Memorandum from Paul McGowan
1. I have already written to my MP, Mr Jim
Cunningham, along the following lines. I make the points again,
as an ordinary citizen, as a contribution to the Committee's work.
2. To begin with, I do not see the need
for any inquiry into this matter. If the Government had adequate
information before the war, it could now safely divulge all of
it. On the other hand, if it will not now divulge the information
it had at the time, it can only be because it knows that it was
inadequate. If it was inadequate, then the Government went to
war recklessly. This is a most serious conclusion to arrive at.
3. Next, it has to be accepted that the
publicly stated intention of the Government was to go to war with
Iraq in order to enforce its compliance with the repeated will
of the United Nations, namely that it should rid itself of certain
prohibited weapons. It was never formulated by the United Nations
that the Iraqi regime was so offensive that it should not be allowed
to continue to rule the country. Therefore, since the UK Government
expended great efforts to ensure UN authorisation for war against
Iraq, we cannot allow any shifting of ground away from what was
explicitly formulated by the UN. Tampering with legally-binding
statements is a most serious matter.
4. Now, it is increasingly often said in
justification of the war against Iraq that the regime of Saddam
Hussein was so injurious to the rights and well-being of the ordinary
people of Iraq that a great good has been achieved by the actions
of the USA and the UK. To this, it is sufficient to recall the
old adage "Two wrongs do not make a right". That is
to say, if the decision to go to war was wrongly made in the first
place, no amount of alternative justifications will cancel out
the original error. I dare say you may regard this as hopelessly
academic, and even heartless, but if we do not observe basic principles
then we may find we have no arguments left when great harm is
done to us in the name of some other cause.
5. Further, the view is often put forward
that the world is undoubtedly a better place for the removal of
Saddam Hussein and his entourage. I think, though, that there
have been large numbers of very worthy and innocent individuals
whose death or mutilation has been the price of this improvement
in global well-being. It is not at all obvious to me, I have to
say, that the deaths of brave service personnel, consciously agreeing
to give their lives on our behalf, really does make the world
a better place. Would it not be a better place if these courageous
and selfless individuals had remained with us, so that we might
have continued to benefit from their example? And as for the innocent
victims who must now bear the burden for the rest of their lives,
while our attention moves on elsewherehow is their suffering
to be balanced against the importance of a man who stood for nothing
except his own survival and power?
6. Some say that the protection of human
rights is a matter which may well call for the use of armed force.
Well, be that as it may, I say that any government which casts
off clear moral principles under cover of realpolitik will pay
a heavy price in the end. I also fear that other innocents in
our own country, too, may pay an even heavier price at the hands
of the enemies which such a government may make. Indeed, Miss
Manningham-Buller has made the point only today that western Europe
will suffer such attacks.
7. In circumstances such as these, we are
all called to grapple with difficult decisions. But there are
moments at which it essential that we take the right course. Mr
Blair, I believe, was led astray by a vision of his own "importance"
on the world stage. MIPs of all parties failed to stop the Government
when they had the chance. It might have been painful at the time,
but it would have saved us from the present quagmire. The public,
too, failed to exert its will over political decision-makers.
8. There can only be one outcome to all
of this. It is clear, m spite of the delay imposed by the setting-up
of inquiries, that the UK had no sufficient justification for
going to war against Iraq. Therefore, the longer and the more
insistently Mr Blair clings to his assertions to the contrary,
the more impossible his position as Prime Minister will become.
He cannot now escape political disaster. The damage to public
trust in the government will continue to spread. The questions
which politicians such as yourselves will have to confront is
will you protect the Prime Minister or will you tell the country