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Lord Judd: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for giving way. Does he agree that we have to look at why the mandate was crafted in the way it was? I suggest that the ambivalence in the pastwhich has been disastrous because of the tyrannical nature of Saddam, which was so well described by my noble friendwas reflected in the terms of the UN resolution.
I do not deny that Wolfowitz, Perle and so on have all kinds of plans. People who sit in think-tanks make up mad plans. They are supposed to think like that; that is the nature of think-tank people. It does not necessarily mean that all those mad plans will be realisedand if they are going to be realised, I am sure that we shall have enough time to do something about stopping them.
I turn briefly to the economics of the war. The noble Lord, Lord Newby, was on the one hand concerned about the costs of the war and, on the other, thought that the costs of post-war reconstruction, which will be very high, may not be met and that we may spend very little money. I hope that it is clear that in terms of the GNP of the developed countries these costs do not represent significant amounts of money. It would be appalling if we said that rather than spend £3.5 billion, which is one-third of 1 per cent of UK GDP, we would let people die. I would rather not do that.
Lord Phillips of Sudbury: My Lords, this is probably the first time in history that a world crisis has unfolded in real time in our sitting-rooms. Twist by twist and turn by turn, everyone has been able to follow the complex and intractable Iraqi tragedy. The deep public engagement puts, I suggest, unique strains on political leadership.
I am proud of the reaction of the British public. I am proud of their maturity and balance, and of that remarkable demonstration on 15th February which shattered the notion that we have become a frivolous nation, disengaged from serious politics. It is also fair to say that, like others, I have been impressed by the role and intent of the Prime Minister, although I disagree with aspects of his strategy now. We all wish him and his Ministers wisdom and stamina in the months ahead.
Before turning to the single issue that I want to deal with at this late hour, perhaps I may say a word about the legality and status of the different UN resolutions. The noble Baroness, Lady Symons, fairly and accurately referred to the differences between the Iraq resolutionsResolutions 687 and 1441and the Israeli occupied territory resolutions, Resolutions 242 and 338. My noble friend Lord Goodhart gave a very able analysis of the legalities and the noble Lord, Lord Brennan, made some apposite remarks. But there is a danger. On the one hand we are insistentat least on this side of the House and I think on all sides
I return to the issue that the Prime Minister so acutely and correctly identified shortly after September 11th when he said that the battle in respect of international terrorism is one of hearts and minds. He seems to some extent to have forgotten that, yet it colours every prospect and every consequence, every hope and every fear.
I do not think I need spend much time convincing your Lordships that Britain has an ambiguous enough history and relationship with the Middle East and that that of the USA is more contentious still. Unfortunately, in the Muslim world, few believe that a President backed by the US oil industry has no designs on Iraqi oil or that the influence of the likes of Mr. Wolfowitz and Mr. Perle at the heart of his Administration, to say nothing of the fiercely pro-Israeli lobby, is unrelated to what they see as double standards applied by the United States towards Israel vis-a-vis the Palestinians as compared with Iraq.
I, too, welcome the noble Baroness, Lady Turner of Camden, back in her place. She said all that I would have wished to say and more on the human and moral concerns that are at the forefront of Anglo-American justification for war. However, people in the Middle East have long memories when it comes to their attitude to the Americans and to us. They do not forget that one of the two invasions that are now used by us as justification for invading Iraqnamely, the invasion of Iran in 1980was undertaken by Saddam with the support of the United States, ourselves and France and that we supplied him with all his arms in that eight-year war, during which over 1 million Iranians were killed or seriously wounded. Mr. Cheney himself authorised the supply of weapons of mass destruction to Saddam which he then used with devastating and horrific effects against the Iranians. The Muslims do not forget the double standardsthe hypocrisy as they see itwhich this represents.
I listened avidly to what the noble Lord, Lord Skidelsky, said about the other political background. It is no surprise that America in particular is seen by many decent Muslims as ignorant, if not contemptuous, of their way of life and the values of traditional Islam. It is characterised in the eyes of many by its righteous aggressiveness and capitalist fundamentalism, and I say this as a staunch friend of America.
