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Baroness Williams of Crosby: My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Lord for giving way. I just want to clarify what I said. I apologise if I referred to Iraq as though I was referring to the nation, I was referring to the geographical territory known as Iraq, which still has, as the noble Lord will know, many artefacts and monuments which date from the Sumerian civilisation.
The noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, said that he thought that this issue was in many ways one of the most difficult he had faced in 30 years of politics. I have only sat in this Chamber for seven years, and I think that it is an extraordinarily perplexing issue.
Perhaps in many ways the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Oxford summed up the feelings of so many of my friends. We would be prepared to fight a just war, but the question is whether this is actually justice.
I do not believe that we can enter into the possibility of a confrontation which would be seen to be a conflict with the Muslim world. That is not acceptable. The Muslim world has an absolute right to exist and in peace the same as the rest of the world. It is particularly sad that so much of the Muslim world is extremely poor, under-privileged, sometimes poorly educated anddare I say itfrequently very poorly led. There is a huge conundrum for the West.
Above all we must recognise that we must obey international law. Not to do so could result in a descent into tyranny, injustice, chaos and anarchy. That is something we could be facing. We have to find different ways of understanding the problem. Today, to my mind, we have shown surprisingly little understanding.
Perhaps I may refer to one aspect of the United Nations Charter which was referred to by my noble friend Lord Rea and to some extent by other noble Lords. There is a fundamental difference between chapters VI and VII of the United Nations Charter. Iraq threatening peace is a grave issue. The issue about withdrawing to borders is not a matter of the threatening of peace; it is a question of resolution to achieve a peaceful process and it is not enforceable under UN law in the same kind of way.
It is all very well to talk about Israel refusing to return to its border, but that is misleading. Israel offered to return all those territories two or three years ago and because Arafat refused a moderate Labour government collapsed. The result was a hard line. The risk is that the more we have the conflict, the more the hard line may be followed.
The Earl of Onslow: My Lords, the Barak government offered the Palestinians home rule. However, the Israelis would continue their settlements, control the roads and control the borders. That is not an independent state. It was not a generous offer.
Lord Winston: My Lords, that is not my perception of what was referred to. I have no doubt that other speakers will come back on that issue and I do not want to detain the House. However, the issue was clearly that there was effectively something like an offer of 98 per cent of the disputed territory on paper. It was something that could be debated and negotiated. Sadly those negotiations failed, I believe, through no fault of the then Prime Minister.
Whatever happens, there must be no pre-emption in the Middle East. If the worst comes to the worst, simply having those mass weapons of destructionappalling though the dossier isis not a convincing reason to strike at the present time. I fear that we may even have to take a hit. It may even be Israel which needs to take that hit, but somebody may be struck by Iraq. Perhaps then there would be a just war that could ensue.
The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, I rise to speak as one of the signatories to the Pax Christi Declaration that was presented to the Prime Minister at the beginning of August. That declaration included this strong statement:
I remain firmly identified with that declaration and have an increasing sense of foreboding about the likelihood and consequences of some form of military action being taken against Iraq, particularly if the USA acts unilaterally. Brinkmanship is high risk strategy. It creates a war expectation momentum. Ears can be deafened to reason and readjustment. By prosecuting military action, economic and other resources are inevitably diverted from the war on poverty and injustice, further endangering the lives of millions of innocent people over and above those who become victims of the conflict itself.
I do not for one moment deny the brutality of the Iraqi regime. Saddam Hussein is guilty of heinous crimes against humanity. He has ruthlessly manipulated the sanctions deal to his own ends. But as a result, the Iraqi peopleespecially the children and not the regimehave borne the brunt of the sanctions in terms of infant mortality, chronic malnutrition, the inaccessibility of clean water, and crumbling health and education provision. How can we contemplate unleashing yet more misery upon them?
In addition, there is the questionand it has been touched on often todayof the possible destabilisation of the whole Middle East in the event of military action. It was King Abdullah of Jordan who warned that:
The repercussions from any military attack on Iraq will inevitably be far wider than the Middle East. For example, the current fragile peace process, seeking to bring to an end years of civil war in the Sudan, could be jeopardised. Here in Britain, Christian, Muslim and Jewish relations would be severely tested. I serve a diocese which includes a substantial part of multi-faith multi-cultural East London, as well as Essex. Many Jews and Muslims are feeling vulnerable, particularly since 11th September last year. Both communities have witnessed verbal abuse, and in some cases physical abuse, both to property and to person. The discernible increase in anti-Semitism is a matter of concern.
Generally speaking, British Muslims would view an attack against Iraq as another example of "double standards". For Muslims in the US, Britain and Europe as a whole, that is exacerbated by increased "anti-terrorist" legislation which appears to undermine their basic human rights. Many Muslims in Britain are feeling further alienated as a result of the ongoing debate on citizenship and the need to "prove" their loyalty to the United Kingdom.
There is a growing feeling that speaking out against the Government over Iraq may be taken as evidence of "disloyalty". For many Muslims, in this country and elsewhere, a military attack on Iraq would be aligned with hostility to the Islamic world as such. Much of the patient work of repairing, healing and strengthening inter-faith community relations since September 11th could be destroyed.
We are all acutely mindful of Saddam Hussein's predictable record of flouting UN Resolutions. However, there remainsand this has been stressed again and again todaya strong moral obligation for further weapon inspection to be given a chance to work.
In conclusion, I believe that removing the dangers posed by dictators and terrorists can only ultimately be achieved by tackling the root causes of the disputes themselves. That is the path that needs to be pursued. Peacemaking with justice, not war-making, must be the focus. You will be aware of the apostle Paul's injunction:
Lord Alli: My Lords, I can only imagine the responsibility that must lay on the shoulders of my right honourable friend the Prime Minister and his advisers. Theirs is seemingly an impossible task to balance the unbalanceable, to build a coalition where there is discord and to provide consistency where inconsistency has been the norm. Whatever the outcome of this debate and the debate in another place, I hope that my right honourable friend will reflect on what both Houses have to say and take strength and guidance from our words.
I am not privy to the detailed intelligence that my right honourable friend has at hand, nor do I have access to the military and civilian expertise that he has. So my knowledge is limited to the dossier published today, which I have managed only to skim-read. However, in the final analysis, I hope and trust the Prime Minister's judgment on these matters because he will have before him a better picture.
It is these judgments over the coming months that I believe will lay the foundation for a new world order for the coming years. And it is in those judgments, too, that I believe lie the hopes of millions of young Muslims, Christians and Jews. Without that hope lies a path to terror and more violence.
There are two major objectives in my contribution to this debate today. The first is to reassure my noble friends on the Front Bench that they will have my full support in the coming months for whatever action they feel is necessary in this fight against terror. The second is to put forward my own view, along with others, in this House to help them in their deliberations about what that action might be.
There seem to be a number of pivotal questions, many of which have been touched on, that need to be addressed and I have tried to distil a complex set of issues into the following questions. First, does Saddam Hussein pose a credible threat to the peace and stability of the world? Secondly, does Saddam Hussein possess chemical and biological weapons? Thirdly, is Saddam Hussein attempting to build a nuclear arsenal? Fourthly, should the United Kingdom press for the full implementation of UN resolutions and if resisted should it use force? Fifthly, should the United Kingdom, together with the United States, seek a new UN resolution which is stronger and more robust? Sixthly, does the UK require any further resolutions from the UN to authorise the use of force? Seventhly, should the United Kingdom go it alone with the US even if it is isolated from the rest of the world? Eighthly, is regime change a sensible idea on which to base present and future foreign policy?
Let me address those questions in turn. Yes, I believe that Saddam Hussein poses a credible threat to the peace and stability of the world. And, yes, I believe that he has developed chemical and biological weapons and that he seeks a nuclear capability. And, yes, I believe that we should use force if necessary to ensure that UN resolutions relating to Iraq are fully implemented. It seems to be a nonsensical position to give an ultimatum about weapons' inspections without the ability to force compliance. If the UN does not implement its resolutions, it is the weaker for it.
Yes, I believe that if possible we should seek a stronger and more robust UN resolution. However, I do not believe that there is a further requirement for additional resolutions to authorise military actions. Although perhaps it is not wise in this instance, I tend to share the view expressed by the noble Baroness, Lady Thatcher, during the Falklands conflict when she made clear that she felt that sovereign powers should have the ability to act without reference to other organisations provided they were not in violation of international law.
Should Britain go it alone with the US if isolated in world opinion? If my right honourable friend the Prime Minister and his Cabinet were satisfied that that was the only course of action likely to succeed, I believe that they should. Finally, is regime change a sensible idea on which to base foreign policy? I have to say that on this issue I part company with our allies, the United States Administration. It is a very tempting policy, but I would counsel my right honourable friend the Prime Minister to be careful with such a policy because it unlocks as many injustices as it seeks to solve.
Having said all of that, I believe that whatever action we take in the coming months we will have residual obligations as a result of those policies. The first obligation is to examine our own policy towards Israel and in particular the Middle East and to put pressure on President Bush to do more to begin a sensible peace process and put it in place to curb a cycle of violence.
Secondly, we need to extend the hand of friendship to Muslim and Arab countries and seek a more permanent alliance with Arab nations. Further, we must embrace Islam and not shy away from it and we must support the moderates and not rubbish what we do not understand. Here I pay tribute to my noble friend Lady Uddin for what must have been a difficult speech. I applaud her bravery.
Thirdly, we must stop the fight against terrorism being hijacked by those who seek to use violence and military action for which there is no justification, except political convenience. I think in particular of Israel, Pakistan, India and even Russia with regard to Chechnya.
Fourthly, we should never forget that we armed Saddam Hussein and supported his regime. If we are to keep the moral high ground, there can be no justification for arms sales into that region. I find the argument that if we did not sell arms they would be bought somewhere else morally repugnant. You cannot have an ethical foreign policy, or anything that resembles it, and sell arms.
Finally, we have to call Saddam Hussein's bluff. He long ago forfeited his right to be trusted and should not be allowed to hide behind the right of sovereignty, for it is he who is in violation of international treaty and law, not us; it is he who has turned on his own people, not us; and in this instance it is he who is the aggressor, not us. As in all cases of aggression, appeasement is a weak weapon and in most cases aggression needs to be fought with aggressioneven though many in this House and outside hope and pray that further force can be avoided. But if it is needed we should be ready to use it and my right honourable friend the Prime Minister should know that I, in that event, will give him my support.
It is right that this House and the other place are debating the matter because of the particular importance of the role of the United Kingdom. It is easy to flatter ourselves that we are key players. We know that we are not a world power but there is no question that one super superpower, as described earlier, cannot easily proceed on its own. It has a desperate need for partners. Previous personal observations lead me to believe that a particular British contribution can be made in terms of our background and experience over many decades of this sensitive and difficult part of the world. My noble friend Lord Hurd referred to the sense of public uncertainty so it is right that Parliament should speak at this most difficult of times. It should try to meet some of the concerns about an acutely dangerous situation that to many people has suddenly arrived.
In that most dangerous and volatile part of the world we have the unattractive and evil figure of Saddam Hussein. I do not believe that anyone seriously challenges the evidence, which is confirmed in the dossier and the earlier work of the IISS, that he is, if anything, accelerating his programme of producing lethal weapons of mass destruction. Added to that and, I am sure, to the question which the noble Lord, Lord Wright, sensed as to why we are in this situation and the Americans so concerned about the issue; whether or not Saddam Hussein intends to have such weapons purely for his own defence, the stability of his own regime and his own survival; and whether he sees weapons of mass destruction as a way to garner and increase his domination, power and influence in the area, there has to be the very real risk, which has been brought vividly home, that whether or not he has any link with Al'Qaeda at the present time, the fact is that in a rogue state, if ever there was one, there exist such weapons that could become the property of a terrorist group that does not need missiles or to address the maps that have been drawn out in the dossier to show just how far particular missiles fly. There are plenty of ways of moving weapons of mass destruction around the world. We know of the disruption caused to the US postal service by relatively small quantities of anthrax. That showed how easily terror could be spread without the need for massive missile capability.
It is in that situation that the United States initially and Her Majesty's Government have taken the view that enough is enough. United Nations resolutions were initiated 11 years ago at the end of the Gulf War. They have been systematically flouted and evaded over this period. Every device has been used to try to avoid the UN resolutions. Now it is not a stalemate situation, but the programmes are being accelerated. The resolutions now need to be enforced. The clear message of the Government and the United Nations should be that that is the objective. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Alli. I find the phrase "regime change" particularly unattractive. We said during the Gulf War that if the outcome was the death of Saddam
I also accept that that must be backed by credible force. Having seen that once and the difficulties that we had then, it is a much more difficult problem. It is very easy to say that we must have credible force. I ask noble Lords to consider what that means. The noble and gallant Lord, Lord Guthrie, referred to the possible degradation of the Iraqi army. I accept that it is probably not what it was. Perhaps it never was. That was one of the mysteries perhaps of the Gulf War. Nonetheless, we shall need significant forces and ensure that they appear credible. No one should be under any illusions that Saddam Hussein will resist, not just because he is naturally devious and wishing to be as awkward as he can, but because he needs weapons of mass destruction. They have been essential to the survival of his regime. He believes that it is only by possessing such weapons and using them, such as 100,000 chemical shells, that he was able to resist the human wave of Iranian troops which Iraq faced in the Iran-Iraq war. I do not support this belief, but Saddam Hussein believes that it was possession of chemical and biological weapons which persuaded us not to go to Baghdad at the end of the Gulf War. That is not true because our authority was the liberation of Kuwait and not the capture of Iraq or the invasion of Baghdad. But he believes that. In a real sense it is his life insurance policy. I do not fancy that Saddam looks forward to a quiet retirement in a suitable retirement home were he ever to lose power. Because of the challenge that he faces he will wish by every means possible to maintain his weapons of mass destruction.
Nonetheless, I believe that we have to work through the United Nations and establish the toughest possible resolution there for the inspectors to go into Iraq and to seek to identify and remove the weapons of mass destruction. I know that it is said in Americasome may have heard Richard Perle say it last night on televisionthat if you know that using the inspectors will not work then why bother. The reason why one must bother, even though one may have the deepest cynicism about the system working, is to return to my message of carrying world opinion with us. We have to be seen to have tried and to have shown that that is our objective. It is important to keep faith with the vital Arab neighbour countries which are in such a precarious position.
I believe that I was not the only noble Lord who was struck by what appeared to be a rather sudden change of view at the United Nations by a number of Arab countries who appeared to be unsympathetic and not keen to have troops based on their territory. They changed their views. I heard it suggested that that was in recognition of a superb speech by President Bush. His adoption of the route through the United Nations was obviously helpful, but I am sure that it was much more than that. Those Arab countries then believed that there was a determination to see this matter through. There was surprise in Arab countries at the end of the Gulf War when it was realised that Saddam Hussein was still in place even though Kuwait had been liberated and the Iraqi army had been defeated. That undoubtedly contributed to their nervousness and fear of his motivation and activities. I say as an aside that I cannot help thinking that if the bullets fired in Kandahar had been a centimetre or two in a different direction and Mr Karzai had been killed and the efforts of his special protection squad from the United States had been defeated, the result as regards some of the responses from Arab countries might have been different. That has brought out very clearly a point made by my noble friend Lord Hurd about the fragility of the situation. The insecurity of many of the countries and governments in the region contributes to the uncertainties in this most difficult problem that we face.
We now have to ensure that if we get a tough resolution from the United Nations we must have credible military force to back it up. That raises some horrific logistic problems and some very difficult problems of timing as well. The part of the world involved is not somewhere where one can stand to and stand down month after month. One moves into problems of temperature and the impossibility of conducting campaigns, perhaps in protective clothing and in temperatures around 40 degrees centigrade. There is a very real problem in how one sustains a militarily credible force in the area which is the only possible hope, if there is one, for a successful weapons inspection and the destruction of the weapons of mass destruction.
My own view on this matter now is that having reached the present position, it is essential that we see it through because we do not go back simply to where we were if we fail in the objective. If we fail to impose the will of the United Nations now on Saddam Hussein with the removal of his weapons of mass destruction, he will feel in a very real sense that he is now impregnable and that the world does not have the will to confront his deliberate obstruction of United Nations resolutions. He will become more aggressive and his neighbours will have to adjust their positions accordingly. They will then recognise where power lies and the future for that whole region will be much more uncertain and the position for the rest of the world and its future prosperity and security much more unpredictable.
I believe in the special relationship, but taking the qualification of my noble friend, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, on the special relationship, I accept that it needs qualification. The special relationship exists because of language, history and significant shared values, but geography, population and economic power ensure that it is a special but not an equal relationship. Moral toughness, clarity of policy, reality about national interest and political skill will always be needed to ensure that this special, but not equal, relationship, does not deteriorate into a subservient relationship.
Details are important. It may seem a small, even a trivial, matter but last week I was made uneasy by the press photograph of the Foreign Secretary standing behind Colin Powell wearing a Stars and Stripes lapel badge crossed with the Union Jack. Why? Because we live in an age of symbols, a visual and a tele-visual age. Loyalty and friendship should be proclaimed, but not a sharing of identity by a Foreign Secretary charged with demonstrating and conveying the policy of the United Kingdom.
In relation to Kosovo and earlier crises, Her Majesty's Government have held distinctive positions that have influenced Washington. The resolution of the noble Baroness, Lady Thatcher, in relation to the Falklands at first dismayed and then persuaded Washington. The Prime Minister's clarity over Serbia had a similar effect on President Clinton. In those cases the United Kingdom "leveraged" the special relationship, using it to make a distinctive and, I believe, valuable contribution to allied policy.
In what way are we now doing so? I accept that the Prime Minister's counsel almost certainly may have tipped the balance inside the United States Administration in favour of going to the United Nations rather than around it. It is a fact that to many people in this country, and particularly in the Arab world, we simply appear to be in America's wake. To identify fully with America's sorrow after 9/11, to share it as we did in this Housevisually, symbolically and in our heartswas right. To allow our actions, even inadvertently, to appear to be virtually unconditional to US leadership is quite different.
We must ensure that any US pre-emptive action against Iraq is sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council. We must also voice the widespread concern in Europe that the despair of the Palestinian people be addressed. Israel has the right not only to exist but to have the moral and material support of the West to ensure that she does. But despair and hopelessness will always render the Middle East a danger to the peace of the world and to remove Saddam Hussein without seeming to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will produce "regime change" but ultimately no change in the Middle East.
Winston Churchill, that closest ally of the United States, also struggled with her and saw Britain operating within three circles and not one: the Atlantic relationship, the European relationship and the Commonwealth relationship. He was right then and to me his perception remains right today. Thus, if "regime change" is imperative in Iraq it may also be in Zimbabwe.
If the United Nations inspectors are in any way impeded in Iraq, the Security Council must sanction military action. Time is of the essence, for Saddam Hussein will surely seek a nuclear capability and, as is clear from the dossier, there is at least a chance of his acquiring it. But military action must be seen to support the international order and not defy it or avoid it. America's power determines her responsibility not only to defend herself but to promote stability and fairness in the Middle East. We have a responsibility to help the US to understand and to achieve that.
Earlier this week a television documentary reminded us vividly of how at Suez British troops were deployed without national consensus. To put British Armed Forces in harm's way without clear, distinctive, national objectives which demonstrate to the British people and to all our allies that we have thought through the consequences for ourselves and for the Middle East will be to invite disaster. This debate is a step forward. The sober dossier published by the Government also helps. A new United Nations resolution specifying the consequences for Iraq if the United Nations inspectors are defied or disarmament is refused by Hussein will take us furtherprobably decisively furtherto national consensus. As of this afternoon the argument has not yet been won. For all our sakes it has to be.
Lord Inge: My Lords, like many noble Lords I welcome the debate because I believe that we are faced with an enormously important issue. I hope that the weapons inspection regime will succeed, but I am fairly sceptical. The key question to ask ourselves is whether the weapons of mass destruction capability of Iraq and Saddam Hussein's intention are so dangerous that we are prepared to go to war. I recognise what that could mean in terms of sacrifice and in terms of possible major consequences that go beyond the Gulf. The results of military action are never what one expects and never turn out as one hopes. In my view, we may be faced with a situation more difficult than the Gulf War, Bosnia or Kosovo.
