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Lord Wright of Richmond: My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, perhaps I may take up one point he made. He referred to American evidence of links between Saddam Hussein and international terrorism. Certainly, I would not want to be thought to be defending the despicable behaviour of Saddam Hussein or his regime. However, I remember making a point in the debate which immediately followed the publication of the Government's dossier that there was no evidence in that dossier of Saddam Hussein's links
Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, I am sure that the Minister will set out the view as understood by the Government. However, my understanding is that while the dossier said nothing about terrorism or 9/11, the State Department is firmly convinced that there is evidence of perhaps Al'Qaeda but certainly terrorist training and other groups which I mentioned on Iraqi soil. Those people are all in the terrorism business together.
Baroness Williams of Crosby: My Lords, I very much welcome this debate. It is particularly gratifying that so many Cross-Benchers have put down their names to speak because that will bring to bear a great deal of expertise from which we benefit greatly in this House and from which I think the country as a whole benefits.
The Minister said some extremely interesting things in the course of her remarks. I am sure that she will bear with me when I try to explore some of them in somewhat greater detail. The inspectors' first reportsI think the noble Baroness will agreehave been encouraging. Up to now they have been greeted politely and we understand that they have been given unrestricted access to the things that they want to see.
Reference was made earlier to the inspectors being bugged. My own hearing of "Today" suggested not that, but rather that the accommodation they were using had not yet been swept for bugs. It may be that the Minister can enlighten us later on that obviously important issue.
These are very early days. Resolution 1441 has laid down extremely detailed conditions. The first part of what I want to say relates to the difficulty of meeting those conditions, even if we can assume on both sides an honest intention to try to make the resolution work.
I begin by expressing my concern that arose from a remark made yesterday in a long interview on the "Today" programme with Jacques Baute, who is the head of the Iraq Action Team of the IAEA. I had the interview played back to me several times in order to ensure that I got it absolutely right. He said this about the resolution:
It is right that Resolution 1441 should be couched as it is in precise and uncompromising terms. That must be correct in a situation where peace and war are at stake. In that context, I praise the Prime Minister, Sir Jeremy Greenstock and his United Nations team, the French negotiators and, not least, the American Secretary of State Colin Powell for the huge amount of work that was put in to getting that resolution through the Security Council with the unanimous support of its members. That was a remarkable achievement and praise should be given for it.
It is also important that the American President, who is so often the recipient of rather stupid abuse in this country and elsewhere, made it clear that he would listen to differing opinionsand there are plenty of those in his administration, to which I shall returnbut that the final decision was made by and rested with him. He gets great credit for framing a resolution and taking a channel, which was essentially that of the United Nations.
It is right and proper, too, to claim that this team of peopleAmerican, British, French and other, and including nations such as Syria which also contributed to the resolution and to its negotiationhave helped to recover the authority of the United Nations. That is a substantial achievement. But some parts of what I must say today relate to whether the United Nations can now hold on to the authority it has reacquired. That depends greatly on the inspectors being seen to undertake their work honestly and in a trustworthy way, and, frankly, without unacceptable interventions from any quarter with regard to that work.
It is not doubtful either that the threat of the use of force, sustained now over months, has been critical in getting Iraq to agree to the resolution. It is also absolutely right that Iraq must comply with its terms if it can. I believe that "if it can" is the absolutely crucial phrase.
The Minister encouraged noble Lords on these Benches by her remark that mild, minor or unintended omissions would not be regarded as a failure to comply. But I believe that it is very important to recognise what we are asking for. Resolution 1441 states that by 8th December, Iraq has to make,
One of the real concerns is to consider how the inspectors will report back on the failure or success of Iraq in that respect. A huge amount turns on those
There is a certain catch 22 implicit in this part of the resolution. If Iraq declares illegal sites, as all of us hope it will, that itself constitutes a new breach of Iraq's commitment to get rid of weapons of mass destruction. If, on the other hand, it does not declare them, then the assumption may well be that it has not declared them because it is trying to conceal them. It is very difficult to see how one can guarantee that nothing has been concealed if the inspectors themselves say that it will take up to a year to complete a full inspection of Iraq.
I must ask the Minister a further question. If the inspectors look at a sample of sites and are satisfied, will that constitute sufficient guarantee that Iraq is trying to comply with the terms of the resolution? The trustworthiness and honesty of the inspectors is absolutely vital in this context. I quote a remark made yesterday by the Syrian information Minister on behalf of the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad. He said:
It would be less than honest if we did not indicate that one of the reasons for concern about the whole process of the resolution and the upholding of the resolution flows from what was raised in another place earlier this weekthe real concatenation of voices out of Washington which do not say the same thing. One has to say that the existence of very different voices in Washington is one reason for the real apprehension about whether the resolution will be able to succeed. I shall quote one or two of those different voices. In a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars last August the vice-president Dick Cheney said:
A further example comes from the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. In answer to a caller on a recent phone-in programme in the United States, who asked what would happen if no weapons of mass destruction were found by United Nations weapons inspectors inside Iraq, Mr Rumsfeld said:
I have said before that one great strength of the American position is that, at the end of the day, the President makes the decisions, and he has shown a refreshing willingness to listen to a whole range of opinion. But we cannot simply slide over the fact that many members of the United Nations Security
Only yesterday, Richard Perle stated:
It is important to say that those discordant voices have sown great concern and worry among many people in this House, in another place and much more widely among America's allies. We must recognise that there is a strong opinion that does not allow for the possibility of a peaceful outcome in Iraq.
What has happened so far has helped to restore the authority of the United Nations. It is crucial that the organisation and the Security Council are firm about IraqI entirely agree with the Minister on thatbut they must also be seen to be absolutely fair and objective in how they define how far Resolution 1441 has been carried out by Iraq. That is crucial to maintain the support of moderate Arab nations, countries such as Jordan, Egypt and the Gulf states, for a moderate Arab attitude towards terrorism and what is happening in the world.
