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26 Feb 2003 : Column 330continued
Mr. John Hume (Foyle): This is a time to do a lot of thinking about the future. Our generation is living through the biggest revolution in the history of the worldthe technological, telecommunications and transport revolution. As a result, our world is a much smaller place than the world of the past. Therefore, we should recognise that we are in a stronger position to shape that world. As we enter this new century, our primary objective should be to make it the first century in the history of the world in which there is no war and no conflict.
Let us not forget that the victims of every war are the innocent civilians. Some 10 million were killed in the first world war and 40 million in the second world war. If innocent civilians are killed in a war against Iraq, their families will say, "Hussein is right and the terrorists are right. Those really are our enemies." We should be using our energies to create a peaceful and just world. If we use as much energy to do that as we would to fight a war, we would succeed far more quickly.
I ask Americans to remember the philosophies of their founding fathers. The ancestors of the present-day United States were driven from all their former countries by conflict, persecution, starvation and
Europe learned that lesson a while later than the United States. Who could have forecast, 50 years ago, during the worst century in the history of world, with two world warsand 10 million killed in the first and 40 million killed in the secondthat the peoples involved would gather together in a united Europe? But they have, and that is the best example in the history of the world of conflict resolution. Therefore, we should study how they did it and send that message to the world. The first principle of the European Union is exactly the same as that of the founding fathers of the United Statesrespect for difference and diversityand it is backed up by institutions that respect difference and diversity, including the Council of Ministers, the Commission and the Parliament.
In the European Parliament, they work together in their common interests on areas of agreement rather than disagreement, on socio-economic development. They spill their sweat together, not their blood, and break down the barriers of centuries. That is a philosophy for the world. In today's smaller world, instead of sending soldiers, bombs and guns to kill human beings, we should send that philosophy. Because of the enormous influence of the United States and Britain in that smaller world, we could make a huge impact on it and create the first century in which there is no war and no conflict. If we used our energies to do that instead of in creating war, we would succeed far more quickly.
Dr. Julian Lewis (New Forest, East): I profoundly disagree with what the hon. Member for Foyle (Mr. Hume) has just said. To suggest that the lesson of the second world war is that one should not go to war is to fly in the face of the real lesson of that war, which is that when faced with dictators one should deal with them sooner rather than later.
What we face is, as always, the problem of democracies when dealing with dictators. I subscribe to the paradox of freedom. The paradox of freedom, sometimes called the paradox of tolerance, is that one must tolerate all but the intolerant, because if one persists in tolerating the intolerant, then the tolerant will disappear, because the conditions for toleration will cease to exist.
Those are not my words. They are the words of Dr. Blix in his report to the Security Council as recently as 27 January this year. They did not come from a dissertation. They did not come from a student thesis. They did not even come from a Government dossier. They are fact.
I was rather sad about the refusal by the hon. Member for Nottingham, South (Alan Simpson), who I am sorry to see has already vacated his place, to let me intervene when he was talking about the presence in north America of a biological plant, a plant that he said produces and deals with substances that are banned under the 1972 biological weapons convention. He compared that to the situation in Iraq. I have interesting news for hon. Members. There is a plant like that in this country. It is called Porton Down. Under the provisions of the 1972 biological weapons convention it does what such plants are allowed to do, which is to work on minuscule amounts of toxic substances in order to develop antidotes to them.
Llew Smith: Does the hon. Gentleman accept that the United States refuses to allow international inspectors into some of its chemical plants, and is therefore breaking the chemical weapons convention?
What I can say is that it is wholly inappropriate and irresponsible to take a legal, permitted ability of countries that have signed the BW convention, which is to carry out research on small amounts of deadly weapons in order to develop antidotes, and compare it with what Saddam Hussein has done, which is to produce huge quantities of such weapons, use them, lie about them and, even when forced to admit that he had them all along, fail to account properly for what he did with them.
I am surprised by some of the remarks that are made by people who profess to support resolution 1441. In a debate like this I would have expected resolution 1441 to be quoted time and again. I do not think that it has been quoted at all, so I shall briefly quote it now. The resolution decides that Iraq
Dr. Lewis: No. The question is whether Saddam will actively assist the inspectors in finding his unaccounted stocks, and the answer to that is clearly in the negative. That is why Saddam is in breach, and why we have to look very carefully at the recommendation that we should continue to give more time. The comparison is made between 11 weeks now and 12 years in the past. The fact is that during every conflict in which this country has engaged, one could have heard arguments analogous to those that we have heard today. Plenty of people argued that it was wrong to take action against the Nazis, until it became so late that the action that had to be taken proved much more costly than that which could have been taken earlier. Had such action been taken earlier, it would have been denounced as unwarranted and pre-emptive.
Dr. Lewis: It must be said that in subsequent conflicts and confrontations, many of the very same people who are arguing against action now were arguing against it then. Those who said, in advance of the action that was eventually taken against the Hitlerite regime, that no action was justified get a bad press, because they are now regarded as having had no reasonable arguments. Let me assure you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that if we could revisit the debates that took place in this House in the 1930s, we would hear arguments for appeasement just as sophisticated as those put forward today. Those arguments were wrong then, and they are wrong now. It will be a grave mistake if people think that the cause of peace is served by always avoiding conflict. Sometimes, the only way to bring about peace is to face up to the need for conflict, and this is one of those occasions.