Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Ming Campbell's Direct Hit at PMQs But His Policy on Iraq is Deeply Irresponsible

While I deeply deprecate the LibDem policy, announced this morning, of withdrawing all British troops from Iraq by the end of October, Ming Campbell scored a direct hit at PMQs with his follow up question. He almost spat it out...

"If he feels so strongly why doesn't the Prime Minister stay and debate the subject"

Or words to that effect. Blair replied rather lamely that he was debating it now. It really is a disgrace that Tony Blair hasn't taken part in a debate on Iraq in the Commons for years.

But back to the LibDem policy of withdrawing all British troops from Iraq by October, I have to say this is one of the most irresponsible policy announcements I have heard from them for a long time - and that's saying something. It sends all the wrong signals to those in Iraq who rely on British troops to keep the peace and undermines their authority. Naturally we shold be arguing for a phased withdrawal when the job is complete, but it is impossible to argue that our mission in Iraq has been completed - or is anywhere near being completed. Now is not the time to make publicity seeking gestures.

UPDATE: 2.25pm. A lot of people have left comments accusing me of this, that and the other, so let me address the various points raised here, just to make my position clear. If we pull out now we will exacerbate the danger of a full scale civil war. If that cannot be described as 'irresponsible' I don't know what would. The 'mission' I refer to above is to gradually restore order and bring about a situation where people can safely go about their business and the Iraqi Police and security forces are capable of keeping the peace. That point has not arrived. When it does, no one will be happier than me. To say we should pull out in a matter of months leaving the Iraqis to their own devices is the equivalent of moral cowardice. Whatever one thought of the reasons for invading the country in the first place, we are where we are. Wishful thinking and hindsight are wonderful things, but are not what I am seeking to debate in this post. INAMICUS asks what the Tory strategy is in the debate today. I suggest he watches the debate. ANYONEBUTBLAIR asks what is the exit strategy for our troops. He says: "If Shias want to kill Sunnis and Sunnis want to kill Shias then let them get on with it and not stand impotently in the middle dodging the bullets. I am utterly ashamed to be English and to have Blair as PM." Let's bear in mind that none of this would be happening if we hadn't invaded in the first place. We are there now and have to live with the situation as it is rather than what we would like it to be. What about all the Iraqis who are't shooting each other and just want to live in peace. Do we not have a responsibility to them? Blair and Bush did this in our name. Many of you may not have agreed with it at the time and still don't now. But to bring our troops home now would just be to abandon these people to a situation of absolute carnage. LEON thinks I am a Neo Con. Not true, but a debate for another occasion. Sorry to have gone on in some detail on this, but it is so important and I wanted to make my position clear.

81 comments:

Blair's Babe said...

We can't debate it, because that would encourage the insurgents who are intent on destroying democracy!!!

Anonymous said...

Yes Iain deeply irresponsible. The usual cyncial opportunism from the Lib Dums. As clearly not every idiot can see if we pull out now there is a huge risk of civil war and the disintegration of the country. There is a case for more troops to stabilise the country - not less - which Blair should be making in Parliament.

Anonymous said...

"but it is impossible to argue that our mission in Iraq has been completed"

What exactly is that mission then Iain?

Laurence Boyce said...

"Naturally we should be arguing for a phased withdrawal when the job is complete, but it is impossible to argue that our mission in Iraq has been completed – or is anywhere near being completed."

Iain, the job will never be completed. The situation has spiralled out of control and our presence is merely exacerbating the problem. That is the simple reality that we must now face.

chatterbox said...

Tony Blair has no honour left, and to avoid leading the debate while troops are there and in Afghanistan is DISGUSTING!
But then, what is worse is the fact that he can't even tell us what he is going to do because it is probable part of Gordon Brown's 100 day decree's from upon high.
Our soldiers are out there undermanned, under equipped and the treasury won't even cough up for decent armoured vehicles to keep them safe.
Demanding a withdrawal by a pre arranged date which the Libdems seem to have pulled out of the sky, smacks of opportunism and a lack of thought about the soldiers there or the people of Iraq. But still they would have thought about the headline!
So Labour in limbo for political gain and surprise surprise the Libdems doing the same!

Antipholus Papps said...

Yes, Iain, what is the job? What is the mission 'we' need to complete? The invasion itself was deeply irresponsible, immoral and constitutes the supreme international crime. Are you in favour of aggressive war?

Frankly, if Blair cannot even attend a debate on his genocide then the house must call a vote of no confidence. This country is a disgrace and I am utterly ashamed to be English.

Inamicus said...

Come on then Iain, what's the Tory strategy on Iraq today?

AnyoneButBlair said...