Finally, I turn to a question that profoundly troubles me: what is sometimes called the aftermath. Many of us passionately want the resolution to succeed because we recognise how high would be the cost of war. According to the International Institute of Strategic Affairs in an article published this month in its journal, Survival, the most moderate estimate of casualties is about 10,000 Iraqi military, 10,000 Iraqi civilians, with possible casualties far beyond that. Caritas, the international Christian aid organisation, puts the estimated figure much higher, pointing out that 14 million Iraqis are today dependent on food aidtwo-thirds of the country's populationand that a major disruption of supplies, which will inevitably follow from a war sustained for more than a week or so, will put all those lives at risk.
The price is terribly high, but does not end there, because we all know that there may be repercussions on the whole of the Middle East and on the attitudes of moderate Arab nations and their populations. There is always the danger that, far from suppressing terrorism, we will encourage a new wave of terrorism, unlessI repeatour actions are seen to be absolutely fair.
The noble Lord, Lord Howell, referred to Turkey and its support for the coalition. I agree that Turkey's new Government are in many ways encouraging, but she has let it be known that if there is a war on Iraq, she would expect to move quickly into northern Iraqthe so-called no-fly zoneto ensure that there can be
There is little evidence of co-operation between the United States and this country about what may happen to a future Iraqi government following a war. The United States has tended to keep everyone else at arms' length. I cannot easily accept assurances on that point because, like some of my colleagues, I have attended several recent seminars with senior American officials at which it was made plain that they have a policy for the new administration in Iraq that is not multilateral. Perhaps that does not matter, but if we consider the sad story of Afghanistan, which was to be the model for the creation of new democracies and orderly states, we can only conclude that there is a long way to go, because so far, it is a story of reversion to warlords, violence and disorder outside Kabul, with little sign that the international community is sufficiently concerned to provide the necessary money and forces to ensure order in that country.
I end with a reference to Israel. The Israeli-Palestinian position simply lumbers from one act of retaliation and revenge to the next. Both sides are deeply convinced of the morality of their position, but that does not help to bring about any kind of peace. There are many illusions that a war in Iraq will somehow suddenly solve the Middle Eastern problem. I cannot agree with the noble Lord, Lord Howell, on that point. That is a dangerous illusion held in Washington for which there is little evidence, and to which I am glad to say that even the US Secretary of State and his department give no credence.
Lord Richard: My Lords, I hope that you will forgive me if I croak a little at you this morning, because I am recovering from a heavy cold.
When I was Leader of the Opposition in your Lordships' House, I learnt early on that one should never rely on reports either of a resolution or a council meeting, one should read the documents. In this case it is particularly important, when we are considering the effect and implications of a Security Council resolution, that we read what it says.
I echo the tributes paid to the diplomatic effort that went into the framing of the resolution. I am deeply grateful that it was passed by unanimity in the Security Council. It is worth recording which countries voted for it. Apart from the Permanent Five, they included Syria, Mexico, Ireland, Bulgaria, Norway, Singapore, Colombia, Cameroon, Guinea and Mauritius. Whatever one thinks of the resolution, a fair spread of world opinion was mobilised behind it in the Security Council.
I shall not read the whole resolution because the document is available, but I shall draw the House's attention to certain parts of it. The preamble is as strong a preamble as I have ever seen in a United Nations resolution. Paragraph after paragraph is condemnatory of the behaviour of the Iraqi
First, the Security Council decided that,
The central part of the resolution is about what will happen, if there are material breaches. Paragraph 11 directs,
That is the international framework, if I can call it that, within which all the events relating to Iraq must be judged and must take place. Now that we have the resolution, the argument is about what it means. It is important to consider what individual countries seemed to think that it meant. Mr John Negroponte, the United States' ambassador to the United Nations said that the resolution contained no "hidden triggers" and no "automaticity" with the use of force. He said that the procedure to be followed was laid out in the resolution and that, one way or another, Iraq would be disarmed, if the Security Council failed to act decisively in the event of further Iraqi violation.
He also said that the resolution did not constrain any member state from acting to defend itselfI note the word "itself"against the threat posed by that country. I totally accept that; it is within the terms of the charter. However, he went on to say that the resolution did not constrain any member state from
I am happy to say that Sir Jeremy Greenstock, the UK ambassador, avoided that morass and said that there was no automaticity in the resolution. He said that, if there were a further Iraqi breach of its disarmament obligations, the matter would return to the council for discussion. He expected the council then to meet its responsibilities.
The French ambassador said that if the inspection authorities reported to the council that Iraq had not complied with its obligations, the council would meet immediately and decide on a course of action. France welcomed the lack of automaticity in the final resolution. The same thing was said by other countries. The Mexican ambassador said that those who advocated the automatic recourse to the use of force had agreed to offer Iraq a final chance and that Iraq was now obliged to fully comply with its international obligations. He said that the resolution had eliminated automaticity in the use of force as a result of a material breach, and he welcomed the acceptance of the two-stage approach. The Irish ambassador said that the resolution provided for a clear, sequential process for Iraq's compliance. The Russian ambassador emphasised that the resolution did not contain any provision for the automatic use of force. The Bulgarian ambassador said much the same.
The most extraordinary vote on the council, in some ways, was that cast by Syria. I did not think that the Syrian Government would be prepared to support the resolution, and it is important that we look to see why they did. The Syrian ambassador said that Syria had voted for the resolution in order to achieve unanimity in the council and because of its commitment to the UN charter and international law, be it in the case of Iraq or of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the Palestinian cause. His country voted in favour after having received from the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as France and the Russian Federation, reassurances that the resolution would not be used as a pretext to strike Iraq and did not constitute a basis for automaticity. I do not need to refer to the views of the rest of the Security Council; they expressed themselves in like terms.
