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Earl Russell: My Lords, does the noble Lord accept that he is addressing points which are not an issue? I have not heard a single noble Lord say a word in defence of Saddam Hussein. The question is whether the evil of Saddam Hussein or the evil of a war whose consequences cannot be confined to Iraq is the greater. Could the noble Lord address that point?
Lord Hardy of Wath: My Lords, I shall address that as I proceed.
The fact remains that Saddam Hussein has an army five times larger than he needs to defend his country. Why does he have an army and an air force and armoured regiments of that size? It is no wonder, given what has happened over the past 15 years, that his neighbours are uneasy about offering any support at this stage.
It has been said that a smoking gun has not been found. The fact remains that on the international black marketit is in the report that some of us received todaySaddam bought 380 missile engines for the largest size of missile. Some people suggested the other day that the increase in the missile capacity is insignificant. I think it is grossly significant in the sense that he had agreed not to possess missiles which had a capacity and a range exceeding 150 kilometres. He agreed to destroy his casting chambers which allowed the missiles to be produced, and he did. Then he rebuilt them, which I think he did to ensure that the missile capacity will be larger than the maximum to which he has agreed. That is very much like a gun which looks as if it could soon be smoking.
The West cannot allow such a situation to continue. If we were to pull back, would Saddam Hussein suddenly reform? No. Would the message sent out to other parts of the world be pacific? No. The noble Earl, Lord
I am not in favour of war, but if action is taken, I am in favour of it being taken with some aims and ends clearly in sight. One of them must be the settlement of the Middle East. There must be a trading of land for peace in Israel. If we make progress in that area, the chances of promoting peace and balance in other parts of the world and in that particular region are very good. But delay may not be wise.
I do not want to detain the House long, but I read the other day of an example where delay in Iraq was quite significant. In 1941, when our ships were being torpedoed, our Eighth Army was back in Egypt, the German axis power spread from the Russian border to the Pyrenees and Britain stood alone and in danger, there was an interesting development which was regarded as a minor epic of the Royal Air Force and lasted about six days. There was a putsch in Baghdad and a pro-German nationalist secured power. Because the king was a baby, the regent had to escape dressed as a woman. Anti-British propaganda in Baghdad was intense and Rashid Ali, who had considerable contact with the Germans, invited them to come to Iraq to drive the British out.
The RAF had bases there under the Anglo-Iraq treaty, and one of them was at Habbaniyah, 60 miles from Baghdad. It was purely a training base, with aircraft of considerable antiquity. Rashid Ali sent a very large force of the Iraqi army with tanks and artillery to occupy higher ground a few yards away. The RAF was instructed to stop flying. All airfields had been promised to the Luftwaffe.
There was some hesitation because the task of facing a large modern army with antiquated biplanes was not terribly attractive. However, bomb racks were put on and the aircraft flew. There were quite a few casualties, but, after six days, the Iraqi army decided that it had had enough and took off. The first German aircraft were delayed, arriving six days after the Habbaniya siege was lifted. They would have been even slower had the Vichy French not decided to allow them to overfly Syria and also to give them weapons. Although the siege lasted only a short time and the aircraft and other equipment were very old, the interests of the United Kingdom, and therefore of the free world, were greatly assisted by the delay of our German and Italian enemies at that time, assisted as they were by the French. Is not that involvement of Germany and France interesting, as history turns in circles?
I am not suggesting that we should go in haste. I am not suggesting that we should go without clear aims, as the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig, mentioned. However, I am suggesting that we cannot pull back. Nor can we rely on the European Council. The document issued on 17th February contains some wonderful words. In it, the Council says that Saddam Hussein must disarm and that the military build-up has been essential.
Lord Sandberg: My Lords, Oliver Hardy, the fat half of the Laurel and Hardy partnership, used to wag his finger at his smaller partner and exclaim,
Many noble Lords have commented, and will continue to comment, on the pros and cons of war. Although I do not suppose that many people have any time for Saddam Hussein, many more worry about the legitimacy of a war. Most of us, therefore, would much prefer a second resolution from the United Nations. If we do not get one and there is any suggestion that Britain and the US have flouted the rules of that organisation, we shall, as others have said, be in danger of putting the United Nations in the same position as the League of Nations found itself in the 1930s. That would be a tragedy. If the rules are broken once, the problem is that it will set a nasty precedent for breaking them again. However, many noble Lords will speak on that subject. I should like to concentrate on what happens after we have got rid of Saddam Hussein, if that happens.
It is a truism to say that the Middle East is a fragile area. It is also a very large area, extending from the Mediterranean in the west to the Pakistani border in the east, from the Caspian Sea in the north to the Indian Ocean in the south. It contains a number of countries with very different constitutions, many of which look vulnerable. I shall try to touch on a few of those countries before coming to Iraq itself.
