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Lord Judd: My Lords, my noble friend the Minister was right to recognise the courage of our military personnel and civilians working among the agonies of Iraq; she was right, too, to urge us to look to the future. On one point, I am sure that we shall all be agreed: if we will the ends, we must will the means, and there must be no stinting of resources to ensure the successful building of a future Iraq. It is easy to generate resources for war; it is sometimes much more difficult to generate resources for winning peace. That must not be the case in Iraq; unfortunately, there are indications that it has been the case in Afghanistan.
I hope my noble friend will agree that it would be perverse not to ensure that the lessons of Iraq inform our future conduct of foreign policy as a whole. I briefly make five points. First, it has become clear that it was unwise and misguided to take action on the scale involved, with all its implications, in the absence of a sufficiently widespread global consensus. The importance of a specific Security Council resolution was not some necessary ritual in a religion of multilateralism; it would have represented the seal on the consensus that should have been built.
It is of course argued that that consensus was impossible because of the determination of the French to use their veto. However, on reflection, that may be to misinterpret the position of the French. To their
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credit, they wanted the UN inspectors to finish the job and report to the Security Council so that the basis for a well-informed debate on what action was required would be there. I have no doubts that inspectors should indeed have been allowed to complete their task. The denigration of the work of Hans Blix and his staff in some quarters of the coalition was deplorable. Fulsome apologies from those responsible would not go amiss.
My second point is that our experiences have underlined that the international rule of law is indispensable for the future of humanity; any tendency to rough-ride over the international rule of law could bring us perilously close to the abyss of global anarchy. The challenge is to make international institutions more effective, not to desert them in favour of the law of the jungle. We must help our American friends to see that the historic role for them, with their unrivalled power, is to contribute that power in helping to build a viable multilateral system.
Thirdly, simply because the regime of Saddam Hussein was so cruel, tyrannical and cynical, it was and remains essential to demonstrate clear contrasts. To go to war with one set of justifications and then to begin advocating a new set when the first set proves invalid is not the way to establish the indispensability of transparency and integrity.
Fourthly, we have learned that intervention can prove complex and full of pitfalls. For example, there is the difficult issue surrounding the internalising of political responsibility, when, whatever the talk of sovereignty, those outside the country have in effect assumed responsibility for its strategic future. There is also the acute need to think through the range of potential consequences of intervention and prepare for them. In the case of Iraq, a great deal, to say the least, has been left to be desired in that respect.
Fifthly, we take our eye off the battle for hearts and minds at considerable cost. Whatever our minimal formal regrets, our failure convincingly to demonstrate real and continuing concern and compassion for the loss of Iraqi lives is lamentable. Thousands of innocent Iraqi men, women and children have been killed in the bombing and bombardments; large numbers of Iraqi servicemen, who under the sinister regime had no alternative but to serve, were killed. The inexplicable refusal to register the scale of that loss of life is wrong. It has also provoked alienation, resentment and recruits for the extremists.
The same is of course true of the treatment of prisoners. Abuse is not simply nauseatingly wrong and unprincipled, but drives people in their desperation to extremism. Along with rash and insensitive brutality in Chechnya and the grotesque realities of Guantanamo Bay, it is a recruiting agent for terrorism. A genuine commitment to hearts and minds demands the highest standards, a consistent determination to protect human rights, and civilised sensitivity at all times, whatever the provocation.
The forthcoming consultative conference will have a vital role, but it must be as inclusive as it is possible to be. Difficult, not just more amenable, participants
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must be there. As wide a cross section as possible must be won to the political process. To drive by exclusion any who could potentially be so won into the arms of the irreconcilable rejectionists and wreckers would be unforgivably short-sighted. The conference must be imaginative and sensitive to history and culture. Realities of power within the existing society will have to be faced, not avoided.
There is no single stereotype for democracy; democracy is not necessarily equivalent to, or inseparably linked with, the free market economy. There are different forms of democracy and accountable government, and both the conference and the power brokers in the wings must be open to that. As we have seen too often in recent years, elections of themselves can prove hollow and even damaging, unless the context for meaningful elections has been generated.
Events in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle East, and in Chechnya, North Ossetia and Ingushetia, are making one reality clear. Peace and stability cannot sustainably be enforced from above, but must be built from sound foundations, upwards. Short cuts, however tempting in pressing circumstances, are fraught with the dangers of counter-productivity.
