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Learning from the History of British Interventions in the Middle East

Louise Kettle

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Interrogates whether the British government has learned anything from its interventions in the Middle East, from the 1950s to 2016

Learning from history helps states to create foreign and security policy that builds upon successes and avoids past mistakes. Drawing on a wealth of previously unseen documents, sourced by Freedom of Information requests, together with interviews with government and intelligence agency officials, Louise Kettle questions whether the British government has learned anything from its military interventions in the Middle East. She provides an extended commentary on military interventions in the Middle East since the 1950s, including a behind-the-scenes glimpse into Whitehall decision-making and a critical examination of the 2016 Iraq Inquiry report.

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Contents

1. Learning from History
Learning from History in Whitehall
Politicians Learning from History
Learning from the History of Military Interventions
How Do We Learn?
What is Learning from History?
Who Learns from History?
The Learning Process
Learning from the History of British Interventions in the Middle East

2. No End of a Lesson – Suez 1956
Planning the Intervention
During the Intervention
After the Intervention
Musketeer Learning

3. More like Korea – Jordan 1958
Planning the Intervention
During the Intervention
After the Intervention
Fortitude Learning

4. Suez in Reverse – Kuwait 1961
Planning the Intervention
During the Intervention
After the Intervention
Vantage Learning

5. A Re-Run of Port Stanley – The Gulf 1990–1
Planning the Intervention
During the Intervention
After the Intervention
Granby Learning

6. Afghanistan Part Two – Iraq 2003–9
Planning the Intervention
During the Intervention
After the Intervention
Telic Learning

7. Failing History or Lessons Learned?
Learning from History since Iraq
Conclusion

Notes
Index

About the Author

Louise Kettle is Assistant Professor at the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Nottingham. She has won several awards for her work including from the British International History Group, the Royal Historical Society and the British Library.

Reviews

Failing to learn historical lessons is not new.  As Louise Kettle demonstrates in this absorbing account history is full of enough tantalising clues about the future that government should take heed, but it rarely has in the past and probably won’t in the future.  As Kettle ably shows, this is a serious mistake and until someone sits up and takes notice, the mistakes of the past will become the mistakes of the future.

- Michael Goodman, King's College London

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