One has to start with Afghanistan. Although, thankfully, we have got rid of the Taliban leaders, in no way can we claim to have brought peace and stability to that unhappy country. Rival warlords abound, as does, unfortunately, the growing of crops to produce large amounts of dope. We must avoid such a lack of stability and of real progress for the people of Iraq.
To the west of Afghanistan is Iran with its horrendous human rights record. It may have bettered itself slightly, but news of hangings and torture are rife, with horrendous stories of eye gouging being all too common. It is an awful thought that such regimes can continue to claim legitimacy in the 21st century.
South of the region we have Jordan and Oman, both good examples of what democratic Islamic states can achieve. Enormous credit must go to the rulers of both those countries. I think that it behoves us to help them, especially Jordan, which is vulnerable to a possible war. Near them is the Yemen whose recent past is at best murky. One of its industries, and certainly one of
While we realise that Israel has every right to exist and must defend its borders, its methods of so doing are more than a tooth for a tooth; they are really a terrorist for a terrorist. It is a continuing and a sad story. Many of us believe that the US could exert much more pressure on that country with its democratically elected government, to persuade them that the illegal occupancy of Palestinian territory and meeting terror with terror is not working and is not going to work.
Life would be easier, of course, if the Palestinian leadership took bold steps and action to get rid of its incompetency, not to say its corruption. One can only hope that that will eventually happen. If Yasser Arafat were convinced, he could certainly correct these problems.
In the north there is Turkey, which is both able and only too willing to take part in any attack on Iraq because she can see rich oilfields within her grasp. Sandwiched between Turkey and Iraq proper are the Kurdish people whose history of misery and exploitation is there for all to see. Saudi Arabia, long a friend of the US, is not as stable as we would like. A reduction in the number of US forces in that country would be welcomed both in and outside Saudi Arabia. That is something which we would like to see.
Lastly, there is Iraq itself, which is not a natural nation as such, but one which was set up by the allies after the First World War. I have already mentioned the Kurds in the north. There are divisions of race and religion with the Shi'ite Muslims in the south who are almost equally exploited and butchered by Saddam Hussein.
We have a fine mess in the region. It is easy enough to delineate the many problems, but their solution is certainly not so easy. The Americans have been great defenders of the freedoms which many of us enjoy and we owe them a great debt. They have not been so good at solving subsequent problems. One has only to look at Sudan in the recent past to see that. There is the problem which still tragically exists in Afghanistan. We pray that the same problems are not going to arise in Iraq when Saddam Hussein and his thugs are merely a memory.
So where do we start? It would be impossible to achieve any lasting peace in the Middle East, as everyone knows, while the Israeli/Palestine troubles continue. Yet we see no end to them. If there is no progress in that conflict there will be continuing strife in the area. I believe that Britain probably understands that, but I am not so sure that the US does so yet.
Lord Vincent of Coleshill: My Lords, I have listened in this debate and more widely in the country at large to the concerns expressed in many quarters about the prospect of military action against Iraq. As I discern them, those concerns arise for a variety of reasons. Examples range from an abhorrence of war, whatever its causes or theoretical justification, to a strong perception that there is still insufficient evidence to
I agree that it would be more compelling if clearer examples of evidence had been uncovered or could be safely revealedthere is a difficult security problemof weapons of mass destruction in usable forms and operational quantities. But as long ago as the Gulf War, we had sufficiently clear evidencefor example, about Iraq's biological weaponsto make the difficult decision at that time to vaccinate our forces most at risk, to protect them from that specific threat. Since then, Saddam Hussein has used weapons of mass destruction against his own people and has failed repeatedly over 12 years to comply with 17 Security Council resolutions, including his latest cat-and-mouse response to Resolution 1441.
None of that may satisfy those who will only accept the open revelation of smoking guns pointing in our direction but the circumstantial evidence is very substantial indeed. If Saddam Hussein wishes to rebut it, all that he and his officials have to dovery quickly nowis to co-operate fully with the inspectors by responding comprehensively and openly to Resolution 1441 as called for by every member of the Security Council.
Beyond that, before any judgment is made about launching a military action, the key question is whether such action will ensure greater security for the citizens of this country and the other nations most directly concerned. I believe that with sound operational plans to meet clearly stated objectiveswhich have yet to be made publicsuch operations would have a high probability of success in their own limited military context. But given the complex and potentially destructive nature of society and politics in Iraq today, together with the unstable situation in the Middle East at large, military operations will not in themselves automatically deliver a safer international security environment.
What non-military measures are now in preparation with proper international authority and adequate resources to address effectively in all its dimensions the chaotic aftermath of a military operation in Iraq? Such measures will be essential if Iraq is to develop into a more stable and less dangerous state and if the consequences of war are not to add to the risks to our security rather than reduce them. I found myself asking that question several times in a quite different strategic context in the North Atlantic Council in the mid-1990s as I sought formal political guidance and approval for NATO's military preparations to separate the warring factions in Bosnia after the long and costly failure of UNPROFOR. That question was not at first welcomed by ambassadors and their Governments in NATO, who in many cases would have preferred to scrutinise plans in evermore detail, rather than address such complex and illusive non-operational matters.