Let's face facts.
Basically we have handed over Basra and the surrounding areas in Iraq to Shia-dominated militias, we (Straw) has secretly negotiated with Iran to make our lives easier in Iraq and we have poorly equipped our troops to deal with the insurgency/terrorism they face.
They get mortared on a nightly basis and have no counter mortar capability. Our troops sleep in tents which will offer no protection from the mortars. They patrol in snatch-Land rovers that offer no more protection from bombs that your Audi. They try to rescue left-behind troops (sadly killed) in Afganistan hanging to the sides of Apache gunships because we have no medium-lift helicopters.
Iain - when is the Iraq job complete? What are the exit criteria for our troops? Is it that we wait until the next US presidential election?
Another day goes by and another 18-year old soldier tragically dies. A waste of British lives due to the policies of Mr.Blair & Co.
The game is up and we should get out as quickly as we can as I cannot see what our Troops are achieving in Iraq other that target practice for Insurgents.
I supported the war and (naively) belived what Blair and Co. said about Iraq and WMD. I was fooled, and frankly I've had enough.
If Shias want to kill Sunnis and Sunnis want to kill Shias then let them get on with it and not stand impotently in the middle dodging the bullets.
As Antipholus I am uttely ashamed to be English and to have Blair as PM.

Simon said...

it's no surprise Bliar doesn't want to debate - he'll take a pounding! He's a grade 1 political coward- look how shifty he gets when he thinks he's in for a hard time ( ie) he peers out into the audience, stifling panic)!If Campbell was there to back him up Blair would probably be in the Commons this afternoon! He's a disgrace. Oh, and iain, why does Guido call you 'the Queen' didn't know you were related to the Windsors!

Anonymous said...

Iain, come along now - be fair on Blair, he has an important 'cheese & wine' type function with the CBI, does he not - surely more important than debating THE biggest political story of his time in office...

And besides, it means Cameron can have the afternoon off to watch a bit of 'Countdown' and 'The Weakest Link'...

Anonymous said...

Rubbish it will never be compltete and it is not our fault our objective or our problem. Set a time taable , its the only way . I `m amazed to hear this from Ming though. I thought the Libs were niow in favour of staying for ever in the service of world peace

Anonymous said...

Our troops have been in Iraq for four years now. On returning home from their deployment our troops are treated like second class citizens:

A serving Army officer was banned from entering Harrods on Remembrance Day in case his uniform upset other shoppers.

This country in no way shows the same gratitude to their servicemen and women as the Americans do.

I visited the States several times and was treated as if I was a hero in their own forces. Everywhere I went I was given a discount on Hotels, restaurants, entry to attractions and many other services. Those discounts were cheerfully given by staff, just for producing a Royal Navy ID card. Try that in this country and all you get is derision and funny looks.

''The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional as to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation''
--George Washington--

Get out of Iraq or not, it's about time something official was done to show our appreciation for their dedication.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to be ignorant, but is there an Iraq debate in Parliament today?

In which case WTF is Blair doing which is more important?

And more importantly, why is Parliament only able to question the PM for half-an-hour a week? He should be available to answer questions 24/7.

Anonymous said...

I know the tories are in favour of legalising cannabis Iain, but you shouldn't be smoking it yet, you know.

Lib Dems are absolutely correct. It is a quagmire. Any idiot knows that when you're in a quagmire you get out, fast.

'What happens to the Iraqis though?' You may well ask. But the tories should have asked that question before voting for war, don't you think?

These 18 year olds that are getting blown up every other day sure didn't vote for war, neither did their families.

Anonymous said...

And another thing. For you and Blair to point your fingers at the lib dems and call them 'deeply irresponsible' is frankly galling since they were the only party to vote against the war in the first place.

It is tory and labour MPs that voted for the damn thing in the first place, and it is them that share the blame for this debacle.

If you have any integrity Iain, you would admit you are wrong to attack the lib dems over the war.

Anonymous said...

I thought the mission as justified at the time was to make us safe from Iraq WMDs.

Clearly, we are now safe from those WMDs so why not declare victory and bring them home

Anonymous said...

and our presence is merely exacerbating the problem

Because as soon as we leave, they will all sit down, drink tea and discuss their differences.

You may be right about pulling out (thats a different argument) but the idea that we are making things worse is a fantasy of Galloway proportions.

Bernie R said...

Iain,

All this stuff about "completing our mission" is just bollocks, much like the case made for the war in the first place. A government that has done something as disastrous as mounting an unpopular, illegal and unproductive invasion is forced to keep coming out with bollocks like this, but you don't have to make yourself look like a twat by repeating it, you're a private individual, not a government.

Even before the invasion, prominent people in your own party predicted precisely the disastrous outcome we are now seeing. It's them you should be listening to and supporting now, not those whose arrogance and recklessness have led us into failure and humiliation.

Anonymous said...

