War of Choice: The British in Iraq 2003-9

by Jack Fairweather

Book cover for War of Choice: The British in Iraq 2003-9

When Tony Blair plunged Britain into war he thought that, shortly thereafter, Iraq would emerge as a peaceful democracy. Instead the invasion sparked the worst foreign policy disaster since the Suez crisis in 1956. "A War of Choice" is a compelling and authoritative portrayal of Britain's war in Iraq. At the outset, Blair insisted that Britain went to war to influence American decision-making. Based on over three hundred interviews, "A War of Choice" gives the inside story of Blair's war cabinet, Whitehall power struggles and intrigue at the White House, and traces the evolution of the special relationship, from the secret deals struck by Blair, to Brown's desperate bid to save his premiership, which brought already-strained relations with America to the verge of collapse. The occupation of Iraq also marked an extraordinary attempt to introduce democracy into the heart of the Muslim world. Fairweather takes us inside the doomed effort in Basra, where civil servants and trigger-happy contractors lived in a holiday camp atmosphere in Saddam's former palace, while British troops struggled against a raging insurgency and Iranian agents and Iraqi tribesmen plotted the occupation's downfall. Tony Blair compounded the blunders in Iraq when he launched a peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan in 2006. Fairweather follows a small group of officers and diplomats as they try to learn the lessons of liberal intervention in time to avert a disaster in Helmand and a humiliating surrender in Basra. A story of hubris and honour, betrayal and the ultimate sacrifice, "A War of Choice" is a gripping account of the moral and political challenges posed by the last ten years of war. Posing the question 'can nation-building defeat terrorism?' The new government would do well to take heed. Tony Blair always claimed that history would judge his decision to invade Iraq. This is it.

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