In his speech yesterday, Mr Blair talked of our looking foolish if we were to delay war much longer and of our loss of potential authority and credibility. I urge him to concentrate on the issue of hearts and minds. If our invasion of Iraq is generally perceived as unjust here, will it be fair to commit our soldiers to it, as the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Bramall, asked?
If war is perceived as unjust in the Middle East, as I believe it is, no ease of military victory will compensate for the aftermath, particularly if massive Iraqi casualties are paralleled by only a handful of our own. If the overwhelming might of our means of war is felt to be unjust as well as the ends, the bad bloodindeed, hatredwhich could be vented would convert military victory into political disaster. We would have won a truly Pyrrhic triumph. Instead of being rooted out, terrorism would be sown like dragon's teeth around the Muslim world. Then we could, and I think would, reap a savage harvest.
What will President Bush and Prime Minister Blair have to say to us if, in the year following "victory", there is launched against the cities of the West a series of devastating suicide attacks which we know would be virtually unstoppable? What if the position in Palestine goes from disastrous to worse, with the level of conflict and killing escalating exponentially and in the process energising further hatred and violence? All that would be grist to the mill of Al'Qaeda and provoke other nascent terrorist groups, accelerate the prospect of unintended regime change in other Middle Eastern states, and risk regional chaos with who knows what world economic circumstances, to which my noble friend Lord Newby has referred.
Of course there is no guarantee that holding back unless and until there is an unequivocal second United Nations resolution for invasion will avoid those prospects. But to my mind what is unanswerable is that the "soft war"the war of allegianceis infinitely more important and difficult to win, and can only be done by consensus and restraint up to and if necessary beyond the 11th hour.
Baroness Massey of Darwen: My Lords, I have never been the 49th speaker anywhere before, and as such I shall be remarkably brief. In any case, so much has already been said most eloquently. I do not usually speak in debates on international affairs although I have been involved in and worked in international development programmes. Perhaps that is why I feel so passionately about many issues related to dealings with Iraq; why I speak with a deep anxiety about the processes in which we are now engaged; and why I feel that debate must continue and indeed be encouraged.
I preface my remarks by stating that I, like others, have great regard for the energy and leadership of the Prime Minister. He has undoubtedly exerted a restraining influence on the United States over many months. I accept that Saddam Hussein is a brutal dictator with a violent history. I know that after
I believe that we should not act without United Nations consensus. However difficult international negotiation may be, it is the only mechanism we have for avoiding war, even if those negotiations need to be long and tortuous. The consequences and aftermath of war in Iraq in humanitarian terms have not, for me, been sufficiently and convincingly detailed, although they have been mentioned many times tonight. The consequences of military action may increase, not diffuse tension and terrorism in the Middle East and the rest of the world.
I am deeply concerned about the impact of military action on the domestic economies of both the United States and Britain. What would be the benefits of such a war to the US? Do we know, honestly and realistically? What would be the benefits to Britain, and what would be the negative impacts? Has such an analysis been done? I am deeply concerned about Britain being seen to be irrevocably attached to an American regime which has a poor record in support of issues that I believe are important: reproductive rights, the environment, children's rights and poverty. It also has a poor record of humanitarian support for nations following military action, such as in Afghanistan. As that has already been mentioned, I will not go into it.
I am not anti-American. I have lived and worked in the US and admire its founding principles of justice and human rights and its get up and go-ism. However, I have serious misgivings about its sometimes simplistic approaches to complex problems, its materialism and self-interest. My noble friend Lord Morgan expressed it better than I can.
