|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Lord Inge: My Lords, given my involvement with the Butler review I had reservations, as did my chairman, about taking part in this debate. However, I should say at the start how much I enjoyed working under his chairmanship, a view that I know is shared by all the other members of that committee. I should also like to say that I strongly support his comments, not least those he made about Mr Scarlett. Mr Scarlett has been through a difficult time, but I am sure that he will have learnt from this testing experience about the way he has to lead what I believe is a remarkable Secret Intelligence Service. I strongly endorse the remarks made about the service by the noble Lord, Lord Hannay. I also believe that Mr Scarlett will get right his relationship with policy and decision makers. He has to work with them, but not be part of their club.
I would like to make one or two personal comments about the Butler review. The chapter in the report that deals with the nature and limitations of intelligence is a seminal piece of work which should be studied by every policy maker and decision maker dealing with intelligence material. This is particularly relevant given the current security situation we face from the threat of international terrorism. That threat poses the intelligence services of the free world with a huge
7 Sept 2004 : Column 509
challenge. We are not dealing with a nation state, but fighting an organisation that is diffuse and scattered, and wishes to cause mass casualties among innocent people. It is not afraid to use weapons of mass destruction. I am not convinced that the threat is fully understood or recognised, and what a challenge it poses. Like the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, I think that it would be a disaster if, because of some of the things that went wrong over Iraq, we become reluctant in the future to use military and other force where necessary.
The final point I want to make about the Butler review is not directly related to the committee. However, during my work on the committee I began to recognise starkly the huge responsibility put on our policy and decision makers when a nation looks as though it is going to go to war. I asked myself what were the qualities they needed if they were to look after the interests of the nation. I came to what your Lordships will probably consider to be a rather simplistic conclusion.
The two qualities I felt were most important were, first, that of judgment. I sense you can have judgment only if you have knowledge, which I believe includes a sense of history and an understanding of what it means if you commit your nation's armed forces to military conflict. The nature and limitations of intelligence have to be understood.
The second quality that I felt was fundamental was that of moral courage. Only then will a policy maker or adviser, even if he has the knowledge, have the courage to challenge or perhaps support a decisionwhich is a very difficult decisionat the highest level.
That is enough about Butler. I shall turn to Iraq in a moment, but first I want to mention post-conflict planning, where there is a major lesson for the future. A part of my military education was that, prior to conflict, a key part of the political and military planning process was to look at the consequences of the use of military force. While I recognise that it is not an exact science, we must consider what will happen and what it is likely that we will have to deal with after conflict has finished. It is clear that in this case that that proper planning process did not take place, or if it did, it was ignored. Equally importantly, it was not adequately resourced in terms of money, people and capabilities. That was a serious planning failure which must be a lesson for the future.
Whether or not one supported the war, noble Lords have already pointed out that the key issue is now to recognise that we are in for the long haul. If we were tempted to walk away, that would be disastrous and have serious and major implications for the security of the whole region. It would send a terrible message to the people of Iraq and give great encouragement to terrorists in that country and beyond. We are in for the long haul, and it will be a time that requires great wisdom and courage. In all this, I should also point to the important role that the media have to play. I also take this opportunity to pay tribute to what our Armed Forces have achieved.
I turn to Iraq today. The Minister gave us a measured and balanced view of the situation in Iraq at the moment, but I have to say that I remain deeply
7 Sept 2004 : Column 510
concerned about the security situationnot only because of the threat posed by terrorists, but also because of the limits of the influence of the interim government. It will be a long time before a government in Iraq have any major impact on the country as a whole. Moreover, the capabilities of Iraqi security forces in the form of its police and armed forces are extremely limited. Not only are they badly trainedit takes years to develop effective security forcesbut I am also concerned about the effect of the ballooning in the number of private security organisations now operating in Iraq. That cannot be right when seeking to co-ordinate a proper security situation.
I remain gloomy, but we must remember that we are talking not only about Iraq, but also about Iran, the Palestine/Israel problem and the Gulf as a whole. What happens in Iraq will be watched closely by the people of the region.