The difficulty is that we must now construe the resolution in circumstances that are, as yet, unknown and, perhaps, unknowable. The resolution and the terms of its acceptance would make it difficult to argue that there was no need for a second resolution. The tenor of the resolution and the debate on it pointed in the direction of having a second decision by the Security Council before force was used. The firm way in which automaticity was excluded means that we go back to the provisions of the charter. We must examine
I understand that governments like to preserve their freedom of action, but it would be difficult to justify unilateral action with regard to law or political reality. Will the United States really go it alone, not just without Security Council approval but, possibly, in the face of Security Council opposition? Once it has met to consider a report from the inspectors of what is alleged to be a material breach, the council is bound to express an opinion. I have no doubt that that opinion will, at some stage, emerge in the form of a proposed resolution. I suppose that, in those circumstances, the United States would be prepared to use the veto. If the United States does so, must we follow it? We would be in an almost impossible situation, caught between a rock and a hard place. We could have to veto a resolution. More importantly, we would be supporting action that, prima facie, at any rate, was legally doubtful.
If there is urgency such that it is essential that military intervention take place, where is the evidence? I have not seen it. I understand the restraints imposed by the delicacy of the process of gathering intelligence, but we cannot go to war on the basis of a nod and a wink. The United States and the United Kingdom were two of the nations that were most active in promoting the United Nations after the Second World War. To put it mildly, it would be sad, if we were to be party to undermining the United Nations to the point that its continued effectiveness was put in doubt.
I am an unashamed multilateralist, as I have been all my life. Even allowing for all the problems, it is messier, it is more difficult to control, there are more countries to take on board and so on. But the outcome, if successful, will be infinitely greater than a unilateral approach. If nations act in concert rather than individually, the chances of resolving those problems will be increased, not diminished. It is that doctrine that I am afraid will perhaps be put in doubt if a certain interpretation of this resolution is adopted.
Lord King of Bridgwater: My Lords, I join the noble Lord, Lord Richard, in a bipartisan policy on croaking. I apologise to your Lordships if I am not entirely audible.
The noble Lord referred to the United Nations Resolution 1441 and, with his considerable experience of the United Nations, said that it was as condemnatory as any resolution that he could recall. As we all know, the explanation for that lies in the first paragraph of the resolution, which sets out all the United Nations previous resolutions that have been studiously ignored over all these years. I was somewhat involved in the very first, 687, which set out the absolute conditions of the ceasefire when the real threat of military force and the continuance of military
I therefore recognise and welcome the achievement of the Government; and I refer to the Government in totality because it is an example of British diplomatic capability, led by the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary playing a very significant role in the achievement of this remarkable outcome, with, to the surprise of many, as the noble Lord, Lord Richard, said, the inclusion of Syria and all the other countries of the United Nations representing their various areas of the world. It was also good to see the subsequent support of the Arab League for the need for action by Iraq.
I do not believe that anyone would suggest that the situation has now become any easier or that the world has become a safer place since the failure to achieve those earlier resolutions. We awoke this morning to the announcement of further terrorist outrages in KenyaI apologise for the old-fashioned pronunciationwhere I once served. With the terrorist attack in Bali, the fragility of the situation in Afghanistan, the obvious determination of Al'Qaeda to pursue its activities wherever it may, the recent warnings of threats to our own country and the possible arrest of those alleged to be involved in serious terrorist attacks in this country, we know that we face a serious terrorist threat.
I would say to the noble Lord, Lord Wright that, whether or not there is the closest evidence of total identification, we should not leave one country, as unattractive in its approach to other countries and other peoples as Iraq, in some sense impregnable, which could then subsequently become a base. The world is a more dangerous place. I have had some involvement myself in trying to combat terrorism in its various forms, but I have never had to combat the kind of terrorism that involves suicide bombers or organisations that care not how many people they kill and whose objective is that the greater the outrage, the more effective and successful they will regard their activity.
It is a new threat. My noble friend Lord Howell made that point very clearly. The allying of that threat and the completely different mind set that now exists in the world of terrorism, with the capability to ally it to weapons of mass destruction that are not necessarily secure, with no obvious linkage to the source from which they came but for which they may be made available, poses a challenge to the civilised world on a scale that we have not so far had to face and which, I accept, underpins much of the resolution of the United States and of Her Majesty's Government at present to try to make people realise that we face a quite different scale of threat.
So we face this resolution, and I have no hesitation in picking up the words that have been quoted: "This is the final opportunity". Those are the words of the resolution. There must be an absolute insistence on total compliance. There must be absolute certainty that Saddam Hussein is under no illusion whatever
We are debating a resolution that is already in operation. Noble Lords will have read the reports of the first day of the inspectors' work. Anyone who has had a chance to speak to the inspectors, as I have previously in Kuwait at one of their bases in the early days, will know the difficulties that they face. The noble Baroness, Lady Symons, suggested, I think with tongue in cheek, that someone may be bugging the inspectors. To anyone who would care to have a bet with me on that, I would say that it is the easiest money you could possibly make. The Iraqis bug everyone. I was in Baghdad on an innocent trade mission. It is in the nature of the Iraqi government and the secret police to operate in that way. The difficulty for the inspectors is that one of the requirements contained in Mr Blix's letter is that the Iraqis are responsible for the security of the inspectors as they travel around. It therefore comes as no surprise that six United Nations cars were followed by 15 Iraqi police cars and other government officials roaring around the streets of Baghdad, all part of the same convoy. The difficulties of their role cannot be underestimated.
The noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby, discussed all the problems and asked, "How can we be sure?" The reality is that we cannot be sure about this inspection. Whether it takes a month, six months or a year, the best that we can hope for is that they find no evidence. They cannot possibly say more. The Iraqis are masters of deception and concealment. All that they can possibly return with is a statement that they have found no evidence.
