This paper from the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) is causing an awful lot of fuss at the moment.
What it doesn’t say
“The question you have to pose is: what is this report suggesting we should have done? It is suggesting we should simply have put our heads down and hoped that we weren’t going to be attacked?”
The report does not say anywhere ‘we should simply have put our heads down’. Blair obviously hasn’t either read it or been well briefed.
“I’m astonished that Chatham House is now saying that we should not have stood shoulder to shoulder with our long-standing allies in the United States,”
The report says the UK shouldn’t have of been “working shoulder-to-shoulder with the United States as a back seat passenger rather than an equal decision maker.” This is not the same thing as not standing shoulder to shoulder. Our voice was not (eg) listened to over Fallujah.
What the report does say:
The Royal Institute of International Affairs, known as Chatham House, said that Britain’s support for the US did not mean it was an equal partner but a “pillion passenger compelled to leave the steering to the ally in the driving seat”.
The think-tank concluded that “the UK is at particular risk because it is the closest ally of the United States, has deployed armed forces in the military campaigns … in Afghanistan and in Iraq, and has taken a leading role in international intelligence, police and judicial co-operation against al-Qa’ida and in efforts to suppress its finances,” it said.
Chatham House warned that Iraq had created difficulties for the UK and the coalition. “It gave a boost to the al-Qa’ida network’s propaganda, recruitment and fundraising, caused a major split in the coalition, provided an ideal targeting and training area for al-Qa’ida-linked terrorists, and deflected resources that could have been deployed to assist the Karzai government [in Afghanistan] and bring Bin Laden to justice,”
Now go read, and let’s discuss (btw the thread on this starts in the last Turkish Bombing post).