A War of Choice

Tony Blair said that history would judge his decision to invade Iraq. In A War of Choice, author Jack Fairweather gives a comprehensive account of this extraordinary, controversial period in British foreign policy. A Baghdad bureau chief for the Daily Telegraph, Fairweather uses on-the-ground reporting and over three hundred interviews to take readers from the besieged British outposts and insurgent hideouts of southern Iraq to the intense debates the war provoked inside 10 Downing Street and the White House, in the first full analysis of the true costs of Blair's decision. 

Tony Blair's vision of transforming Saddam's dictatorship into an egalitarian and prosperous society began to unravel almost immediately, undone by the lacking of planning, high-handed American tactics, and a Iranian-backed Shi'ite militia. As an Islamic revolution swept the streets of Basra, and UK military started to retreat, the British found themselves increasingly under fire and isolated in their outposts. Leaving Iraq was to prove far harder than invading. When the military sought a quick exit in order to send troops to southern Afghanistan they found themselves in a war on two fronts, in a desperate battle for survival. 

A War of Choice sheds new light on some of the most contentious issues of the war, including the abuse of detainees by British soldiers and Iraqi police, the deteriorating special relationship with American, the decision to deploy troops to Helmand, Afghanistan, and the secret deal with a Shia militia leader that sought to end the fighting in Iraq. In raising these themes, the book explores whether armed intervention can ever work and the urgent lessons that need to be learnt.

Above all, A War of Choice seeks to portray the conflict in Iraq on a human scale, revealing the intimate thoughts of Britain's leaders and the men and women they sent to war. Faced by the challenges of Iraq and later Afghanistan, every Briton lived out their own battle between the call of duty and self-interest, their doubts about the war, and the necessity of finding a solution. This book describes their choices, and their sacrifice.

The calamitous decision-making process that sent Britain into the “perfect storm” of fighting two wars on two fronts is brilliantly catalogued in Jack Fairweather's excellent book A War of Choice. Through more than 300 interviews, Fairweather, a former Daily Telegraph correspondent in Iraq, expertly dissects the lies, spin and appalling decision-making which led to the biggest British foreign policy disaster since the Suez Crisis.

Sean Rayment, The Daily Telegraph

Jack Fairweather, the accomplished correspondent of the Daily Telegraph for much of the Iraq venture, gives a brilliant summary of the British entanglement for the fourth time in that country in A War of Choice. It is very much an account of the story so far — and this conflict is by no means over, according to latest reports — and by far the best of its kind yet.

Robert Fox, Evening Standard

Britain's campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan have spawned a new generation of war correspondents as brave and fluent as any that went before, many of whom go on to write books. Jack Fairweather, who reported from Baghdad for The Daily Telegraph, has compiled his own account, which is sound, vivid and ... simply describes in cool prose how Britain's share in the western allies' initial 2003 success in deposing Saddam Hussein and occupying Iraq turned into a nightmare struggle against insurgency.

The author has interviewed most of the key players, military and political. He tells a story of repeated poor situation assessments and strategic decisions, interspersed with heavy action. There are many tales of courage, but the overall picture is one of a struggle against odds from which few senior commanders emerged with as much credit as those at the sharp end, though not all were heroes.

Max Hastings, The Sunday Times

An outstanding work of contemporary history that reveals for the first time the full drama and folly of Britain's adventure in Iraq. Jack Fairweather does a service to history by telling us what really went on in Iraq.

Patrick Bishop

A compelling history of the seamy realities of war in  both Iraq and Afghanistan, it combines the vividness of front-line reporting with detached and incisive analysis. A War of Choice is a definitive account of this era, setting out the case against Tony Blair's shifty manipulations in Iraq more forcefully than any number of official enquiries will do.

Alistair Horne

We have needed to have a detailed and dispassionate book on Britain's bitterly controversial war in Iraq.  At last we have it with this sweeping, powerful account.

Anthony Seldon

A War of Choice, a roller-coaster narrative of heroism, mismanagement and disaster, is as gripping as any novel.  I only hope that lessons will be learned from it.

Robert Irwin

Fairweather does not disappoint; from the start this book grips with its successful blend of reportage and interviews. Fairweather interviewed over three hundred key players, giving him a panoramic understanding across the spectrum of the conflict, ranging from the political machinations of Whitehall to the gritty reality of life on the street outside the Jamiat. I thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who wears a TELIC medal - things may make a lot more sense on reading it. As we start to approach transition in Afghanistan, hopefully those involved in the planning may take a little time out to read it and avoid some of the pitfalls of recent history.

ARRSE (otherwise known as the The ARmy Rumour SErvice)

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