The first crunch will come much sooner than a year from now. The first crunch will come on 8th December, the date by which Iraq has to make a full and complete declaration of all aspects of its programmes of weapons of mass destruction. I do not know what the Iraqis will say. Will they say, "We have none"? Of course, everyone knows that that is completely untrue. They certainly had them, as evidenced by the 20,000 dead bodies that lay in the Fao Peninsula. The use of chemical weapons was a crucial element in the defence strategy of Saddam Hussein in relation to Halabja. When the offensive was launched on the Fao Peninsula, the Iraqis resisted the numerical superiority of the Iranians by the use of nerve agents and mustard gas, and 20,000 Iranians paid the price of that.
The Iraqis said that it was not an accident but a vital element in the protection of Iraq and its survival in the Iran-Iraq war. I do not intend to develop this point, but I have seen it reported and widely quoted by Iraqis that they positively believe that the reason why in the Gulf War we did not continue from the liberation of
On 8th December, therefore, in accordance with the resolution, they will have to say what the programme was, whether it has stopped and what has happened to all the materials. We did not find them all in the previous inspections. We found some, but we certainly did not discover them all.
The current position is that out of that is highly likely to come a material breach. What happens then? There is to be a United Nations Security Council discussion. I do not believe that anyone will carry much credence if more sanctions are suggested. The no-fly zone, which I helped to institute in 1991, has reached the end of its life. It certainly provided protection to the Kurds and to an extent the Marsh Arabs, but it has provided no greater sanction than that. It is clear that there must be resolute action.
My position is that it would be better if that were done with the full support of the United Nations. However, if the United Nations continues to be paralysed, as it has been for the past 11 years, if it fails to implement the resolutions it has imposed, and facing the scale of threat that the world and particularly this country now faces, it may be necessary to act outside the agreement of the United Nations but with the maximum support we can obtain.
In that context, the United States has enormous power, but it would be disastrous if the Americans were to act on their own. While I worry considerably about our current capability and the quality of some of our equipmentI shall not raise that at this momentwe none the less have a real contribution to make with our background and experience particularly in that part of the world in which the UK has been involved for so many decades. I therefore hope that we will be prepared to play our part and I support the Government's approach to the parliamentary process.
Finally, in the case of the Gulf War a succession of Motions supported the deployment of our forces and the giving of the sternest possible warning to Saddam Hussein to evacuate Kuwait and to cease his aggression, warning him of the consequences. When subsequently it was necessary to take action, we came to the House of Commons and to this House as soon as possible in order to obtain a substantive Motion. I believe that that is the right action to take.
Lord Craig of Radley: My Lords, a hundred years ago in Chicago, Theodore Roosevelt repeated the, even then, old adage, "Speak softly and carry a big stick". Today's President of the United States is well equipped to follow that advice.
Sound advice it is, too, if one is seeking to influence the thoughts and reactions of a potential opponent. Surely he will measure the strength of your resolve by the size of your stick rather than the volume of your rhetoric. Words will not faze him; actions will.
The spoken volumes of threats, often at high decibel levels, have nevertheless been the more dominant features of recent weeks, even months, as the Iraqi crisis has unfolded. They started with assertions of the need for regime change, of the determination to ensure disarmament and the removal of all weapons of mass destruction. I doubt that much of all this verbiage has had Saddam quaking in his shoes.
What will have influenced himat least, assuming that he thinks rationally and I think that we mustis the scale and achievement of those western forces that he has seen in operation elsewhere in the world. After a hesitant start, the efforts in the Balkans proved a success. Those in Afghanistan demonstrated the global reach that can now be achieved by air and naval forces in relatively short time frames.
He will be aware of the importance of mounting bases for offensive action, and knows that there are a number of neighbours and near-neighbours to Iraq who are prepared to co-operate, or positively consider co-operation, with his enemy. He will recall the overwhelming military nature of Desert Storm, though he may console himself that it took several months of logistic and other efforts to bring ground forces to bear.
But that was a decade ago. What we hear little about, but he will be very familiar with it, is the constant patrolling of the northern and southern no-fly zones over Iraq. The efforts of the RAF and other air forces involved in this so-called humanitarian task have varied over the years since they started soon after the end of the Gulf conflict. A few general figures will nevertheless give a measure of this protracted commitment for the RAF. Its extent may come as a surprise.
Flying from bases in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain in the south and from Turkey in the north, over 24,000 RAF missions have been mounted since these operations started a decade ago. The RAF's weapons and defensive aids have greatly improved since Desert Storm. ASRAAMS on the Tornado F3s are now the best air-to-air missile in the world. Air-to-ground weapons, like the enhanced Paveway, have reliability and accuracy of a far greater degree than ever before.
The aircrew who fly these missions are not out on some training exercise. Often Iraqi air defences will catch them with their radar and try to shoot them down. Coalition aircraft were fired on 120 times recently in one month alone. In my maiden speech in your Lordships' House in 1991, following the end of the Gulf conflict, I drew attention to the courage and determination that aircrews showed then when they flew into danger. I also referred to the bravery of our special forces and those in minesweepers. I said then that I counted it a privilege,
Not all of those now involved are seasoned campaigners with years of squadron experience under their belt and many hours in their logbooks. First tourists are fully committed too. Any one of them may have to fire their weapons in self-defence against the Iraqis. We can all be thankful that, thus far, no fatality or shooting down of one of our aircraft has occurred. But each day that goes by shortens the odds.
I have no doubt that these young men, and now women, deserve to be rewarded for their bravery and determination in the face of imminent danger. There seems to be some reluctance to recognise, with anything more than the General Service Medal, these young people who risk their lives to uphold the policies of Her Majesty's Government and the good name of the Royal Air Force. I hope that we shall hear that many of them are to be honoured. It would do much for morale, even perhaps as good a retention measure as a bounty cheque in the bank. Such bravery and determination deserve recognition.
