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The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, a cartoon in one of today's newspapers depicts the supposed evolution of homo sapiens from semi-crawling ancestors on the one hand to a black-hooded terrorist holding a gun against the head of a small child. This debate is inevitably coloured more than slightly by recent tragic events in Beslan, and I shall return to that mal-description of human evolution in a few moments.
Anything worth saying about Iraq seems to have to carry both what might be called a credible particularity as well as some moral depth, as has been clear from all the speeches in the debate, including the distinguished maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Wolfson.
I shall briefly address two areas. First, I shall speak about Guantanamo Bay and, secondly, I want to make some observations about the handover of power. I have always been doubtful about our involvement in this war, and I have a profound admiration for members of our Armed Forces of all ranks who had similar doubts, but who went where they were ordered to gointo new darknesses.
On the issue of Guantanamo Bay, the policy of detaining non-US nationals at Camp Delta constitutes one of the most questionable unilateral actions by the US Government in international law. There are now approximately 585 detainees, although in total, about 700 have been held there at various times, including
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juveniles as young as 13. Detainees include an Australian and four UK citizens. We all know that five were released earlier this year.
Because the US Government have steadfastly refused to describe them as prisoners of war, they cannot claim rights under the third Geneva convention of 1949. Instead, they are detained under a military order issued by President Bush in November 2001, just over two months after 9/11. In practical terms it means that the same military official, or his or her delegate, is responsible for laying the charges against the detainee, selecting the members of the tribunals that will hear the chargesthe official commands authority over themand potentially making the final decision as to the detainee's guilt or innocence from which there is no appeal.
I would go further and suggest that, first, such action infringes detainees' rights to trial by an independent and impartial tribunal. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney-General, in a speech he made in France in June said:
"While we must be flexible and be prepared to countenance some limitation of fundamental rights if properly justified and proportionate, there are certain principles on which there can be no compromise".
Secondly, it infringes detainees' rights to a speedy trial. Thirdly, it violates detainees' rights to a fair trial because they admit evidence obtained through torturethat is a saga in itself. Fourthly, it fails to ensure that the fundamental rights afforded to US citizens are also afforded to non-US detainees.
I shall now make a few observations about the handover of power in Iraq. There have been many occasions in the House when the role of the United Nations has been highlighted as one which could well have delivered more and which needs as much strengthening as possible. The Minister indicated that in her opening remarks, and it has recurred in the debate.
The role of UK forces has been well and favourably reported. It has even been suggested more than once that their softer approach on the ground has helped to build up some degree of trust with local communities in Iraq. But what training have Iraqi troops been given to deal effectively, but in a restrained way with insurgents? Is there a timetable for the final withdrawal of UK troops? There are also some worrying factors that are in danger of clouding public debate and heightening awareness of easily overlooked issues. They include the increasing election climate in the US where involvement in Iraq and elsewhere is in danger of becoming a touchstone for supposed toughness.
In that respect, I can speak for other religious leaders who are becoming a bit tired of accusations that we do not live in the supposed real world when we say things that some find unpalatable. It is not the first
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time it has happened, but if any noble Lord would like to shadow my work for a week, he will see an interesting line of human nature in my work which is a great privilege and a joy.
Concerns have been expressed by the BBC World Service about the danger of too much government control of the media in Iraq, and the recent bombings of Assyrian and Chaldean Christian churches that represent communities that have lived in what we now call Iraqan unnatural 20th century inventionsince the dawn of the Christian religion. Those bombings make one ask serious questions about that litmus test for a just, sustainable and participatory societyhow it treats its minorities.
I shall counterbalance that observation by echoing the words of my colleague, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Oxford, on historic Islam and ways of local consensus that are democratic in ways that do not necessarily coincide with western secular models.
All that makes me come back to the cartoon depicting oursupposedevolution into an unthinkingly violent animal. The history of human conflict is as old as the history of the human race, however and whenever that is defined. There are always debates about that. It tells us a simple but hard truth, which is that the temptation to become a mirror image of one's attacker can become almost irrestible. But it always has profoundly negative consequences.
I do not think that the Prime Minister lied to us. I share much of what the noble Lord, Lord Lamont, said about the Prime Minister's motives and the Butler report. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Butler, for his speech, and for his observations on Cabinet government, about which I am sure lessons have been learnt. In any organisation when events move fast, it is sometimes very difficult to keep everybody up to speed. None the less, the lessons are there.
However, I am not a determinist, and I do not think that we are evolving into black-hooded terrorists. Nor do I believe that forgiveness and reconciliation at both local and international levels can be ordered from a department store or the all-night corner shop. In order to know more about those profoundly human qualities, we need to find new ways for the western democracies to engage in dialogue with the Arab world. They are not all members of Al'Qaeda. There is an urgency, too, about the need to rebuild international trust.
"So it is not enough to have been critical of the way war with Iraq came about. We need urgently to develop better methods of working together. Too often, the Security Council seems to be incapable of functioning as more than the sorry sum of its frequently disparate parts. Would we be helped, for example, by a standing body, more broadly drawn, and charged with formulating and clarifying options for dealing with such crises? Could we imagine such a group taking in NGOs as well as diplomatic representation, so that issues about humanitarian relief and social reconstruction could be fully factored in to the main discussion?".
