Deception and Britain's Road to War in Iraq

Eric Herring, Piers Robinson

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Ever since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, there has been a widely shared public perception in the UK and beyond that the British Government lied in making the case for war. One major theme has been the view that the Blair Government lied about the strength of the intelligence about alleged Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and the extent of the WMD capabilities claimed by that intelligence. A second theme that has received less attention has been the view that the Blair Government lied in claiming that its actions at the United Nations (UN) were aimed at securing peaceful Iraqi compliance with its disarmament obligations. Instead, most think that the UK was actually committed to a policy of regime change by force, which the British Government accepts would have been illegal, and did not want the 'UN route'€™ to produce a peaceful outcome. The article argues that the conceptual focus of the discussion needs to be broadened from lying to also considering deception by omission and deception by distortion as part of a campaign of organized political persuasion. It argues that, on the WMD intelligence, it is now apparent that a campaign of deceptive organised political persuasion was conducted by UK officials. With respect to the UN route, there is mounting though not conclusive evidence that the Blair Government ran a campaign of deception on this issue as well to pave Britain's road to war in Iraq.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-232
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2014


  • United Nations
  • Invasion of Iraq
  • Chilcot Inquiry
  • Iraq Inquiry
  • Deception
  • Organized political persuasion
  • Weapons of Mass Destruction


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