If the present rules for awards do not cover such courage and commitment, then the rules are wrong. They need to be changed to reflect that these flights are missions into real danger. I recall from my discussions with Sir Arthur Harris his disgust and dismay that there was no special campaign medal for those who flew bombing missions in World War II.
I hope that we do not repeat this short-sighted and niggardly approach. We should not have to wait for one of our aircraft to be shot down to recognise that there is real danger in every mission. I hope that the Minister, whom I have alerted to my concerns, will be able to say that many such honours will be forthcoming. They are certainly well deserved.
Meanwhile, Saddam, in spite of Resolution 1441, has not stopped attempts to shoot down those who patrol these no-fly zones. But I take some comfort from the fact that Saddam must realise that his military potential to deal with even greater air operations in his airspace will not be good. In 10 years he has not had one success. All credit to our crews for that Iraqi duck. But he cannot expect that his forces will greatly interfere with air attacks on key targets in Iraq, let alone stop them being damaged and destroyed.
He is in a good position to appreciate that, for all the western rhetoricwhich he might be tempted to ignore or dismissthe big stick is for real. He will not want to give the West the excuse, that some in Washington would like, to wage air war upon his country. So I hope that we shall continue to demonstrate that there is the real potential to destroy him and that it is not left only to the megaphone pronouncements of governments, repeated by the world's media, to tell him so. The rest of the world will be listening too and can be scared by what it hears.
The crews who fly over Iraq deserve our fullest support and admiration. It is they as much as anyone who are helping to get the right messages to Baghdad. If this is achieved, a successful outcome, without major conflict, could still be within our grasp and that of the United Nations and Resolution 1441.
We must be prepared not only for conflict but be clear about the post-hostilities situation. I hope that the Minister can give assurance that this aspect of planning is not being neglected.
The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, it is good that your Lordships' House has the opportunity of debating the situation in Iraq at this significant stage in developments.
The General Synod of the Church of England was meeting at much the same time as the Security Council of the United Nations was formulating Resolution 1441. There was general recognition during the Synod's debate that the Government were to be congratulated on playing such a significant part in ensuring that the United Nations was the body driving the negotiations seeking to disarm Iraq of any weapons of mass destruction. In particular, it was recognised that the Prime Minister had been very instrumental in persuading the United States, at least at this stage, to work with and through the UN rather than taking unilateral action.
The Synod endorsed the House of Bishops' submission that the crucial first step in disarming Iraq was to obtain the unfettered and unhindered access of UN weapons inspectors to facilitate the identification and destruction of any of these terror weapons. Yesterday in Iraq the weapon inspectors began their work.
The equivalent debate in the other place took place on Monday, before it was known what reception the inspectors would receive. Speakers there reflected upon what would happen if the Iraqi Government did not co-operate in the process of inspection; who would report this back to the Security Council and how it would be done; and what steps the Security Council might then take to ensure compliance with Resolution 1441.
Yesterday, both teams of inspectors reported every co-operation from the Iraqis as they began their work. My concern today is not the unco-operation of the Iraqi regime with the UN inspectors but its super co-operation and what may lie behind it.
It could be that the Iraqi Government have nothing to hide; that the dossier of information which Her Majesty's Government placed before your Lordships' House during an earlier debate was misplaced or mistaken; that there are no weapons of mass destruction hidden in Iraq. That would be a marvellous outcome to the inspection process for the world would then be a much safer place.
But a second reason for yesterday's super co-operation of the Iraqi regime could be that the weapons of mass destruction are so carefully squirreled away that the Iraqis are confident that they will remain hidden from the prying eyes of the UN inspectors, particularly if those eyes can be directed in a different direction.
When the noble Lord, Lord Steel, and I paid a humanitarian fact-finding visit to Baghdad following the Gulf War, we were met with just such super co-operation. Every day and every evening our minder took us wherever we wanted to go. Our visits were always well expected and well prepared for. It was all very frustrating. It was only when we noted that our minder assumed that we and he would take a rest every afternoon that we began to make any progress, by slipping out of our hotel rooms during our minder's siesta and visiting independent agencies and contacts, where we saw a very different picture and heard very different voices describing life in that unhappy country. Somehow the UN inspectors must develop similar plans, away from prying eyes and ears and super co-operative minders.
But there could be a third reason for the super co-operation with the inspectors. We might find a clue to this in the Bible in St Paul's letter to the Romans, chapter 12, which states:
This Pauline doctrine of super co-operation might then be taken a stage further. Resolution 1441, as we have heard, places upon the Iraqi Government the necessity of making a full and complete declaration of their entire weapons of mass destruction programme within 30 days8th December. Questions were asked of the Government in the other place on Monday as to what would happen if the Iraqi regime failed to do this or simply replied that it had no such weapons. Would this be regarded as non-compliance with Resolution 1441? If so, what then? The noble Lord, Lord King, addressed this question earlier.
I should like to ask the Minister a rather different question. What will the UN do if there is super compliance and the Iraqis make a super declaration on day 30, saying something like this: "We do not have any weapons of mass destruction or ways of producing them. But we want to be co-operative and so we have listed every biological, chemical and mechanical facility we have, every research, development and production unit. The list for these is very long for there are thousands of such items, but we want to be co-operative"?
Of course, hidden away in such a list may well be items of real concern which might indeed be weapons of mass destruction, in embryo at least, but it could be extremely difficult to find them among the rest; it
I freely admit that this Pauline doctrine of super co-operation is pure speculation, but we are dealing with an intelligent, powerful and cunning regime which has survived and prospered thus far by being able to turn even adverse situations to its own advantage. If the UN inspectors can be encouraged to engage in a frantic round of activity until the summer months, when military operations in the desert become more difficult, then the threat of military sanctions becomes less formidable. The frustrations and divisions of the UN Security Council could become immense, with the consequent danger of the United States, and possibly Britain, taking unilateral action, with very serious consequences for us internationally and possibly within Britain.