Early this morning in my chapel in Fareham, I happened to be reading with my chaplain some words from the prophet Isaiaha book that is regarded as sacred by all three Abrahamic faiths. It is quite eerie that this canticle was set for Tuesday. It states:
Then I thought of coming here. Those words are part of a description of a world made new, that is not airy-fairy and out of touch with reality, but takes seriously human nature as being capable of both good and evil. I do not think that one could find a better foundation for the long reconstruction of international trust in this debate.
Lord Tomlinson: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Butler, for the singular work he has done on our behalf. It was the fourth inquiry into the veracity and good faith of the Prime Minister. Each of them found our Prime Minister not wanting in those respects and I thank the noble Lord, Lord Butler, and his committee for what I hope we can take as an opportunity to get on and debate the future of Iraq rather than spending quite so much time going over the genesis of the problem.
In my opinion, it is futile to continue to examine the genesis of the war. It will change none of the fundamentals concerning where we are now and where as a people we need to be. I say that as one who supported the Government and still does. I assume that all of us are now agreed about what we want for a post-war Iraq. We want a free Iraq, run by Iraqis, with the best possible basis for economic progress and the creation of stable democratic institutions.
The Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington has recently rendered singular service in publishing Anthony Cordesman's analysis of the strategic lessons of Iraq entitled The War After the War. I am most impressed by his reading and his argument. He argues that strategic engagement requires objective rather than ideological assessment of the problems which demand action. He goes on to argue that that assessment must include the size and cost of the effort necessary to achieve these decisive strategic goals. Without such a systematic approach, it can be as easy to lose the peace as it was militarily easy to win the initial conflict.
Today, despite many excellent activitiesand I commend the role of DfIDit is not yet possible to predict a successful outcome of the combination of, first, the activities of nation-building; secondly, the low-intensity continuing conflict; and, thirdly, the Iraqis' efforts to recreate their nation whose complexity we sometimes overlook. Of its population, 60 per cent are Shia Muslims; 20 per cent are Sunni Muslims; 15 per cent are Kurds; and 5 per cent comprise Turcoman and other groups. It can be further subdivided by tribes, by differing rural and urban lifestyles and by differing religious and secular lifestyles.
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It is a country whose complexities have been further exacerbated by serious demographic explosion. In 1980, the Iraqi population was 13.2 million. Today, it is estimated at 25 million and projected to grow by 7 million a decade for at least the next two, taking it to 44 million by 2030. Today, 530,000 people seek to enter the workforceand there is 50 to 60 per cent unemployment.
Post-conflict security and the whole process of nation-building should have been subjects of clear operational plans, formulated before military action began and subjected to at least as rigorous cost appraisal and risk analysis as the military action. That failure to have a seamless transition from the war to the imperatives of security and nation-building created a power vacuum. That power vacuum left the coalition appearing too often as remaining in conflict with Iraqis; too often as being the enemy; too often as being an unwelcome occupier; and decreasingly as being a force liberating Iraq from tyranny.
In my opinion, the power vacuum made the creation of the provisional government more difficult. That power vacuum has made it more difficult to address what I consider to be the central needs of Iraqthose relating to economic reconstruction. Few governments in the region have over the decades less experience of either a free market or of participating in global competition. Belatedly I believe that we need a grand strategy for security and nation-building and that we must look then to the economy on which Iraq's future will rest.
I want to mention four aspects of that economy. The first is investment. Iraq has no recognisable banking system. Industrial employment was largely in some 250 state monopolies and the military ones have been destroyed. The remainder offer no basis of industrial competitiveness and are unable to compete in any foreseeable way either as exports or with imports.
The second area for economic reconstruction is the country's infrastructure, especially the utilities which have been systematically neglected for more than 20 years. Saddam Hussein favoured obscene consumption by his regime at the expense of his people's need.
The third area for economic reconstruction is the agricultural sector. Historically, it has been run on the basis of a hopeless combination of state planning and subsidies. The results have been and remain appalling. Poor productivity and poor quality have left Iraq importing 60 per cent of its food needs and an agricultural population with no experience whatever of how to finance its farming or how to market its crops.
The fourth area is oil, where the situation is dramatically bad. Today, oil is the only meaningful export earner. The United States Department of Energy estimates that in constant year-2000 dollar prices, the value of oil exports has fallen from 58 billion US dollars in 1980 to 12.3 billion in 2002; probably falling to between 9 billion to 12 billion in 2003, and possibly rising to 15 billion in 2004 and 19 billion in 2005.
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Those figures indicate the value of Iraq's oil exports to be about a quarter of the real-terms figure in 1980. Anthony Cordesman estimates that even with an expansion of oil exports to 6 million barrels a day,
Against that background, I conclude with the expression of hope that soon we will be able to see a grand strategy; one which does not deal individually with jigsaw-puzzle pieces of Iraq, but deals with that country holistically. It must deal with the stabilisation operations and security; the nation-building operations; the creation of democratic self-government; and with a coherent programme of the various aids necessary for the reconstruction of the economy in the areas of investment, infrastructure, agriculture and oil. Then, I will begin to be confident that we can win the peace as well as we won the war.
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