In the end in that campaign, those details were dealt with in respect of Bosnia, initially by the Dayton peace processso despite the enormity of the task,
Against that background, I would be interested to know at the end of our debate what preparations are now in hand to ensure that if we take military action against Iraq, we do not then find that we have won the war but lost the peace.
The Lord Bishop of Salisbury: My Lords, for very long, the nations of the world have relied on the classic principles of the just war theory to give moral backing to our military interventions and to defend the oppressed. We know the arguments. However, the pursuit of their own ends by small but powerfully armed groups of terrorists has changed our concept of war between sovereign states.
That change may be characterised in three ways. First, no longer do recognised armies fight for control of territory with conventional weapons. Instead, we are subject to strikes on civilian targets by means that would be outlawed by existing conventions. Neither Thomas Aquinas nor von Clausewitz envisaged that. Secondly, often the cause of violence is not threat to the sovereign state, but threat to cultural or religious identity. How do the Muslim and Arab worlds see us? Why do they feel so deeply angry with us and the United States? Thirdly, weapons of mass destruction like economic strength and cultural dominance are used as tools of oppression. That changes the nature of warfare and our definitions of oppression quite dramatically.
In response to that changed situation in the global society, in which no nation state can exist independently and securely, and in which one would have thought that we would all cherish the opportunities of working together within the fragile structures of the United Nations, a new doctrine has emerged from the White House. It is enshrined in the national security strategy of the USA, published late last year, which states unambiguously that,
As the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, and others have clearly stated, we are now faced with the possibility of the new doctrine of pre-emptive self-defence being put into operation. We will strike Iraq because there is a risk that, at some unspecified time in future, Iraq or rather some Iraqis will strike us. Alternatively, we will strike Iraq because we believe that Iraq is concealing its weapons of mass destruction. In neither case need Iraq have actually done anything. What has decided its fate has been our perception of it, and the cultural, historic and religious lenses through which that perception has been formed.
That new definition of pre-emptive self-defence is at odds with the English common law doctrine, which I think means what it says in a common-sense way. One is entitled to use reasonable force to defend oneself against the use or threat of force by another. However, that threat must be immediate and apparent, or one is transparently not defending oneself but attacking another in anticipation. I do not believe that any court of law would accept the defence plea of a gangster if he said that he had blown up the house of a rival because he had heard that his rival was plotting to kill him.
The new American strategy tears up what has long been the basis of international convention, and replaces it with new standards for conduct, as the noble Lord, Lord Brennan, made clear. It is a dangerous doctrine, because pre-emptive self-defence hands all power to the powerful. The party that has the necessary muscle becomes the only arbiter and can choose enemies when and where it pleases. There are no checks on the exercise of such power and it is accountable to no one. I do not think that we should encourage that. I see it as having three consequences that will undo our faltering steps to build a world order.
First, such power is destructive of honesty. When the mighty hold absolute sway there is no incentive to be truthful. In the current situation, America has made it clear that it disbelieves what Iraq says and will attack anyway. Truth has become the first casualty of this engagement.
Secondly, it damages trust, enthroning power in its place. The only possible global alignment is with the powerful state on that state's terms. The alternative is death. No nation can trust another; nor can its people. After all, weapons may be concealed anywhere and we shall now presume that those who possess them will conceal them more effectively. Out of the window goes trust.
Thirdly, such power is contemptuous of hope. It dismisses that looking forward with anticipation to a better world that is at the heart of the Christian gospel. While that vision is by no means the exclusive prerogative of the Christian tradition, the cynical assumption that people will always behave at their worst is deeply corrosive. We need to keep alive our belief in the potential goodness of the human race. What is at stake is not just Iraq in the next few months. The precedents set by conduct now are of far-reaching importance. They affect the kind of world that we shall inherit.
Such a world order that we are being offered is at odds with the one that the Christian tradition has long advocated, which has at its heart the twin characteristics of human diversity and individual worth. It also manifests a very different theology of power.
I shall quote from an interview with David Potari whose brother was one of the victims of 9/11 that was published in the Guardian last Saturday. Mr Potari was asked whether he wanted justice and saw war on Iraq as part of that. In response, he said:
The majority in this House abhor the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, his duplicity and the potential threat that he poses to the safety of the world and the values that we hold dear. But we should not be seduced into what we might kid ourselves is a quick and definitive solution. I have seen too much of the devastation wrought in the Sudan by 40 years of civil war to believe in quick fixes, let alone the intractable Palestinian-Israeli situation. Only when the fighting stopsit may take months or yearscan the real task of rebuilding trust and hope, which will make the world a safe place, begin. We can unleash war in a moment, but building peace takes a lifetime.
Lord MacKenzie of Culkein: My Lords, I do not come to the debate this evening with the expertise of so many noble Lords who have spoken, but I want to go on record as supporting the Government and, in particular, my right honourable friend the Prime Minister in this extraordinarily difficult matter.