In Dukas's Sorcerer's Apprentice, a magician's young apprentice tries to lighten his workload by experimenting with magic spells that he has seen his master use. When the boy is alone, he commands a broom to go to the well to fetch water for the house. The broom obliges all too well, and the apprentice finds that he does not know how to command the broom to stop when the basin begins to overflow, soon filling the room with water, and before long the boy is near to drowning.
Resolution 1441 requires the UN inspectors to up-date the Security Council within 60 days of resuming inspections and, thereafter, every 60 days. In my scenario of super co-operation, where the inspectors risk drowning in activity and information, I should like to ask the Minister whether there is an end point to the flood; or do successive 60 days stretch out long into the future?
I have concentrated very much on the short-term here and now situation, but I should also like to place on record that in the General Synod's debate we were also very conscious of the difficult issues underlying the present tensions in Iraq and elsewhere, particularly the Israeli/Palestinian convulsions. This is even more relevant following this morning's disturbing news from Kenya of the attempted missile attack on an airliner carrying Israeli passengers. The Synod resolution supported and encouraged the Prime Minister in his efforts to press for a new international conference to revitalise the Middle East peace process based on the twin principles of a secure Israel and a viable Palestinian state. This might not be in the forefront of our minds today as the UN inspectors go about their work in Iraq, but there will be no abiding peace until that issue too has been tackled and solved.
Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: My Lords, I join with other noble Lords in saying that the fact that UN Security Council Resolution 1441 was carried
It is an excellent resolution which confronts and deals with two problems. First, how to pin down the Saddam regime to co-operate with the UN inspectors in such a detailed way as would prevent the squirming manoeuvres which this regime had used to evade detection by previous UN inspection teams. Some have queried the specifics into which paragraph 5 goes, but the detailed points in paragraph 5 are all necessary. As one reads it, one recognises again and again precise incidents and tactics which occurred in the past and which are being specifically blocked in the wording of this resolution.
In particular, some have questioned the provision that,
It is difficult to over-estimate the chilling efficiency and scope of the terror machine which keeps the Saddam regime in power. It is well documented that whole families are wiped out if a member is suspected of disaffection for the regime. Some of your Lordships will have seen the powerful "Dispatches" programme on Channel 4 on 17th November which investigated reports of public beheadings of women by men with faces and bodies swathed in black known as Uday's Fedayeen (controlled by Saddam's son, Uday). Officially any such executions are denied, but ordinary people, unaware of the official denial, confirmed the executions on camera, explaining rather disingenuously that these women were executed only because they were prostitutes and it was part of a campaign supposed to reinforce the principles of Islam.
In fact, there is evidence that among the women executed were a doctor, a teacher and an ordinary mother, who had all fallen foul of the regime for real or imagined dissidence. No one who saw this programme will easily forget the eyewitness descriptions of some of the ghastly details of these executionsall carried out at carefully chosen times and places for maximum public effect. As the courageous investigative reporter said about one such event, it was the equivalent of choosing a busy time in Oxford Street. Carefully planned actions like that ensure maximum terror effect and surely justify the provisions in paragraph 5.
The second problem for the UN resolution was how to make the language so clear and unequivocal that even Saddam would recognise that this time the penalty for not co-operating with the UN inspectors will have serious consequences up to and including military action against him, and that he could not just play for time as he had done so often before. That is why it is right that a strict timetable is laid out in this resolution.
The 8th December is now a crucial dateas my noble friend Lady Symons made clear in her opening statementby which, as laid down in paragraph 3, Iraq has to make a,
It has been claimed that this is a resolution for war but, as I have said before, it is only that if Saddam makes it so. Saddam has agreed to go along with Resolution 1441 so there should be no way out of full compliance.
I should like to be optimistic about Iraq complying, but to be honest, that would be a triumph of hope over experience. The former UN inspector, Richard Butler, said a fortnight ago:
I agree with what the noble Lord, Lord King, said about this. It is essential that Saddam is not allowed even to start to play that game, let alone win it. It is vital that this time the will of the UN to disarm this dreadful regime of its weapons of mass destruction prevails, and Resolution 1441 provides the necessary tool to achieve this.
Lord Moynihan: My Lords, as a result of UN Security Council Resolution 1441 the sand in the hour-glass of Saddam Hussein's defiance has almost trickled out. As we have heard, he has been presented with a stark choice: to give up his weapons of mass destruction voluntarily, for which he has made the Iraqi people pay so dearly in sanctions since 1991, or face the near certainty of military force and his political, if not physical demise. This is Iraq's final opportunityand "final" must mean final. It is a case of disarm or face the consequences.
There is widespread consensus today that the subtler points of diplomatic nuances are wasted on Saddam Hussein. I echo what the noble Baroness, Lady Ramsay, said in this House two weeks ago; namely, that there was no point in trying to be "diplomatically subtle" with the Iraqi regime. As Kofi Annan has said,
A strategy of diplomacy must be backed by the credible threat of the use of force. Without that credible threat, I doubt that we would have seen UN inspectors back in Iraq today.
We all want to avoid war. As the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, emphasised, if the UN weapons inspectors are given time to do their jobs, we may yet succeed in doing so. But in the brief time available, I intend to focus on what has been called the aftermath.
We know that Saddam Hussein did not use his chemical and biological weapons during the Gulf War because he was striving to ensure the survival of his regime. In the event that war is waged to terminate Saddam Hussein's regime, if his removal is our ultimate war aim, there is less to stop him from pressing the WMD button. He will have little to lose, and the assumption must be that he may be prepared to use his weapons of mass destruction, and, if he can, to light the touch paper for a full Middle Eastern conflagration. This is only one of the reasons why war against Iraq must be the very last resort, when all elsediplomatic and political initiativeshas failed.
