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Lord Kennet: My Lords, a few weeks ago we had a discussion here in the middle of the night. The House was packed--there were six people. We talked about the United Nations and international law and the rights and wrongs of commencing military action. I do not wish to repeat it, although it would be interesting to go over some of the fundamental points again.
Two days ago, my noble friend Lady Symons, answering a question from the noble Lord, Lord Judd, spoke eloquently about the importance of the United Nations acting co-operatively together, with or without clear legal justification. I ask the noble Lord, Lord Gilbert, to tell the House what is the news from the United Nations today--this morning, as it is there. Have there been any developments since what was reported in the morning press here today?
You can legally make war on another country--and this is an act of war--in self-defence against aggression. That is one justification, but that is not the case here; there has been no aggression against the United States or this country. Alternatively, you can do it under a UN Security Council resolution. There has been endless argument about whether the existing Security Council resolutions would justify, or do justify, this type of action. However, it jumps to the eye that the Security Council is divided; that is extremely obvious. If it had not been divided, no doubt we should have been going there as quickly as we could, obtaining the agreement of at least all the permanent members. As it is, the Americans and ourselves are taking the action. The Russians and the Chinese have entered the most vivid dissent and France has taken a position one can describe
I wonder whether the Government have reflected sufficiently. Let us remember that we are not talking about the general attitude they should take to Saddam and Iraq, we are talking about the quite specific choice of backing by our own military force the action taken unilaterally without us by another permanent member of the Security Council. I wonder whether the Government have thought sufficiently about the repercussions of this on Europe and on the Government's new hopes of achieving a European defence identity, the St. Malo agreement and all that, and whether there is a sufficient basis for going ahead with the, in some ways, rather easy course that we are taking with the Americans--strike now and think later--and rejecting the more difficult course of going back to the machinery of world co-operation.
Let us think for a moment what would happen if there were at this moment a Sino-Russian bombardment taking place against some country--I shall not name it as it is impossible to find an equivalent to Iraq in this context--without clear UN cover. What would the United States and ourselves say about that? This is a mirror image, in a way, of what is happening. It is always useful to glance in the mirror from time to time, even if the glass is a little distorting.
Viscount Waverley: My Lords, I hope that these events produce a conclusive answer. I fear not, but hope that I am wrong. Is the Minister aware that a cruise missile destined for Iraq landed in the Iranian city of Khoramshar causing damage? That is regrettable and has, in part, produced a negative attitude in the near region.
By extension, what is known about the approach of the Israelis? Will they contain themselves, or be contained, in the event of any Scud missile attack on Israeli territory? Is there a broader strategy in the event that this bombardment is unlikely to remove totally Iraq's capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction, as I fear this time Baghdad will possibly react by expelling UNSCOM, thereby terminating the international community's inspection and monitoring capacity?
Lord Marlesford: My Lords, I add my support to the Prime Minister and the Government for the resolution and the action that they have taken. I wish to raise one or two questions and points. First, during the Gulf War the cost of operations was largely borne by the Gulf states themselves. Have any arrangements been made, or are they envisaged, in respect of the costs which the British forces, at any rate, will incur in this action?
Secondly, on the question of dealing with Saddam Hussein, I noted at the time--as I am sure many others did--that the Memorandum of Understanding signed on 23rd February, which ended the earlier crisis (the
The noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Putney, referred to the Russians. It is well known that given their present economic situation the Russians are desperate for sanctions to end in order that they can get the dividend that they would otherwise get from their very large investment in the development of new oil reserves in Iraq. We are talking about billions of dollars of revenue to Russia per year. Mr. Primakov, the former Foreign Minister who now heads the government although not the state of Russia was very active in attempting to negotiate the end of sanctions for this purpose. We should take into account the motives of the Russians in being at the very least lukewarm in their support of what has happened. I am not concerned by the reaction of the Russians in considering whether or not we should be taking this action.
What is to happen in the future? The question is whether Iraq will survive as a country. There may well be a possibility of civil war in Iraq. There will be real dangers from other countries on its borders. For example, on its eastern border with Iran there are a number of Iraqis, and perhaps Iranians dressed as Iraqis, waiting to go in. Of course, the Turks have a considerable interest in Turkestan. It must be in the interests of that part of the world that the territorial integrity of Iraq survives. Possibly the best outcome is a non-Saddam-led provisional government. I hope that anything that can be done to support that will be done.
We in Britain have two particular contributions to make in addition to the professionalism, valour and integrity of our Armed Forces. First, we have a great deal more knowledge, understanding and empathy with the Middle East than the United States who are, and probably always will be, regarded with deep suspicion. Secondly, we are quite good at strategic thought for the future. I am not convinced that America has taken that on board. I hope we ensure that we are really plugged into the major decision-making apparatus in Washington which we presently support in its military action. I hope that we can make a real contribution to strategic thought as to what happens next.
Lord Rea: My Lords, a leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, Mr. Abraham Ahmed, is quoted in today's Evening Standard as saying that although he is sure that Saddam Hussein must go before any progress towards democracy or decent government can take place in Iraq, the present action will not help but will have the converse effect. Does the noble Lord who is to wind up
To echo the words of the noble and gallant Lords, Lord Craig of Radley and Lord Bramall, how will this action encourage opposition to Saddam within a positive plan? Reading comments by various residents of that area and neighbouring countries, I am afraid that it may well have the opposite effect.
The Earl of Carlisle: My Lords, I welcome the Statement and I wish both the teeth arms and their supporting services every success in bringing this application of force to a successful conclusion. What in fact, we might ask, is a successful conclusion? One in which Saddam Hussein goes back to the United Nations and complies with its requests? Not enough mention, I believe, has been made in the Statement of the role played by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Kofi Annan. I hope that the Minister, in his reply, will not only recognise that but will also state that we shall give every support to the Secretary-General if he has to go back again to Baghdad to discuss further matters with Saddam Hussein and his Government.
Secondly, the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Bramall, suggested offering a carrot in the way of reducing the application of sanctions. I ask the Government to be very wary of that. I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Symons of Vernham Dean, for stating in Written Answers to me that Saddam Hussein depends on the export of oil. Cut off the money from that export of oil, and he will not be able to pay his Republican Guard.
Thirdly, a question about Saddam Hussein's neighbours. Are we doing enough, ourselves and the Americans, to safeguard those neighbours while we are applying force? We know what happened over Scud missiles in the last Gulf War and that the Americans and ourselves have assisted the Israelis with Patriot anti-missiles.
Finally, we always have to talk about our own resources and housekeeping. Can the Minister assure us that the costs of the operation will not be borne out of the Defence budget entirely and that the Treasury will be generous in its assistance so that our Strategic Defence Review is not knocked sideways by this conflict?
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