There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein possesses weapons of mass destruction. He has chemical and biological weapons and the means to deliver some of them. Clearly, the character and personality of Saddam Hussein mean that he would be prepared to use them. Therefore, reluctantly I have come to the conclusion that we must be prepared to take military action. We do not have the luxury of saying to ourselves that we shall see how the weapons inspection regime goesI shall touch on that in a minutebut we must have at the back of our minds the fact that we may have to use military force.
I pay tribute to our intelligence services, the unsung heroes who gathered the information and produced the dossier. I believe that, until recently, Her Majesty's Government presented the case for military action badly. As one or two noble Lords said, it would be disastrous if we were to commit our forces to armed action when they were unable to feel that they had the support of the country behind them. I cannot stress the importance of that too strongly.
What next? The Prime Minister and his officials deserve great credit for persuading President Bush to go via the United Nations. I am sure that that was the right way to proceed. However, we must recognise the pitfalls associated with that course of action. Saddam Hussein is, as has been said many times, a past master of duplicity and deception. He will play his usual cat-and-mouse game with the weapons inspectors, hoping that he can drag the process out and weaken the will of those who support America. There are already indications that some countries are beginning to wobble. If the weapons inspectors are to do their job effectively, we must be robust and unequivocal in our support of a credible weapons inspection regime. We should not underestimate the threats that the inspectors will face and the risks they will take.
My next thought may be more controversial. We must consider building up the military capability in theatre in parallel with the weapons inspections. That will give Saddam Hussein a clear indication of our intent to resort to military action if he blocks the work of the inspectors. If we go through a frustrating period of weapons inspection and delay the military build-up, we will send the wrong message to Saddam Hussein. We could lose the initiative and weaken the coalition.
I hope that we will not have to use force. I recognise the military, political and diplomatic difficulties associated with such a step. However, we must consider the option. I also believe that an internal coup is more likely if credible military forces are sitting on Iraq's doorstep.
Like many noble Lords, I believe that a huge issue which has not been addressed must be addressed urgently. What are our contingency plans if we have to take military action to helpI stress the word "help"Iraq to keep itself together and avoid splitting into three parts? Iraq must become a more credible nation state that can play a more constructive international role. That is a difficult and daunting task, which will require large military and other forces in Iraq for some time. I hope that the United States
In focusing on Iraq, we should not forget the wider war on terrorism. We will not be able to rest on our laurels if we are successful in Iraq. As many noble Lords said, we cannot stress too strongly the fact that Iraq cannot be divorced from the threat of international terrorism. The failure of the international community to create a viable Palestinian state not only affects the stability of the Middle East and beyond but is a wonderful recruiting sergeant for Al'Qaeda and militant Islam. I do not underestimate the difficulties, but a solution to the problem is central to the success of any attempt to contain international terrorism. It should be an absolute priority for British foreign policy.
What will it all mean for the European security and defence identity? I should perhaps have mentioned this earlier. As one who strongly believes that Europe should do more militarily, I have been disappointed by the attitude of France, initially, and, more importantly, Germany. We would delude ourselves if we did not recognise that that had implications for the European security and defence identity. That may be an uncomfortable thing to consider, but it is better to talk about it than sweep it under the carpet.
Lord Stone of Blackheath: My Lords, the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Inge, has suggested, once again, that the plight of the Palestinians is linked to the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. At the same time, by failing to deal with Saddam Hussein, the international community leaves Israel under greater threat and exacerbates the plight of the Palestinians.
The map on page 31 of today's dossier shows that Tel Aviv is within easy reach of Iraq's Al'Hussein and Al'Abbas ballistic missiles. Someone suggested today that Israel might have to take the first hit. There is a direct nexus. We must deal with Saddam Hussein and step up political engagement in the Middle East. I suggest to the Minister that we should launch a pragmatic initiative in the area that could build on what she said in her speech. It would lead to a calmer, more stable Middle East that could, perhaps, influence the politics of Iraq for the better.
On 24th June, the President of the United States made a speech that was seen by the Israelis and the Palestinians and by Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and the neighbouring states as an important framework for moving forward the Arab-Israeli peace process. The US president's speech followed the passing of UN Security Council Resolution 1397 in March, which, for the first time, achieved international agreement on the two necessary components of a peace settlement: security guarantees for Israel and specific statehood for the Palestinians.
Even in these violent times, there is widespread support for concerted global action along those lines. Peace proposals from widely differing sources include such steps. The Arab plan agreed at the Beirut summit in March contained similar positive aspects; the international quartetEgypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the international donorsalready plays a key role in Palestinian reform. Only last week, the quartet produced a more detailed road map that envisaged Palestinian elections, Israeli troop withdrawal and the creation of a full Palestinian state by 2005.
By itself, the speech is not enough. However, forceful groups around the world are working on proposals for pragmatic routes to peace. The work of such groups could come together in a coalition for peace, rather than in the coalition for war that we are discussing today. Since the president's speech, I have been present at private discussions involving forceful but moderate groups in Israel, in Ramallah and in Gaza and with people from all the neighbouring states, as well as Americans, Europeans and Japanese. There is wide agreement that there should, as the Minister suggested, be a political mechanism to maintain constant, high-level international involvement to encourage the two sides to end the violence and resume the peace process.
It is specifically suggested that that could be done in a way that used American influence constructively in the formation of a multi-national commission, led by the United States and modelled on the Mitchell commission. It should be in place no later than the end of the year and would give practical expression to the key elements of the president's speech. In particular, the commission would be charged with determining that meaningful Palestinian domestic reform had taken place. Subsequently, a Palestinian state with provisional borders would be established, starting a process towards a permanent settlement that could be reached within three years.
An appointed commissioner would, in turn, appoint three deputiesperhaps from the quartetto oversee the separate but interdependent broad areas of economics, security and political affairs. Under those broad headings, there are seven major issues to be resolved, as anyone who is familiar with the negotiations that have gone on for decades will know. Thanks to long discussions and well thought-out papers, there is a viable compromise solution for each issue. The new commission would oversee seven groups of non-partisan experts, who would examine each issueeconomic development, security, refugees, Jerusalem, borders, water and the environment. They would initiate a process of full consultation with all involved parties.
As suggested in the Statement read at noon today, the commissioner would, one year after the formation of those seven groups and drawing on their findings, set parameters and recommend a date for a conference, to be sponsored by the United States and to be held in the region at the end of 2003. The conference would establish the framework for comprehensive peace and normalisation arrangements between Israel, Palestinians and the Arab world. By 2005, a new Palestinian state could be functioning; Israelis and Palestinians could feel more secure; the region would be more stable and perhaps begin to grow and flourish; and the Iraq issue would come under a new light.
That plan is not a dream and could be accomplished if moderates who support the Palestinians and Israel would work towards its fulfilment and put it to their supporters. The Arab world and Israelwith the support of the United States and Europehave a responsibility for instilling hope, as well as for articulating and implementing a common vision for the region.
While all that occurs, it is vital that we help those on the ground who are continuing people-to-people work across communities. They are trying to heal the damage that has been done to civil society and to revive and strengthen the hearts and minds of the men, women and children who suffer because of our mistakes. Private-sector involvement is needed to underpin reconstruction and regional economic development. Businesses and non-governmental organisations are already at work across the region and I know of many more that are waiting to become involved if the politics move forward.
While dealing with Saddam Hussein, we need to formulate a concept that gives all the people of the Middle East a stake in their common future. The strategy that I suggest would provide the people in the regionand those who care about themwith a vision and a pragmatic plan that they could press their leaders to adopt. Or they could find leaders who would adopt that strategy. Energy and resources spent in that way, alongside Iraq action, would help to avert the disaster that many of us fear, resulting from a singular concentration on Iraq.
Lord Mayhew of Twysden: My Lords, it is a sombre fact that there remain waiting to speak as many of your Lordships as have already taken part in this extremely impressive debate, so I shall only briefly delay the noble Lord, Lord Jacobs. Also, I have agreed with so much that has been said that I do not wish to spoil its effect by repeating itno doubt worse.
Two important matters have characterised the debate. First, recognition of the massive danger that Saddam Hussein represents to the Middle East and the world. Secondly, acceptance that the matter cannot be ducked and must be dealt with in accordance with international law.
Surely the experience of the past century has taught us all the lesson that mankind suffers terribly when its leaders flinch from upholding international law, paying the price and paying it in time. Whatever their imperfectionswhich are manifestthe United Nations charter and its connected institutions and other derivatives represent massive progress away from the rule of force and towards the rule of law. Those principles must not be allowedas happened with the League of Nations 60 or 70 years agoto atrophy for lack of will to operate them. Our country has been a leader in progress towards the rule of law by upholding the United Nationssometimes in the face of strong temptation to set the law to one side.
Much has been said today about the Gulf War. Criticism has been levelled since the event of unfinished business. It is said that we should have finished the job. I believe that it was of critical importance to the United Nationsand through it to the rule of lawthat the War Cabinet and Parliament conducted the Gulf War in strict accordance with the Security Council resolutions then in forceobtained through brilliant diplomacy in New York. To have motored on into Baghdad and brought about a regime change by force, which was not authorised, would have been to discard legality, discredit the United Nations, shatter the alliance and create a useful precedent for some unpleasant people to rely upon in future. That would have been quite an achievementalbeit in the wrong direction. That is to say nothing about when we could have got out, if it turned out that we were not entirely welcome.
As a consequence, we can claim that the United Nations today, for all its deficiencies, is a stronger instrument for enforcing the rule of law. As a result, the people of the UK expect us to uphold international law. They would not tolerate the commitment of our forces to active service in any circumstances in which it was not abundantly clear that we were upholding the rule of lawa point to which the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Inge, alluded.
I shall not comment on analyses of the circumstances in which forceful pre-emption might be lawful. They can exist. What matters is that the Government are rightly committed in the present circumstances to seeking a resolution from the Security Council, to achieve the total disarming of Saddam's weapons of mass destructionwith the implicit promise of enforcement in default. That seems not only right but extremely important. The noble Lord, Lord Hannay, said that it is not just a matter of lawthat route should be followed, even more importantly, as a matter of political skill and practicality.
It is extremely important that scrupulous care is taken in analysing the purpose of any proposed operation and justifying itas much by the Americans as ourselves. Otherwise, the Government will not attract the confidence of those whom they send to fight, nor of the rest of the country. Even more importantly, the Government will not fulfil their duty to our servicemen. I much agree with the noble Lord, Lord Watson, in that regard. It may be a vivid and satisfying use of the language, to call Saddam an outlaw but it is sloppy language, betraying sloppy thought. We are supposed to be upholding the rule of law. The concept of an outlaw is unknown to modern law. It is a mistake to demonstrate that we do not know the law because that suggests that we do not care.
In common with the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Vincent, I was once a National Serviceman. Some military talent was perceived in one of us. I was taught that maintenance of object is the first principle of war. I congratulate the Government on defining their objective as they have, and in maintaining it. I trust they will in future furnish Parliament in good time with the information that it needs to scrutinise progress, or the lack of it, and to confer the authority that will be needed for actions taken on our behalf.
By the end of the day your Lordships will have spoken at least 60,000 words on the subject of Iraq. We must add to that the millions of words that have been spoken and written in the past four weeks. Of course, we must not forget the Iraq intelligence dossier, a mere 22,000 words so thoughtfully intended to be made available to us by the Government on the net at 8 o'clock this morning. So it will not be easy to add anything new to the debate.
I did not intend to speak about the Israel-Palestine situation; not because it is not vitally important, but because it is an issue on its own. Although it has influence on the Middle East situation, the question is not what happens in Israel and Palestine, but what happens in Iraq and whether we should take action. However, as so many noble Lords commented, I feel I should make just a few points.
I have not been an uncritical supporter of Israel. Almost from the beginning I condemned the building of settlements on the West Bank. I questioned their reason. But whatever my views then, the fact is that we are in this situation today. Therefore how do I now view the situation?
I make three points. First, I presided for more than eight years over the Haifa University in Israela university of around 13,000 students. Around 20 per cent of the students were Israeli Arab. The students comprised Christians, Muslims and Druse. Have things been perfect there? No. But have the various groups and sects got on with each other? In practice, yes. There is no desire to cause problems. There is a good degree of tolerance and there are almost no demonstrations.
In addition, there are in Israel 1 million Israeli Arabs. They have the vote. They have their own Members of Parliament and they have more or less the same rights as the Jewish Israeli citizens, except that they are not allowed to serve in the armed forces. I asked one or two whether, when there was a full Palestinian state, they would like to move there to become Palestinian citizens. I did not find onethough there must be somewho wanted to do so. Clearly, living in Israel, even for non-Jews, is not an unacceptable way of life.
I want to say why I believe the situation is in such desperate straits today. A couple of years ago negotiations took place between Ehud Barak, the then Israeli Prime Minister, and Arafat. Those negotiations were extremely advanced. They took place first at Camp David and were followed up in Taba. At the end Israel made an offer which I wrote at the time was around 110 per cent of what it could afford to make. It covered in particular the settlements. It would give up 20 per cent of the settlements entirely and 80 per cent would remain within Israel. But in exchange Israel was going to give up more of the land it lost near the border on Gaza, which the Palestinians strongly wanted.
That was a key element. Almost all of the other matters were agreed. But at the end Arafat said, "What about the Arabs who left Israel?". In those days they numbered around 800,000. He said, "There are now 3.5 million and we would like the right for them to return". Israel inevitably said that it was not possible; that they could discuss some return but not of 3.5 million. At that point Arafat concluded the negotiations and left. He did not say to his own people, "The offer was pretty significant. It did not go as far as we want and we want it to be improved"; he just walked away and that was the end of the matter.
Shortly after that, general elections took place in Israel. Barak lost; Sharon came in with a very tough policy. His aggressive policy owes much not only to his own approach to these issues, but also to the disillusionment of the Jews in Israel. At that point they began to believe for the first timethose most strongly in favour of the peace agreementthat Arafat would not co-operate. From then on the situation
We should really be discussing Iraq. In view of the pertinent information made available to us, the prime issue we face is whether Saddam Hussein is truthful and can be trusted. Some words uttered last week by his Foreign Minister, Mr Aziz, can help us understand where the Iraqis are coming from. He declared,
Why has Saddam Hussein been allowed to remain in power as the leader of his people? Saddam Hussein massacred tens of thousands of his own people, the Kurds; he invaded two sovereign neighbouring countries and after the Gulf War the United Nations took the soft option and allowed this man to remain in power. Is the sovereign nation of Iraq a responsible nation capable of caring competently for its own people?
Clearly, Saddam Hussein's past actions demonstrate his personal lack of integrity and trustworthiness. Your Lordships may fairly conclude that the world's present mistrust in him is sadly accurate. While he remains in power can any of us feel safe? If trust is to replace fear, what is our national responsibility?
Saddam Hussein perpetrated genocide when he drained the Marshlands where more than half a million Marshland Arabs lived. Two hundred thousand were forced into exile, but thousands upon thousands died of starvation. He also slaughtered more than 60,000 Shias who represented 72 per cent of the population but are ruled by the Sunnis, just 13 per cent of the populationincluding of course Saddam Hussein himself. If the United Nations fails to pass a strong, effective and comprehensive resolution on Iraqi disarmament or, having passed such a resolution, he fails to co-operate with weapons inspectors, should we be willing to support the US in a pre-emptive strike? Objectors to a policy of pre-emption believe that a pre-emptive strike is never the right policy. The last pre-emptive strike against Iraq was condemned by all nations, including Britain and the United States. It occurred in 1981 when Israel destroyed the Iraqi nuclear reactor near Baghdad.
The United Nations at that time pressed Israel to compensate Iraq for this dreadful violation of Iraq's sovereignty, but the result of the attack was that Iraq was unable to manufacture its own fissionable material. The short-term positive consequence of the attack was that Iraq could not produce its own nuclear weapons for its invasion of Kuwait. Do any of your Lordships seriously believe that if it had them it would not have used them in the Gulf War?
Most nations disapprove of pre-emptive strikes against sovereign states. Governments find it easier to justify retaliatory actions. If Saddam Hussein were to use chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, the world would more easily unite and agree to retaliate. But is it necessary for us to wait for the need to retaliate? Are we content to live with this fear that emerges from time to time, casting shadows upon our lives, knowing the personal history of the unpredictability of Saddam Hussein?
When countries do not have democratic regimes and they are headed by kings or presidents, each nation will include within its history the definition of the words "complete suppression", invariably indicative of the total absence of free speech. If there is no free speech, how is it possible to oppose such leaders from within?
One must recognise that we are part of a global system that confronts us now. It concentrates political power in such a manner that the majority of humankind have no role whatever in determining their own destiny.
We British, and indeed many other nations, have a code of conduct that is honourable, truthful and just. When, as a humanity that shares and understands fundamental beliefs that benefit all people mutually, can we expect other nations to believe as we do? Sadly, in the year 2002 this understanding does not exist. We find it difficult to come to terms with those in power who are prepared to lie and deceive, whose word is never their bond and whose agreements are worthless. Adolf Hitler was such an evil man and so is Saddam Hussein.
Lord Hylton: My Lords, it is a privilege to take part in the debate. I detest and condemn the evil done by Saddam Hussein and his government. Poison gas used on civilians at Halabja first alerted me to the wider plight of the Kurdish nation. Later with others I tried unsuccessfully to achieve a peaceful withdrawal of Iraq from Kuwait. I have campaigned for the release of the 600 or more hostages abducted from Kuwait. Today I loathe the torture and mutilation of army deserters that takes place in Iraq.
There are, however, tried and tested methods for dealing with dictators; principally, containment and deterrence. Many noble Lords have mentioned both. They worked against Stalin and his successors and they can succeed elsewhere. It needs to be made crystal clear that the least aggression outside Iraq or on the Kurds or the Marsh Arabs will be met by invincible retaliation. That, alas, was not done before Kuwait was invaded.
Other states such as Israel and Turkey occupy their neighbours' land. The Sudan and Turkey have waged massive internal wars, killing and displacing millions of their own people. China, Burma and Liberia all oppress their own people and harm their neighbours. India and Pakistan threaten each other with all-out war. Yet in none of those cases does anyone suggest that the existing governments should be replaced by force.
I hope that a different standard will not be applied to Iraq simply on account of its oil. There is a strong presumption against the use of military force. I therefore strongly agree with the Roman Catholic bishops of the United States who, in their recent letter to their President, argued against the pre-emptive unilateral use of military force to overthrow the Government of Iraq.
Unilateral use of force would provide the worst possible example to whoever might be the stronger party in future conflicts. Here, I can claim the support of the Professor of International Law at Oxford, writing in The Times yesterday.
The consequences of war, as has been mentioned, are almost always unpredictable. I therefore ask your Lordships and the Government to consider carefully the side effects of a war against Iraq. Would the pacification of Afghanistan still be possible? What would be the consequences in every state with a Muslim majority? That point was notably touched on by the noble Baroness, Lady Uddin. If the West, including Russia, is seen to deploy military forces principally against Islamic peoples, will that not encourage worldwide terrorism?
I conclude by urging the Government and their allies to study with care the consensus emerging within the worldwide Roman Catholic Church on the subject of war in general and of war with Iraq in particular. Prudence, courage, fortitude and restraint are most urgently needed. They seem to argue strongly in favour of the containment and deterrence of evil and the maximum possible use of inspection.
Lord Campbell-Savours: My Lords, I was pleased to hear the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mayhew of Twysden, set the record straight as to what happened at the end of the Gulf War, because people have convenient memories. It was not only that we were bound by way of a United Nations resolution, which did not provide for us to enter Iraq, but also there were demonstrations throughout all the major Arab capitals in the days preceding the discussions that took place in the tent on the road from Basra to Baghdad between the coalition authority and the representatives of the Baghdad Government. Over the years we have heard repeated references to events which sadly have been completely misunderstood.
I congratulate the Prime Minister on the skill he deployed in convincing the President of the United States of America that he should go down the UN route. I congratulate him also on standing shoulder to shoulder with President Bush in the brinkmanship they have deployed in insisting that in the event that Saddam Hussein does not deal with the issue of weapons of mass destruction, there may have to be some form of military engagement. That is the right approach.