However, if the threat of the use of force that underlies Resolution 1441 is to be credibleand as my noble friend Lord King said, it must be credibleit is right to consider the possibility, and the aims and goals, of military action. The UN resolution may not contain any hidden triggers, but, in its threat of serious consequences in the event of a material breach, it does contain a casus belli. Any war against Iraq must be a means to an end. It cannot be an end in itself. If Saddam Hussein is toppled, that is not an end in itself. If military action results in regime change, we cannot then pat ourselves on the back and say, "job done, pack up and go home". It is only the beginning.
On Monday, I asked the Minister whether she agreed that we must have full contingency plans, in the event that the use of force becomes necessary, and plans for the outcome and aftermath of any military action. I asked her whether she agreed that any decision to use force against Iraq must include a strategy for the long-term, post-war stability of Iraq and the region as a whole. I asked for assurances that Britain would not enter a conflict against Iraq without a clear, effective and pre-planned exit strategy.
I am troubled by the uncharacteristic lack of clarity in the Minister's answer. I wonder whether we have learned the lesson that we cannot have a strategy to enter a warwhich may happen very soonunless we have a strategy to exit one. The lack of an effective, pre-planned exit strategy risks a long military campaign followed by continued political and military entanglement. If this should prove to be the case, the eddying politics of the Middle East may make a military campaign only the start of our problems. Saddam Hussein cannot be toppled without a replacement in view; otherwise there will be a dangerous power vacuum. But a government in Iraq that is perceived as the West's puppet, any kind of client regime or an American protectorate will do nothing to bring stability to an already politically highly volatile region. To quote the noble Baroness:
How do we address this? It is not just a question of the United Kingdom standing shoulder to shoulder with America. The involvement of Arab countries is essential as it was in the Gulf War coalition. If we take military action, it must be with the backing of the people who live in the region and whose governments support our aims and objectives. So I ask the Minister what implications he believes military action against Iraq would have for the stability of the Middle Eastern region as a whole, in the event that the use of force is triggered as a result of non-compliance by Iraq with Resolution 1441.
There is no doubt that many Arab countries see the problem of Israel and Palestine as inextricably linked to that of Saddam Hussein. There must be progress on one if there is to be progress on the other.
I hope that the Minister will give an assurance that in the event of military action the Government will set out their plans for a post-Saddam Iraq. Our goal should be a unified, single country at peace with itself and with its neighbours. As your Lordships are all too well aware, the internal opposition to Saddam Hussein is weak, ineffective and hopelessly divided. If Saddam Hussein lost power, it is possible that Iraq would fragment into entities controlled by the Kurds in the north, the Shia Muslims in the south and the Sunni Muslims in the centre. To many, the creation of a southern Iraqi state run by Iraq's majority Shia community would represent a victory for the influence of radical Iran. Turkey, Syria and Iran would also fear the rise of Kurdish nationalist and separatist movements. There are other reasons why Iraq as a country should not be allowed to fragment.
The American press has reported that the US Administration are considering a plan to occupy Iraq and install a US-led military government as a way of avoiding the country's chaotic disintegration. Yet there is little indication of the existence of a sensible, workable, long-term strategy for a post-Saddam Hussein Iraq
The international community has a responsibility to assist the people of Iraq with economic aid and humanitarian assistance. This is vital if the Iraqi people are to rebuild successfully the internal infrastructure and the economy of their country. We will need to help to rebuild Iraq's economy and infrastructure after the ravages of more than a decade of sanctions and the "wasting of the treasures of Iraq in the hands of its leaders". This is a responsibility for the whole international community.
We have developed the dangerous habit of partitioning our roles, sometimes in the name of burden-sharing, sometimes in the name of expediency. There has been a tendency to say that the US has all the military might so it should shoulder the burden of
I have said before in this House that winning the peace is as important as winning the war. This applies equally to Afghanistan, and, if circumstances were to lead there, it also applies to Iraq. Yet, time and again, we fail to devote the same resources to resolution of the underlying causes of conflict as we do to diplomatic and military requirements. Beyond the CNN headline-making effect of waging and winning wars, the making and keeping of a permanent peace through the long, slow process of restoration of a country or a region, of the reconstruction of its towns, villages, businesses and communities, and of the revival of its spirit and its people is too often neglected.
As we tour the world and focus on Iraq, it is still a lesson I am not convinced we have learned, even in the wake of September 11th.
Lord Powell of Bayswater: My Lords, I begin by apologising to your Lordships, as I already have to the Minister, that, because of a long-standing engagement overseas late tonight, I shall probably not be present for the closing speeches.
Like others speaking in this debate, I welcome Security Council Resolution 1441. It helpfully tightens the screw on Saddam Hussein to compel him to disarm. Like other noble Lords, I also hope that Saddam will give a full accounting of his weapons of mass destruction, as well as the materials and facilities for manufacturing them, so the inspectors can find and destroy them and we will not have to go to war on Iraq.
But, my Lords, I am not holding my breath. Experience suggests that such hopes are likely to be vain. Saddam Hussein will hang on to his weapons of mass destruction so long as he believes he can deceive us and so long as he thinks he can rely on some UN members continuing to want to stave off military action at all costs. It also seems all to likely, I fear, that he will be able to outsmart the inspectors on the ground.
The lessons about this that I draw from my personal experience of the Gulf War are that with hindsight we made a mistake by not insisting on Saddam's personal surrender and subsequent removal in 1991; that Iraq will never renounce weapons of mass destruction permanently, so long as Saddam and his associates remain in powerto believe otherwise is wishful thinkingand that half measures will never solve the problem; at best they will only defer it.