I was always taught that resolutions say what they mean and mean what they say. It is clear from the past few weeks that many commentators have neither read nor understood what the many Security Council resolutions on Iraq say. I am speaking about Security Council Resolution 687 of 1991 and the more recent Resolution 1441 in particular.
It is clear from Resolution 687 that the ending of the Iraqi war was in reality a ceasefire, based on the acceptance of the Iraqi Government that within 15 days they would declare the location, amounts and types of all specified items of weapons of mass destruction and co-operate in the destruction of those items.
What has happened since? There have been a great many more Security Council resolutions, and Saddam has complied with none of themnot with the terms in which they were written. The process of obfuscation has continued to the present day and the most recent resolution1441demands,
To listen to many commentators and many politicians, one would believe that Saddam is co-operating with the weapons inspectorsor, they say, he will in time co-operate. He may be co-operating, but only in terms of process. There is no evidence whatever that I have seen that Saddam Hussein is co-operating in terms of substance. That might be okay if the UN inspectors were detectives or investigators; that is what the general public believes and it is what a considerable number of politicians appear to believe. If the UN wanted to send in investigators or detectives, it would not have set up an inspection regime. Inspection is different, and it means co-operation on substance.
Indeed, Dr Blix, in his 14th February report, made it clear that there were serious concerns. He concluded his report by saying that a decade of such sanctions could have been avoided if Iraq had co-operated. Dr Blix went on to say:
I have discovered in the workplace that one cannot deal with harassers or bullies without having a big stick to back up diplomacy, and I am fairly certain that the same happens on the international stage. Resolution 1441 allows for diplomacy and the big stick. The answer lies entirely in the hands of the Iraqi regime. If there is complete co-operation, there is no reason why the inspectors cannot take as long as they need to destroy weapons and to monitor the situation thereafter, thereby avoiding military action. If there is less than such complete co-operation, the big stick may well have to be used. If the United Nations is to have a future with any authority, it cannot have its resolutions ignored with impunity.
In that respect, my right honourable friend the Prime Minister has played a hugely effective role. I regard it as a complete nonsense that the Prime Minister is blindly following President George Bush. Tony Blair was completely correct about Kosovo, as he was right about Sierra Leone, Macedonia and Afghanistan. I know that people saywe heard it todaythat things in Afghanistan are not right; they are not right in Bosnia or Kosovo, and probably not in Sierra Leone. Who is to say that we should have left the killing fields in Sierra Leone, the Taliban when it would not give up Al'Qaeda, or Milosevic in former Yugoslavia? Who is to say that we were wrong in doing what we did?
There is no certainty in this world but I believe that the Prime Minister is right about Iraq. By his leadership and diplomacy, he has done a great deal in an understated way to keep the USA in the United Nations family. Anyone who is familiar with American attitudes to the United Nations over many yearscertainly not just on George W Bush's watchshould reflect seriously on that. Of course we must seek another resolution if that is at all possible but we cannot allow Resolution 1441 to be put on the proverbial long finger. We cannot allow the United Nations to go the
Nor should we have a situation where the only superpower in the world, the United States of America, operates outside the United Nations, or indeed without any influence from the UN or the UK on how it sees the world. Our influence or that of the United Nations may not always be successful, but it has to be kept in place, not least if there is to be any realistic prospect of dealing with the Israeli-Palestine issue.
The Prime Minister deserves the support of all noble Lords on all sides of the House. The more that the big stick is held over the Saddam regime, the better chance there will be of avoiding conflict.
Baroness Northover: My Lords, Saddam is a tyrant; and he must comply with the UN. What is in doubt is whether there is justification, legitimacy and efficacy in taking action now. I want to address the question of efficacy and in particular the humanitarian consequences of action.
As my noble friend Lady Williams pointed out, we already have evidence of what may happen in Iraq from the war in Afghanistan. That war was closely linked to the terrorist threat in a way that any attack on Iraq simply is not. It followed 9/11, seeking the detention of bin Ladenwhich it did not achieve despite overwhelming forcethe break-up of Al'Qaeda, which it achieved only on a modest basis, and the overthrow of the Taliban government who were harbouring Al'Qaeda. There was international support for such a war.
Before the Afghanistan campaign, the Prime Minister promised that this time the world,
As we heard earlier, the US Congress had to step in to find nearly 300 million dollars in humanitarian and reconstruction funds for Afghanistan after the Bush Administration failed to include any such money in their latest budget. How is that supposed to augur well for Iraq? There was worldwide support for a war in Afghanistan, and yet the international community has been less than half-hearted in addressing its aftermath.
There will be many pieces to pick up. The Iraqi people are particularly vulnerable. UN agencies say that the effect of war in Iraq would be far worse than in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is largely rural and the people have a long tradition of coping with want and disaster. By contrast Iraq has a relatively urbanised population, with the state providing many of their basic needs. The destruction wrought by the Gulf War, followed by sanctions and Saddam's own repression, has seriously weakened the population.
