It is some feat to go to war five times in six years. That statistic impelled me to write this book. No British Prime Minister and few world leaders come close, and none of these five wars could be defined through the traditional concepts of national interest or repelling an invader. So what is it about Tony Blair that has given him such a taste for the battlefield?
This is the story of a man who came to office in 1997 knowing precious little about foreign affairs, who within a year had defined a new mission for Britain overseas. The idea of humanitarian intervention was developed as he went along. It came awry when confronted by the new realities after the terrorist attacks of September 11, and by George W. Bush’s strategic doctrine of preemption and primacy for the United States. As Blair struggled to maintain his authority on the global stage, as his approach unravelled, the mismatch between his ends and his means became ever more stark. This is the story of a man who had convinced himself that his powers of persuasion could overcome all problems and defy all logic—only to see those powers ebb away. “Blair’s Wars” traces the evolution of the relationship between the prime minister and war in three sections.