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Iraq War

Old 8th Feb 2019, 18:54
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Iraq War

Alright, that got your attention...

I am an adult student on an Access course, and this course will be used as a foot in the door for a commissioned RAF career.

One of the subjects is British History, and for the Unit 2 assignment, I have been set a research project where I can negotiate a subject title from the late 19th century until fairly recent.
The title I have negotiated is, 'To what extent did Britain's involvement in the Iraq War have a negative impact on the War on Terror?'
This is a topic that interests me and motivates me so it was a no-brainer.

I have already spoken to a couple friends of mine who are both military historians and did quite a lot of flying in Iraq as Chinook/Hercules pilots, however it is likely that there's always something that we may have missed and I know lots of you served on TELIC, HERRICK, ELLAMY, SHADER, etc. and you may be aware of other publications (open source) from either the MOD, Staff college essays or even other books/articles that have been missed. I'd be grateful for any assistance please!

The key points I wish to argue are:
  • The impact on public opinion of armed conflict - the use of media and the way media has been exploited, and the legalities of armed conflict.. Abu Ghraib soured the public by vexatious and false claims made by lawyers, accusations of war crimes and length of time to rebut allegations.
  • The pivot was on Iraq and left Afghanistan unfinished; it over-stretched HM Forces and caused two lengthy wars. The UK had good reason to be involved in Afghanistan after 9/11, Afghanistan were given the chance to hand over AQ but refused and they remember centuries old history like it was yesterday, making it very difficult to win their hearts and minds.
  • The British government failed to tackle Islamic radicalisation of its youth, many young people were radicalised in prison because radical preachers preyed on the so-called "underclass," the likely bogus claims about the Iraq War allowed AQ to brainwash misguided young Muslims in to believing that their own Government hated them and terrorism was the only way to gain respect and live a prestigious life.
  • And finally (if there's space), I will attempt to argue that the British public have less contact with the military, less trust in their use for what they see as "legitimate" purposes, which directly aids terrorism as they cease to support adequate funding due to being less "militaristic" and aware of the current threat, due to a reduction in national pride and patriotism after the chaos they see to have been caused in Iraq.
I accept that the final point will be very difficult to argue, and I will hate myself for having to attempt to argue it, but as a balanced person, I will give it my all!

The sources I already have noted down, are:
  • Unwinnable (book)
  • Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone (book)
  • Predator - Richard Whittle (book) - this apparently goes in to some small detail about how terrorists operate.
Any further advice and pointers to more sources would be appreciated, folks.
Thank you and I will keep you all fully updated - I kind of want to try to dedicate this piece to all British servicemen and women who served on Operation TELIC; much respect for you all.
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Old 8th Feb 2019, 19:18
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Lordy lord. There's enough there for a doctorate never mind an Access course.

My initial thought are that, by having to be selective with you chain of thoughts, you're going to struggle presenting a balanced argument. There's a huge (international) political piece that needs to provide context.

Good luck.
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Old 8th Feb 2019, 19:59
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Thanks CGB.

It'll be tough, for sure.
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Old 8th Feb 2019, 22:38
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That right there
The pivot was on Iraq and left Afghanistan unfinished
Is a sore spot for people on both sides of the pond. Are you going to try and scale the size of this project down, scope wise? There are book length treatments of this that span various time periods.
Fiasco
End of Iraq were two that were written while it was in progress and both aren't bad.
There's been other stuff since.
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Old 8th Feb 2019, 23:57
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I have about 1,500-2000 words to play with after a 1,000 word plan. It's not much.

I appreciate the book references, thank you. Does anybody know of any Defence publications from the UK that are open source?
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Old 9th Feb 2019, 10:02
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Desired End State and Post Conflict Reconstruction would give you all you need within your wordcount.
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Old 9th Feb 2019, 11:00
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I know this may be looking rather too far into the past for your purposes, but I recommend highly these two books which may help to give you a historical perspective on what is happening now.

'A Line in the Sand' by James Barr which describes how Britain and France agreed to divide up the Middle East after WW1 and the fall of the Ottoman Empire:-
https://www.sce.cornell.edu/sce/alts...120212_455.pdf

'Queen of the Desert' by Georgina Howell. This is a biography of Gertrude Bell who was an advisor to the British government when setting up the new state of Iraq.
https://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/29/b...w/Worth.t.html

Western ignorance of this area of the world then and now has much to answer for as a cause of our present troubles.
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Old 9th Feb 2019, 12:08
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The Iraq Inquiry (‘Chilcot’) evidence is all online and an unrivalled primary source for the subject. The handwritten notes in the margins of cabinet papers are particularly interesting.