Most of Iraq's food is currently imported under the UN Oil for Food programme and 16 million Iraqistwo-thirds of the populationnow depend on that. They would be very vulnerable if the programme were suspended or supply lines severed, as will happen when attacks are made on roads, bridges, ports and railways. A leaked UN document dated 7th January 2003 states that,
Before 1991, Iraq had a modern water and sanitation network, but much of that was destroyed in the Gulf War. Unsafe water has driven up child mortality figures and now 10 per cent of Iraqi children die before the age of five. Many more people died from disease and hunger in Afghanistan than from bombing. That is likely to be far worse in Iraq.
What else may we see? As Clare Short herself pointed out, there is a very serious risk that,
Already three-quarters of a million people within Iraq are internally displaced. A UN report produced in December 2002 estimates that that could increase to 2 million people. A large proportion of those may well become refugees. Political, economic and social problems will hardly be confined to Iraq. Syria and Iran have agreed to allow refugees to cross their borders. Jordan is preparing camps, but with the border closed except to a few. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have refused to take refugees. Iran already has more than 3 million refugees within its bordersthe largest number in the world. Two-and-a-half million are from the conflict in Afghanistan and half a million are from Iraq. Refugees will clearly put a strain on neighbouring countries. Emergency relief will cost billions. As we have heard, other Middle Eastern countries may well be destabilised.
Terrorism is likely to increase, not decrease. As the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Guildford so effectively pointed out, this crisis is in danger of deflecting the international community from other areas. On 10th February, the head of the United Nations lead
In its document of 7th January 2003, the UN states that,
But if the risk of war is taken, humanitarian aid and reconstruction must be a long-standing process. Iraq needed that anyway. Its plight after another war will be much worse. This is not something that a smart bomb or a two-week campaign can put right. The late Lord Jenkins of Hillhead described the Prime Minister's vision as being like that of a lighthouse beacon, focused intensely on one area before it swings round to focus on another, leaving the rest in darkness. The Prime Minister focused that attention on Afghanistan. He focused that attention all too briefly on Africa. If war goes ahead, he will need to keep his attention, but that of the world, on the long-term peace and reconstruction of the whole region. If he thinks he cannot keep that focus, and more importantly that of the United Nations, surely even at this late stage heand weshould be thinking again.
Lord Maginnis of Drumglass: My Lords, when one comes as late as this in the speaking order, there is little to add to what has already been said in this debate. None the less I cannot let this moment pass. More than 30 years fighting the evil of terrorismboth as an officer in Her Majesty's forces and as a parliamentarianhas given me considerable insight into what we face with the Saddam regime.
This point is crucialwe should refrain from identifying the threat we face as an Iraqi problem. It is not. The West has no problem with the people of Iraq. It is exclusively from the menace from the Saddam terrorist regime. We should admit that we in the United Kingdom adopted an ambivalent attitude when he attacked Iran. With the benefit of hindsight we might now do better.
The Saddam regime is one that will not be changed by the Blix weapons inspectors. It would not happen now, after 12 years, or if we allowed yet another yearor even if the inspectorate had 1,000 years to pursue its impossible task. It must be evident, except to the most recalcitrant observer, that Saddam will take us to the brink. He will bluff us again and again, and has no intention to deliver. If it were otherwise, we would by now have complete information on what has happened to the weapons of mass destruction. We would not then be fobbed off by the "I forgot I had it in the back of the cupboard" chemical bomb, as happened earlier this week.
The United Nations must now decide what it really intended by Resolutions 688 and 1441, if it is not to become a League of Nations Mark 2. We all understand, I expect, that high-grade intelligence cannot be disseminated throughout the public arena, and that the proverbial red herring may have to be trailed. However, it only confuses the public if the Government continuously make suggestions about links between Saddam and Al'Qaeda. Bluntly, those of us who understand terrorism know that Saddam and Al'Qaeda will use each other if and when it is convenient. The nature of terrorism is "each to his own ends".
It is much more significant that as we know Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and their components, and used them against both Iran and his own people. The Government owe it to the public to expand on, and explain the indisputable facts. So far, they have miserably and dangerously failed to achieve this.
For example, what is the veracity or otherwise of the report in the Independent on 19th February about three cargo ships suspected of carrying the Saddam regime's weapons of mass destruction leaving Iraq concurrent with the arrival of Herr Blix's team and continuing incommunicado to sail around the Indian Ocean?
It would appear that such a tactic would be eminently sensible from Saddam's perspective. Are there any means by which the weapons inspectors can extend their authority beyond the boundaries of Iraq? Can the Minister, without compromising intelligence operations, enlarge on this point? Does every hour wasted not facilitate such potential deception? Have the USA and the United Kingdom not been forced by collective UN indecision to engage in a phoney war for the past three monthsa phoney war that may yet endanger our forces? I am no warmonger, neither do I have to convince anyone that I would prefer peace. But I have learnt the hard way to be a realist. We should waste very, very little more time.
