Deception and the Path to War in Iraq

Eric Herring, Piers Robinson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Ever since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, there has been a widely shared public perception in the United Kingdom 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 United Kingdom was actually committed to a policy of regime change by force 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 organized persuasive communication conducted by UK officials. With respect to the UN route, there is mounting 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
Title of host publicationhost publication
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2015
EventBritish International Studies Association Annual Conference - London
Duration: 14 Jun 201517 Jun 2015


ConferenceBritish International Studies Association Annual Conference


  • propaganda
  • organised persuasive communication
  • Iraq War
  • deception
  • public relations
  • strategic communication


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