18 Mar 2003: Do not rush to war with Iraq – Alex Salmond – House of Commons
Fundamentally, the debate is not about Iraq, Saddam Hussein, weapons of mass destruction or even oil, though oil is certainly a factor. The debate is about a new world order, with an unrivalled superpower adopting a doctrine of pre-emptive strike, and how we accommodate that and come to terms with that new world order.
Eighteen months ago the United States had an atrocity committed against it and it is still in a trauma. The point was made a few minutes ago, and it is undoubtedly correct. On 12 September 2001, the day after the attack on the twin towers, the United States was at its most powerful.
In its moment of greatest extremity, the United States was at its zenith. In addition to its unrivalled military might, it carried total moral authority throughout the world.
A hundred or more nations signed messages of sympathy, support or solidarity with the extremity that the United States had suffered. Now, 18 months later, that enormous world coalition has been dissipated.
I do not take the position that it was only a gang of four who gathered in the Azores. I accept that there are more countries—or at least countries’ Governments — who are signed up, but the coalition of the willing for the campaign against Iraq is very narrowly based.
Anyone who wants confirmation of that should just count the troops: 300,000 United States and British troops, and I understand that 1,000 Australians have been asked for, and 100 Poles have been offered. That is a very narrowly based coalition indeed.
The Prime Minister believes that the way to accommodate the situation is to accept that the United States will be predominant and that the rest must fall into line. They can try to restrain it, but they will have to fall into line with the views of the United States Administration.
That is a wrong-headed policy, and it is taking people into ridiculous positions.
In his undoubtedly powerful speech today, the Prime Minister argued that the weapons inspection process had never worked. He came close to saying that it had all been a waste of time.
I remember a speech on 2 October at the Labour conference in which another powerful speaker went into enormous detail to show how successful the weapons inspection process had been in the 1990s and how it had led to the destruction of chemical weapons, the chemicals used to make weapons, the armed warheads and the biological weapons facility.
He concluded that, “the inspections were working even when he (Saddam Hussein) was trying to thwart them.”
I watched that speech on television. Many hon. Members were there. The speaker was President Bill Clinton. The television was doing cutaways to Ministers, including the Prime Minister. They were all nodding vigorously last October when President Clinton said that through the 1990s that policy worked and destroyed far more weapons of mass destruction than were destroyed, for example, in the Gulf war.
The Prime Minister now seems to be denying what he accepted only last October. We are told that the majority of the Security Council would have voted for the second resolution, if it had not been for the nasty French coming in at the last minute and scuppering the whole process. Let us get real. Have we listened to what other countries were saying?
The Chileans proposed an extension of three weeks, but they were told by the United States that that was not on. In the debate in the General Assembly, country after country expressed their anxieties about not letting the weapons inspectors have a chance to do their work.
They were told that the nasty French—I am not sure whether the Conservative party dislikes the French more than the Liberals, or vice versa were being extremely unreasonable, but the French position, and the Chinese position in order to become acceptable, resolution 1441 had to be amended.
Everything has been consistent in the opposition of countries that are against a rush to military action. Somebody should speak up for the French, because their position has been consistent, as has that of the Russians and the Chinese.
The Chinese, the French and the Russians issued a declaration on the passage of resolution 1441. It sets out exactly how the British and the United States ambassadors agreed that it was not a trigger for war.
The reason that those countries did not want a second resolution was not that it would be a pathway to peace I wonder who dreamed that up in Downing street. The reason was that they saw it as a passport to war, so obviously they opposed a resolution drawn in those terms.
The majority of smaller countries in the Security Council and the General Assembly countries did not want to rush to war because they saw that there remained an alternative to taking military action at this stage of the inspection process.
We are told that the Attorney General has described the war as legal. We could go into the legalities and quote professor after professor who has said the opposite, but one thing is certain: when the Secretary General of the United Nations doubts the authorisation of military action without a second resolution, people can say many things about that action, but they cannot say that it is being taken in the name of the United Nations.
The argument is that it will be a salutary lesson, that a dictator will be taught a lesson and that that will help us in dealing with other dictators.
I suspect that the cost of the action — I do not doubt the military outcome for a second will be so high in a number of ways that it will not provide a platform for an assault on North Korea or Iran, which form the rest of the “axis of evil”.
I do not think that the policy of teaching one dictator a lesson and then moving on to other dictators can work. Most of us know that it will be a breeding ground for a future generation of terrorists. That is not the case because people like Saddam Hussein.
The images that will be shown throughout the Muslim world will not feature him, although, without any question, he will be more attractive as a martyr when he is dead than he has ever been while alive. The images that will be shown are those of the innocents who will undoubtedly die in a conflict that will be a breeding ground for terrorism.
President Clinton’s address to the labour Party Conference in Blackpool October 2002, (6 months before the invasion of Iraq
Sound advice was falsely embraced by Tony Blair and his government who only six months later ordered the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 and the terrible consequences have been visited upon many nations of the World, (in particular the middle East) ever since.
Bush and Blair are now retired and earning financial fortunes from speeches, advisory activities in support of many governments around the world and other business. Indeed Blair and his wife are multi-millionaires.
But thousands of our young men and women serving in the armed forces have been killed in action or returned to their families maimed through physical and or mental injury. The rest of their lives to be lived out handicapped and in permanent pain as will the many thousands of families who lost their sons and daughters.
Why did Blair not listen to President Clinton and Alex Salmond. The last 18 years future could have been so different.
The debate: http://www.warmwell.com/iraqwardebate03.html