Perhaps I may now illustrate my concerns by examples from an article in the New York Times last week and from a declaration opposing war with Iraq signed by over 60 towns in the United States. The New York Times article suggests that the American Administration have,
Some talk of Iraqi oil being the spoils of war. What would happen, as others have asked, to Iraqi Kurdistan? Would Turkey be allowed to occupy the territory? Would Saddam be replaced by American governance, but many of his officials remain in post? Would the Sunni
A recent declaration by American towns opposing war makes the following points. I summarise and edit. This is from a copy sent to me by a friend in a town in Illinois. First, issues between Iraq and the world community have not proved to be unresolvable by traditional diplomatic efforts. Secondly, sanctions imposed on Iraq by the UN at the urging of the US Government have resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands of non-combatants, an overwhelming number of them under the age of five. Thirdly, in a war the lives of American soldiers and Iraqi civilians would be in jeopardy. I add a note that around 50 per cent of the Iraqi population is under the age of 15. Fourthly, the cost estimate to the US for a war with Iraq is between 9 billion dollars and 18 billion dollars a month80 per cent of the school districts in Illinois face budget crises. Fifthly, the billions of dollars spent on war could be better spent on schools, nutrition, healthcare, housing and eliminating poverty in the United States. Sixthly, the US is urged in this declaration to work through the UN, disarm Iraq, and reaffirm its commitment to the rule of law in international relationships.
Again, these are Americans raising concerns. We all know that many people in the UK share similar concerns for similar reasons. I believe that we have a duty to support the concept and principles of the United Nations. I believe that the full consequences of war with Iraq have not been thoroughly explored: the aftermath remains uncertain. Just getting rid of Saddam and his weapons is not enough for me and I would not wish to see Britain launched on military commitments with the US under these circumstances. I hope that the Government will think very carefully about their alliances and the terrible complexities of their undertakings.
Lord Greaves: My Lords, I start by stating where I stand. I took part in the march on 15th February, along with at least 15 of my noble friends. I was proud to be led by my noble friend Lady Williams and by Charles Kennedy. I am also proud that 52 of my colleagues in another place turned out, with the exception of Menzies Campbell who is away sick, to vote against the Government today. I stand firm with my party on this issue but, having said that, I want to pick up a point raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Uddin, and mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Chan. I refer to the effect of current developments on Muslim communities in this country.
The noble Baroness referred to the demonising of Muslims and said that people feel able to make forced entries into mosques willy-nilly. An excellent report published last August by the Minority Rights Group International, Muslims in Britain, refers to
My experience of the 1.5 million Muslims in this country is largely based on communities in Lancashire consisting of people of Pakistani and Indian origin. My friends in those communities have an increasing sense that they are under siege and suffer a growing lack of confidence in their future in this country.
A few weeks ago, The Times surveyed children in a primary school playground in Surrey, asking them to suggest terms with which they associated the word "Muslim". Forty per cent of the children equated "Muslim" with "terrorist". In the British media, terms such as "terrorist", "Muslim" "asylum seeker", "crime" and "disease" go round and round in any order, with disgraceful exploitation of individual casessome of which are unfounded. It is therefore not surprising that many British-born Muslims ask, as one did of me this morning, "What the hell are we doing here?"
Muslim communities are increasingly retreating into their own media. In almost all the Asian households in Nelson in Lancashire, the main TV channel is PTVPakistan Television. That reflects a typical retreat from British society to something with which Muslims feel much safer. That relatively recent trend has come with the development of cable and satellite TV.
There is much perceived petty racism, such as spitting at women in headscarves. If someone spat at one of your Lordships or myself, we would regard it as rudeness. If one is used to being on the receiving end of petty racism, one assumes that it is racist. Young people perceive that they are being harassed by the police.
More importantly, I am told by people whose information and views I respect that ordinary individuals are moving money out of the UK to safety pots, as they are called, in other countries. That was common in the 1970s, when immigrants would bank surplus money in Pakistan, commenting, "We do not know how long we'll be here. We don't know when they'll kick us out". That practice is starting up again. At weddings, funerals and other family gatherings, the gossip usually gets around to, "Where are you putting your money now? Switzerland, Canada or Dubai?"
Economically more important is the growing belief since September 11th that there has been a dramatic increase in the targeting of Muslim businesses in this country by the security services and fraud investigators in a way that does not apply to other ethnic minorities or communities. I have been provided with details of a number of instances in which it appears that that is taking place. People are finding that they are unable to get banking facilities any longer in this country, or that their businesses are raided and their computers and records taken away, only to be brought back a week later with no charges laid. When the businesses are in financial services or trading, that is very serious as those records may be used for all sorts of purposes, and the people concerned have no idea that it is happening.