It is ironic that those in the anti-war movement, many of whom I number among my closest friends, contributed to convincing Saddam Hussein that we meant business, because they raised the profile of the
I oppose vigorously the policy of containment based on sanctions that were never properly implemented and which has led to the position we are in today. That policy was born in the mind of the American Administration. Clinton adopted it. I have always believed it was a policy of weakness. Many of us repeatedly went to Washington to plead with representatives of American Administrations over the years, in Congress, the Senate, the White House and the State Department, to plead with them to bring that policy to an end because it would enable Saddam Hussein to rebuild his armaments industry and once again threaten the western world; indeed, the whole world.
It was about that illegal border trade that we were going to Washington. I sent a researcher from my office in the House of Commons at the time to witness the trade going on into southern Turkey from northern Iraq. When he came back to the United Kingdom he told me that it was a bumper-to-bumper trade of trucks carrying oil into southern Turkey. When we made representations in the United States of America, people did not want to know about it. It was as if some deal had been entered intowhich I subsequently found out was the casewhereby obligations to the Kurds required that they be funded. Of course, the Kurdish political parties were raising taxes on this illicit movement of oil traffic from Iraq into southern Turkey, thereby saving the American exchequerand also, I presume, western aid agenciesthe cost of funding northern Iraq's development in Kurdistan.
Furthermore, because those oil revenues at the beginning of the process were paid only, if I remember rightly, to the KDP and Masood Barzani, a row developed between the PUK, under Jalal Talebani, and the KDP, which ended up in the loss of lives in northern Iraq as they fought out who was going to get the oil revenues. The reality was that everyone turned a blind eye to the trade. That money raised from selling
The policy of containment prolonged arguments over United Nations sanctions, which people were led to believe were being properly implemented when they were not, leading to us in the West being blamed for the humanitarian suffering in Iraq. Even to this day, despite the fact that it is well documented that the responsibility for that suffering rests on Saddam Hussein, we are still held responsible in this country. Even in the other House today we have heard reference to that.
The policy of containment also allowed Saddam Hussein to make an effective link on the street, as the noble Lord, Lord Janner, said, between the position in Iraq and Israel. That has undermined the credibility of all that we have been doing in recent years. Clinton's dithering, by pursuing the policy of containmentwhich was supported after 1994 by successive British Governments, Conservative and Labourhas enabled Saddam Hussein to build up the menacing arrangements with which he is currently able to frighten much of the world.
Furthermore, the policy enabled Saddam Hussein to gain the confidence to obstruct UNSCOM. In doing so, it enabled Ritter to peddle his inconsistencies, which are now believed by much of the anti-war movement in the United States of America and in the United Kingdom. I went to a meeting in the other place some weeks ago attended by about 250 people from the anti-war movement. It was amazing. People were not listening to what Ritter was saying. They went in with preconceived views based on the international reputation that he has built up for opposing the policy that we have adopted on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. What he told the meetingwhich they were not prepared to acceptwas that he had no knowledge of what intelligence information was available to the United States and United Kingdom Governments. He went on to say that in the event that it could be shown conclusively that Saddam held weapons of mass destruction he would be among the first to join up for war. I do not think that I am misquoting him; I am sure that his address to the meeting was taped. I was at the meeting. I heard what he said. Let the tape confirm it. Those comments did not register with many people. He has been inconsistent.
A number of noble Lords have referred to the possible successor regime. Everyone seems to presume that the Iraqi National Congress, with which I have had dealings over many years, might well form the basis on which a new regime could be constructed in Iraq. That would be a mistake. The successor regime in Iraq must be an interim military arrangement run by people who, we can speculate, have already been identified by the Government of the United States of America. We know that there have been many conversations over recent years with people in the Iraqi opposition and those who come out of Iraq about what should happen in those conditions.
There are some excellent people in the Iraqi National Congress, such as Ahmed Chalabi, who is an extremely educated and cultured man. However, I do not believe that he has the basis in Iraq to be able to create an alternative government to that of Saddam Hussein. We should look seriously at the kind of interim military regimetrusted by whatever coalition remains at the end of the processthat can bring in over a few years the democratic arrangements that we believe the people of Iraq will one day need, want and, we hope, get.
Lord Eden of Winton: My Lords, I hope I am not being too naive if I confess to some puzzlement as to why this debate is taking place now. I wonder whether some new intelligence has become available about which we have not been told, which makes it imperative that the development of measures to restrain Saddam Hussein should be moved forward into a higher gear. I have to ask whether this debate and the publication on which it is based could have taken place more than a year ago. Could it have taken place before the horrendous events of September 11th last year, or even before the election of President Bush? Is there something new?
Perhaps the answer to my questions is that the true nature of the threat from the Iraqi dictator is seen today with greater clarity in the light of the post-9/11 happening. It is possible that the intelligence services of ourselves, the United States and others are more alert to the danger signals now than they were previously and that more accurate analysis and interpretation is available of a build-up of potential danger. If that is the case, of course it is to be welcomed. But it is a wonder that it has taken as long as it has because the threat posed by the development of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction has been present since soon after the outbreak of the Gulf War.
Those weapons, which have been developed over several years, have not been designed solely for the purpose of repressing Saddam's own people. However, I must say that I found rather curious the reference on page 44 of the dossier to that dreaded organisation, the Saddam Fidayeen, under the control of Udayy. According to the document, it,
That organisation has itself spawned a special force, reportedly of some 30 strong, which has been described as "the elite of the elites". It has been trained in sabotage, urban warfare, hijacking and murder. It is not intended only, if at all, to deal with civilian disorders. Those people are known to be in the possession of credible United Arab Emirates passports and are therefore able to travel anywhere in the world. Therefore, the potential for international terrorism which they represent is very real.
The weapons which are being developed by Saddam Hussein and the specially trained forces which are in existence are to be deployedthe words are of the Iraqi leaders themselvesagainst "our enemies". Whom do they identify as "our enemies"? It will come as no surprise to your Lordships that prominent among them are the United States and Israel. It is not without reason that those two are linked together. Anyone who travels anywhere within the Arab countries of the Middle East will hear on all hands about the close interrelationship between the policy of the United States Government and the attitude and actions of the state of Israel. The extent to which that sentiment is deployed may be unfair but it is a reality. It is very much in the minds of all people in those countries. The American Government certainly have it within their power to do far more about it than they have been doing of recent times.
A reference has been made to Mr Sharon in Israel. I was very much encouraged by what the Minister said in her opening speech. She referred to the need to ensure the existence of a viable Palestinian state and the need for Israel to have secure frontiers. But the policy being pursued by Mr Sharon of territorial annexation, provocation, retribution and revenge are not achieving anything positive at all in the Middle Eastcertainly not on behalf of the people of Israel.
Sooner or later, Mr Sharon will have to engage in serious negotiation, and the sooner he recognises that, the better. I hope that America will apply its undoubted influence on the state of Israel to ensure that negotiation takes place very quickly. Israel has all the advantage in that it is the most powerful nation and it has powerful allies. Therefore, it can negotiate from a position of strength and it is quite unnecessary that it should resort to the policies that it has been pursuing. I hope that the United States of America will rapidly become far more even-handed in its policies in the Middle East.
But we should not allow thoughts of that kind to detract from the reality of the threat which Saddam Hussein represents. In my view and in that of others, we are correct to seek to secure the widest possible degree of international support and commitment for exerting the strongest possible pressure on Saddam Hussein and for ensuring that the inspection is renewed in a far more effective way than was possible during the inspectors' previous tour in Iraq.
We should seek to ensure that urgent reporting takes place. My one concern in relation to the reintroduction of inspectors is that they will be played along and that month after month will go by with an interminable sequence of events and no conclusion. We must have regular reporting, speedy action and effective inspection. The inspectors' aim must be to provide the rest of the world with the confidence that they are exposing the true nature of the weapons that Saddam Hussein possesses.
If necessarythese words must be weighed very seriously by anyone who uses themthe current pressure being applied against Saddam will have to be backed up by force and the readiness to use it. Even as
None the less, I hope that we do not see yet again a repeat of what has been witnessed in other theatres of war recentlythe raining down of thousands of bombs from excessively high altitudes in some form of carpet saturation. I do not know anything much about modern weaponry, other than what I see and read. I defer to the experts who are in the forefront of these matters and who have all the information at their command. However, I do hope that this time, if we do deploy force, it will be done with much greater precision and more speedily. The action needs to be much swifter, precise, decisive and on the ground.
If there is to be precision in weaponry, there needs also to be precision in the language we use. I recollect that on a recent visit to Iran I met many young people who were anxious to emphasise that we in the West should leave matters of regime change to them. They knew how to handle the situation internally and changes of government were their responsibility and the responsibility of their fellow citizens. What applies to the people of Iran must equally apply to the people of Iraq. We should do whatever we can to stand by and to help them but it is for them to effect the change that they must be yearning to bring about. There is an Arab saying that evil comes to the evil-doer. Saddam Hussein would be well advised to take heed.
Baroness Walmsley: My Lords, I shall be brief. I do not deny the chilling evidence of the dossier published today that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction and I, like my noble friend Baroness Williams of Crosby, do not propose that we do nothing about it.
The evidence in the dossier is no surprise. However, there is a clear indication in it, that, although we know much, we do not know all we would like to know about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. Our intelligence community seems confident that there is even more than appears in the dossier. When the extent, nature or physical location of the threat is not really known, logic tells us that no amount of military preparation can ever be enough to counter it. In such a situation and given the proven disregard of this enemy for the lives of his own people, the only answers are diplomacy, understanding, international co-operation and mutual security.
Saddam has no respect for international law, but we must respect it. I am encouraged by the assurance of the Prime Minister that this country will always do so. We must continue to use our influence on the United States to do so also. No country, including the USA, must put itself above international law and act unilaterally. Nor must any country attempt to bully the international community.
In her introduction to this debate, the noble Baroness, Lady Symons of Vernham Dean, said that delay will allow Saddam to amass more biological and chemical weapons. According to Page 17 of the dossier, he already has enough. Very small amounts of these substances can kill many thousands of people. He may not yet have nuclear weapons and their delivery mechanisms to threaten us, but he does have chemical and biological weapons which require much less sophisticated means of delivery, especially if those prepared to deliver them have no regard for the safety of their own lives.
Around the world we are becoming very familiar with fanatics so consumed with hatred of others, they are prepared to sacrifice their own lives in order to destroy them. Given that fact, surely the case for diplomacy and inspection is strengthened by today's publication and the case for a first military strike against Iraq is weakened. Saddam may already have agents positioned in this country and the United States with Sarin and Anthrax nestling in their suitcases amongst their underwear. What is to stop him from giving instructions for them to be used, as soon as he is attacked? Saddam lacks principles but he has never lacked his own logic. We must be logical also and the logic of the matter is clear. We must keep up the pressure through the United Nations for the unconditional return of the weapons inspectors and their unfettered access to whatever and wherever they want to see.
I should like to draw the attention of your Lordships to an aspect of Iraq's surprise offer to which little attention has been paid. Iraq offered to allow politicians to accompany the weapons' inspectors. I am aware that a number of members of the United States Congress are prepared to take up this invitation and go to Iraq with the inspectors. I should like to ask the Minister whether any British politicians have been invited and whether any are preparing to go. In the matter of access for the inspectors, they may be able to bring special pressure and influence to bear.
This brings me to echo a comment made by my noble friend Lady Williams. I, too, spent the whole of August in the United States and was impressed by evidence of a deep divide in public opinion about this matter. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Hurd of Westwell, that any war requires general public support. Despite the publication of today's dossier, mainly of old evidence, there is not yet support in this country for military action to remove Saddam Hussein, nor is there support in America.
Saddam Hussein is not the one who will suffer if there is a military attack on Iraq. Count von Stauffenberg sat right next to Hitler but did not manage to kill him. Saddam has had 11 years to plan his escape and you can be sure that his plan will be a good one. No, it will be his already hard-pressed people who will suffer, especially the women and children of Iraq, who have had no say in who leads their country. He will lure his attackers into a Beirut-style urban war if he can and, in so doing, ensure massive casualties and win the propaganda war hands down.
Let us not forget the long-term consequences of military action. War does not only bring about death and destruction at the time; it also brings about starvation and poverty, and we have heard no good intentions from the Bush Administration about funding the rebuilding of Iraq after a war. That would be left to the international community, as usual. America's track record in this respect is not a good one.
My noble friend Lady Williams clearly laid out the objectives of these Benches in this regard and the very remote circumstances under which we would consider a pre-emptive attack on Iraq to be justified. I support her position. Frankly, given the probable consequences of admitting that all else has failed, I can hardly envisage circumstances under which I would feel that it would be either wise or justified to attack Iraq, no matter what weapons he has. Indeed, as I said earlier, the more wicked and dangerous his arsenal, the more vital it is to use international pressure and diplomacy to destroy it.
Lord Haskins: My Lords, I strongly endorse the remarkable speeches of the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, and the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins. My sense is that to a large extent they reflect the mood of this House. There is no argument in the House about the wickedness of Saddam or the need to do something about it. The UN inspectors must pick up the British dossier and use it as their shopping list when they go to Iraq. If Saddam obstructs them, there will no doubt be a strong case for UN-sponsored military action in response to that situation. I hope and believe that that will not come about.
If a unilateral US response had UK support but not UN or EU support, that would have very serious consequences. First, will there be military problems if neighbouring countries to Iraq do not supply bases?
Many of the Americans' motivations for action in Iraq are very different from ours and those of our European neighbours. First, for the US, understandably traumatised by the events of 9/11, this is the first serious foreign violation of mainland American soil ever, excluding Pearl Harbor, which was not exactly mainland. Over the centuries, alas, Europe has become used to such violations, but not in recent years on the scale of 9/11.
Secondly, partly because of the rhetoric, the US is under great pressure to be seen to be doing something in response to 9/11. No such pressure exists in Britain and Europe. That would be a terrible reason to choose to go to war.
Thirdly, the partial military success of the US in Afghanistanit is at this stage only partialhas persuaded some members of the Administration that the same bombing techniques would work in Iraq. They may be right but several senior UK and US military experts are questioning that. Iraq is not Afghanistan.
Fourthly, my noble friend Lady Symons made a very convincing argument about how Iraq is different from Iran and Libya. She said that our Foreign Secretary has gone to Iran to negotiate diplomatically and that a junior Minister has gone to Libya. Do the US Administration make such a distinction? Not so far.
Fifthly, some people in Washington do not appear to care very much about international opinion or international law. Britain and Europe cannot afford to ignore either, and they will not. I am glad to say that the former Vice-President of the United States seems to agree with us today.
Sixthly, there are people in Washington who appear to be determined to undermine the UN route whatever that may be, short of a regime change. Britain and Europe are not insisting on an unconditional regime change in Iraq. The Prime Minister has done a wonderful joba remarkable jobof restraining the wilder instincts of certain members of the US Administration. He must seek to maintain that role, although it is not easy. Post the Cold War and post 9/11, there is great volatility and uncertainty within the US about its new international role. Before 9/11, this Administration showed dangerously isolationist inclinations. Post 9/11, this Administration are showing dangerous unilateralist inclinations. Both are wrong.
The Government have achieved a huge amount internationally in their attitude towards Africa, in the way they have brought a settlement, of a sort, in the Balkans, and in the way they have supported enlargement of the European Union and have championed the modernisation of the European Union. The Government gain great international credit for all those matters. It would be a tragedy indeed if, by unilateral British support of unilateral US action, much of that great work were put in jeopardy.
Lord Weidenfeld: My Lords, this is one of the most important debates I have attended in more than 25 years in your Lordships' House. We are truly at a crossroad of history. I know that comparisons with Munich and the age of dictators, or the Suez crisis, and the idea that history repeats itself, may be open to argument, but it is interesting to observe here and elsewhere in Europe how postures in the face of historic challenges recur with remarkable accuracypostures ranging from interventionist fervour, through masterly inactivity, timorous self deception and a certain amount of accommodation and appeasement.
The Government have offered us a frightening but also convincing assessment of Saddam's policies which converges largely with that of our American ally. Though proven culpable of past aggression and continued non-compliance with international treaties, Saddam Hussein is a past master in playing on the raw nerves of slumbering dissent within the Atlantic alliance and the Arab and wider Muslim worlds and at sowing doubt in our minds. To what extent his brand of despotism and terror are linked with the Al'Qaeda may be less in doubt than has been argued by some noble Lords. Overtly Saddam Hussein pays 25,000 dollars for each and every family which has a suicide bomber in its midst. Covertly, Iraqi police and secret service are in constant touch through a camaraderie of terror with the most diverse movements in the world of terror. Each and every Arab terrorist movement has had and still has a link, whether secular, religious or extremist, with Saddam Hussein.
Eleven years ago he decided to spurn the pardon of the world community, the chance of developing potentially the most prosperous and advanced country in the whole of the Middle East, in favour of his quest for amassing and hoarding weapons of mass destruction. As has been pointed out, Iraq is a real country with an educational infrastructure, a middle class with its pool of managerial talent and enormous,
On the issue of UN resolution we shall see whether the inspections will occur and, if so, whether they yield any result. But those who doubt whether anything good will come of parleying with a proven cheat may yet be proved right. There must be no compromise about enforcing the strict and stringent terms President Bush laid down in his speech before the United Nations. In this case, inspection is not meant to be a gentlemanly Royal Commission, English style. It must be more of a police inquiry since we are dealing with a chronic delinquent.
Those frowning at the phrase "regime change" must surely realise that we are splitting hairs. If Saddam truly complied with each and every condition laid down, there would be a regime change. First, he would not do so. If he did so, he would not last. It would fly in the face of experience. On the other hand, if there were to be an end to his rule, the defeat of Saddam Hussein could spell real chances of transformation in Iraq and real liberation for his people. We talk about chaos or despair. The noble Lord, Lord Hurd, alluded to it, as did the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours. There is a chance of liberating the people of Iraq, for change towards honest government and a civil society leading to an indigenous form of democracy in one country is bound to be contagious. It must be said that we face dire options. But there is no question that inactivity harbours a far greater danger than resolute intervention.
The Jeremiahs who predict chaos on an apocalyptic scale are convincingly contradicted by distinguished experts on the region. When the Soviet empire was tottering before the fall, there were prophecies of doom, talk of bloodshed, civil strife and feuding warlords. Not a great deal of all this happened. Few people bemoaned the fallen titans of Communism. Who will bemoan Saddam? The collapse of the Soviet empire brought velvet revolutions in its wake. In post-Saddam Iraq, as one noble Lord has eloquently stated, the ranks of the civil service and the army could supply cadres to take over from the discredited leaders of the traditional governments and fresh faces will surface from the underground and from exile.
In that aftermath, the historic task of the allies and all those who wish to improve the lot of the misgoverned and ill-used subjects of the dictator would be immense. It would require statesmanship, compassionate understanding of traditions and of the psyche of the people in the region. It should be possible to steer developments in the direction of self-correcting evolution rather than brutal change and bloody revolution. That is the great art, the great task ahead. That is where Europe and moderate Arab regimes can help the United States in pacifying a post-Saddam Iraq.
The need to make progress on the Israeli-Palestinian front is pre-eminent. The question must be addressed simultaneously with, but independently of, the settling of accounts with Saddam. The idea of a peace conference is an important and good one. Of course, it begs questions of its composition and procedure. The intifada has flared up once again. The fragility of temporary respites only adds to the pessimism on both sides. But conversely, should the problem of Iraq be resolvedthat is to say, if Saddam is de-fangedthe chances for a successful negotiated settlement would dramatically improve. I submit that the peace in Jerusalem can best be brought about by disarmament in Baghdad: because the fear of insecurity, the dread of the Scud missile from Baghdad and the rocket from Lebanon are at the root of Israel's visceral fear of making the necessary concessions to the Palestinians. Yet the moment the world community, especially the United States, could reassure the Israelis that that lethal threat would cease to hang over their heads, the same large majority which today backs General Sharon's government of steely confrontation would tomorrow back a policy of accommodation, of painful concessions and sacrifices, born of a new-found feeling of security.
