who donned uniform and took up arms in service of their county. I hope, though there is no way of knowing, that along the way something I have said or done has been of comfort or encouragement to those I have had the privilege of meeting and serving alongside. What I can say with absolute certainty is that the men and women of the armed forces I have encountered have inspired me to laughter and to tears, to pride and to admiration. I have been moved to wonder and amazement in the cockpit of a Harrier as the pilot put the aircraft through its paces and the world passed by at 420 knots. Young men and women who have faced the enemy, lost friends and aged before their time have won my admiration for the professional and understated way they go about their business. Some have genuinely terrified me and I am truly grateful that they are on my side. My interest in just war arose out of my involvement with wounded and injured British casualties who had been airlifted from battlefields in Iraq during the initial US-led invasion in I found it difficult to answer the kinds of questions asked of me both by the soldiers I encountered in the military hospital and those I met elsewhere. My research was therefore prompted not by an abstract philosophical interest in the morality of war but as a means of making sense, and trying to help others make sense, of political discourse, competing truth claims and shattered lives. Having previously touched briefly on Blair s justification of the 2003 Iraq invasion I decided to conduct a more intensive study of the moral dimension of his case for war using just war as a framework for my analysis. I have also incorporated some ideas from the French philosopher Michel Foucault to consider the way issues of truth, power and morality x

11 Preface xi were all intertwined in Blair s intervention discourse and contested by his critics. Among the assumptions I make, the most important is that arguing about war is not simply a matter of identifying and deploying absolute truth, with moral claims following naturally in its wake. Truth and morality are formed by, and in, the arguments we make, with those who wield the most power having the greatest advantage in ensuring that their claims to both are heard loudest and longest. The book features close scrutiny of a significant number of Blair s speeches, interviews and press conferences, as well as evidence from the Iraq Inquiry. While some may feel that there is too much attention to detail, others may well take the opposite view. My own view is that understanding language and the way it is used is crucial if we are to fully appreciate Tony Blair s war discourse and the moral case therein. Language does not just describe the social world in which we live, it helps to create our world as well. No politician in recent times has been more attuned to the creative use of language than Blair, so we must look very closely at what he has said, how he said it and what he was trying to achieve in the process. In exploring Blair s moral case for military action against Saddam Hussein and his regime I also question some of the ways that just war ideas are used and can be abused. Many just war advocates, though not all, attempt to take historical concepts from different parts of that long tradition and apply them unproblematically in the present. In the course of investigating the recent use of some ancient ideas about morality and war I have tried to do justice to their original philosophical and theological foundations. In places I show how some aspects of the original concepts have been brought into contemporary use while associated theological or philosophical principles have been resolutely left in the past. War is as awful today as it has always been and the means of killing and maiming more efficient and destructive. This book does not argue for an end to war, even though like most people I long for that day to arrive. My view is that there are times when, in order to preserve the lives of thousands or millions of innocents, the judicious use of force is the only way to prevent even greater disaster. I echo the cautioning voices of those who throughout history have pointed out the horrors of war and its cost in lives and treasure. Consequently, it is the responsibility of every ruler or government to ensure that military power is only ever deployed for the most just of reasons and applied both proportionately and discriminately. They owe it to both combatants and noncombatants alike to avoid the needless loss of life. I did not believe

12 xii Preface at the time that Blair provided an adequate or persuasive moral case for involving the UK in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, with all its bloody consequences. After several years of study I am even more convinced that he did not. This book has sought to avoid the extremes of the partisan polemicist and aloof musings of the distant and detached philosopher (if such a thing were possible). Some readers will want to place me closer to one extreme than the other, which will say as much about their viewpoints as mine. Regardless of whether or not you agree with my conclusions it has been my aim to provoke soul-searching in both supporters and opponents of the 2003 war alike, with a sufficient degree of academic rigour to do justice to such a serious subject. Most of all, I hope that in some small way this book honours those who die or are damaged in war; especially without good reason. PETER LEE

13 Acknowledgements I would like to thank the following organizations and individuals for their permission to use various copyright materials: Random House and its Hutchinson imprint for permission to use excerpts from Tony Blair s autobiography A Journey; Professor Lawrence Freedman for permission to quote suggestions he made to the Prime Minister s office in 1999 as Tony Blair was preparing to set out his Doctrine of the International Community; and the Information Policy Adviser at The National Archives for permission to quote from several documents submitted in evidence to the Iraq Inquiry. Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Anglicisation copyright 1979, 1984, Used by permission of Hodder and Stoughton Limited. I wish to express my profound gratitude to Professor Vivienne Jabri who, over several years, has provided academic guidance, incisive critique and exemplary intellectual rigour in a way that has been truly inspiring. The cadets and staff of the Royal Air Force College, and my colleagues at King s College London s Air Power Studies Division have consistently provided encouragement as this project has come to fruition. My parents, Peter and Sheila, have shown me by example how to live life to the full and to make the most of every opportunity: for that I am truly grateful. My greatest thanks go to my wife, Lorna, and our daughters, Samantha and Fiona, whose love and support I try never to take for granted. xiii

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