The Chilcot report offers important lessons about decision making for future generations of political leaders and officials

David HS

Much of the media reaction to the Chilcot report has inevitably focused on what it says about Tony Blair. However, the report also offers plenty of powerful long-term insights about decision making. David Laughrin suggests that there is a danger that these lessons will not reach their intended audience. Sir John Chilcot and his team should therefore be urged to build on their seven years’ lifetime investment, and invest some more on its implementation. They would have much to contribute.

 My wife has just finished reading War and Peace, a long read though apparently shorter than the Chilcot report. She believes that everyone should read Tolstoy’s gripping thesis about why countries should not go to war lightly and why older men and women should not be trusted to put young men’s or women’s lives at risk. But she suspects that this will not happen in these days when tweets are more read than novels or newspapers or indeed the Chilcot Report.

After reading the 911 paragraphs of the Executive Summary of the Chilcot report – surely some kind of record for an Executive Summary? – I fear the same fate for Chilcot as for Tolstoy. But future academics and deliverers of learning and development for civil servants, themselves a scarce commodity at present, surely need to bend their efforts to ensure that we do better.

For although Chilcot acknowledges that the particular set of circumstances that led to the war in Iraq and its inadequate follow up are unlikely to be repeated, there are plenty of powerful long term insights lurking in the lucid prose. Some are so stark that they do not even lurk, but jump out of the pages.

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