Perhaps I may say a word about Prime Minister Sharon, who has sometimes been unfairly demonised. He is showing great restraint. The noble Lords, Lord Stone and Lord Winston, referred to this. He was voted in in the wake of the refusal of the Palestinian leadership to make peace and accept the office of Ehud Barak. A whole new mythology is arising to the effect that Ehud Barak never really made an offer, that it was fake, that it was conditional on this and that. The fact is that maps were never brought in by the Palestinians; a counter-proposal was never brought in. There was no negotiation of any kind. It was simply a decision to stall and to terminate the negotiations and wait for a better opportunity for a better deal. That is why Sharon was voted in.
The noble Lord, Lord Gilmour, was critical of Sharon. He has been demonised in good company; namely, that of the President of the United States, the Vice-President of the United States and the Secretary of Defence. The fact is that Sharon wants peace. He simply wants the end of the intifadabecause what is the point of sitting down at a negotiating table if, 10 minutes after the negotiations have begun, an aide-de-camp comes in and tells the Prime Minister that another 50 people have been killed in a kindergarten or in a restaurant in Tel-Aviv? What do you do? Do you say: "Let's move on to the next point on the agenda"? That is the reality. All the Manichaean demonising of Sharon is too simplistic.
It is important for us now to address the question of the aftermath. Again, if we concentrate all our fervour, all our interests and all the skills that we have into various schemes with the intention of making Iraq a liveable place after the demise of Saddam Hussein, that will serve a much greater purpose than handwringing about the past.
In conclusion, the British Government's courageous stand in this crisis deserves to be endorsed and must not be allowed to weaken or falter. Perhaps we ought to borrow two new symbols from the aviary of political stereotypes and replace the hawk and the dove with the eagle and the ostrich. It is gratifying to know that the right honourable gentleman the Prime Minister belongs to the first species and has refused to stick his head into the sand.
The Lord Bishop of Manchester: My Lords, like many noble Lords, I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to this debate on a matter of such crucial importance to the world, both today and tomorrow. I should like to add my congratulations to the Prime Minister for his endeavours in what still is a very difficult situation. More than that, as I am retiring at the end of this month as Bishop of Manchester, I should like also to take this opportunity on what I assume will be my last chance to speakbut, who knows, we might be called back again tomorrowto thank noble Lords for the privilege of serving here, for their encouragement and friendship, and for the opportunity and responsibility of pointing to some of the Christian and more broadly moral and religious dimensions of public life.
I can assure noble Lords that I shall pray for them and their successors that they will continue to serve this nation with, I hope, wit, wisdom and the offering of good experience. Christians are called to love their neighbours, including their enemies; to seek peace and reconciliation; and to work for the transformation and renewal of God's people and worldwhat some speakers this afternoon have referred to as "nation building" and "human flourishing".
Many noble Lords have set out the moral arguments relating to the factors that traditionally have been taken into account concerning the Just-War test, and how such factors should be varied to take into account modern weaponry. I shall not rehearse all those factors at this stage of the evening, but I should like to draw the attention of the House to my real concerns relating to the risks involved and the evil and damage caused by military action. The latter could well be greater than the other evils that we are already enduring.
First, who will pay for this war? In asking that question I am obviously asking about the billionsit will be billionsof dollars and pounds that will be spent and which might have been used in attending to the world's poor. A greater number of people, mainly children, die every day yesterday, today and tomorrowbecause of the lack of clean water in this world than the number tragically killed in New York on 11th September of last year. Every day more children die than the number of those killed in that one event. If noble Lords wish to check the figures, they should ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I repeat: the Chancellor of the Exchequer, not the Archbishop of Canterbury, has quoted the figures in one of our House journals.
Similarly, when asking that question, I am also asking who will pay with their lives? The vulnerable people in Iraq have been well referred to tonight, many of whom have already endured terrible suffering. Do we honestly believe that Saddam Hussein will pay with his life? Where is Bin Laden? Perhaps bombs will unfortunately go astray which will bring neighbouring countries into the suffering. And, as has already been asked, what about our own armed forces? Will they be adequately protected if it comes to a chemical war?
I hear the question that noble Lords will ask; namely, who will pay if we allow Iraq to accumulate even more weapons of destruction? That has already prompted the question tonight regarding who has allowed Saddam Hussein, who, apparentlyso we are toldhas no friends, to accumulate over the years arms and equipment that have now been listed in the dossier supplied to us. The noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, gave us a story as to how that happened. But who is continuing to sell and make available the material, the know-how, that will allow Saddam to develop these weapons of mass destruction? Is it already all there in that nation of Iraq, or are there others who are playing hookey round the world? That takes us back to the Export Control Bill. We had a long debate earlier this summer on who controls what really goes on and about buying and selling. I do not mind admitting that in the North West there is a big defence industry. So who will pay?
My second concern is about the implications for the people in the United Kingdom, particularly if we go to war without the authority of the United NationsI welcome all noble Lords' contributions made about that todayand the support of some Middle Eastern nations. Here I want to overlap with some of the concerns expressed by the noble Baroness, Lady Uddin, and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Southwark.
As noble Lords are aware, in many parts of England local communities consist of a number of diverse communities which are characterised by ethnic origin, religious faith, long-standing residents and newcomers. Your Lordships will recall that in some of our towns in the North West we welcome and enjoy the presence of large Jewish communities and growing Muslim communities. Last year we experienced considerable difficulties in some of those communities. I shall not name them. That would only encourage people to start naming them and to make up the stories, but noble Lords know the stories.
My colleagues with whom I consulted before I came to the HouseI am talking about clergy not only in the Diocese of Manchester, but in Blackburn and beyondtell me that relationships are improving between the different communities and are becoming more positive and stronger. We have some encouraging stories to tell; for example, leaders of five different faiths came together in the centre of Manchester on September 11th this year to remember what happened on September 11th last year. A large crowd also gathered.
However, there is a huge degree of fragility in the recent growth in good relationships. Some still regard one another with suspicion and occasionally with outright hostility. We have had our own share of attacks on persons and on religious buildings. The most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury in his presidential address at the recent congress in Hong Kong made the point that,
Minority familiesmany of them in parts of the North West of Englandwatch television beamed by satellite from the Middle East and Asia. They switch on for Match of the Day, the weather forecast and so on. Their view of the world, including the Middle East, Iraq, America, Israel, Palestine, the United Kingdom, India and Pakistan, and any possible invasion of Iraq, comes not from TV channels that most of us in England watch, but is beamed from countries which are much closer to where any action might be. Therefore, we need to understand that their world view is not shaped by what our Prime Minister or our spin doctors might say, or even by what religious leaders in England might say, but by satellite television near the situations in Iraq, by e-mails and by the whole Internet site system.
As we seek wisdom about the international dimension of this situation, and as we want to look for coherent support within the United Kingdom for any action that our leaders feel it is appropriate to takeI have in mind the military needing the support of the nationI just ask that noble Lords bear in mind the possible local implications of any decisions taken or actions proposed and seek a little divine wisdom regarding how that is handled.
Lord Grenfell: My Lords, it is a privilege and a pleasure to follow the right reverend Prelate. I am extremely sorry that regime change in the Diocese of Manchesterbenign as it iswill deprive your Lordships' House of his wisdom. I am particularly grateful to him for having drawn your Lordships' attention to the costs of the war and how that money could be far better applied to the alleviation of poverty.
At this stage of the debate there is not a great deal new to be said. However, I feel that one must stand up and be counted. I congratulate my right honourable friend the Prime Minister on his tireless and eventually successful efforts to persuade President Bush and his administration to work through the United Nations. I congratulate the Government on producing a persuasive dossier which we have seen today.
I fully support the Government's insistence on a tough resolution in the Security Council, authorising truly intrusive inspection with serious consequences if the inspection is frustrated by the Iraqi regime. It is clear that Resolutions 687 and 1284 do not meet the present situation and that we need new resolutions. Passing a new resolution is not going to be a pretty process. Inevitably, there will be some shameful horse trading to persuade Russia to go along with it and perhaps to secure China's abstention. However, securing that resolution is vital.
I agree with the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, and others, who said that we must give inspection a real try. Only if that fails will an armed response be justified. That means not rushing the work of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission. Do not try to second guess Dr Hans Blix. Let him and the Secretary-General draw the conclusions. We should also heed the warning of Hans Blix that belligerent statements from certain quarters in the US administration can encourage only non-co-operation with the inspectors. I repeat, do not rush it.
The time given to the inspectors allows the United States time to build its coalition which will be necessary if the inspection fails and US-led military intervention is called for. The likelihood of non-co-operationas many Lords have pointed outis all too real. Military action to enforce disarmament may be deemed necessary. It goes without sayingand was well put by the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Ingethat if and when our own military are called upon to participate they will need, deserve and have our full support. However, I hopemaybe against hopethat an attack on Iraq will not be necessary. The consequences could be far worse than the United States Administration have ever dreamed of.
If it is necessary, then it must be sanctioned by the United Nations. I would have the greatest difficulty in supporting an attack on the initiative of the United States alone, with or without British participation, in the absence of unanimity in the Security Council.
Two issues cause me great concern. The noble Lords, Lord Hurd of Westwell and Lord Watson of Richmond, and many others, have insisted on the need to look beyond military intervention. I see scant evidence that the United States Administration are doing so, even if our own Government are. There are many important questions that need answering, and they need answering before a decision is taken to take military action.
For example, how will post-Saddam Hussein Iraq be kept together and a balkanisation prevented? Will the United States stay in for the long run? There is talk in the Pentagon of a need to keep 75,000 troops for five years in Iraq after hostilities. That, and the costs of reconstruction, could be between 100 billion and 200 billion dollars.
There are those on the other side of the Atlantic who optimistically see the post-Saddam Hussein scenario as a kind of McCarthurian regency in Baghdad, as if post-war Japan and present day Iraq could be equated.
Then, most importantly, what of the Arab neighbours. Among others, my noble friend Lady Uddin, in a most powerful speech, and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Oxford eloquently addressed the issue. The leaders of Egypt, Jordan and other countries in the region will probably survive the inevitable street protests which will follow an invasion of Iraq. But they will not show inexhaustible patience with their own people. If the American flag is to be burnt every night on the streets of Cairo or Amman, what chance the United States Congress will continue to vote financial assistance to these countries? Therefore, the governments of those countries will eventually crack down on the protests. Authoritarian rule will be reinforced. Is that what the US expects of its determination to bring democracy to the countries of this region.
I know that many noble Lords do not want the debate to be seen as primarily a critique of the United States and I entirely agree. But we cannot and must not ignore the signals coming out of Washington. The crucial point we must never let go is that there is a difference between power and legitimacy. A few days ago, the United States Administration set out their new national security strategy. As by far the most powerfully armed nation in the worldthe world's sole superpowerit sees itself as having not just the capability but also the right and duty to take pre-emptive action anywhere in the world at any time where there is a perceived threat against the security of the United States. They will not hesitate to act alone.
I find all this deeply disturbing. Close allies though we may be with the United States, we must not hesitate to address the issue. The defining thesis of this new US strategy is that the doctrine of deterrence and containment have outlived their effectiveness. Pre-emptive action by the sole superpower is now the name of the game.
That to my mind sets an appalling precedent. Zbigniev Brzezinski last month addressed the dangers of a sudden attack on Iraq by saying that such an attack would prompt many in the world to justify any subsequent Iraqi retaliation against America or Israel, while setting a dangerous example for the world of an essentially Darwinian international system characterised by sudden pre-emptive attacks.
I fear that a Darwinian international system seems to be at the heart of the new US security strategy and to my mind it is very dangerous. It also implies that the United Nations is an irrelevant body. I am amazed by President Bush's timing. He goes to the United Nations General Assembly and tells it what the UN has to deliver. A week later he announces a security strategy that could totally bypass it. There is an extraordinary inconsistency in what he has to say.
Dag Hammarskjold said that the United Nations was created not to bring mankind to heaven but to keep it out of hell. It was a wise statement. One of our greatest representatives in the United Nations was Gladwyn Jebb, later a distinguished Member of your Lordships' House. Twenty-five years after he relinquished that post, he reflected on the body he had helped to create. He said:
I believe that the abyss really does yawn now. Britain was a key founding member, along with the United States, of the United Nations. I therefore urge Her Majesty's Government to do nothing, although called on by siren voices across the Atlantic, to undermine this global institution. So far the Government have stood firm. May that be their permanent policy. I hope that, as we have seen in the performance of the Prime Minister who has done so much to help bring the United States to see the validity of the United Nations, that that policy will indeed be permanent.
Lord Blaker: My Lords, I apologise in advance in case I am unable to be here for the winding-up speeches. Because of the Tube strike it appears that if I were to stay for the full debate I might not be home before breakfast.
In the absence of the dossier which only appeared this morning, I have been reading the evidence to the Committee on Foreign Relations of the United States Senate given on 3lst July this year and especially to the evidence of Ambassador Richard Butler who was, as noble Lords will remember, the executive chairman of UNSCOM until 1999 when it ended. He is a distinguished Australian diplomat. He has been the
Nevertheless, what he had to say to the committee gives a very good perspective. Not surprisingly, his evidence was very much in line with the dossier. But there are some points worth mentioning tonight. First, a very clear picture emerges from his evidence on the subterfuges, excuses, trickery, delays and devices by which the Iraqis sought to prevent UNSCOM being effective. One gains a clear picture of Saddam Hussein as a prince of prevarication. That is very relevant when we are planning the next arrangements for inspection about which the noble Lord, Lord Grenfell, very properly spoke.
The second point relates to nuclear weapons. Iraq has been working on getting nuclear weapons for 20 years, according to Ambassador Butler. When the Gulf War put an end to progress of that effort on the part of the Iraqis, inspection by the IAEA and UNSCOM showed that Iraq was only six months away from making a crude explosive nuclear device. All that Iraq needs now, according to Ambassador Butler, is fissionable material to make nuclear weapons and this may be obtainable elsewhere. Iraq is trying to obtain it.
As regards chemical weapons, as noble Lords are aware the efforts of Iraq have covered about 20 years. Chemical weapons were used against Iranians in the 1980s and against the Kurds in the 1990s. By 1998 UNSCOM had discovered that Iraq had loaded the chemical weapon, VX, one of the most powerful, and other chemical and biological weapons, into missile warheads.
On biological weapons, Iraq made very elaborate efforts, according to the ambassador, to conceal its weapons, more elaborate even than in the other two contexts. In his view that implies the great importance that is attached to biological weapons. It loaded anthrax into missile warheads during the time when Ambassador Butler was at UNSCOM and it looked at other methods of delivery such as sprays and other types of weapon involving smallpox, ebola and plague.
The most interesting difference between the evidence given by Ambassador Butler and the dossier published today relates to the question that my noble friend Lord Waldegrave asked the noble Baroness during her opening speech on the connections between Iraq and terrorism. In July this year, after referring to a place called Salman Pak outside Baghdad, which he described as a terrorist training centre, he said:
Another point made by Ambassador Butler in his evidence was that it would be deeply dangerous to agree to a system of inspection that could lead to phoney examinations, more deceit and more concealment which may provide an illusion of security. That is a fairly obvious point. We have to bear in mind that although about 10 days ago Iraq sent a letter to Kofi Annan accepting, on the face of it, inspection without any conditions, within a few days Iraqi officials were talking of conditions such as sovereignty. They regard sovereignty as a condition that limits the rights of the inspectors to operate.
It is clear that we must start on a wholly new basis. I follow what the noble Lord, Lord Grenfell, was saying about how important it is that the new arrangements for inspections should be extremely tough. It will be difficult, for example, to prevent evasion in connection with biological and chemical weapons because of the small quantities involved. It will be difficult to ensure that inspections are free and that they can occur where and when the inspectors wish. It is desirable that the next resolution makes it clear that if the inspections are frustrated by the Iraqis the United Nations reserves the right to resort to force, which is one thing that Saddam Hussein clearly understands.
I conclude with two brief points, both in support of remarks already made. I strongly support what my noble friend Lord Hurd of Westwell said about the importancethe necessityof being clearer about the sort of regime we want to see in Iraq after Saddam Hussein's. It was difficult enough creating some sort of regime in Afghanistan; it will be much more difficult in Iraq.
I also support the numerous noble Lords who say that the United States would make a serious error if it proceeded any further without taking steps to resolve the Middle East problemthe Palestinian-Israeli problem. That is a point of cardinal importance. We must take steps to solve that problem in a fair and balanced way. It is right to pay tribute to the success of the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary in persuading the United States to work through the United Nations. I hope that they can use the same skills in achieving that other objective.
Lord Phillips of Sudbury: My Lords, I must confess that I have torn up my speech. Speaking fiftieth in this long debate, I feel that there is no point in inflicting on the House that which has been more eloquently said by many others already. However, I shall endorse many of the speeches that have been made. In particular, my noble friend Lady Williams of Crosby put the position exactly as I would have wished to myself. She spoke for everyone on these Benches. I was also struck by the speech made by my noble friend Lord Watson of Richmond.
Listening to the soldiers, I agreed with much of what the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Guthrie of Craigiebank, said. However, I agreed with everything that the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig of Radley, said. Listening to the former diplomats, I agreed with a great deal of the analysis set out by the noble Lord, Lord Hannay of Chiswick, but I agreed with every word of what the noble Lord, Lord Wright of Richmond, said. From the prelates, the speeches made by the right reverend Prelates the Bishop of London and the Bishop of Oxford were memorable. The speeches made by the noble Lord, Lord Hurd of Westwell, and by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mayhew of Twysden, were entirely apropos.
It was only last Thursday that Congress gave the President of the United States consent to military action in any one of three circumstances. The first was military action in defence of the United States; the second was action necessary to enforce United Nations resolutions; and the third was action necessary to maintain peace in the region. The overwhelming message from this House tonight is that no military action should be taken in any circumstances, without the firmest backing in United Nations resolutions.
It is also fair to say that the House has made it equally clear that it sees the need for action. This House shares the view that Saddam Hussein is unspeakable and that we must work with all vigour to extract from the United Nations as early as possible a new resolution or new resolutions that will, so to speak, do the trick. One can only wish the Government Godspeed in the continuance of that mission. As many have said, the Prime Minister two weeks ago would seem to have effected a key switch in United Nations policy away from the line being adopted by Vice-President Cheneythat the United Nations was superfluous to the action being contemplatedto the present position. As was said by my noble friend Lady Williams, many in the United States are as worried as most of your Lordships by sabre-rattling from across the water. Al Gore's remarks yesterday were of that ilk and greatly become him.
It has not been made sufficiently clear that a no-risk option is not available in the present predicament. Whether or not one acts, there is a real danger of conflagration in the Middle East. The present state of affairs is extremely fragile for all the reasons explained tonight. Saddam Hussein is at best an unpredictable tyrant.
Those whose response to a no-risk option is that we must act early and with assurance delude themselves. Many eminent former soldiers have said that winning a war against Saddam Hussein in the Middle East must be the easiest victory that ever presented itself to a nation of the power of the United States. Winning the peace is the difficulty. For all the reasons eloquently explained in this debate, no peace is more difficult to win than in the Middle East.
I will touch briefly on the centrality of the Palestinian-Israeli situation to the difficulties faced by the region. The diplomatic software, not the military hardware, is crucial. Hearts and minds have to be won. The Prime Minister was absolutely correct in October 2002during his hasty shuttle between the members of the coalitionwhen he made it clear that he was in the business of trying to influence opinion in the countries that subsequently and so successfully formed the anti-terrorist coalition.
How do the Middle East, Iran and the other nations most tied up with the crisis perceive our proposals and those of the Americans? How do they view US diplomacy? The answer given tonight is absolutely correct. The role of candid friend does not merely require us to raise the issues but to raise them directly and with whatever degree of brutality is necessary to influence America in its own best interests. It is also a matter of being a candid friend to Israel at least as much as to the United States.
My own background is typical of men and women of my generation, to whom the Holocaust was the defining event of 20th century historyand which led to my offering to enlist in the Israeli army in 1973. It cannot be said that I come from an anti-Israeli background. Anyone who has travelled in the Middle East will confirm that there is a great deal of antagonism towards the way in which America has conducted itself in recent years. There is no sense that the United States has been even handed. Rather, there is a sense that Israel is a client state of the US and that the needs, rights and entitlements of every other state in the region come third and fourth best.
