Historians say Chilcot must be seen in context of Suez 1956

In Uncategorized on July 6, 2016 by kmflett

London Socialist Historians Group

6th July

Historians say Chilcot must be seen in context of Suez 1956

The London Socialist Historians Group which convenes the socialist history seminar at the Institute of Historical Research in London has said that the Chilcot Report into the Iraq War must be seen in the wider context of British imperial history back to Suez in 1956 and before.

The widely taken point from Suez was that after the Second World War, Britain was no longer a central player in global politics and warfare, this role then falling particularly to the US and Russia.

A key factor in that was the opposition that Suez found at home, both from the Labour Party, street protests and some industrial action.

In the late nineteenth century at the height of its imperial power Britain had been involved with wars in some part of the globe more or less without end. The First World War and then the Second World War significantly changed that pattern.

After Suez Britain still intervened, for example covertly around the Vietnam War, but the Iraq War was the first significant attempt to revert to a pre-1956 model of British military activity.

As Chilcot underlines it may well have been that a lack of understanding of quite recent history, arguably a wilful one, led then Prime Minister Blair into a false assessment of the role that Britain could and indeed should play.

LSHG Convenor Keith Flett said much of the discussion of the Chilcot report will quite rightly be on short term issues focused on those who lost their lives and the impact on Iraqi society. The longer term issues are important too however. Chilcot provides a commentary on what Britain’s role in world affairs can sensibly be in the twenty-first century and that is informed by its imperial history.

Keith Flett is the Convenor of the Socialist History Seminar at the Institute of Historical Research, University of London





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