Lord Wolfson of Sunningdale: My Lords, the Hutton report, the Butler report and other investigations of the war in Iraq have been prompted by the concerns of ordinary voters and Members of Parliament. Those concerns have raised a number of questions, but I shall deal with only one of them, as eight minutes is not a long time.
Within the limits necessary to protect our intelligence sources and services, were people and Parliament properly and fully informed of the facts as believed or known before Parliament made the decision to support the invasion? The Prime Minister to some extent based his advocacy of the invasion, or the American position, on the intelligence services. He said, on 24 September 2002:
"but this is what they are telling me, the British Prime Minister, and my senior colleagues. The intelligence picture that they paint is one accumulated over the last four years. It is extensive, detailed and authoritative".[Official Report, Commons, 24/9/02; col. 3.]
The impression surely was that the Government's public statements would be based on the authoritative advice of the intelligence services. There are a number of statements that raise doubt about thatand I illustrate with an example. The September dossier said:
That is a simple statement. But, at that time, the JIC believed that Saddam would use chemical and biological weapons only if he was threatened by internal revolution or external attack. The draft prepared by the JIC said:
The dossier told the truth and it did not lie, but it did not tell the whole truth. It is possible to mislead or deceive by failing to tell the whole truth, as is recognised in the oath that we swear in our courts every day. This leads to the Hutton report. At page 320, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hutton, says:
"However in the context of the broadcasts in which the 'sexing-up' allegation was reported and having regard to the other allegations reported in those broadcasts, I consider that the allegation was unfounded as it would have been understood by those who heard the broadcasts to mean that the dossier had been embellished with intelligence known or believed to be false or unreliable, which was not the case".
He is saying that the dossier was not embellished; it did not have anything added to it. But the Hutton report apparently failed to consider fully that sexing-up could be achieved by omission as well as by embellishment. Would the noble and learned Lord's conclusions have been different if he had considered the possibility that just by omitting the fact that the famous 45 minutes related only to battlefield weapons, it may be thought that the document was sexed up? The omission may have been an oversight, even a slightly negligent oversight, but it could have been part of a pattern of omissions, each of which tended to support the case for war. Which was it? It is an issue that the noble Lord, Lord Butler, did not investigate seriously, as his terms of reference in that area were,
"to investigate the accuracy of intelligence on Iraqi WMD up to March 2003, and to examine any discrepancies between the intelligence gathered, evaluated and used by the Government before the conflict, and between that intelligence and what has been discovered by the Iraq Survey Group since the end of the conflict".
That is also in Mandarin. What it says is that the noble Lord was not authorised to investigate the use of intelligence by the Government. He was authorised to question the intelligence and compare it with the outturn.
Sir Humphrey, Jim Hacker or someone had drawn up the terms of reference in a way that stopped any questioning at the political door. In those circumstances, when intelligence output did not accurately reflect the essence of the intelligence input, that was OK, which is where we had misunderstandings. The point is this: suppose the Prime Minister had said, soliloquising, as he and his loyal staff saw the first draft of the September dossier, "Will no one rid me of these wimpish words that may reject a just war on Iraq"; and suppose that his closest No 10 colleagues then called in the JIC chairman and asked him for a statement of the current position; and suppose the chairman said, "The JIC believes that Saddam has only small amounts of chemical and
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biological weapons, much of them no longer dangerous due to decay, and we also believe that he has a very small number of ballistic missiles of short range, which in the past have been very inaccurate", that would have been a simple statement. It sounds as if Saddam is not an immediate and serious threat to his region, let alone the whole world. Now edit that statement by removing some words but not adding any, thereby showing no "embellishment": "The JIC believes that Saddam has chemical and biological weapons, and we also believe that he has ballistic missiles". The revised sentence is true, but creates a different, almost opposite impression to the original JIC draft. The failure to demand the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth is clearly open to abuse.
Your Lordships may say that that example is absurd; and indeed it is. But is it really different in kind from removing the JIC caveat on Saddam's chemical and biological weapons, that he would use them only internally or if his regime was threatened?
I hope that the committee of the noble Lord, Lord Butler, will volunteer to complete its excellent report by a small amount of additional investigation. The evidence is easily available to investigate the whole truth of the information provided to MPs and others before the vote on war. That would give a signal for the future that in such matters being economical with the truth is not an acceptable form of conduct.
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