Sadly, the United Kingdom is not entirely free from being tarred with the same brush. Although we have sincerely endeavoured to distance ourselves from the United States, I do not know that we have always been wholly successful. I recently attended a conference in London of mainly Israeli and Palestinian business men. Among those present were Israelis who had been engaged in the negotiations at Camp David and Taba. The message from that meeting, quite independently of my own thoughts, was that the state of affairs in Palestine is unsustainable. There is over 50 per cent unemployment; a living standard one-ninth that of Israel; 3.7 million refugees, 1.2 million of them living in 52 squalid, deplorable camps.
I was in Sabra and Chatila last year. I would say to the noble Lords, Lord Janner, Lord Winston and Lord Weidenfeld, that while having every conceivable sympathy with the strain and anxiety that they must feel, it is no use they or anyone else saying that Ariel
The fact is that last week saw the 20th anniversary of the massacre at Sabra and Chatila over which Ariel Sharon presided. He enabled the Falangists to slaughter between 1,000 and 2,000 of those Palestinians, man woman and child, one by one, over a 24-hour period. He set up and enabled that slaughter. An Israeli committee afterwards found him responsible and he was forced to resign as Defence Minister. For that manleave aside the fact that he was a terrorist back in the British mandate days in the Haganato have been elected to power in Israel, far from giving him legitimacy in the eyes of the Arab world, merely reinforced their sense of where public opinion in Israel rests.
I make that point not in any sense to stir up feeling against Israel, but as one example of the extent to which we need, if we are candid friends, to say to the Israelis and the United States that they must have more regard to other interests in the Middle East than they currently appear to do.
We can look briefly at Iran. The noble Baroness, Lady Symons, correctly referred to the fact that Iran alone suffered 1 million dead at the time Saddam Hussein attacked. And Saddam Hussein was backed and armed by the United States and ourselves. Those are the sort of recent historic facts which Middle East countries do not understand when we now act as we appear to be doing. I sit down, save to say to the noble Lords, Lord Janner and Lord Winston, that I can end on no better note than to quote the example of the young man, Yoni Jesner, who was so tragically slaughtered and whose organs were then given for an Israeli child. That at least gives a ray of light.
The priorities in the Middle East must surely be, first, however difficult it may seem at the moment, to obtain a just and guaranteed solution to the Israel-Palestine question; to build up the economic and political stability of Afghanistan; to encourage Pakistan and other countries to deal with any Al'Qaeda on their territory; and most urgent of all, to get the UN inspectors back into Iraq.
Saddam Hussein is indeed in breach of innumerable UN resolutions and the Security Council has every right, indeed an obligation, to insist on compliance and even to authorise the use of any force it believes necessary to ensure that happens. There can be no doubt that some degree of credible sabre rattling and psychological warfare has been necessary and could still be essential right up to the wire to bring about that compliance.
I presume that the Government consider it important that time is now given for the observers to assess that task and report back before any further action is decided on. Here we come to the difficult part. If, in addition to all those priorities, irrespective of how the observers were making out, and without any further authority from the United Nations, British forces were to be committed to a large scale United States military action, primarily to effect a regime change, the British peoplenot unreasonablywould expect satisfactory and reassuring answers to some searching questions, some of which have hardly been touched on before this debate, to be sure that they had been thought through.
First, would such action really be necessary? Plenty of evidence is pouring in of the threat of Iraq developing and possessing weapons of mass destruction and delivery means. But surely the key question is whether, survivor that he is, Saddam would ever want or be in a position to use those weapons offensively when all the eyes of the world are on him and he must know that retribution would be terrible and swift. Could he still not be deterred, as to some extent he was during the Gulf War vis a vis Israel?
Iraq has not been appeased, as some claim it would be if it were not attacked. Sanctions are in place; there are no-fly zones at either end of the country. Selected sites in those zones have been taken out by air with impunity. Saddam must realise that other sites related to the production of weapons of mass destruction could be treated in the same way. Forces are at hand in the area ready to be used if so authorised. That is hardly appeasement. Observers able to do their job would greatly further inhibit him.
For 50 years we have based our defence policy on deterring, with heavy large-scale weapons of our own, those with more serious and numerous weapons of mass destruction. I wonder why the Government are so adamant that Saddam cannot be kept in place by similar methods; what the Foreign Office once in its wisdom described as "aggressive containment".
Secondly, would such action be morally justified? It is reasonable that the people of this country not only speculate whether the Americans can and will attack Iraq but whether they should. Unfortunately one cannot always base a country's foreign policy on morality. The instinct of self-interest, and, even more, self-preservation, is always more compelling both for governments and those who elect them.
But the weaker the case for necessity, the more the moral question has to be taken into account, particularly at times when pre-emptive action, largely to effect a change of ruler or implant a more favourable type of government, would not by itself be considered sufficient justification for warconsider
Thirdly, would an attack on Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein work? The advice of the chiefs of staff will be crucial; I hope that the Government are listening to them. With all the power at its disposal and no other superpower to gainsay it as occurred in the past, America can, I presume, eventually achieve any military objective it wishes, although historical precedent indicates that attack on a homeland as distinct from captured territory can be messy and prolonged.
Getting into Iraq may not present too many problems, but, as many noble Lords have asked, have we really thought through what we do when we get there and how we put together a fragmented and disparate Iraq that its Arab neighbours have never wanted broken up as a country? My noble and gallant friend Lord Vincent talked of the need for a clear political aim. Others have talked about any attack being only a beginning and not an end. A lot more work needs to be done on that.
Finally, will the wider aftermath of such an attack be beneficial or the reverse? There are two conflicting schools of thought. One, for which the support is slightly weakening, is that, as a result of a successful attack, with Saddam Hussein being removed, preferably with the help of a popular uprising, the terrorist-ridden, war-torn Middle East would somehow start to unravel beneficially, moderate Muslim governments would take heart and thus take more effective action against their dissident elements, the situation of Palestine would become more possible and the ability of the terrorists to strike another disastrous blow at the United States or Europe, with or without weapons of mass destruction, could be effectively reduced or even removed.
However, the other school of thought is that all-out war with Iraq, as distinct from aggressive containment, would produce in the area the display of massive, dynamic western military activity that is one of the mainsprings of motivation for terrorist action and outrages in the region and over a wider area. Far from advancing the war against terrorismwhich could and should be conducted internationally by other meansand enhancing the peace process around Israel's borders, it would make things infinitely worse. Petrol, not water, would be poured on the flames.
Those who subscribe to this latter view might well consider that even if a prima facie case could be made for attacking Iraq unilaterally, the disadvantages might well outweigh the advantages and produce more pain and grief than they solved.
All this is a matter of judgment as to which scenario is more likely, which is difficult to make unless you are in possession of all the facts. I am not too certain of the answer, but it is a judgment that the Government, with all the diplomatic and intelligence channels at their
Many of usincluding the British Government, I am surehope that the authority of the United Nations and the influence of other Arab and Muslim states will be sufficient to get Iraq to accept certainly no less than all the points in the previous United Nations resolutions. Then the case for further military action will have been weakened and an opportunity will exist to hold back or pull back with honour. If not, then the Government will face a very serious situation. Going to war, which is what it would be, is a very serious stepparticularly a war that, whatever the outcome, is bound to antagonise large sections of the Muslim world and cause a great many innocent casualties. If then I, like the noble Lord, Lord Grenfell, would fear for the future and hold a pessimistic point of view, which I certainly did not at the time of the Falklands War, when I held office, or at the time of the Gulf War, when I visited the area in a parliamentary delegationon both occasions, I was convinced that whatever risks there were should be taken and that we would win-it is because I feel in my heart of heartsI believe that many who know the Middle East better than I do would agreethat the peace and stability of the world would best be served by less, not more, western military action in the Middle East, following the pattern successfully set in the last quarter of the 20th century in South-East Asia.
The West, led by America, must remain strong, alert and ever-vigilant, with improved missile defence and constantly improving and better-funded intelligence. It must be ready, too, to adopt the laws in a democratic society so that terrorist cells cannot so easily be planted and prosper. The much-needed bridges which will have to be built in the future between the affluent West and the less secure and resentful Muslim world would then be on the basis of mutual trade, aid, where it was needed and asked for, and, above all, mutual respect. Under those circumstancesagain, I look at South-East AsiaI believe that Al'Qaeda would wither on the vine or that its members would be properly treated as criminals, as has so often happened in the years gone by.
Lord Morris of Manchester: My Lords, my noble and learned friend Lord Williams and my noble friend Lady Symons, speaking with all their customary sincerity and conviction, argued a powerful and persuasive case for the policy that the Government are
I have an interest to declare but not a financial one. It is my close working relationship with representatives of ex-servicemen and women, now in broken health, many of them terminally ill, who sacrificed their well-being in Gulf War One, and the bereaved families of those who sacrificed their lives. They became known to me, first, as Honorary Parliamentary Advisor for many years of The Royal British Legion and then as a founder member of its Inter-Parliamentary Gulf War Group of parliamentarians, medical and legal specialists, veterans of the conflict and ex-service charity leaders. Other members of the group include the noble Countess, Lady Mar, the noble Lord, Lord Burnham, Gisela Stuart MP, Michael Mates MP and Paul Tyler MP. The MoD is also represented.
It was my role in that groupand in this House in securing parliamentary time for five debates on the problems and needs of Gulf veterans and the bereaved familiesthat led the United States Congress to make me, without any known precedent, a co-opted member of its Congressional Committee on Gulf War Illnesses. Never was the "special relationship" more special. I was invited to sit on equal terms with members from both sides of Congress and have since done so at meetings on Capitol Hill. I did so again when, last June, the committee met here in the Palace of Westminsterthe first Congressional committee ever to do soto take evidence from British Gulf veterans.
For we still do not know, 12 years on, even whether it was safe to subject British troops deployed to the Gulf in 1990 to a multiple immunisation programme of up to 14 inoculations and the first ever issue of nerve agent pre-treatment setsNAPS tabletsas antidote to biological agents. Indeed, I am ministerially informed that Porton Down will not report on the programme's "long-term effects on humans" until late next year at the earliest, long before when further British troops could be in the Gulf facing an adversary known to be capable of deploying chemical, biological and possibly nuclear devices against them. This is of concern not only to Gulf War veteransand their serving colleaguesbut to former senior soldiers of the highest distinction. The noble and gallant Lord, Field Marshal Lord Bramalla former Chief of the Defence Staff, whom I am delighted to be following in this debateis in no doubt about the importance of the issue in terms both of explaining many of the still undiagnosed illnesses of Gulf veterans and safeguarding troops now awaiting deployment.
This is in part why the ex-service community want Parliament now to be given all possible information on arrangements made to immunise our troops now awaiting deployment, more especially reservists, against any biological weapons that might be used. "Is the immunisation process already under way?", I am asked by The Royal British Legion. "Have all of the vaccines that are to be used been approved?"
They want specifically to know what precautions have been taken to protect British troops against the effects of nerve gases and what, if anything, has replaced the NAPS tablets that were used last time.
The ex-service community accept that mistakes made in 199091 were not deliberate; but they rightly insist that every lesson learned from past mistakes must be fully explained and seen to have been acted upon for the protection of troops now facing active service in the Gulf.
The scale on which veterans were reporting war-related illnesses soon after the 1991 conflict led even many doctors to think that there could be a single underlying cause. But the range of symptoms was very wide; and while this does not exclude damage done to the immune system by the multiple immunisation programme as the single most common cause of Gulf War illnesses, it was demonstrably not the only cause when so many veterans were presenting symptoms of organophosphate poisoning; of PTSD; of the effects of massive oil pollution from the firing by Iraqi troops of Kuwait's oil wells; and of involvement in the clean-up of vehicles and sites attacked by DU weapons.
The ex-service community also want reassuring, first, that organophosphates will not again be used to prevent fly-borne diseases and that sufficient stocks of other pesticides have been made available. Secondly, they want to be reassured that early warning devices that were discredited by the MoD as being over-sensitive in reacting to substances other than toxic gases have now been replaced by a system in which the department has confidence. Thirdly, they seek reassurance about the SA 90 rifle, more especially to hear that instructions and training have been given to deal with the problem involved in failing to maintain the rifle correctly. And, fourthly, they ask whether the issue of "melting boots" has been fully addressed.
My work with the Congressional committee of inquiry also made me aware that the prevalence of motor neurone disease is disturbingly higher among Gulf War veterans, both here and in the US, than it is in the population as a whole. I also learned that, had they been Americans, the late Nigel Thompson and
Again, illnesses among US veterans exposed to the fall-out plume from US bombing of the Iraqi chemical weapons stored at Khamisiyah in southern Iraq in March 1991 are accepted as war-related. Not so those of British veterans who were exposed to nerve agent by the bombing; and they and their families want to know why. For they see the denial of parity of treatment as unjust.
They ask also why, while in the United States a Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the effects of the conflict was set up very soon after the liberation of Kuwait, there still has been no such wide-ranging inquiry here.
Of all the duties it falls to parliamentarians to discharge, none is of more compelling priority than to act justly to citizens who are prepared to lay down their lives for their country and the dependants of those who do so. There was no delay in the response of our troops to the call of duty in 199091. Nor should there be any delay now in settling in full our debt of honour to them or in maximising the protection of those who could soon be putting their lives on the line in a renewal of hostilities in the Gulf. That commitment too is one of honour.
Lord Beaumont of Whitley: My Lords, if I am not here at the end of the debate, that will not be because of a lack of stamina, although this debate could much more usefully have taken place over two days. It is a great mistake to think that in relation to very complex subjects such as this, having less time available, which makes shorter speeches necessary, contributes most to the debate. There are so many different matters on which all of us want to add our views; we want to do so and could usefully do so. Moreover, if I am not here later, that is not because I have any disrespect for the customs of your Lordships' House. In 35 years, I believe that I have never not stayed to the end of a debate in which I have spoken. If I do not stay this evening, that is merely because in trying to get to your Lordships' House this morning, I had difficulty negotiating the outer defences that had been thrown up and came a real purler; I will be better off at home.
Before I turn to the short speech that I want to make, I take up a point that was made by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London. In a very good speechthis has been a debate of very good speeches, not least that made by the noble Lord, Lord Morris of Manchester, who raised some important issuesthe right reverend Prelate made a statement that goes to the heart of the debate. He said that he thought that it was morally acceptable to go to war on occasion and under certain circumstances because of what was threatened rather than because of what had happened. I believeif I, a member of the inferior clergy, may say this to an empty Bishops' Benchthat that is bad moral theology. It leads one down a very tortuous
Like all noble Lords, I speak for myself, but I also speak for the Green Party. I do so with the more confidence because my party held its conference last week and, as will all party conferences this summer, it expressed its views on this subject.
Terrorism is a frightful thing; persecution is a frightful thing; and nothing I am about to say should be held to diminish our condemnation of Saddam Hussein and his regime for their part in these crimes.
But we believe that war is an even more terrible thing, coming as it does from the considered decision of states to unleash organised violence, backed by the semblance of legality, upon the world. We do not believe that it should ever be embarked on by civilised nations except with the sanction of the body that they have set up for this purpose, the UN, and then strictly within the framework of any conditions that body may have laid down. For that reason we strongly condemn the determination by President Bush and possibly our own Prime Minister to "go it alone" if they do not obtain a UN resolution which satisfies them. Such an action would be criminal, and the intention to do it is an intention to commit a criminal act.
Further, we hold that the UN must abide by its laid down rules, which specify the right to act in response to aggression. No aggression is threatened by Iraq at present. The holding of weapons of mass destruction is not in itself an aggressive act or the US and the UK would be equally guilty. Indeed, my party calls on both nations to surrender theirs. But, more to the immediate point, I believe that there is no excuse ever for a pre-emptive strike, for the reasons upon which I have touched.
I know that no one in this Chamber welcomes the prospect of war with Iraq. I certainly do not. But is that the simple, straightforward question to be faced? I suggest not. It seems to me that we have to ask, first, is
In order to reach a reasonable conclusion on those questions, I believe that it is necessary to examine the record of the man with whom we are dealingSaddam Hussein. I appreciate that he has given a commitment to allow United Nations inspectors to return to Iraq after a four-year absence. I shall come to that issue later. In the meantime it is sufficient to say that allowing inspectors into Iraq is not an end in itself but only a means to an endthe end being the removal of weapons of mass destruction. That is the commitment entered into in 1991, 11 years ago, following the Gulf War, which clearly has not been honoured.
So what of the record of the dictator with whom we are dealing? By a very conservative estimate, he was responsible for the mass killing of 200,000 Kurds in the late 1980s. We know that at least a further 300,000 Iraqis have been slain on the orders of Saddam Hussein. We know that in the region of 600,000 Iraqis died in the war with Iran; and we know of the countless Iraqis who were slaughtered as a result of Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait.
That record must surely tell us what value this man places on human life. If he places no value on the lives of his own people, what value does he place on the lives of the rest of us? The answer is unequivocally: none whatsoever. He is a tyrant who has no difficulty in embracing terrorism. I should not be surprised to learn that he knew of, even if he did not participate in, the atrocity of September 11th. I believe that Saddam Hussein would have no compunction in unleashing weapons of mass destruction on the world, particularly the free world, if it suited his purpose and if he were given the opportunity to do so. I believe that he must be stopped before that day comesit is to be hoped by peaceful means but, if that is not possible, the employment of military means will, I fear, become necessary.
Perhaps I may say a few words on Iraq's contempt of United Nations resolutions and its past treatment of the United Nations inspectors. First, we know that there is a series of United Nations resolutions with which Iraq has failed to comply. That in itself justifies holding Saddam Hussein to account.
But at the stage we are at now, what must be of greatest importance is Saddam Hussein's latter-day concessionI use the term with some sarcasmto allow UN inspectors back into Iraq after an absence of four years. But even given this development, would it not be folly to ignore our experience of the inspections between 1991 and 1998?
In June 1991, very early on in the inspection, there was the first showdown, when inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency were barred from intercepting nuclear-related material by Iraqi security forces who attempted to intimidate the inspectors by firing their weapons.
Following repeated attempts over the years by Iraqi forces to frustrate the work of the United Nations, the most blatant violation came in 1995. Until then, Baghdad had denied having biological weapons. In that year, inspectors unearthed Iraq's covert biological weapons programmeand only subsequently did Iraq admit to producing "tens of tonnes" of biological warfare agents. Richard Butler, who led the last United Nations team to be withdrawn from Baghdad, in 1998, said that Iraq had built,
So this is the experience of the past from which we must draw our conclusions for the future. The United Nations was created to maintain peace on this planet and to curb the excesses of tyrants and dictators whose actions threaten people's safety and security the world over. In this regard, for 50 years it has provided a great service. However, it seems to me that in respect of Iraq the United Nations has been extremely long-suffering.
In the week before George Bush made his speech to the United Nations, and during the period when America was widely criticised for suggesting the possibility of a military strike on Iraq, I was on holiday not in America but in the Baltics. While reading a novel by Robert Goddard entitled Past Caring, I came across a line which read:
The "truth" is as I have described. But where has been the actionconspicuous, I suggest, by its absence? The "knowledge" is clear, but has not the honour of the United Nations already been dented, and is it not now at risk of further damage? Let us not delude ourselves by thinking that the United Nations, or Iraq, would be acting as they are now if it had not been for the United States and Britain making it abundantly clear that if the United Nations did not fulfil its responsibilities, then others would do it for them.
The United Nations has a clear responsibility to resolve problems, not to avoid them. As the past has taught us, avoiding difficulties in the short and medium term only results in even worse consequences in the long term. What happened on 11th September was catastrophic, but I do not want to wait to see a terrorist attack in the future that could possibly involve nuclear weapons and that would dwarf what happened to the Twin Towers and to the Pentagon.
Whether it is Iraq or elsewhere, we can no longer afford to be relaxed, or, worse, be complacent or apathetic to the dangers that confront us today. Like most noble Lords here, I am old enough to remember the Second World War. I have also read enough about the Spanish Civil War that preceded it. In both cases,
I am afraid that there are too many examples where we have allowed our enemies to take the initiative. In today's technological age, with the increasing growth of terrorism we cannot afford to relax and ignore the threat with which the free world is now confronted. I believe that the weapons of mass destruction must be removed and destroyed. If the United Nations inspectors can achieve this, then the best solution will have been found. However, there is no doubt that this will require the genuine co-operation of the Iraqi regime. But if that does not succeed, I believe that the United Nations must fulfil its responsibility and take the alternative and unavoidable action that is necessary to enforce the UN resolutions. In my view, a failure to do so will result in the United Nations following the same path as the League of Nations.
Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, it is always a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Coity, and that is especially so this evening because I happen to agree with everything that he said. As a very old-fashioned Conservative, on defence of the realm I tend to support the Government and oppose them on everything else. I also take the view that it is no time of night to make a prepared speech and propose to entertain a somewhat jerky debate.
Whatever Saddam Hussein intends to do with these weapons, in about a year he will have the whole range and the means of delivery with devastating consequenceall this in defiance of United Nations resolutions. The credibility of the United Nations and of the world community is as stake unless these weapons are destroyed. Inspection has become the plaything for delay, while Saddam Hussein builds up his arsenal. And delay but heightens the order of the threat. Mandatory destruction with the authority of the United Nations is now urgent owing to the weather conditions in Iraq. This has to be the time for action if we are to act.
In that respect I am afraid that I take issue with the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, and her party. It is assumed that armed intervention would be directed to protect inspection and, as I think was suggested by the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Inge, the inspectors and to pinpoint and ensure verified destruction to safeguard our own salvation and that of others from the threat of attack. Furthermore, in default of agreement by or obstruction by Saddam Hussein, in any extension of such intervention due to the exigencies of war no attack shall be directed against the civilian population, as was the case on both sides in World War II.
There is a need for clarification of the nature of the commitment of our Armed Forces. We are not under attack. Is the regime change still to remain on ice? It is assumed that there shall be noas one reads in the paperswholesale bombardment, no all-out war and that every attempt will be made in any event to avoid civilian casualties.
The Government have confirmed that before any decision is taken in Cabinet to commit our Armed Forces, who are now on standby, to engage in such armed intervention, debate should have ensued from the United Nations' regulation and on updated intelligence, of which the House shall have had due notice. One of the reasons why I tend to support the Government on defence of the realm is that they have access to the whole of the intelligence, which cannot possibly be, for security reasons, in the dossier. On that matter one has to trust the Government.
As yet no decision has or could have been taken pending such debate. In the meantime, is it not of vital consequence that diplomacy at the United Nations and elsewhere should not be inhibited or undermined by this debate? As has been said by many noble Lordsfor example, in the speeches of the noble Baroness, Lady Uddin, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Oxford, my noble and learned friend Lord Howe and my noble friend Lord Hurdthis is a highly sensitive situation which requires very careful handling.
I turn to the nature of the threat and to the legitimate action in self-defence as opened by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn, and spoken to by the noble Baroness, Lady Symons of Vernon Dean. The speech of the noble Lord, Lord Hannay of Chiswick, was of crucial consequence. He dealt with self-defence from the position of threat of attack from weapons of mass destruction delivered at any time without any warning with devastating effect. That situation has not been encountered before in the international law of self defence. That has to be met, and the previous concepts have to be extended, in order that proportionate action in self defenceif the only way to defend oneself is by pre-emptionis self defence. The nature of the threat was expounded by the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, with quiet but commanding authority. I believe that the House is indebted to him because he opened the door to extension of public international law to meet the situation in the world as it is.
The speech of my noble friend Lord Carrington, which provided the essential analysis of the position and what should be done about it, commends itself. My noble friend Lord King of Bridgwater, in his analysis of the difficulties, came to the conclusion that we shall have to see it through, but with the support of the world community under the rule of law. In effect, that was also the view of my noble and learned friend Lord Mayhew of Twysden.
In that situation, is it sensible or realistic that any government should ignore the intelligence, much of which we know cannot be disclosed, the record of Saddam Hussein, the evidence of Khalid Henza, and so forth? Could any government bury their head in the sinking sands of hope and indulge in prolonged chatter at the talking shop while Saddam Hussein builds up his arsenal? The spectre of control of the whole of the oil supply from the Middle East by Saddam Hussein hovers in the wings of this debate. The noble Baroness, Lady Symons of Vernham Dean, said that the purpose of those weapons was to dominate the Gulf. She is absolutely right, I believe. Whether she is right or wrong one cannot be certain. However, there is a real threat, not only to global states but, in particular, to the states in the Gulf.
Surely this is no time to seek appeasement, as the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Coity, said. We cannot do it. We have to see it through. There is in public international law just cause for action in self defence to eliminate the threat. I believe that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn, believes that too.
Baroness Strange: My Lords, it hardly seems like 11 years since we were discussing exactly the same problemwhat to do about Saddam Hussein. At that time, I suggested, I remember, that he be encouraged to read The Water Babies and to contemplate the character of Mrs Be-Done-By-As-You-Did. This, I fear, he has signally failed to do, or he would have stopped torturing and killing people, he would have stopped piling up weapons of mass destruction, chemical nasties and biological beastlinesses which, apart from the idea of their ultimate use, are expensive to make and to keep and do not appear to serve as any form of useful deterrent. Indeed, a deterrent from what? Their very existence and the fact that they are there simply incites other people to get rid of them.
We are all agreed that Saddam Hussein is an ogre. Whether he achieves a nuclear potential by Christmas, as some newspapers suggest, or in two years' time, as Secretary Powell appears to believe and indeed the dossier seems to indicate, there can be no doubt that he would want to use it. But he is not the only ogre in the world. What about President Mugabe in Zimbabwe, as the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, pointed out? He has expropriated all the farms from the white people, who now have no land, no money and nowhere to go to since, unlike the Ugandan Asians in similar straits, we will not re-admit them to Britain. A large proportion of the black population is starving and will diemen, women and children. And a terrorist organisation, the Green Bombers, is going about
This is not a time for jingoism and rattling sabres. It is a time of close international co-operation not only between Britain and our closest friends and allies, the United States, and some of our European partners, but between all the United Nations of the world. We must have the United Nations resolutions on weapons inspections upheld and proper inspections taking place. As all noble Lords have pointed out, the right honourable gentleman the Prime Minister has been splendidly instrumental in achieving that. We must act together with the rest of the world under the aegis of the United Nations. That is, after all, what the United Nations is for.
We have to consider carefully also the welfare of our own service personnel. It is they who will bear the brunt of whatever we decide now. We do not know what will happen if they do invade. We do not know whether chemical and biological weapons will be used. Speaking as the president of the War Widows Association of Great Britain, I would like to quote George Washington. He said:
It is possible, as some of the hawks flying around have seemed to suggestnot my noble and gallant friend Lord Bramall, who is not in his placethat in the end we may have to use force. But going to war with Saddam Hussein is like throwing a stone into Loch Ness to try and hit the monster. You may succeed, but you do not know what ripples that stone will create, nor to where they will travel.
Lord Turnberg: My Lords, of course the best course of action would be for the United Nations to send an unrestricted inspection team into Iraq, and we should make every effort to support that end. But does anyone seriously doubt that without a serious threat of military action Saddam would allow in the inspectors? It is only by maintaining that threat and following it through, if necessary, that we can possibly hope that the UN will be able to act successfully. So I strongly support the Government's line and welcome the Minister's Statement.
Other noble Lords have brought Israel into the debate, although it stretches my imagination at least to concede that it is Israel which makes Saddam such an evilly inclined man and provokes him into perpetrating the crimes that he has committed. But clearly it is important for us to make every effort to help resolve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Everyone here, and especially there, wants it with all their hearts. Israel wants nothing more desperately than freedom from the daily acts of terrorism to which the people are subjected and a sense of security, despite what the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, has suggested in what I took to be a rather selective review of the history of the region. They desperately
But there are other forces at work which do not want such a peaceful resolution. I would like to concentrate my few remarks on these. Some Arab countries want nothing less than the total destruction of Israel. Of course, it is possible that Saddam will try to broaden any conflict by attacking Israel in the belief that that will earn him credit with some of his neighbours.
But there is a more sinister aspect to the way in which Israel may be drawn into the conflict which has not been touched on today but which will have considerable implications for stability in the region and way outside it. That is the way in which Iran and Syria in particular are taking advantage of a possible conflict in Iraq by building up a massive armed force in southern Lebanon. Israel certainly has no conceivable interest in engaging in a war on its northern border. It clearly has nothing to gain from such a conflict. The only reason why Hezbollah is there in such large numbers, armed now with hundreds of short, medium and long-range rockets, is to do the bidding of its Iranian and Syrian sponsors, funders and trainers to open up a front for the total destruction of Israel.
That the Iranian and Syrian leadership want to rid the Middle East of Israel is absolutely clear from their official and unofficial pronouncements, and they never deny it. A conflict with Iraq will provide the excuse, but of course Israel will be forced to defend itself and so the conflict will grow.
It is time that the international community in general and the United Kingdom Government in particular took very seriously the activities of Iran and Syria as they concentrate on Saddam Hussein. I ask the Minister whether he agrees with me that the stability of the region, and much more widely, is threatened by these provocative activities in southern Lebanon and whether the Government will bring pressure to bear on Iran and Syria to consider the dangers that they and everyone else face when they support terrorism in this way and pursue their current course of action.
Lord Marlesford: My Lords, for me the lesson of this debate has been to take a wider and a longer view of what is happening in relation to Iraq. The speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Uddin, reminded the House that we meet against a backdrop of increasing alienation between different worlds: the rich and the poor; the black and the white; the secular and the religious; the religious and the religious; and the democratic and the authoritarian.
The attack on the United States in September last year demonstrated the depth of hatred towards America. At that time it was generally recognised that there was a need to be tough on terrorism and tough on the causes of terrorism. Sadly, the second part of that equation appears to be off the agenda. Many noble Lords will have heard John Simpson, the chief BBC foreign correspondent, reporting from Johannesburg on the sympathetic reception received by Iraq's foreign minister. He added that if Saddam himself had attended he would have had a rapturous welcome. I found that chilling.
The need to drain the reservoir of hatred was well put forward in the emergency debate held a year ago. Sadly that reservoir is now full to overflowing. Like it or not, in every Arab mind America is identified with the Jewish cause. For years Arabs have been outraged at the way in which the United States has abused its veto power by unswerving support for Israel. I believe that with the desirable removal of Saddam, the Americans should use their financial leverage to insist that all Jewish settlements are removed from the West Bank, with a deadline for so doing. As a matter of practical American politics, I recognise that that will probably have to wait until after the November congressional elections.
The window for a ground war in Iraq is November to March and understandably President Bush is being influenced by his November elections. If at that time the United States were to be poised for war, that might help the Republican party. As it is unlikely that action will be launched by then we may see different political priorities in America after those congressional elections. I believe that the latest public opinion polls that I heard this afternoon on CNN are rather optimistic. They showed 78 per cent support for American military action under UN authority, but 60 per cent against unilateral American military action.
Our troops are the finest in the world and I believe that it is unlikely that the United States will go for a "full frontal" involving a campaign by troops on the ground without British military support, so I believe that we have a real chance of influence over America. The world is only too well aware that President Bush will make the final decision but Her Majesty's Government must not appear to agree in advance to underwrite that decision.
Another important practical factor in considering British participation in a military operation on the ground relates to the equipment of our troops. I mention three examples: the communications equipment, the rifle and the suitability of a main battle tank for desert warfare. I am delighted that the noble Lord, Lord Bach, will answer the debate, because I should like to refer to the Clansman system. Our troops are still required to use that obsolete and
The famous dossier that we got today is a useful background brief. However, I did not think that there was much new material in it. It is well put together, although it is extraordinary that such an important document should be published without a date on it. That is not much of a tribute to future historians, but I am not wholly surprised. The noble and learned Lord the Leader of the House said that Ministers thought that it was better that Parliament got the document before the press got at it. That says something too.
I do not share the doubts of those who question whether Saddam is a threat and is utterly evil. I am sure that he is, and the sooner he is dead, the better. If he is killed, however, is should be either at the hands of his own people or through foreign military action taken within international law. Going to war without UN cover, now that America has agreed to seek UN backing, would permanently damage the UN's position as a guardian of world peace. Moreover, a failure by the Security Council to pass a resolution to put real pressure on Saddam could be as damaging as the failure by the League of Nations to act against Mussolini apropos of Abyssinia in 1935.
Pending the internal overthrow of Saddameventually, he will be overthrown internallywe must keep him in his box. He must, of course, be subjected to what is being described as intrusive arms inspections. That could be supplemented by legalising and extending the no-fly zones and including helicopter flights. Military means, short of a full frontal assault, could make it increasingly hard for Saddam to govern.
All the experts agree that any successor to Saddam who was seen as the nominee of a foreign power would rapidly be killed by the Iraqis. Poor King Faisal lost his life in 1958 because he was seen as a British stooge. Today, an American stooge would be even more unacceptable. Although the Middle East would be less dangerous without Saddam, the crucial question is whether the region would be more or less stable if Saddam were overthrown by external military force. That is a question for today. The experts' view is that the region could become less stable. In Saudi Arabia, the Arab street could revolt and end the fragile regime in that country. The danger is that anti-western fundamentalists would replace virtually every regime in the Gulf. We could end up worse off than we are today. We should not forget, given the present fragility of the world economy, that a rise in the price of oilhowever temporaryis extremely deflationary.
We know that Saddam has strong Samson tendencies. Under real threat, he is all too likely to seek to pull the whole edifice down with him. Would there be anybody in Iraq to stop him? I pray that there would. Otherwise, there is a real risk that, when under western attack, Saddam might use biological or chemical weapons against Israel, to which Israel would almost certainly retaliate with nuclear weapons. Where would that leave the world and, in particular, the USA?
I respect and admire much about our Prime Minister. He has done a great deal for the reputation of our country. As has repeatedly been said, he has persuaded our American allies to try the UN way. I cast no aspersions on his sincerity but in this grave situation, I do not yet have full confidence in his judgment as to the conditions in which the UK should support American military action. I should like the Prime Minister to take a longer view.
Lord Moran: My Lords, it is always a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, who gave us a good deal to think about. It seems probable that before long the United States will attack Iraq. If so, should we take part? In my view, we should not. We should only go to war if we ourselves are threatened or if vital British interests are at stake. Kamal Ataturk put it like this in 1923:
When my generation fought against Hitler, we knew that if we did not fight or were defeated our country would be at the mercy of a monstrous dictator. If we lost our lives, at least it would be in a good cause. That would not be true if we took part in a war against Iraq. We are not under any immediate threat. Nor are vital British interests at risk. In those circumstances, I do not believe that it would be right to send our young men to face being killed, possibly by biological or chemical weapons. Saddam would have nothing to lose and might use them this time. Essentially, it is not our quarrel.
He appears more interested in that than in the serious problems that the British people face at home. I do not mean that we should fail to support the United States at the United Nations and elsewhere, provided that US actions are reasonable. When the United States was attacked last year, it was reasonable to respond by going after Al' Queda. I am glad that they defeated the Taliban. I was sorry that Osama Bin Laden and Mullah Omar eluded them but it is good news that the American and Pakistani authorities have apprehended a man who appears to have been a leading figure in planning the attacks on New York and Washington.
I thought President Bush's call for a worldwide effort to deal with the menace of terrorism was to be welcomed but if other countries take part, they must first deal with their own terrorists whom they know best. The Spanish and French authorities are doing just that with their recent arrest of ETA leaders and moves against Batasuna. We have not done the same. Mr. Blair speaks out against terrorism but has done nothing to tackle our own terrorists. On the contrary, he has caved into them. Adams and McGuinness are both leading figures in the IRA, which not only maintains a large arsenal of explosives and weapons but also takes part in international terrorism, as it was evidently doing in Colombia. Nevertheless its leaders are allowed to be Ministers in Northern Ireland. That makes a mockery of our Government's denunciations of terrorism.
Although the initial reaction of the United States Administration a year ago was understandable, it is much less clear why they have now switched their attention to Iraq. Nothing much has changed there since the 1991 war. President Bush must be conscious of his father's decision to halt the offensive when he did. I have always thought that if George Bush senior had allowed the headlong pursuit of the defeated Iraqi forces to continue for another week or so, the situation might now be less worrying.
There seems to be no evidence that the Iraqis were involved in last year's terrorist attacks on the United States, as the noble Baroness confirmed when she opened the debate. I wonder why Iraq suddenly became, on the anniversary of 11th September, Washington's public enemy number one. If there is a threat from Iraq in the near future, the country which is at greatest risk is Israel. Israel too has often disregarded United Nations resolutions. Only today the BBC reported that its reaction to the latest Security Council resolution on the destruction of Arafat's headquarters was to dismiss it, saying, "They can say what they like".
The only country that could conceivably help the Palestinians in their extremity is Iraq. I wonder therefore if it is not Sharon who has persuaded President Bush to deal with Iraq. If so, will we not be sending our young men out to run great risks simply to fight a war to help Sharon? It is one thing to attempt to disarm Iraq, though that may not be easy; it is quite another to have as an objective the elimination of the present regime, deeply unpleasant though it is. If we go along with that, where does it end? The world is full of thoroughly unpleasant leaders and deplorable regimes. Are we to try to get rid of them all?
I hope we can work for a firm but sensible Security Council resolution which will have the support of the world's leading powers and make it possible for the inspectors to identify and destroy Iraq's store of weapons of mass destruction without the need for a bloody and destructive war. But, in any event, I think we should argue strongly for a balanced, fair and unbiased Middle East policy.
I welcome what the Prime Minister said about that in his Statement. If we are to deal with Saddam, we must also deal with Sharon. We must try to persuade the United States to be much less partisan in dealing with the problem of Israel and the Palestinians. We should insist that all the Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine, in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem should be removed and Israeli forces withdrawn so that an independent Palestinian state, free of occupation and oppression, can be established alongside Israel. Only thus can we hope to bring about peace and stability in the Middle East.
There are many scare stories around that Saddam Hussein is such a threat to world peace that a pre-emptive strike is necessary. Who says so? Not the countries immediately surrounding Iraq, nor our neighbours in Europe, not Russia, not China, not India; only ourselves, apparently, and the United States. Many noble Lords have indicated that a pre-emptive strike by the United States and ourselves would be illegal under international law.
Iraq was devastated over a decade ago in the Gulf War. Two hundred thousand Iraqis died in that war. Its civilian infrastructure was heavily damaged. Since then, it has been subjected to economic sanctions regarded by some as punitive and to intermittent bombing attacks by ourselves and the Americans, including Operation Desert Fox in 1998. To suggest that this wrecked country poses a threat to us and to the United States defies belief.
But the bombing continues. A couple of weeks ago, a number of planes dropped 25 bombs on an Iraqi installation. It was not even claimed that the planes were defending the no-fly zones or being attacked by Iraqi air defences. That was an act of war and I do not recollect a UN mandate for it.
President Bush has gone to the UN, but he has said, "You either do it our way, or we will do it ourselves". Clearly, he wants to go to war. He is not interested in the Iraqi offer to admit inspectors unconditionally. He wants a new UN resolution and is intent on making it as difficult as possible for Iraq to comply.
It does not seem unreasonable that a country that has endured years of sanctions and bombing should seek some relief from those pressures if it readmits inspectors. But no, the USA wants regime change and is not interested in inspection. Saddam Hussein is so evil that he cannot be allowed to continue as leader of Iraq. Of course he is a brutal dictator; that is not in question. But it hardly needs saying that America has a history of supporting rather dubious leaders when it suits and then demonising them when it does not. That is true of Saddam Hussein as it was of Milosevic.
During the war with Iran, Saddam was heavily supported by the United States and ourselves with money and weapons. There was no criticism of atrocities then. Incidentally, the support then given to Saddam is not mentioned in the dossier. But now the blood price must be paid to get rid of him. That price will not be paid by us. No one really expects to see Iraqi bombing planes in the skies over London. Nor will his scud missiles reach us. The price will be paid by civilians; by millions of ordinary Iraqis with whom President Bush says he has no quarrel.