I’d also advise a trawl of Parliamentary select committee websites; Defence and Foreign Affairs mainly, but also Home Affairs. There are several past reports that you can read and the written and oral evidence is all archived and cross-referenced. A very interesting source indeed.

However my best piece of advice is similar to the others that have already replied: reconsider your scope, which is far too broad for a 15,000 word dissertation, let alone a 2,000 word essay. You will most likely end up losing marks for giving a superficial treatment to your question. Remember that the marker will be looking for evidence that you have: a) advanced an idea; b) considered a range of sources; c) weighed the evidence and argued your case; d) drawn appropriate conclusions. You should have an essay-writing guide from your provider so follow that and don’t try to pack too much in.
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Old 9th Feb 2019, 22:11
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Point 4 would be suitable for an essay. You could touch on Iraq and AFG which are both
​​​​positive recruitment benefits and public alienation.




​​​​
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Old 10th Feb 2019, 11:17
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On your Point 4, I would argue that the public are more aware of the military than they were 10-15 years ago. They also seem to now sensibly disconnect the individual serviceman (oops -serviceperson) from the policies they are supporting. This is very different from the case with NI operations.

Reasons:

- Greater use of reservists who return to the "real world" (sic) after deployment.

- Better immediate trauma care for wounded individuals, leading to more surviving "disabled" veterans in the public eye.

- As a subset of the above, Special Olympics (or whatever they are called now) and - particularly - Prince Harry and the Invictus Games.

Evidence:

- Amongst other things, greater availability of military discounts (even for "veterans"); two I've experienced recently was a chain restaurant which sounds like it is run by the present and previous Popes; and a card shop which isn't run by an ex-POTUS. Both give 20% which is not to be sneezed at - just don't tell Milady T I got her Valentine card at a disount!
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Old 10th Feb 2019, 19:24
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I appreciate the feedback so far - I think I'm going to send this link to my tutor, see what he thinks. Thanks guys.

I am really passionate about this, and I want to get it right - not just for the marks, but because I have a moral obligation to get it right by providing an honest argument. Our Forces mean a lot to me and they are owed that.
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Old 10th Feb 2019, 19:37
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"War on Terror" is such a mangled use of English. It is highly debatable if you can have a war on the outcome of methods of unconventional conflict.
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Old 10th Feb 2019, 19:43
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Beardy,

I'm sure you can appreciate that I'd rather not play the semantics game. The 'War on Terror' was coined by President George W. Bush in 2001, reaffirmed by Prime Minister Tony Blair and other leaders across the world.
I think it is universally understood what it is meant by 'War on Terror.'

B.
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Old 10th Feb 2019, 19:58
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Originally Posted by BVRAAM View Post
Beardy,

I'm sure you can appreciate that I'd rather not play the semantics game. The 'War on Terror' was coined by President George W. Bush in 2001, reaffirmed by Prime Minister Tony Blair and other leaders across the world.
I think it is universally understood what it is meant by 'War on Terror.'

B.
Unfortunately they used the phrase to mean what they wanted at the time. The objectives have elided into a campaign against some (but not all) awkward islamic fundamentalists. It's not even against their beliefs.
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Old 10th Feb 2019, 20:06
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Originally Posted by BVRAAM View Post
Beardy,

I'm sure you can appreciate that I'd rather not play the semantics game. The 'War on Terror' was coined by President George W. Bush in 2001, reaffirmed by Prime Minister Tony Blair and other leaders across the world.
I think it is universally understood what it is meant by 'War on Terror.'

B.
Their attempt at a response to political Islam?

YS
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Old 10th Feb 2019, 20:36
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Originally Posted by Yellow Sun View Post


Their attempt at a response to political Islam?

YS
Seems like a good enough motive to me - they are the consequences for sitting idly after 19 scumbags hijacked four passenger jets and smashed three of them in to high profile buildings...
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Old 10th Feb 2019, 20:51
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As someone who has a medal/campaign ribbon for GWOT (Global War on Terror) I can assure you that even when I was involved in it I was not quite sure WTF they were on about.
It's like the "war on poverty" horseshit in the US. The war on drugs.

People are appropriating a term for their pet peeve and what they are crusading against.
PS: if you look from the other side, the Westerners are often referred to as Crusaders, in a pejorative sense.