The Minister spoke of her hope for peace, but I believe it is now time to take action for peace. What then? The noble Lord, Lord Howell of Guildford, rightly spoke about humanitarian aid, as have other noble Lords. That issue has, I trust, already been addressed. What about the future government in Iraq?
I conclude with this thought. Neither the United States of America nor the United Kingdom can forever be the world's policemen, but both can help to ensure that the United Nations collectively fulfils that role now as far as possible. If the UN fails with Saddam, it endangers peace world-wide and can never again be taken seriously. What other despots, dictators and megalomaniacs are watching from the wings?
To fail to act is to give notice that democracythat word which drops so lightly off our tonguesis, for the foreseeable future, to succumb to terrorism and terrorist regimes and that the bleached bones in Cambodia, the Balkans and Sierra Leone have taught us nothing.
Lord Morgan: My Lords, it is late. As a historian, I want to reflect briefly on the observable and wide gulf between the views of the Government and the views of the British people. Normally in a war crisis, historically government and people converge as they did in 1914 and in 1939. This time, they have grown further and further apart. At the present time, perhaps three-quarters of the British people do not support a war. At least 30 per cent have said that they will not support a war under any circumstances, even with a second UN resolution.
The Government say that the facts need to be explained and the message elucidated and then people will form correct views. Well, the message has been elucidated; the spinners have spun; the plagiarists have plagiarised; and the people are more hostile than ever and public opposition to an attack on Iraq has grown stronger. Why is that? Have our people suddenly turned uniformly into Trotskyists and pacifists? They find the Government's case unconvincing; they simply do not believe it.
In the first place, it is evident that people are not persuaded that Saddam Hussein is an obvious threat to the United Kingdomperhaps not immediately a threat to anywhere. After all, he was successfully contained by international force for 12 years previous to this crisis. It was only after September 11thindeed, some time after thatthat the United States turned its attention, in a way that future historians will find mysterious and interesting to penetrate, from Al'Qaeda to Iraq, which, after all, had been there all along.
The public recognise that Saddam Hussein is an unpleasant man and that his regime is cruel. They do not regard the case for his having weapons of mass destructioncertainly not nuclear weaponsas currently proven. Saddam Hussein certainly has some unpleasant weaponsof course he has, we gave him some of them; the United States gave him others. The
In spite of that, the reports by Dr Blix have so far been temperate. Things are by no means satisfactory, but they are moderately encouraging. He talks of positive progress and it is surely reasonable to ask for inspection to be undertaken properly and to reach its appointed time, rather than to resort to the extreme response of war.
Secondly, as many noble Lords have said, people are not convinced of any link between Iraq and international terrorism. The evidence for that is derisory. The people of this country fear that the threat of terrorism will be greatly increased by an attack on Iraqas may be tension between the different ethnic communities in this country.
Thirdly, people deeply suspect the motives of the United States. That is not just anti-Americanism; our people are not anti-American. I am not anti-American; I taught American history in universities for 30 years and greatly enjoyed it. But there is great hostility to and distrust of an extreme Right-wing administration. People distrust the unilateralism of American foreign and external policy in relation to the environment, armaments, the International Criminal Court and many other issues.
There is mass popular distrust in this country about the American concern with oil and the hypocrisy that is shown in not acting against an aggressive Israeli regime with an extremely Right-wing government who consistently defy the UN's edicts and deny fundamental human rights for Palestinians. There is great disbelief in this country that the United States, rather late in the day, has decided that this is a crusade for human rights. What human rights, when the Kurds, for example, are specifically omitted? Why are they omitted? Because it would upset the Turks and a large number of Kurds live in Turkey, which is a valuable base.
It is also recognised that the United States has for decades propped up and continues to prop up some of the most atrocious regimes in the world, which have flouted human rightsat present, Uzbekistan, which provides virtually no human rights, but is a convenient base. That is recognised and regarded with a good deal of suspicion.
The British people also believe in the United Nations. Admirably, our Prime Minister also believes in the United Nations. People in this country suspect that that the Americans do notat any rate, to nothing like the same degree. The Commonwealth background of this country makes us attuned to dialogue and international discourse, whereas the history, background and outlook of the United States are different.
People see the United States apparently overruling or ignoring United Nations resolutions and probably not wanting to use the United Nations at all, had it not been admirably pressurised into it by Tony Blair. They see the US regarding the Blix inspection as an irrelevant interlude, as they have already decided on war. They see the Americans trying to impose their
Finally, the British people fear war because they think that it will be barbarous and will lead to the death of hundreds of thousands of innocent peoplechildren, old people and othersin Iraq. They think that it will be far worse than the atrocities undoubtedly committed by Saddam Hussein and will result in a humanitarian catastrophe. They feel that war should be the last resort and that we are a long way short of the last resort.