At a different level, one of the advantages of the Government's rather incompetently organised asylum seekers' dispersal programme is that, in an area such as mine, the ethnic composition of the population has been greatly enriched, at least temporarily. We have lots of asylum seekers, including Kurds and Arabs of various sorts from Iraq. There are concerns that the Government intend, if there is a warperhaps I should say "when the war on Iraq starts"that there will be a general rounding-up of Iraqis. The concern is that it will be used as an excuse to round up, intern or detain people, including large numbers of people who have come here to escape the tyranny of the brutal Saddam Hussein regime.
Of course, that happened during the Second World War when many Jews who came here for safe haven found themselves interned for the duration. It would be a disgrace if that were to happen again. I should like to ask the Minister specifically for an assurance that that is not planned. If it is planned, what powers are intended to be used? Who will be responsible for choosing the people to be interned? I hope that she will be able to answer that.
Lord Gilbert: My Lords, the three speeches that I enjoyed most in the debate were those from the noble Lord, Lord Dahrendorf, my good friend the noble Baroness, Lady Ramsay, and the noble Lord, Lord Alton. From that, noble Lords will not be surprised to learn that I support the Government's position on the matter wholeheartedly, even though, I confess, a year or so ago I had some apprehensions. I have changed my mind in certain respects, and now I fully support what the Prime Minister is trying to do.
I rather deplore the use of the word "war" time and again. We are not talking about a war in the sense of the First or Second World War, or anything remotely like it. However, the articles in the press these days have stories about the mass bombing of Hanover, Hamburg and Kassel. That is not going to happen in Baghdad, any more than it happened in Belgrade or Kabul. In fact, I shall be very surprised if the military side of any events to come in Iraq takes more than a matter of days.
I want to make one other point, in response to a question asked by the noble Earl, Lord Russell. He intervened in the speech of my noble friend Lord Hardy to say that we all knew that Saddam Hussein had a terrible regime but the question was of a balance of evils,
I am not in a position to guarantee that any or all of those things will come about. I have no crystal ball, but I defy the noble Earl, Lord Russell, or anybody else to tell me that they can guarantee that they will not come about. Those things remain to be seen.
I thought that one of the most important remarks made by the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig, whom I am glad to see is in his place, was the importance of giving the military clear objectives. We have some difficulties. There are clearly two objectives: one is the removal of weapons of mass destruction; and the other is achieving regime change in Iraq. It is far easier to get a regime change and then eliminate weapons of mass destruction than to go in and try to find weapons of mass destruction and hope that regime change will follow.
Unfortunately, under international law, regime change is not an acceptable objective or policy, which shows just how damned silly international lawyers can be. I mean that seriously. If anybody thinks that it would not have been in the world's interests for us some years ago to intervene to remove the regime of Pol Pot, I should like to hear from him. International law forbids us to do that.
I turn to some remarks that were made by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Oxford, whom I hold in the highest esteem. It is only because I hold him in the highest esteem that I am taking the trouble to quote him. I made some notes diligently, and accurately I hope, of one or two of his remarks. He said that we must have a "truly international consensus" before we move on Iraq. He said that what is going to be done must be done "in the name of the UN as a whole". But it is not going to be done in the name of the UN as a whole. Whatever happens, it will be done in the name of the Security Council. It is just as well that it is not done in the name of the UN as a whole because that body elected Libya to be chairman of the UN Human Rights Commission and planned to have the presidency of the conference on disarmament passed to Iraq. That is what the UN as a whole does for us.
Let us consider the Security Council to see who is not on it first of all. The biggest democracy in Asia is not a member of the Security Council. The biggest Hindu country in the world is not a member of the Security Council. The biggest Muslim country in the world is not a member of the Security Council. When we look at South AmericaI am sorry if the Front Bench opposite has difficulty with the geography. I shall be more specific and helpful to the noble Lords opposite. In South America, neither Brazil nor Argentina are on the Security Council. The most populous country in
I know how the Security Council is composed and why it is composed in that way. But let no one tell me, with great respect to the right reverend Prelate, that the Security Council has the authority of the world as a whole behind it.
