Iraq: The Cost of War by Jeremy Greenstock - review by Piers Brendon

Piers Brendon

No Honest Mistake

Iraq: The Cost of War


William Heinemann 467pp £25 order from our bookshop

Sir Jeremy Greenstock wrote this book in 2005 but the government prevented him from publishing it. Apparently Jack Straw did not want Greenstock’s record of his work as Britain’s permanent representative at the United Nations (1998–2003) and as UK special envoy for Iraq (2003–4) to appear while ministers responsible for the Iraq War and its aftermath were still in office. Certainly they had much to hide, but Greenstock, who loyally delayed publishing his book until the emergence of the Chilcot Report and sticks to his original text (adding only an introduction and epilogue), offers no dramatic revelations. A diplomat to his fingertips, he writes in the bland, discreet, emollient argot of his caste.

He is complimentary about his fellow officials and polite about his political masters, who made an ‘honest mistake’ about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) – as he did himself. Although initially ‘incredulous’ when he realised that George W Bush was serious about forcing ‘regime change’ on

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