As always, the United States and ourselves will start the offensive with a bombing campaign. The idea will be not to endanger lives on our sideunderstandablyso the bombing will be conducted at around 15,000 or 20,000 feet. We shall be told, of course, that only military objectives will targeted and hit. I do not believe it. Not only will thousands of
We must ask ourselves whether the threat posed by Saddam Hussein can justify such a catastrophe; for it will be a catastrophe for the civilians involved. I do not think it does. I have no doubt that the United States can succeed in its objectives. It is, after all, the only superpower. Its technological superiority is immense. Moreover, a recent study reported that the Iraqi regime is weaker now than at the time of the Gulf War.
The question is whether we should support or join such a venture. We do not yet know what a new UN resolution will say, but it seems clear that President Bush wants to go ahead whether he gets a mandate or not. Many people believe that it is all about oil. With a compliant regime in Baghdad, the United States would have unrestricted access to the second largest reserves of oil in the world. There would be no need then to dig up Alaska.
Those who feel as I doand there are many of usare often derided as being anti-American. We are not. We know that there are many Americans who feel as we do. President Bush has sought to bring them on side by trying to link the Iraqi regime with the horror of 9/11, when so many innocent Americans were killed, but there does not seem to be any such link. If the war proceeds, there will be growing opposition within America. We should note particularly the statement just made by the former presidential candidate, Al Gore. Many Americans do not want this war any more than we do. We must do everything to try to stop it and to ensure that problems get solved within the UN. The appalling suffering that is modern warfare must not be inflicted again on innocent people. I urge the Government to think very deeply before committing this country to such a course.
The Earl of Onslow: My Lords, I rise as the 55th speaker in this debate and I am completely convinced that the First Lord of the Treasury is waiting with bated breath to hear every word that I say, take it on board and act on it.
We have to be careful when we combine Iraq with terrorism. There is an immense sloppiness in using the phrase "war against terrorism". Several people have talked about the IRA. We know that there have always been arguments about one man's terrorist being another man's freedom fighter.
We also have to be careful when we contrast Al'Qaeda, whose inspiration is the reactionaryI use the word in its true senseappeal of desert Muhammadanism of 622 Anno Hegirae, with the Baghdad regime, whose progenitor is the reaction of the Muhammadan world when it found, in the words of Edward Gibbon,
When I listened to the Leader of the House repeating the Prime Minister's Statement, I thought, "There are the words of a great statesman". It was a beautifully constructed Statement. I also remember how the Prime Minister had taken on the old dinosaurI think that I am being complimentary with that wordpart of the Labour Party and reformed it. I then contrasted this strange man's attitude on this occasion with his attitude towards other matters of internal policy, on which one sees a shilly-shallying man who has no principles, cannot make up his mind and makes Harold Wilson look a principled man. I am torn between deep admiration and the opposite.
I am more or less convinced by the Government's document, except that it says that in 1991 Saddam had more bottles of nasties than he has now. When he was attacked then, he did not use the bottles of nasties. He is not being attacked at present, so will he use the bottles of nasties now?
I accept that Saddam Hussein is an extraordinarilyagain, I use the wordnasty man. There is nothing whatever to recommend him. For the sake of this argument, let us assume that the Prime Minister is right. He made a very powerful case in his statement. But we have not asked ourselves how he will go about such an attack and I do not believe that anyone in their right mind would want to know the details. But I believe that we should have an outline of how it will be done and what troops will be involved.
Above all, very few people, with the possible exception of the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Inge, have asked what will happen following an attack. Let us remember that Iraq was cobbled together in the 1920s by amalgamating the alliance of Baghdad, Mosul and Basra out of the old Turkish empire. Basra was Shia; Baghdad was Sunni; and Mosul was Kurdish. Mosul is Arab and has the oil, but the majority of its population is Kurdish. However, because we did not want an independent Kurdistan, we allowed the French to have the Syrian part of Kurdistan, Turkey was allowed to keep its part and we put the rest into Iraq. That was a part of 1918 peace-making of which we should not be particularly proud.
If there is a war and if force is used, what will happen if the central authority in Baghdad collapses? Several different gangs of armed thugs will be left fighting each other and, in desperation, there will be the possibility of the use of germ warfare"Let us just let off a rocket or three and hope it hits Tel Aviv". Following that, that kind of Liberal Democrat parish councillor, Mr Sharon, will immediately counteract with nuclear weapons and the whole of the Middle East will go up in flames.
I am not saying that Saddam Hussein does not pose a very serious danger. I know that he does. I am askingI have heard nothing on the matter in the debate thus far: what is the worst-case scenario, are we thinking about it and do we know what to do? If we do
But have we thought the matter through? Many noble Lords who have spoken today have said that we must do something, but no one has talked about what will happen if the whole of Mesopotamia breaks up. If it falls into pieces and anarchy breaks out, are the Americans prepared to act as a colonial power? That is what will be necessary and what will happen following military intervention. That is the question to which we must address ourselves.
Lord Selsdon: My Lords, I suffer from two disadvantages. The first is that the two people who were to speak between me and my noble friend Lord Onslow have "scratched" and I must follow directly after my noble friend. The second is that I must admit that I am the same age as Saddam Hussein.
I also suffer in that I am not sure what to do next. I have been very privileged to listen to the debate today. I was very confused this morning and I am rather confused now. I want to pay a great tribute to the Ministers sitting opposite. I have noticed that, while they have been in power, they have stuck rigidly to the Front Bench and have listened to many speeches. They have done so more often than any Minister since I have been in the House. It must be extremely boring for them, but let us see whether I can change the scene.
I have been to Baghdad and to Iraq many timesprobably more often than anyone in your Lordships' House. I have not necessarily done so willingly and occasionally have done so reluctantly. That is partly because, when I was in the banking world and the financing trade, we were the main correspondent bankers for the government of Iraq and its banks. When I chaired the government's committee on Middle East trade, the Foreign Office, with all the rather devious ways in which it behaves, would say, "You are very honoured. You are chosen to go off to Iraq, Libya, Syria and Iran"all the places where Ministers dared not tread. But I like the Iraqi people. I should like to pull my noble friend up a little. At the end of the First World War, there was this chap called Lawrence of Arabia in the north and the British Anglo-Egyptian condominium in the south. They were getting rid of the Ottomans and Lawrence charged down with his Arab legions quicker than anyone else. They could march overnight in the cool of the desert. He arrived first and took this fellow Faisal and said, "You're King of the Arabs". When the British team from the south arrived, they said, "So what?"
The French got a little uptightcheesed off, one said. I always wondered why de Gaulle always said that it is extremely difficult running a country where there are 246 different cheeses, to which he added later, "and too many head cheeses." The French were so upset that we withdrew and just made Faisal King of Iraq.
Then the League of Nations turned up and said, "We like the British very much. We trust you." We were given the mandate for Iraq and Trans-Jordan which included all of Jordan. The French got Syria and the Lebanon. They already had large chunks of north Africa, so the French and we together, directly or indirectly, controlled the Arab world.
As good imperialists, we ran Iraq out of India. I always thought of that later when we had to try and encourage the then Foreign Secretary my noble friend Lord Carrington to put in a presence in Iraq. He said, "Not something likely." But as he was in India, he came from India. The Iraqis would have preferred him to come from London but the Foreign Office kindly explained that India had always run Iraq.
This may appear fairly stupid but let me move on to what happened in 1974 and times after that. We started to help the Iraqis industrialise. The first time it came to public notice was when 57 London double-decker buses drove across the desert from Kuwait to Iraq, because they wanted double-decker buses. Not Leyland, but the old AIC. The label AIC had to be put on the front. When they arrived, they complained that the buses that they were used to had rear platforms that were low enough for ladies in long skirts to step onto. Could the British engineers lower the rear platforms? And we did.
This was just the start of our relationship. We trained Iraqis in this country in banking and engineering. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Manchester should know that most of them went to Manchester or Leeds universities. Most of the ruling Ba'ath Party are very strong supporters of Manchester United and Manchester City. They will probably be watching this debate live, not only on the Parliamentary Channel but also when they occasionally manage to hack into our system here. They have great respect for your Lordships' House.
The Iraqis complained to me that we, the British, had effectively helped to make them and we were not prepared to talk to them. I talked a little while ago to the noble Lord, Lord Hannay of Chiswick, or as the Iraqis call him, 'Sir Hannay' because, when he was in the United Nations, he was the only person to whom they were allowed to talk, except for people like me. They complained bitterly that they were no longer allowed to talk to their friends. I believe that this was one of the most important sanctions.
At the moment, I feel we are confused. As an eminent mathematician said, "There are no whole truths, only half truths. But people try to make half truths, whole truths and that is supping with the devil".
We do not know what the truth is. We have before us a document that quite frankly I could have written myself from my own knowledge and information. It is almost a straight crib from Section 5 of the anti-terrorist Bill about pathogens.
When we talk of weapons of mass destruction, we must ask ourselves what the military capability of Iraq is today. Colin Powell, on the Frost programme, pointed out that he thought it was a third of what they had in 1991. Therefore, let us assume they have a
I am worried about the attempt to associate terrorism with Iraq. Let us look at what happened in the United States. There were a number of incidents: the Oklahoma bombing; as my noble friend Lord King said, someone putting anthrax in the post; and, of course, the twin towers. That was an incident with American aeroplanes in the United States and there were problems with security in the United States; it was not necessarily a total invasion from abroad.
Terrorism literally means government by fear. Iraq has been remarkably capable of governing itself, through the Ba'ath Party, by fear. One removes all opponents instantly; one pulls one's gun out of a top drawer and one shoots them. That has happened in socialist systems throughout the world: remove the opposition. In the past we would have said, "And the hosts took the field and there were no survivors". When we in politics in the West start to fall into the trap of creating fear in order to unite our own people behind us, we create fear of a regime, of an enemy, of disease and of anything else.
It would be perfectly easy to take all of these pathogens and diseases and create the most horrendous scenarios, which frighten people. They involve infecting a whole range of people in a host countrythey are about to die of cancer, put on aeroplanes and shoved off around the world, and that is put in the newspapers. What the Iraqi regimethe Ba'ath Partyhas managed to is something that even New Labour has failed to do: it has dominated the press and the media worldwide. It has almost its own Alastair Campbell. Suddenly one notices Saddam Hussein is no longer in military uniform; he is in civilian uniform and holding a gun in his hand as though he were a hunter firing a shot, as the Berbers did in the desert and the hunters do in Bravade. He is changing his image and removing fear of himself.
The regime is and for a long time has been dangerous. They are not necessarily our enemies. My fear is that the United States, which is our great ally, has failed to recognise that the world is beginning to see it as an enemy of the world. That fear can be rammed home. It starts slowly and builds up over a long period. We are the friends and allies of the United States. We know Iraq and the Middle East. It should listen to us in a way that it has perhaps never listened before. I urge noble Lords to pay attention to the noble Lord, Lord Wright, in view of his background. He knows what he is talking about, as do others.
I should like the UN to give the United Kingdom the mandate for Iraq and for us to lead the initiative. Of course we must go in and disarm but we must not send inspectors in without force behind them. Like so many in the Middle East, the Iraqis recognise strength and understand commitment. We are trusted because we
The Earl of Sandwich: My Lords, the noble Lord has been a great refreshment in this long debate, for which we are grateful. He ended on a serious note. A war against Saddam Hussein, in my view, however evil a dictator he is, would be a diversion from our fundamental objectives, which are to defeat poverty and terrorism. It would not necessarily help the people of Iraq, it would be a poor excuse for our failure to respond adequately to the challenge of terrorism and it could jeopardise the hard-earned support of the international coalition. Threats of war to back up a UN resolution is one thing, and all noble Lords agree that that is desirable. Reform of the UN system to reinforce resolutions is also necessary, but that is not what President Bush is about. He does not intend to wait for the UN to change. The question today is whether we should stand beside him and why.
As other noble Lords have said, Iraq itself poses no direct problem to us or the United States. We are not a threatened nation as we were in 1938. Any such comparison is odious. September 11th was an atrocity without precedent: it was a different kind of attack, needing a highly co-ordinated and well-focused international response.
Despite the casualties, the war against the Taliban and Al'Qaeda achieved results within a clear UN framework. This absurd war on the axis of evil serves the opposite purpose by breaking up a carefully balanced alliance. As the noble Lord, Lord Thomas, said, there is no legal justification for it at present.
In the war against terrorism close co-operation with the leading Arab states was essential. When it comes to Iraq, President Bush is calling the shots and the Middle East, UN, Russia and even Europe are all but ignored. On these occasions, our Prime Minister is transformed. He is no longer the man who went to see President Assad and received Chairman Arafat. Instead, he stands shoulder to shoulder with the boys in the White House as though only an evangelical Atlantic partnership can save us from a tyrant. By this action he clearly risks separating himself from Parliament and large numbers of his own party in another place, as we have heard today.
We are told that he favours a new Middle East peace initiative. Splendid. But the last time we heard that, as the noble Lord, Lord Gilmour, said the peace initiative was killed stone dead not by suicide bombers but by General Sharon and the hawks in Washington; and Downing Street said little or nothing.
The Government contain a majority of MPs who value a truly international dimension in world affairs. They would like to see a strengthening of the UN and a greater awareness of poverty and injustice. While they
The war against terrorism should not be about war. It should be a vigorous campaign against organised criminal activity and a sustained drive for diplomacy, conflict resolution and international development. The Government know that well. No one can doubt that September 11th, whatever the warped Islamist intent of the suicide bombers, was a reaction to world inequality, with the twin towers as potent symbols of Judao-Christian hegemony in world economic affairs as much as to US policy in the Middle East.
Most people recognise this imbalance and would like to address it through our Government. In our April debate, I said that the Iraqi people were suffering enough without another war. I mentioned a survey carried out by Save the children in northern Iraq which showed that three in five families have to live on only six dollars a week. This is the position of many people in the Middle East today. We cannot simply put countries right one by one with F16s and cluster bombs followed by promises of reconstruction, as Condoleeza Rice said this week. We have to face the much longer challenge of development, as many aid agencies and NGOs are doing in Iraq. None of them believes in the military solution.
Fortunately, we have the Foreign Office, which has traditionally understood the Middle East, and related organisations like the BBC and British Council. But lately the FCO has been under some restraint because of Israel. What about Israel? Apparently, its weapons are of no concern to us and the Americans do not see it as a threat to world peace. It does not, they are told, possess a mad dictator, weapons of mass destruction or a people in servitude. It is a sister democracy, an ally, a trading partner; and, more than that, it is a homeland with well watered and defended settlementsa resort for their kith and kin in a hostile environment. That is the sort of stuff the Americans believe about the Holy Land until they can see for themselves what is happening. Then they will see the hold which Sharon has on the United States which allows him to have Palestine by the throat and to conduct disgraceful military attacks in the name of anti-terrorism. No wonder there are people trying to bomb themselves out of a ghetto, just as their persecutors did before them under the British mandate. The middle ground is continually falling away. It seems that the European Union has backed off under US and Israeli pressure, leaving Arafat friendless and the Hamas militants unrestrained. It is a senseless, hopeless policy. It is a lack of policy. I am relieved to hear so many noble Lords say that the peace process is closely connected with this debate. It must now be a priority for this Government.
Are we subject to charges of racism if we accuse Israel, or of anti-Semitism if we sympathise with Palestinians? Of course not. I visited the region a year ago and I drew my own conclusions. Israel is
So do we side with the so-called besieged democracy, the occupying power which still pretends to be the victim, or do we recognise the injustice on both sides? Plainly, the former is our current policy, however much we claim the opposite. This is a moral blackmail which has ensnared western democrats, including many in the Labour Party, who feel helpless and remain silent. But it amazes those in the Arab world, who can see what is happening and can understand much of the motivation behind today's appalling terrorism.
So what is to be our new role in the peace process? Are we going to forge a new European partnership and rebuild the trust of which the noble Lord, Lord Jacobs, spoke? I was pleased to hear the noble Lord, Lord Weidenfeld, say that General Sharon wants peace. But how are we to find that trust and that peace after our failure to act over the past two years of intifada? We should begin by dropping this war against evil and return to the main purpose of the coalition. Can we still look our Pakistani, Saudi, Jordanian, Egyptian and Gulf friends in the eye and say that we are their friends provided they join a war against Iraq?
We could learn something from the German and Canadian government positions. We could rethink our Atlantic partnership, rebuild our relations with the Middle East and base them on mutual respect, not just on the oil and arms trade.
The Gulf War does not have to be fought all over again just for the sake of Israel's security. Of course there must be strong UN resolutions on WMDs, and the inspectors must return. But it must be a truly international policy, not one dictated by the United States.
How can Britain continue to hold America's hand while it flagrantly rides over the UN? The noble Lord, Lord King, said that Bush cannot proceed alone; in other words, he needs to be guided. That is a very fair position, but I am not as confident as he. If Blair believes that he is leading Bush by the hand back into the centre groundas many of us have said, and as we momentarily thought when he addressed the United Nationsall well and good. But it is much more likely that he is being dragged off course into a new and more dangerous adventure. Unless he realises this in time and demonstrates his membership of the whole world, he will be ignored by many other nations which matter to us all. It is time that this Parliament, and indeed his own party, brought him and this country back into the international community.
Lord Naseby: My Lords, while the recall of Parliament is to be welcomed, in my judgment we have been recalled rather later than we should have been. It is particularly cynical that we should receive a document this morning and be expected to read its 50 pages in any depthwhich, incidentally, are dated on the very last page. That is not joined-up government. It is not fair to Members who wished to make a serious contribution to the debate to have the document delivered this morning. It is an unacceptable way in which to treat either House.
I suspect that I am one of the very few fathers whose son took part in the whole of the Gulf War. He was in the front line, one of the doctors charged with initially assessing the casualties as a member of the Royal Army Medical Corps, which, sadly, this Government have allowed to lapse and virtually to collapse so tragically. I also suspect that I am one of the few who had a good friend killed in the Twin Towers. So I come to this debate with no gung-ho background, but with the utter realism of the risks that would arise from any possible military action.
I also come to the debate with three historical episodes that I believe we in this country must never forget. The first is the week of 24th to 28th May 1940, when the Cabinet sat and debated and when the Foreign Secretary, Lord Halifax, recommended in essence that a deal should be done with Hitler. Winston Churchill, a minority voice initially, was the one that stood out because he realised that no deal was possible with Herr Hitler. One has to reflect a little on what would have happened if those voices that wanted a deal had actually been the ones that were successful.
Secondly, one has to reflect upon the 1920s and the early 1930s and the position of the then German governmenttheir weakness in allowing Herr Hitler to rise to power, in commuting his prison sentence, and in allowing his party, and the thuggery associated with it, to develop. It ill-behoves the current German Government to criticise the President of the United States and to allude that he has any degree of association or commonality with Herr Hitler. The present German Government appear to me to be very similar to the German government of the 1920s and the 1930s.
The third analogy that I draw is the one of 1936 when because of the weakness of the western allies Hitler moved into the Rhineland. If that move had been challenged there and then, perhaps the Second World War would have taken on a very different aspect.
My conclusion from those three historical instances is that if you are faced with evilthere are many evil regimes, but we are putting our particular focus on Iraq at presentyou must face up to that evil and the sooner you do so the better, because the later you leave it the more difficult it becomes. It is possible that the offer for inspectors to return unfettered will be successful. I personally think that it is rather unlikely, but certainly it must be tried. It is just possible that they can achieve the destruction of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
However, even if those inspections are successful, there is what should be happening now and in the weeks ahead. In my view, there is no reason why the United Nations should not review and update the resolutions on Iraq. Further, those resolutions must not be optional. But if they are treated by certain countries as optional, and if they cannot be persuaded to join the world view, we shall have an evil situation. If Iraq flouts those inspections, I believe it is right that the United States and the United Kingdom should look to their own interests.
When we hear the concluding speech tonight, or perhaps if Parliament is recalled again later on next week, I hope that we shall be told something more about the strategy in the event that Saddam Hussein is deposed, killed, or goes into exilesome of the points that my noble friend made in his speech. There must be an exit strategy, as well as an entry strategy. It is a great pity that the present Government trust Parliament so little that we are involved today almost as an afterthought.
Nevertheless, I make my position clear. I support the Prime Minister in his linkage with President Bush, his desire to have updated and tougher UN resolutions and his recognition that if UN resolutions are flouted, and if the UN will not act when they are flouted, then we, the Americans and, one hopes, others, will have to act.
