Mark Collins – Chilcot Report: Iraq, Saddam and Tony and George

Erstwhile UK ambassador Charles Crawford writes a very interesting post on the conduct of diplomacy at the highest level between a little brother and a big brother (trying to play Athens to Rome once again?).

Earlier posts based on Mr Crawford are here.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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One thought on “Mark Collins – Chilcot Report: Iraq, Saddam and Tony and George”

  1. This is one of the better takes on the Blair Letters. If there is a problem with it, it is probably that Crawford expects a prime minister writing or dictating ‘in his own hand’ to be more developed in discourse then Blair was. (it is possible, even likely, that Churchill could have been, but the question in either case remains how much of it would be read?) In the end heads of government are human, inconsistent, fallible and far too harassed to develop detailed policy in a single note and expect their opposite number to read it, especially if it’s a viewpoint the recipient doesn’t want to hear.

    On only a slight tangent, Derek Leebart of Georgetown U points out in his 2010 book ‘Magic and mayhem’ how impossible it is to control policy analysis, let alone policy itself, in a ‘mature’ policy bureaucracy. Churchill at least didn’t have the howling wilderness of interest groups, think tanks and ’emergency men’ that Churchill did (and one of Leebart’s weaknesses may be that he underestimates the density of the wilderness in other capitals than Washington).

    And then again…Augustus with a non-existent bureaucracy still managed to blow three legions at a shot. Trajan with a ‘developed’ bureaucracy managed to get 15 legions into an Iraqi quagmire as spectacular as Rumsfeld/Cheney did some time later and entirely without the aid of the modern IED. And Valens with a ‘mature’ bureaucracy was able to lose the entire Army of the East at Adrianople. It’s a game anyone can play!

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