Lord Watson of Richmond: My Lords, Monday's news of seven United States Marines killed by a car bomb near Fallujah brings to just under 1,000in fact, 993the number of American soldiers killed since the war in Iraq began. Over the past two weeks, 500 people have been killed by terrorist actions in Russia. At least 338 people lost their lives in perfectly appalling circumstances in Beslan. The casualty lists in the war on terrorism are lengthening: soldiers, civilians, children, the old and infirm, and the young and strong. There is no sign of the carnage ending. There are moments, perhaps, when the imprudent banner displayed on the United States aircraft carrier, "Abraham Lincoln", and voiced on that occasion by President Bushnamely, "Mission Accomplished"may seem justified, but only as a respite and not, sadly, as a conclusion.
Nothingno explanation and no causecan diminish the crimes of those who have slaughtered so cruelly in Manhattan, in Bali, on Israel's buses and in the schoolhouse in Beslan. Nothing justifies those crimes. But if the mission of ending terror is ever to be accomplished, political processes are vital and must be resolutely pursued. To defeat terrorism, its roots have to be understood, its motivations comprehended and its causes addressed. We have urgently, as an international community, to seek out and dry up the springs of horror. President Bush sees America's role in Iraq and in the wider war as "draining the swamp". But what point is there in draining the swamp if it instantly refills? To eradicate what the noble Lord, Lord Howell, referred to earlier as "hyper-terrorism", we must seek to do more than counter it; no matter how hard or impossible it may seem, we must seek to cure it. How to do this is surely the most difficult challenge we face.
Military action is necessary but clearly not enough. As my noble friend Lady Williams said from these Benches today, it is a fact that one result of the allied invasion of Iraq is that Iraq itself has become a battleground for Al'Qaeda. That was not what was intended, of course, but it is one result.
7 Sept 2004 : Column 511
"The Iraq War, from its inception in Washington think tanks to its botched execution on the ground has always been a war of ideas . . . By now facts have reduced most of these to rubble, notably the argument that this was a war of urgent national security. Only two serious and competing versions of the war's meaning are left standingone, that it is a war against tyranny and for democracy; the other, that it is a war of American domination".
"The President must forge with the United Nations, with Europe, with our friends in the Arab world, with Iraq's political leaders . . . a common plan for Iraq . . . there are people around the President who will tell him to reject this . . . that reaching out will make him look weak . . . an admission of failure . . . the hour for hubris and arrogance is long past. It's time for leadership."
The noble Lord, Lord Owen, said in this debate that there are few more important things on the international community's agenda than to make a success of the transition to democracy in Iraq. He is absolutely right to say this. And to make a success of this, the international community must be involvedmilitarily, yesbut also in addressing where we can the very springs of terror.
It is for this reason that the effective abandonment of the Middle East road map is so dangerous. Some may argue that it is simply postponed by the US election, but that is almost certainly wishful thinking.
Here the Prime Minister is the pivotal figureand his and this country's credibility is at issue. The Prime Minster has sought from the start in his relationship with the United States Administration to trade loyalty for influence. To that end he has taken great risks with our standing in Europe. To that end he has discarded the advice of wise friends of this country such as Nelson Mandela of South Africa. To that end he bent all his persuasive skills to take Parliament and the country with him over the nature and, absolutely critically, the timing of the Iraq war.
For such loyalty what does he have to show? He must surely now demonstrate real influence in persuading the Americans to do two things: firstly, as Senator Biden has advocated, to reach out to the international communityincluding the transatlantic community and Europeto build a much wider and deeper involvement in, and commitment to, the challenge of nation-building in Iraq; and, secondly, to use America's power and influence with Israel to reinvigorate the Middle East road map for peace.
In another context the Prime Minister coined a memorable and influential phrase. He proclaimed the need not only to attack crime but to attack the causes of crime. So too with terrorism. We must attack terrorism in Iraq and beyond, seek to capture its leaders, cauterise its effects and defend ourselves and others. But we must also attack its roots, demotivate it by addressing the causes of hatred and prove its ultimate futility by showing that political solutions can achieve what terror can only destroy.
7 Sept 2004 : Column 512
|Next Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|