The Earl of Listowel: My Lords, it has been said that all wars are waged against children. Through Centrepoint I have been introduced to young Kurds from Northern Iraq with exceptional leave to remain in this country. So I should like to take this opportunity to ask her Majesty's Government, first, whether they are keeping Iraqi children in mind. I am sure they are, but I want reassurance on that point because these children are so vulnerable. Secondly, I ask them whether they will seize any opportunity that the current diplomatic round may allow to review the sanctions regime, which does so much to harm Iraqi children. The noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, spoke eloquently about the many problems associated with the current sanctions regime.
One is appalled when one considers how many children3,051 according to Newsdaywere orphaned by the fanatics who perpetrated the atrocities of 11th September last year in the United States. Some children lost both parents in the attack. Many Israeli children have been murdered in suicide attacks. Others have had their parents stolen from them in the bombings of buses, cafes and restaurants. Palestinian children have lost their mothers and fathers.
School enrolment of girls has declined because of lack of teachers and increasing poverty. Female illiteracy rates are rising steeply. Without education these women are unlikely ever to learn how they might choose to limit their families. Population growth will continue to outstrip any improvement in service provision. The current sanctions regime denies funding for teacher training and exacerbates poverty.
One recognises that we are still engaged in diplomacy. Military action, if it is to be taken, is still some way off. But should there be such action of any length and intensity the consequences will be devastating for many Iraqi children.
I am grateful also to Save the Children for providing me with a video documentary entitled "Is Anyone Listening?" It is comprised of interviews with young Kurds in the North of Iraq. In particular, one animated young girl, Tanka, struck me. She said that she loved her school. Every day she speaks about it with her sisters. She wanted to obtain a qualification but her father removed her from school to help him and her sister in the fields. Much of her day is spent collecting water from a distant standpipe. Her shoulders always hurt, as water is carried on them either in pails or in large cans. Is it anything less than tragic that so much of that girl's potential, and that of her fellows, is being squandered? Without literacy can she and her sisters ever look forward to anything more than labouring and child bearing?
I ask the Minister whether during the current round of diplomacy the Government are keeping fully in mind the hardships endured by Iraqi children? Will he and his colleagues seize any opportunity to review UN sanctions? If there is to be a military conflict will the Government pursue all means possibleincluding the preparation of adequate stockpiles of food and providing the means of its distributionto minimise the impact that such action is likely to have on Iraqi children?
Surely, if we want other communities not to attack us without any thought of loss of life of our children, it would be prudent for us to demonstrate that we take very seriously the well-being of children not of our own community.
Lord Hardy of Wath: My Lords, the phrase "asymmetric warfare" has frequently come into play during the past 12 months. It is even touched upon in the new chapter of the Strategic Defence Review. I suppose that it means the ways in which the small power can contest or fight the larger one. I do not believe that Saddam Hussein actually wants to have a war with the United States. However, he has all the qualifications and pursues all the policies which would be required for that approach.
He is ruthless: the treatment of his own people, let alone people in Kuwait, or the Iranians who suffered in the Iran/Iraq war, demonstrates his ruthlessness. He is cunning: as the noble Lord, Lord Selsdon, pointed out he has adopted a more avuncular image on international television. He is determined to acquire the most awful weapons and has done so at the cost of the children of Iraq, who suffer dreadfully. He has earned illicitly, through smuggling of oil, vast sums of money which could have provided the medical care and food which his people desperately need. He has used that money to strengthen his armoury of horror. He is extremely good at propagandafor example, for a long time now the American and Royal Air Force aircraft have flown over the north and south no-fly zone. Without their operation, heaven knows how much more suffering would have been inflicted upon the northern Kurds and the southern Shi'ites. All we hear about is the need for sanctions to be lifted and the no-fly zone operations cancelled.
However, the fact remainsand I would be grateful if the Minister would confirm thisthat there have been 2,500 threats or attacks on aircraft policing those no-fly zones in full accord with the United Nations authority. If it were not for the professional expertise of the air crew involved, perhaps we would have seen a successful interception by Iraqi radar. However, should those aircraft retaliate, then the world's media will be shown photographs of bombed houses or crippled children which it will be claimed are consequent upon the inaccuracy of the allied air forces fulfilling the international obligation.
The cunning of Saddam Hussein is demonstrated by the way in which he has almost contemptuously flouted the United Nations. I fear now that he will string matters along in order that the reality of his failure to take any real notice of the United Nations will coincide with the development of the hot weather in the Middle East, so that it would be an intolerable burden for our own forces to wear the protective gear in periods of savage heat.
It may be true that the Iraqis still do not have the fissile material and so forth necessary to complete the preparation of a nuclear weapon. But if, as described in the dossier we are debating, it is believed that there is a risk of Iraq acquiring a nuclear weapon within the next two years, we must consider whether we should allow Iraq to string things out so that the hot weather comes before failure to fulfil its obligations as regards inspection arrangements. That would mean that one of the two years to nuclear reality would have passed.
I do not believe that Saddam wants war, but I believe that he wants to be dominant. The fact that Iraq has the world's second largest oil resources may be a factor in that. If we are to ensure that sanity develops in Baghdad, we must accept that we should not enter into conflict without clear aims. If there is to be conflict, that cannot be separated from the need to have a resolution of the Middle East situation.
There is a danger that America might act unilaterally. If it does, the world will be a far worse place. There will be cynical comment that America is taking action to comfort the Texas oil men. There will be cynical comment about America taking the action in order to provide oil to sustain an energy policy which the rest of the world may resent. That may not be helpful as it could lead to a more isolationist approach in Washington.
It is important that the Prime Minister should seek to maintain a close relationship in order to ensure that the United Nations will be safe from the almost mortal wounding which will occur if it allows the development of the nuclear weapon and the deployment of the horrible weapons which Saddam Hussein has obtained. There are dangers, not merely the nuclear ones. There is the development of the UAV to distribute chemical and biological weaponry; the development of mechanisms such as the adaptation of missiles to extend their range to a more potent degree; and the use of the economic weapon. The development of plant disease such as wheat smut could have a devastating effect, perhaps far more than any of our fears on grant-maintained or genetically modified food.
It is a dangerous time. The Government are right in their present approach, but if there is a cause for regret it is that Europe is insufficiently quick militarily to play any part in the structure of peace should conflict take place. If it does, there will be required considerable military resources in Iraq, and it would be a pity if that were left to the United States and the United Kingdom, when the rest of Europe and other parts of the world have a considerable interest in the matter. It is a pity that that interest has not been maturely and sensibly expressed in many cases during the past three months.
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, this has been a long debate, and I am sure that it will not be the last we shall have on the subject. I hope that we shall return to it on many occasions during the next few months.
One should mention the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Manchester who, sadly, made his last speech in this House. It would also be appropriate to mention the remarkably good series of speechesperhaps the largest number from the Bishops' Bench I have ever heard in a debate in this House.
We started with the Government's dossier and I, too, want to compliment them on publishing it at least a couple of hours before the debate began. It is fair and balanced, but it tells us little that is new and little that was not in the IISS report and in a number of
We welcome the focus which Her Majesty's Government have put on weapons of mass destruction and not simply as a brief excuse on the way to conquest and enforced regime change. My noble friend Lady Nicholson of Winterbourne also correctly added that we have to be concerned with human rights. Those of us who have struggled with the question of humanitarian intervention over the past 10 to 15 years know that the case for regime change on grounds of human rights abuses has to be very carefully made and very seldom used.
We on these Benches support a robust inspection regime backed by the threat of force. But it matters immensely how Her Majesty's Government, in co-operation with the United States and others, move forward from here to re-enforcement. The path forward must be multilateral, not unilateral; through international law and international institutions, not going round the side of such institutions if they do not immediately provide the answers that the United States wants.
In the last resort it may be necessary to use force to enforce UN resolutions and if that is so it will have the support of our party. But that must be the collective intervention of the international community. If it is just the United States and the United Kingdom alone, we shall have failed to make our case and our support for such action cannot be taken for granted.
But, as so many speeches have made clear, this is not just about Iraq. Many speeches today have dealt with Israel and Palestine as a constant theme. The weapons of mass destruction which Iraq has been accumulating are a threat to its neighbours and a claim for domination of the Middle East and of the oil supplies there. War on Iraq overlaps with, and in some ways distracts from, the war on terrorism and easily slides, as a number of speakers have said, into a war on Islam. The concern that many of us on these Benches have is that a war on Iraq which is not carefully prepared and justified may damage the war on terrorism. As the noble Baroness, Lady Uddin, said in a very powerful speech, a war on terrorism can only be won if moderate Muslims are persuaded that western democracies are open to the Muslim world and not hostile. That is one reason why there has to be parallel action on the Israel-Palestine conflict to a move to disarm Iraq. We are all
But the lines of a compromise are relatively clear. There has to be a two-stage solution, a substantial withdrawal from the current Israeli settlements and a limitation on the Palestinian claim for the right of return. It would help if there were new leadership on both sides. I do not wish to defend in any way Mr Arafat or Mr Sharon. It is extremely important that under current circumstances the heaviest pressure is brought to bear on the Israeli Government not to take advantage of pressure on Iraq to expel large elements of Palestinians from the West Bank and not to demolish the rest of the Palestinian infrastructure which has not already been taken down.
Success in disarming Iraq should, as the noble Lord, Lord Weidenfeld, remarked, make Israelis feel more secure. Therefore, those two matters go together. The cost to the West of a badly handled attack on Iraq could be severe in terms of a surge of anti-Americanism and possibly also of Anglophobia across the Muslim world and across European publics.
Two weeks ago I attended a conference in Washington, convened by a number of US foreign policy agencies, on the subject of anti-Americanism. The most powerful intervention came from a senior diplomat from Singapore who remarked that it had been discovered that middle class Muslims in Singapore had been plotting to blow up American and other installations on the island. He also said that one must understand that if American actions in the Middle East appear to be biased against the Muslim world, it will not be only in the Arab states that one will be faced with severe problems.
One has to be concerned about the stability and future of the Saudi regime and we have to be concerned about our future relations with Iran. One of the best critical examinations from the United States of what will happen after the conflict that I have read in the past couple of weeks raised the question: will the Iranians be happy with American troops guarding their border posts for five years after we occupy Iraq? That suggests that the American policy towards Iran could usefully be a little more constructive.
Post-conflict reconstruction, as a number of noble Lords have said, is extremely important and loose talk within the United States about comparisons with Germany and Japan after 1945 are clearly extremely damaging. Both Germany and Japan had been completely defeated, had made unilateral surrenders and were occupied. I hope that that is not what the Americans are proposing for the whole of the Arab world and the Middle East.
There has to be a regional approach which includes a long-term commitment to nation building and democracy building. There also has to be a broader approach to international order within which Muslim countries and states can be comfortable. Our aim must be to strengthen the United Nations and international law, not to weaken it. As many noble Lords have said,
I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Winston, talked about the dangers of violent language. There is some horrifyingly violent language within the right wing American press. Mention has been made of Saddam as an outlaw and Muslim fundamentalists as mad. There has also been constant reference to America's enemies, dividing the world into us and them. That is not a good way in which to approach the complexities of international politics. As my party said yesterday, there is an air of triumphal imperialism that one also sees in people within the Administration as well as outside. Before they entered the Administration Donald Rumsfeld, John Bolton and Doug Frieth wrote things decrying the United Nations and wanting to raise the United States above international law.
We need a different language from the United States. We need the sort of language that the Truman Administration managed to find for the Truman Declaration and the Roosevelt Administration tried to find for the Atlantic Charter. Such language must include the rest of the world and avoid the aggressive "America first" rhetoric used by too many in the current Administration. In that context, we welcome President Bush's United Nations speech. It was extremely constructive and showed that the President had resisted many of the pressures from the right. I am a little less happy with the security strategy that followed it; it has a triumphalist air.
The ideological right is unrepresentative of the United States as a whole. I welcome the growing criticism from within the United States, and I hope that Her Majesty's Government put all their weight into the debate in Washington on behalf of the moderates and against the ideological right. I was happy to hear a US Congressman refer the other day to the "Rumsfeld-Cheney axis" and the "Powell-Blair axis". That is a good indication that the Prime Minister is putting his oar in on the right side. As a candid friend of the United States, we should spell out our conditional support in public to Congress, to US audiences via the American media and, of course, to British and European audiences and beyond.
What should Her Majesty's Government say to the Bush Administration and to American audiences? First, they should say that we are willing to share in the maintenance of international order but that it must be collective international order. Secondly, we should say that we wish to defend and promote universal values. Language matters, and we must speak of universal values, not of western or Judaeo-Christianlet alone Americanvalues. On Radio 4 this morning, Indarjit
Universal values mean universal standards, so there should be no double standards towards American allies in Israel and elsewhere. Having universal values also means promoting international institutions and international law. We should encourage the Bush Administration to make it clear that they have now changed their initial position on support for the United Nations, on non-proliferation, on energy conservationincluding Kyotoand on nation building, which they had happily decried. The United States cannot claim to be outside and above international law as, sadly, some members of the Bush Administration appear to do.
What are Britain's other priorities? In the long run, British influence in Washington depends on being seen to speak for the European allies and for Europe as a whole. The Government have been in danger of neglecting our European allies in recent months. We should turn back to the strengthening of European defence co-operation, which was a French and British initiative. It is vital to revive it and press ahead, not only because Mr Rumsfeld, in particular, is demanding that we make a more effective contribution to defence but because European influence over the United States depends on our being seen to have greater military capability. It would also help to promote a European study of the problem of weapons of mass destruction. Overwhelmingly, the debate on weapons of mass destruction has taken place in the United States, but we should focus the attention of our parliaments and publics on the severity of the problem.
All those actions are needed to build consensus. We should work through the UN to build a worthwhile, tough UN resolution. We must build consensus at home and abroad. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Archer of Sandwell, said that those who cannot persuade the international community are probably wrong. We should be setting out to persuade the international community.
Earlier on, a number of colonists in America suggested that when putting across a difficult argument one should start with decent respect for the opinions of menwhich is what we and our American allies now need to have.
Baroness Rawlings: My Lords, on behalf of Members on these Benches, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Symons, for introducing this debate and therefore affording the opportunity to debate the long-awaited dossier. This has been an exceptional emergency debate on a complex subject. I have found it illuminating listening to distinguished speakers with great expertise in the military and diplomatic fields.
I was fortunate to participate in the International Institute of Strategic Studies annual conference earlier this month and have had more time to study the institute's document A Net Assessment of Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction than today's dossierwhich we received only this morning, for reasons not yet adequately explained.
As my noble friend Lord Howell of Guildford said in his eloquent speech, we fully support the Prime Minister in his support for President Bush in the face of a common threata stance that our leader, Iain Duncan Smith, has consistently made clear.
Understandably, many of your Lordships have asked whether it would not be illegal and immoral for Britain to support an American war against Iraq. Otherssuch as the noble Lord, Lord Moran, and many outside the Houseask why Saddam poses a threat to us. We have read and heard loud and clear from many of your Lordships today factswhich at this late stage I will not repeatindicating that the illegality is firmly on the side of Iraq.
The informative dossier and the IISS document details Saddam's stockpiling and weapons programme. They demonstrate how close he is to obtaining a nuclear capability, which represents a far more potent threat. The noble and gallant Lord, Lord Guthrie, in a forceful speech, and others said that the Iraqi forces have been much reduced, most of their tanks are obsolete and their air force is diminished. Your Lordships have heard that a mixture of Saddam's immoralityhaving used weapons against his neighbours and his own peoplecombined with his unpredictability in passing weapons to terrorist groups undoubtedly affects our national interest. It is difficult to see how or why Saddam Hussein should take any notice of yet another UN resolution or agree to accept the new suggestion of coercive inspections. I agree with the noble Lords, Lord Grenfell and Lord Hannay, about the importance of inspectors.
What assessment have the Government made of the system of coercive inspections recently mooted in the American press? We welcome President Bush's United Nations speech, demonstrating as it did something that we have long thoughtthat the American Government are thinking carefully about the issue and, more importantly, are keen to engage the wider international community.
Of course, Iraq is not an easy problem to solve. No one claims that it is. As Goethe said, every solution of a problem is a new problem. Many noble Lords, including my noble friend Lord Onslow, asked, "What next?". Several speakers emphasised forcefullyI agreethat our objective is to render harmless Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction programme.
We fully support all noble Lords who stressed the necessity to have a clear blueprint for the rebuilding of Iraq, for the Iraq we would like to see and the Iraq the Iraqi people would like to see should there be any military action. I should be grateful if the Minister could reassure the House that those problems have been considered and indicate his thinking on the matter. Indeed, only a few days ago the Iraqi newspaper, Al-Iqtisida, the newspaper owned by Saddam's eldest son, called for the formation of suicide squads to launch attacks on the West. Iraq plays a key role, both as a financial sponsor and harbourer, thereby threatening international peace and security. Therefore one of the most effective ways of defeating terrorism is by tracking the money that supports its activities.
During the last Session, on 9th July, my noble friend Lord Saatchi raised an important question concerning terrorist-related assets frozen in UK bank accounts. Can the Minister tell the House what further progress has been made in finding and freezing terrorist-related funds and how any of those findings impact upon the current situation in Iraq?
Finally, people are asking daily for more compelling evidence of the threat. The dossier provided by the Government is important, but a point was put to me recently which I should like to put to the Minister. Can the Minister tell the House whether the Iraqi opposition has been approached? This opposition group, the INC, as mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, is based in the UK and the US. It is funded by the West. Bearing in mind that it claims to command the support of 80 per cent of Iraqis back home and maintains secret connections with top levels of the Iraqi Army, would it not be well placed to confirm publicly what we have hitherto received only from other sources? It could provide us with the extra evidence that public opinion demands. Why not ask it to produce an authoritative defector to testify in front of the UN? For it is through the UN, as most noble Lords have said, that whatever action is taken against Saddam Hussein must be channelled.
We have heard passionately-held and differing views todayor should I say "tonight" at this late hour. Like other noble Lords, I hope that this confrontation may be resolved peacefully. OnlyI repeat, "only"if that proves impossible then I cannot but recall Aristotle's words, "We make war that we may live in peace".
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach): My Lords, I begin by praising and thanking all those who have spoken in the debate. This has been a particularly stimulating and informed debate with a huge variety of expert knowledge. It has been a very good debate, but also a very long one. I am sure that the House will be with me in this at least: I intend to limit myself to 20 minutes at the mostif I do not, my Chief Whip will.
Free speech is one of the proudest traditions of this House and a vital part of our way of life. I believe we all agree on the importance of the issues under discussion. What is so impressive is the way in which Members of this House listen to those who hold sometimes very different views from their own. Sadly, this is not a privilege permitted to the people of Iraq.
However, in closing, it is worth returning to the key questions posed earlier today by my right honourable friends the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary in another place. First, does the Iraqi regime pose a real and growing threat not only to the region but also to this country and our allies? Secondly, if so, what should the Government, in concert with our allies, do in response?
The dossier published today sets out in considerable and convincing detail the evidence to support the Government's belief that the threat is real and increasing. It also highlights the manner in which Saddam Hussein has blatantly and consistently ignored and evaded UN resolutions. The connection between Iraq and terrorism has been discussed. The noble Lord, Lord Howell, raised the issue and was mildly critical of the dossier because it did not make a connection between Iraq's programme of weapons of mass destruction and terrorism. The noble Lord will remember that the document is a report from our intelligence community on what we believe to be matters of fact. It is emphatically not about speculation.
Your Lordships would rightly have been critical of us making a connection we could not substantiate. Of course if any weapons of mass destruction fall into terrorist hands it would be catastrophican expression used in the debate. But evidence of such weapons passing from Iraq to terrorists does not exist. That is not to say that there is not considerable evidence of Iraqi support for various types of terrorism over the years. As noble Lords have said, there is no evidence of direct links to Al'Qaeda in the dossier, but Iraq has a long record of support for terrorism including Palestinian terrorist groups such as Abu Nidal; the activities of the MEK against Iran; payments to the families of suicide bombers and the assassination of political opponents in Iraq and abroad.
The House will remember that Saddam Hussein tried to assassinate the first President Bush and the Emir of Kuwait in 1993. All this should come as no surprise to anyone in this House.
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