Iif you value your credibility, I'd not use War On Terror in your formal work. It is a loaded term devoid of value.
I prefer the term that got a few people into some trouble: The War Against Terror. (On a coffee cup, it was just the initials, so it was spelled T.W.A.T.) The higher brass were not amused.
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Old 10th Feb 2019, 23:48
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The key points I wish to argue are:
  • The impact on public opinion of armed conflict - the use of media and the way media has been exploited, and the legalities of armed conflict.. Abu Ghraib soured the public by vexatious and false claims made by lawyers, accusations of war crimes and length of time to rebut allegations. CNN was a huge asset during the first Iraq conflict in 1990/91, where 24 hour news had just come of age. By 2002/3 it was achieving the opposite effect - the public could tune in, realtime, and check what was happening in George Bush's big brother house. Great if things are going well, you're declaring a quick victory and moving on, but not so great if its not quite going as planned. The war was unpopular from the start; people couldn't quite connect the dots to 9/11 in the way they could with Afghanistan, and the dodgy dossier and Dr Kelly affair hit the press, it gathered a negative momentum. The bizarre dismantling of the state apparatus resulted in chaos, which also kept the media fire stoked.
The pivot was on Iraq and left Afghanistan unfinished; it over-stretched HM Forces and caused two lengthy wars. The UK had good reason to be involved in Afghanistan after 9/11, Afghanistan were given the chance to hand over AQ but refused and they remember centuries old history like it was yesterday, making it very difficult to win their hearts and minds. The overstretch was intense, particularly on pinch point units such as helicopters et al. The question you should be asking is what happened in Afghanistan whilst the focus was on Iraq; a defeated AQ/T had the time and space to regroup and rearm. Nobody can know for sure, but Afghanistan may have turned out differently if the US and UK had not taken their foot off AQ/T's throat at such a critical time.
  • The British government failed to tackle Islamic radicalisation of its youth, many young people were radicalised in prison because radical preachers preyed on the so-called "underclass," the likely bogus claims about the Iraq War allowed AQ to brainwash misguided young Muslims in to believing that their own Government hated them and terrorism was the only way to gain respect and live a prestigious life. Yes and no..... you are right that this period saw an uptick in home grown terrorism, but I don't believe the cause was just Iraq... a big aspect, yes, but bear in mind Afghanistan and lots of other operations were being conducted around the world. I'd lean towards Iraq being the major aspect of radicalisation, but not the only aspect.
And finally (if there's space), I will attempt to argue that the British public have less contact with the military, less trust in their use for what they see as "legitimate" purposes, which directly aids terrorism as they cease to support adequate funding due to being less "militaristic" and aware of the current threat, due to a reduction in national pride and patriotism after the chaos they see to have been caused in Iraq. I would make space..... up to 1989/1990, the public saw cold war defences as a major issue (Labour lost the 1987 election mainly over defence). The 1991 gulf war was fairly clear cut - Iraq had invaded a neighbour. Then followed a procession of small intervention wars - Bosnia, Kosovo, Sierra Leone which were fairly clear in aim and purpose (stand fast the ROE and UN involvement in Bosnia) and winnable. Then came 9/11.... people initially saw the logic in Afghanistan - but for some reason I can't fathom, the government never mentioned Article 5 of the NATO treaty, and gave all sorts of reasons for military involvement - drugs, womens rights etc etc with the net effect of distorting the purpose and objective - the public then expected results that the government could not deliver, and as the casualty rate climbed, what was a fairly good cause became mired in failure. Iraq was different; the purpose was unclear from day 1, and the government had little support from the moment the first member of the armed forces set foot on Iraqi soil (or sand). The result, as you point out, was chaos and has soured the public's view of military operations since (quite justifiably) - however, and this is important, Iraq could have easily become a Vietnam, but no matter how unpopular the war became, the public made the distinction between soldiers doing what they were told, and an ill conceived foreign policy disaster - the war was unpopular, but I don't feel public attitudes towards the military shifted greatly.
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Old 11th Feb 2019, 00:33
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A major failure was to not define and maintain an objective. There was no stated goal that could be said to have been achieved. Hence 'mission creep' was absolutely inevitable as everyone with a finger in the pie had their say.
That is the reason why the phrase 'War on Terror' is useless.
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Old 11th Feb 2019, 01:23
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Minigundiplomat, if there was a 'like' button on here, I'd have used it. Thank you - that's given me some ideas to research.

By the way, I figure you're Chinook rear-crew; thanks for rattling my windows every so often, I love having that absolute beast flying around - I'm 40 miles from Odiham.

Last edited by BVRAAM; 11th Feb 2019 at 01:42.
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