So I have very little doubt that force will have to be used, and probably sooner rather than later. That is the prospect to which I shall address my remarks. I shall make four points.
First, we should not be floppy about identifying what constitutes a material breach of the UN resolution. An untrue declaration by Saddam would be a material breach, to add to many earlier ones. It may be that we shall want to wait for an even more concrete breach before initiating military action, but let us call a spade a spade from the beginning.
Secondly, once a clear material breach is detected and exposed, there will be a great outcry demanding another Security Council resolution before force is used. Indeed, we have heard it already. However, as others have said, there is no legal requirement for that and there is no commitment to it in the earlier resolution; only to further discussion. President Bush has said clearly that such discussion cannot and must not jeopardise America's freedom of action. I hope Britain will stand with him on this rather than make a misguided attempt to appease opinion by actively canvassing and expressing a preference for a second resolution. That will only encourage Saddam to believe that he still has a chance of escaping the serious consequences that the Security Council resolution threatened. You cannot make and then remake decisions without losing credibility.
Of course, in an ideal world it would be desirable to have every member of the Security Council signed up to military action, but in the real world the chances are very slim. It is easy enough to predict here and now the course that a further Security Council discussion will take. After all, plainly several UN Security Council members voted for Resolution 1441 precisely because it did not threaten the use of force. Those countries that for years have been trying to help Saddam Hussein get off the hook of sanctions will temporise and argue for more time, for more evidence, for one more chance. To quote a renowned speech in another place, "No, no, no"no more time; no more breaches; no more chances; and no vetoes.
Thirdly, what about the reaction of Muslim countries and their governments to the use of force to disarm Saddam Hussein? There is a certain amount of hyperventilation on the subject, including in this House. The fact is that Saddam Hussein represents even more of a threat to his neighbours than to us. He invaded Kuwait. There was little doubt then that his ambition extended beyond that to the Saudi oil fields and even to those of the lower Gulf. The Saudi Government certainly thought so at the time. Saddam also holds the unchallenged world record for slaughtering his fellow Muslimsover 1 million in the Iran-Iraq war. Whatever Arab governments feel it necessary to say publicly now, I cannot believe that most of them will not be mightily relieved to see him go, provided military action is swift and successful and does not involve Israel. That will do far more for their own security than appeasing the anger of the so-called Arab streeta threat that is often wheeled out, but which has constantly proved exaggerated.
The attitude of the Muslim world would certainly be improved if the United States would galvanise itself to rekindle negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. All that needs to be said was said in President Bush's excellent speech last June,
Lastly, as we reflect on the further steps at the United Nations, let us remember that disarming Iraq will not be the end of the story. Beyond that there is the emerging risk of a nuclear-capable and terrorist-supporting Iran and there is North Korea's cynical admission after years of blatant lies that it is developing nuclear weaponsand, indeed, probably has them. There is no single strategy that can disarm North Korea and deter other rogue states that may be trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction. In the case of North Korea, there will need to be intense and co-ordinated pressure on the regime, not just from the United States, but from China, Japan, Russia and South Korea.
One thing is surely indisputable: swift, resolute and successful action to disarm Saddam Hussein will send an unmistakable signal to others with similar ambitions that their game is up.
Lord Janner of Braunstone: My Lords, I am delighted to follow the noble Lord, Lord Powell. Slightly to my surprise, I agreed with almost everything he said.
There are two issues. The first, which the noble Lord dealt with, is whether a war can or should be avoided. The second, not yet mentioned, is the overflow from the Iraq situation, actual and potential, into community relations in this country.
On the potential war, I echo the views of the noble Lord, Lord Howell, that Saddam Hussein presents a uniquely dangerous threat and that there is a clear link between Iraq and terrorism, shown not least by his financing of the suicide bombers. The noble Lord did not mention that Saddam has also been reported many times as giving 25,000 dollars to the family of each suicide bomber. In other words, he encourages families to send their children not only to their own deaths, but to murder others. As a parent I find that difficult to understandand even more so as a grandparent. The idea of somebody paying families to do that is revolting.
This man is a danger to us all. Clearly, none of us who has seen war or its aftermath wants it to be inflicted or imposed on anyone else. The question is what alternative there can be in this case. The alternative is for him to give up his weapons and to treat the inspectors with openness and respect. As the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, said, they must be treated honestly, in a trustworthy way and without interference. I have no belief that he will do that. Some noble Lords may have heard the broadcast yesterday morning by the former head of the CIA who said that he has no doubt that Saddam Hussein will not behave in that way.
Iraq is a country the size of France. There will be 80 inspectors on the ground with their staff. We can imagine how little would be found in this country by 80 inspectors. They will certainly not find much in Iraq, where it is reportedagain without contradictionthat Saddam Hussein has had a staff of literally thousands engaged for months in hiding away his weapons of destruction. He will have had no difficulty doing that: he is the dictator of a country of mountains, deserts and caves that are ideal for hiding any of these potential weapons. They are not weapons that those of us involved in wars in the past would have known. These are new biological weapons and weapons of mass destruction.
Thinking about this debate, I remembered with happiness a 90th birthday party for a very distinguished relative of mine. He is a doctor and businessman and is physically and mentally fit. After the celebration I asked him, "How do you do it? What is your secret? I would like to be like you at 90". "Oh, it's simple," he said. "Get it before it gets you". He has health checks. He was talking about his health and about dealing with personal problems before they kill you, which all of us can understand. But I am afraid that that is my view on Iraq under the leadership of Saddam Hussein. If we do not get him, he will get us; indeed, not only us, but our way of life, our world, and those about whom we care. As the noble Lord, Lord Powell, so eloquently pointed out, he will outsmart the inspectors.
We do not want war, but we do know what will happen. I notice that the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, is sitting on the opposite side of the Chamber. He led British troops into Belsen after the war. I followed him a little while later while the war was still going on
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