1st Edition

Britain and the War on Terror Policy, Strategy and Operations

By Warren Chin Copyright 2013

    Why did Britain come to play such a prominent role in the war on terror and why did the military instrument come to be the dominant theme in the British prosecution of what was an ideological and political struggle? This book is an analysis of Britain’s war against Al Qaeda and the phenomenon of international terrorism which marked a paradigm shift in the nature and conduct of war in the twenty-first century. At the heart of the book is an attempt to understand why Britain, which possessed a wealth of experience in the conduct of counterterrorism, counterinsurgency and small wars, developed a strategic and operational design to defeat the Islamist threat which proved to be deeply flawed. In addressing this question the book explores the complex intellectual, doctrinal and geopolitical challenge posed by Al Qaeda and international terrorism and how and why the British response took the form that it did. In conducting this analysis the book raises important questions about the assumptions and perceptions of those in government who led the UK into this conflict, the nature of the civil military relationship in Britain and how well it functioned, and finally the competence of its security forces in being able to deal with this threat both domestically and overseas.

    Contents: Introduction; Britain’s strategic framework for conducting the war on terror; Al Qaeda’s strategic framework: the three Riders of the Apocalypse - religion, terrorism and weapons of mass destruction; Why did the Blair government decide to go to war with Iraq in 2003?; The British occupation of Iraq 2003-9; UK strategy and operations in Afghanistan 2006-10; The war on the home front: Al Qaeda and terrorism in the UK; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.


    Dr Warren Chin is Senior Lecturer in the Defence Studies Department, King's College London, UK, and Visiting Scholar at the International Centre for Muslim and non Muslim Understanding, University of South Australia.

    ’A perceptive examination of the United Kingdom’s global war on terrorism. This study explains how the war against Islamist terrorism that British leaders anticipated failed to materialise, and why they fought the one they actually faced so poorly. An important addition to the growing literature on the wars of 9/11 and a cautionary tale of linking strategic ends to realistically available ways and means.’ Peter R. Mansoor, The Ohio State University, USA ’The Global War on Terror quickly also became Britain’s war. With crisp prose, sharp insight and clear-eyed judgement, Warren Chin shows how Britain found itself continually disappointed by the unanticipated costs of the war, the unexpected levels of resistance, and the strain placed on its armed forces. Above all, Chin excavates the distinctively British experience of the war, in which the Anglo-American relationship was pivotal to London’s calculations. Britain paid the blood price to buy influence in Washington. Chin’s account poses the question - was it worth the cost?’ Patrick Porter, University of Reading, UK