The British choice in Iraq has been characterized as “Tony Blair's War,” with many believing that the personality and leadership style of the prime minister played a crucial part in determining British participation. Is this the case? To investigate, I employ at-a-distance measures to recover Blair's personality from his responses to foreign policy questions in the House of Commons. I find that he has a high belief in his ability to control events, a low conceptual complexity, and a high need for power. Using newly available evidence on British decision making, I show how Blair's personality and leadership style did indeed shape both the process and outcome of British foreign policy toward Iraq. The research reemphasizes the importance of individual level factors in theories of foreign policy, as well as offering a comprehensive explanation of a critical episode.

You do not currently have access to this article.