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18 Mar 2003 : Column 850—continued

6.27 pm

Mr. Robert Marshall-Andrews (Medway): There is an old and famous observation about the relationship between murder and international power politics: if someone murders one person, they go to prison for life; if someone murders 15 people, they are put in a sanatorium; and if someone murders 150,000 people, they get invited to a peace conference. Those words were much in my mind yesterday when I listened to the Foreign Secretary talking about the prospect of Saddam Hussein resigning power voluntarily. The Foreign Secretary said that Saddam Hussein would be offered and would receive amnesty and indemnity internationally for the crimes that he had committed.

In these debates in the House, there has been no shortage of people who have set out in graphic detail the crimes and the iniquities that Saddam Hussein has committed against his own and other people; the individual and collective tortures that he has visited on those people; and the gassing, the burning and the

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mutilations for which he has been responsible. If that indemnity is to take place, those who have suffered those injustices will have no justice.

Whether there is a greater right or greater wrong in offering such indemnity is not the reason behind my observations, but I wish to reflect on these questions. By whose authority is that indemnity offered? Whose writ runs here and whose may be abrogated? On what authority would that be done? Who decides which mass murderers should be the subject of indemnity and pardon, and which should be the subject of indictment? Who decides which mass murderers should be the subject of condemnation and which should be hanged? Who decides that Milosevic should be in The Hague, as he undoubtedly should be for his complicity in the murder of thousands in Bosnia? Who decides that Ariel Sharon should be supreme in Israel, which he undoubtedly should not be because of his complicity in the murders at Sabra and Shatila? Who decides that Hamas is a terrorist organisation, which it undoubtedly is, and that the Contras were a freedom-fighting organisation, which they undoubtedly were not? Who decides that the hundreds who are held without trial or civil rights in Zimbabwe present an affront to international justice? Who decides that it is necessary for international security to hold hundreds in Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo bay in Cuba, which undoubtedly it is not?

Who decides on the form of international justice that the Foreign Secretary talked about? The Foreign Secretary, of course, was echoing and acting as a mouthpiece for Donald Rumsfeld, who has already set it out.

I can say straight away that it is not the UN that decides such matters. When one reads resolution 1441, one finds, despite its inordinate length and impenetrable prose, absolutely nothing that speaks of any form of clemency for, or acquittal of, Saddam Hussein.

Mr. Alan Duncan: In practical terms, is not the logic of what the hon. and learned Gentleman advocates that he rejects a free Saddam and a free Iraq, and favours, by contrast, a free Saddam and a subjugated Iraq?

Mr. Marshall-Andrews: That is not the position that I advocate, as the hon. Gentleman will realise if he listens for a while. My point is this: who creates this form of international justice? I am not arguing about its merits, but pointing out that the perception that concerns this House and creates aversion outside it is that this international power is wielded not by the United Nations, nor even by the United States, but by the Bush Administration from within the United States. What concerns my constituents and those throughout the country and the world is the prospect of the uncontrolled, unbridled power now exercised by America, as America chooses and America pleases. My constituents perceive, although they would not put in these terms, that we now have a de facto international monarchy—an autocracy that rules by its own version of divine right. The genesis of that divine right can be found in its charter—the project for a new American century.

Much has been said today about America. As I have said before, America is the greatest paradox in the world. There is no greater force for peace in my lifetime

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than America, and I have never known a greater cause for war. No country holds a torch for freedom that burns as brightly as that of America, and in my lifetime no country has so often been vilified—on many occasions, rightly—for the perception that it denies those freedoms to others, as it has on many occasions, notably in Latin America. That is the great paradox.

What matters about America is who governs it and what is done in its name. We are now in a black period of American history, and that fact is perceived darkly by our constituents. That is why, sometimes apparently incomprehensibly, they oppose the overthrowing of a dictator because they believe that the method is unacceptable.

The American Administration wish to overthrow Saddam Hussein. That was set out in the project for a new American century even before George Bush obtained the power that he has in the White House. They will do it by whatever means that they can, and that is also known to those who observe, but they will not do it by war: it will be done by slaughter. It will be done by the means that we saw exercised on the Basra road and the Mitla ridge, when Newsweek reported that American soldiers, white-faced and vomiting, were standing underneath bridges ankle-deep in Iraqi blood and saying, "Jesus, did we do that?" That is the prospect that we face in the coming days. Of course it will be short: no such slaughter could be anything else.

I long—I really do—for a time when we have an international system that means that we no longer have to walk by and listen to the screams in our neighbour's house, and when the duty to intervene in Rwanda and in Bosnia will be undertaken by the international community, not taken by anybody as a capricious right. That day, which I long for both as a lawyer and as a politician, will not be brought a second, a minute or an hour closer by the exercise of arbitrary and capricious power.

6.35 pm

Sir Teddy Taylor (Rochford and Southend, East): So many hon. Members wish to speak—I have never known a previous occasion on which there have been so many at this stage—that I shall speak very briefly just to mention three points that I hope Ministers will bear in mind when they wind up.

The main point that hon. Members have addressed is the appalling weapons controlled by Saddam Hussein and the terrible damage that they could do to so many people. I hope that before we vote, the Government will help to clarify where those weapons and biological materials came from. I have tried for quite a while to get information about that. About three weeks ago, in Question Time, I asked the Secretary of State for Defence to confirm where they came from and whether they had perhaps come from America. We were told that the Americans had denied it. Earlier today, when I intervened on the speech of the Prime Minister, I asked him to help to identify where the weapons had come from and who was responsible for them. Hon. Members may recall that he said that Iraq had made most of them itself.

I would suggest that there is abundantly clear evidence that, instead of taking a high-handed and upmarket view of ourselves, we should accept a

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considerable measure of the responsibility for what has happened. Now that our sittings finish at 7 o'clock, I am engaging in reading books, which is something that I have not done for a long time. If any hon. Member wants to know about the subject, they should buy a book called "The Death Lobby: How the West Armed Iraq", by Kenneth Timmerman. It is a rather dramatic book that gives full details of where all the materials came from, and we simply have to accept some responsibility for that.

What kinds of materials are we talking about? I have managed to get full details not only of the materials that were sent, but when they were sent—on which days—from the United States to Iraq's Atomic Energy Commission and Government. It is an astonishing list. It includes bacillus anthracis, which is just anthrax—a very substantial amount; clostridium, which is the source of a toxin; histoplasma, which causes a disease resembling tuberculosis; brucella, which damages major organs; another material that causes gas gangrene; E. coli; and seven others. Those materials were not produced by Iraq, but provided and sold by the western powers. We should show a little humility and decency, and say that part of the problem came from ourselves.

Dr. Julian Lewis: Will my hon. Friend explain whether the book and the documents that he has been reading actually say whether Governments or private companies supplied those things and, if it was the former, for what purpose they thought that they were supplying them?

Sir Teddy Taylor: It is abundantly clear that the US Department of Commerce approved every single thing that went from the United States to Iraq. It was not a question of secret firms doing nasty things; this was approved by Government. It is difficult to prove that one wants to use a material such as anthrax to help in the improvement of animals, or to achieve better forms of production.

Mr. Calum MacDonald (Western Isles): I, too, have read the book that the hon. Gentleman mentions, as well as documents issued by the House of Commons Library detailing arms exports to Iraq before the previous Gulf war. Will he confirm that 75 per cent. of all conventional weaponry exported to Iraq before the Gulf war came from two states, France and Russia; that 90 per cent. of the nuclear weapons technology given to Iraq came, of course, from France, in a deal signed personally by Jacques Chirac and Saddam Hussein; and that the overwhelming bulk of chemical technology came from Germany?

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