As for the states that are on it, several of those are quite disreputable, but I shall not identify them as I shall probably get into trouble. However, it is interesting to see who takes the decisions on the Security Council. The President of Russia is a former full-time KGB officer who takes decisions in the name of the rest of the world. He has a permanent place on the Security Council and has a veto over what we do.
We have Mr Hu Jintao. I acquit him of any responsibility for Tibet or Tiananmen Square, as he was not involved in decisions at that time. The regime that he represents is the regime that is stained by that kind of history.
We then comeI shall be in serious trouble in a momentto one of our neighbours. There is more than one regional bully with weapons of mass destruction at its disposal. One of them is on the Security Council, and I should be surprised if Members of this House took its moral authority as a guide when coming to decisions of their own.
If one says that one resolution from the Security Council is not enough but that two resolutions make the situation okay, one is submitting one's judgment to that of Mr Hu Jintao, Mr Putin and Mr Chirac. If one really says that one would rather trust those people than Mr Blair, I am very, very sorry indeed.
I fully understand the political imperatives of the Security Council but I have said enough to make it clear that I do not believe that the Security Council is vested with any power to confer morality on any decisions that we may take. It may confer legality but that depends on one's interpretation of individual resolutions.
My final point is about British-American relations, which will be at the heart of matters in the future. The die is probably now cast. The only thing that I believe will avoid military action is not a few more concessions to the inspectors but if Mr Saddam Hussein were to leave Baghdad lock, stock and barrel with his family. Other than that, we are in for military action. I believe that we are talking about days, not weeks; we are very close indeed.
It is extremely important that this country marches in lock step with the United States. I have always held the principle that it is of supreme importance to this country to be on intimate terms with our American friends. I need not tell people that I am a friend of the United States. Actually, I should like to be called a poodle because I am told that poodles are quite intelligent dogs. That may be arrogating too much to myself. Anyone who has had any contact, however tangential, with intelligence matters, must know precisely how valuable to this country the relationship with the United States is and will continue to be. I hope
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, this has been a sober debate on a vital subject. In a powerful speech to the American Senate 10 days ago, the Democratic Senator for West Virginia, Robert Byrd, said:
During the early stages of this debate, I felt that the unusual emptiness of the Government Benches spoke strongly of the hesitation of the Government's party on this matter. It is the first occasion on which I have noticed that the Cross Benches are markedly fuller than the Labour Benches.
We have heard a number of extremely helpful speeches and powerful critical speeches from behind the Government Front Bench, particularly from the noble Lord, Lord Brennan, who answered the points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Gilbert, about the relevance or irrelevance of international law. I was glad to hear from those on my own Benches a number of speeches on the many different dimensions of this complex issue.
The Government's rationale, as set out by the noble Baroness, Lady Symons, in her opening speech seemed to present the American position more than the British. To summarise, it states that Iraq is an immediate threat to world order. She made only a passing reference to the Arab-Israel conflict and, unless I misheard her, no reference to the terrorist threat or to the implications for the Middle East region as a whole or the rest of the Muslim world in south and south-east Asia; nor, as the noble Baroness, Lady Uddin, and my noble friend Lord Greaves remarked, for Europe and our own country.
The concerns in the debate have been widely repeated on all sides of the House: concerns that the war on Iraq will spark increased terrorism, not lessen it; that the implications for the region as a whole have not been addressed; that we hear absurd ideas floating around Washington and Tel-Aviv on how a simple intervention in Iraq would bring peace to the entire region and that, to quote Henry Kissinger, the road to Jerusalem lies through Baghdad; that the management of Iraq post-conflict has not yet been set out in any way that commands confidence; and that the potential damage to world order, to the United Nations and to other institutions and to the structure of international law itself may be considerable.
We have to consider the Bush Administration's reasons and
our Government's reasons, which follow the Bush
Administration, for attacking Saddam. I regret that the noble
Lord, Lord Chalfont, accused those who criticised the Bush
Administration of being anti-American and anti-Semitic. That
is the argument used by right-wing Americans to silence
criticism. I would like to quote from a number of American
sources, as the noble Lord, Lord Skidelsky did.
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