In addition to what I have tried to identify as popular concerns about Iraq, there are some more specialist concerns. Economists are anxious about the long-term damage to the world economy and the prospects for economic recovery, particularly given the high price of oil. As we have heard in the debate, military experts are worried about the absence of clearly defined strategic objectives and ask about the purpose of the projected war. Those who are expert in international analysis fear the probability of extreme instability for many decades throughout the Middle East. I noticed a remarkable statement by the former Prime Minister, Mr John Major, pointing out the difficulties of getting a stable settlement in Iraq, given the deep animosities between Shias and Sunnis, the position of the Kurds and so on. The effect of the war will be to exacerbate the problems, not to cure them.
Others worry about the new gulf emerging between us and our allies and comrades in France and Germany and the effect that it will have on the European ideal. We are being alienated from France and cosying up to the neo-fascist President Berlusconi, with whom this country has little common interest.
As a historian, I worry about the crude use of history, particularly our old friend the 1930s. Time and again we hear that this crisis is the 1930s come againwhat nonsense. Saddam is not another Hitler. Where is his Mein Kampf? Where is his dream of universal conquest? George Bush is certainly no Churchill; it would be a calumny on the reputation of that great man to suggest it. It is a facile argument, and it disturbs me that Downing Street produces it, all the more because I taught one or two of them. My efforts were clearly somewhat in vain.
We should anatomise public opinion. The polls show the components of alienated public opinion on the threatened policy. Every element that brought new Labour to power is hostile. Women are strongly hostile, more so than men. At least 70 per cent of women are hostile to war under almost any circumstances. Young people are deeply alienated, as are the trade unions. In Scotland, only 13 per cent of the people would support a war. God help the Labour Party in the elections in May. It will be a bonus for the SNP and perhaps, in my own nation, for Plaid Cymru. All faiths are opposed to
That opposition was reflected on 15th February in a great and moving protest comparable with any in our history, comparable with the Chartists or the Suffragettes. The extent of that protest shows how the crisis can destabilise our country. Nearer home, it is certainly destabilising the Labour Party. I have been a member of the Labour Party since 1955. I was a member of the Labour League of Youth before Tony Blair was born. It grieves me to see the haemorrhaging of good members from our party. There are masses of them, and friends of mine are leaving the party.
Tony Blair is a brave man who prides himself on being another Churchill. He must be wary of not being another Ramsay MacDonald. This is said to be a listening Government; one that listens to the people. They should listennot to transatlantic ideologues but to the wisdom, humanity and decency of the British people.
Lord Newby: My Lords, I wish to concentrate my remarks on the economic costs of a war with Iraq. I do so with a degree of diffidence because, at one level, it seems heartless and irrelevant to count the economic costs of toppling Saddam against the human costs of war. But there will be economic costs and consequences, and any informed debate on the issue should surely be aware of them.
As regards the short-term direct costs, the best estimate of the cost to the United States has been made by the US Congressional Budget Committee. It suggests that the cost of a short war, followed by a mere 10 weeks of post-combat presence in the region, will be about 44 billion US dollars. Other US congressional studies produce a higher figure. The 44 billion US dollars is in excess of what would otherwise be spent on the defence budget over an equivalent period.
As for the United Kingdom, the Chancellor has already made provision for £1.75 billion-worth of additional expenditure. However, estimates produced by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, which takes as its starting point the cost of UK involvement in the Gulf War, suggest that our expenditure could be nearer £3.2 billion.
These costs assume that all goes well militarily. If the Iraqi forces pursue a stubborn urban defence strategy and, as appears inevitable, there is less than total co-operation from some of the neighbouring countries in the region, the costs could easily be more than double this amount, possibly some 100 billion US dollars in all.
Dr Blix has, by contrast, estimated that the cost of the weapons inspection process is approximately £50 million per annum. A stark contrast.
On the assumption that the war is successfulall economists like simplistic assumptionsthe next relevant costs will be those of post-war occupation and reconstruction. These will include the costs for humanitarian assistance, police and judicial functions, emergency medical and reconstruction assistance and preparations for a transitional governing body. The costs of simply keeping an occupation peacekeeping force in Iraq have been estimated, again by the Congressional Budget Committee, as between 17 billion and 46 billion US dollars per annum. Estimates by William Nordhaus at Yale University suggest that the cost of reconstruction could range from 30 billion to 105 billion US dollars, and humanitarian assistance could cost between 1 billion and 10 billion US dollars.
The really worrying thing about these figures is that the track record of the US and its allies, including the UK, of committing adequate funds to civilian reconstructionmost recently in Afghanistanis poor. In Afghanistan, in the 12 months from September 2001, the US spent 13 billion US dollars on the war effort, but the Pentagon contributed only some 10 million US dollars to civil works and humanitarian aid. As my noble friends Lady Williams and Lady Northover have pointed out, the White House forgot completely to include any provision for such expenditure in the budget it submitted to Congress for the upcoming financial year.
