The Anglosphere: A Genealogy of a Racialized Identity in International Relations

By Srdjan Vucetic | Go to book overview

5 EMPIRE, IRAQ, AND THE
“COALITION OF THE WILLING”

We do think the same, we do feel the same, and we have the
same
I thinksense of belief that if there is a problem you've
got to act on it
.

—Tony Blair in a BBC documentary, September 8, 2002.

We're not the same.

—Jean Chrétien, interview in Maclean's, December 30, 2002.

IN THE ANALYSIS OF THE RUN-UP to the U.S.-led military intervention in Iraq from the perspectives of Britain and Canada, this genealogy comes to its last case study. The intervention began on March 19, 2003. On March 18, British Prime Minister Tony Blair announced to the House of Commons that Britain was going to war against Iraq, a rogue state in possession of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and ties to international terrorism. Blair said: “Iraq is not the only part of this threat. But it is the test of whether we treat the threat seriously It will determine the pattern of international politics for the next generation.” The prime minister underlined that the purpose of the intervention was not only disarmament but also the removal of Saddam Hussein, Iraq's long-time dictator. On March 17, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien made the opposite announcement in his House of Commons. In response to a question posed by an opposition MP, he said, “If military action proceeds without a new resolution of the Security Council, Canada will not participate.” He also added that his government was against the idea of regime change: “If we change every government we don't like in the world where do we start? Who is next?”

The British-Canadian divergence over Iraq is puzzling considering that their governments—Blair's Labour and Chretien's Liberals—faced nearly identical structural and contextual conditions. First, both countries were such long-standing American allies that the military and defense establishments saw no alternative to building greater interoperability with U.S. forces, both within NATO and through ABCA standardization programs.1 Further, the

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