Questions of war were not central to the founding of the Labour Party, yet questions of war – specifically, under what circumstances the party would support the dispatch of British military forces to fight abroad – have divided and damaged the party throughout its history more deeply than any other single issue.
The Labour Party, War and International Relations, 1945-2006 opens by identifying and examining the factors that have influenced the party’s thinking about war, before considering the post-1945 Cold War context and analyzing a range of cases:
- the Korean War
- the party’s response to the 1956 Suez crisis
- the Wilson government’s approach to the Vietnam War
- Labour’s response to the 1982 invasion of the Falkland Islands
- the crisis over the August 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, culminating in the 1991 war
- the wars of the 1990s over Bosnia and Kosovo
- the case for war in Iraq developed by the Blair government during 2002-03.
This is a timely book that both illuminates approaches to past wars and helps us understand the basis of current military commitments. As such it will be of great interest to students across courses in politics, history, and war studies.
Table of Contents
1. The Labour Party and the Question of War 2. Taking Sides in the Cold War 3. The Labour Party and War in the 1950s: Korea and Suez 4. Harold Wilson, the Labour Party and the Vietnam War 5. Labour’s Falklands War 6. The Gulf War, 1990-91 7. The Rise of Humanitarian Military Intervention in the 1990s: Bosnia and Kosovo 8. New Labour Goes to War (Again): Iraq 2002-03. Conclusion
Mark Phythian is Professor of Politics at the University of Leicester, UK
'...a fine, clear and (so far as Blair is concerned) a damming book.'
Bernard Porter, Lobster Magazine
'Mark Phythian has produced a fascinating and hugely informative book. By focusing on Labour's attitude to war since 1945 he provides a unique analysis that throws much light on the more general evolution of the party. Long-term concerns with internationalism and support for the United Nations are apparent, especially in relation to Suez and Vietnam, as are the tensions implicit in the special relationship.
Phythian is particularly successful in putting the Iraq war in a wider context that goes well beyond New Labour, demonstrating how the Blair approach has differed so much from that of the Labour Party of Attlee and Gaitskell. Suez haunted Eden and Iraq will haunt Blair - Phythian explain why and, in doing so, provides Labour with a challenge for the future.'
Paul Rogers, Professor of Peace Studies, Bradford University, UK
"Based on impressive research, this is a well-written, perceptive study that should be widely read." - H.L. Smith, University of Houston