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The curious incident of the dog that didn’t bark in the night-time: structure and agency in Britain’s war with Iraq

Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
Publication Date
  • Ja Political Science (General)
  • Jn101 Great Britain
  • Jz International Relations
  • Political Science


As one of the most contentious and far-reaching foreign policy decisions in Britain's political history, the Blair government's participation in the 2003 invasion of Iraq has attracted a considerable amount of analysis, commentary, and debate. To date, however, the focus of this debate has tended to attribute primary causality for the decision to invade Iraq to individual agency, and to downplay the role that was played by broader structural factors. Although the decision was driven by the attitudes, beliefs, and values of senior government figures, and principally, on the British side, by those of Tony Blair himself, the role of structures in shaping these subjective views, and in providing senior figures with the scope, freedom, and autonomy to pursue this policy goal, has been largely overlooked. This study argues that, in this regard, a key and defining influence was exerted by the contextual environment of the British political system.

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