At a time when the US spends only 15 billion US dollars on foreign aid for the entire world, the likelihood of it undertaking an adequate nation-building programme in post-war Iraq is not good. Indeed, the most realistic prospect is, I am afraid, a half-hearted and half-completed job. I hope at the very least that here the Chancellor will use the opportunity of the Budget to indicate how much the UK Government will contribute to the reconstruction effort.
I have so far looked simply at the direct costs of the war. Important as they are, they are arguably less significant than the potential wider economic consequences. Recent wars have had mixed economic consequences. The Korean War gave a powerful stimulus to growth, as did Vietnamalthough in that case high levels of borrowing and inflation helped to cause the US economic crises of the early 1970s.
The economic effects of any war in the Gulf, however, are bound to be strongly linked to its effect on oil supplies and oil prices. The short-term effect of a war, which is arguably already being felt, is that of an oil shock, in which oil importing countries are hit by rising prices and falling demand. Optimists, particularly in the US, argue that there are adequate reserves to deal with any temporary disruption during the war itself, that Saudi Arabia and Russia would step up production to deal with any shortfall, and that once the war was over increased Iraqi production could force oil prices down from their current level of over 30 dollars a barrel to as low as 10 dollars a barrel.
This optimistic view is, however, clouded by a number of worrying uncertainties. The first relates to the conduct of the war itself. If it were prolonged for
The greatest potential risk facing the global economy, however, relates to how the war is financed. Under current economic conditions, with relatively low levels of unused capacity, additional government borrowing will spill over into inflation or imports, or both, adding to the current account deficit, which is already 5 per cent of GDP in the US and 2 per cent in Britain; and to their fiscal deficits, which are already 3 per cent and 1.5 per cent of GDP, and set to rise significantly, even without the consequences of the war.
In the case of the US, the effect of the proposed Bush tax cuts will already cause a budgetary deficit of at least 2,000 billion dollars over the next decade. An expensive war will significantly increase that figure in the short term. That will require higher borrowing, and the US Administration is literally banking on foreign investors buying large additional volumes of government debt. It is plausible that this could cause a sharp fall in the dollar exchange ratepossibly even its collapse. This would raise debt servicing costs in the US further, possibly forcing the administration to raise taxes, which would in turn hit consumer confidence. A dollar fall and reduced consumer confidence would export recession to US trading partners, including the UK.
Imbalances in the UK are less extreme than in the US, but our balance of payments deficit is at its highest ever level, investment is severely depressed and the budget deficit is growing rapidly. We are not an oil importer to the same extent as the US, but a general downturn in the oil importing countries would clearly hit UK exports further. In turn, this would harm growth and employment.
Even a short, militarily successful war would therefore impose significant economic costs. A longer war, and one which led to the collapse of the Saudi regime and/or the dollar, could plausibly be expected to herald a world recession.
These costs of war represent only one of the factors which have to be weighed in any decision about military action. They are, however, too important to be ignored.
Lord Chan: My Lords, no one doubts that Saddam Hussein has caused the current crisis in Iraq by ignoring the UN resolution of 1991 and again ignoring Resolution 1441 in November 2002. On his past record, it is not likely that Saddam will comply with
Many noble Lords have rightly argued that we must support the rule of law. Further, that war against Saddam should be embarked upon only as a last resort and only with the authority of the United Nations. I support this need for the UN to authorise military intervention. But there are issues that trouble me about the prospect of using war to disarm Saddam of his weapons of mass destruction. Our Prime Minister said in his Statement yesterday:
My second concern is the terrible effects of war on the civilian population, especially on women and children. I join my noble friend Lord Sandwich and the noble Lord, Lord Rea, regarding their questions to the Minister about the preparations being made for food and water supplies to the civilian population in the event of military intervention. The noble Baroness, Lady Northover, has already given us the gloomy prospect of 30 per cent of Iraq's children dying of malnutrition. Then there will be the need for more medicines and other medical supplies for the injured.
Our Government must no doubt have calculated the cost and made plans for a system of peacekeeping after military intervention in Iraq. Our Armed Forces continue to be involved in all locations where military conflict has occurred in recent years in eastern Europe, Africa and Asia. How will the health and welfare of our military men and women be maintained? I ask this question in view of the mysterious illness that afflicted some of our military personnel in the Gulf War.
Finally, there is the issue of the so-called clash of civilisations. This prospect of military intervention in Iraq will be exploited by people of ill will to cause fear and dissension among our ethnic minority communities. The war will be portrayed as a war against a Muslim state, but that is certainly not the case.
The disturbances in our northern English towns 18 months ago remain fresh in the mind of some of us. The isolation of some of our South Asian communities, mainly Muslim, from their white neighbours is beginning to be addressed in those northern towns. I hope the Minister will assure us that measures are being taken to reassure our Muslim communities that
Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, I begin on an entirely
uncontroversial noteto welcome back the noble
Baroness, Lady Turner, from her operation.
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