I doubt if even putting in 100,000 more troops in Iraq would help much. As soon as the armies leave, the Sunnis and Shias will tear each other to pieces. Probably best to call in Iran and Syria and divide the country between them. This would still be a better outcome than having left it in Saddam's hands. The current government there is fucked and they know it. Moqtadr Al Sadr and Ahmedinajad are calling the shots as are a bunch of Al-Queda backed Sunnis who were nowhere before the invasion.

leon said...

Jesus Iain I never figured you for being a Neo Con...

Anonymous said...

Ming’s policy is irresponsible, leaving our troops in Iraq, with no policy, no plan, no honesty and no accountability is responsible is it?

dynamite said...

I don't actually agree with Ming's policy announcement today, but the Liberal Democrats will take no wagging fingers from Tories on the issue. You lot stick with what you've been best at all along - silence.

Dr.Doom said...

Do I take it then Iain, that the Conservative party is 'IN' Iraq this week, as opposed to being out lat week but 'IN' the week before?

I'm getting a little travel sick with Conservative policy that is either 'in the British Interest', or out of it.

Roll on Gordon.

Doom.

Anonymous said...

Dont fall that Mr Dale, I had you figured for better than that. If Cameron had any balls he wouldnt have been supporting this absolutely pointless war. If we leave them alone they will blow each other up and leave us alone.

Anonymous said...

I see Labour are really fielding loads of mp's on the Iraq debate NOT ,

Ken from gloucester said...

I have looked at Brown,s track record on controvertial matters and he has always managed to "never be around". He lacks courage and that is putting it mildly.


I thought Blair was different because he would usually argue his case (spin and bluster)but not any more. I would call Blair a coward to his face.

Anonymous said...

Seriously, what other policy is there? The whole episode has been a complete disaster from start to finish and from the Tory point of view IDS/Howard/Cameron were all wrong to have supported it.

They should have taken a stance based purely on whether British interests were at stake. This would have been entirely consistent with Conservative foreign policy historically.

proud to be anonymous said...

Iain, for the benefit of your many readers, please explain what you see as "our" continuing "mission" in Iraq, as of the present, the here-and-now. Please avoid any spurious references to western-style "democracy", wherever possible.

Anonymous said...

Mings speech worth 3%+ in the polls

Anonymous said...

When we leave it will be in the interests of Iran, Syria and others to calm it down. They will want an Iraq that is independent but under their influence. All we have done is created a Greater Iran, with no chance of ever having any influence, it is utterly insane to waste more lives on a lost war that should have never happened. Ask Peter Hain what he thinks or anyone in the government apart from Bliar, they dont agree with it and nor does anyone else in the country. I talked to a nmate of mine who is ex-services and the subkject of protecting our troops, more armour etc he said " the only way to protect a soldier is to bring him home". Nuff said

Indigo said...

I have heard pros and cons of our staying in Iraq. We are not achieving anything. Iran has overrun Basrah. Our troops are in danger of being caught between the Scylla and Charybidis of Iran and the US warships in the Persian Gulf.

Bring the British troops home tomorrow.

Marquee Mark said...

Ed,

Agree 100% that Blair should be available to answer questions 24/7. I think it a disgrace that the police have to wait until 6.30 am....

If Blair is that reluctant to face the Commons, which holds a majority of his own party, and loses it completely when confronted by the massed ranks of slow-hand-clapping WI - then surely he must have been fitted with a butt plug to prevent leakage when being interviewed about peerages by Inspector Knacker...

Inamicus said...

Yes I'm a Lib Dem, but I have to say Ming's speech in the debate just now was magnificent, and he shredded the hostile Conservative interventions. Hague was good but said very little on Iraq, concentrating on the wider Middle East issues.

Anonymous said...

If the teflon is not there to debate with then ,Ming's speech is just a good speech , I think teflon forgets that the public have son's and daughters in Iraq and can watch the Parliment on tv , people do remember

Anonymous said...

if we pull oall our troops out of Iraq what will happen to the price of oil?

Have you all gone mad? said...

So much of what AnyoneButBlair said... I have been thinging for a long time.

It is not Anti-American, nor soft Conservatism, nor am I soft in the head! The problem with this war is Blair never did work out how to get our troops out. Apparently he was advised it would take 20 years to get out.

Do we have to divert Billions of pounds of our taxes for another generation? I guess I favour giving the money back to the taxpayer rather than 20 years of blowing it up in Iraq.

Anonymous said...

The 'mission' was based on a pack of lies and a grab of Iraqi oil assets, the Yanks have admitted we have got nothing out of this debacle but our good name dragged through the mud and British lives in danger (I have to travel to the middle east in the next couple of months, life insurance has trebled). I will stick with the military's view that we are now part of the problem, and agree whole heartedly with setting a timescale to concentrate minds. The only moral coward is Blair failing to show up. I am not interested in his views on Big Brother, but I want some answers on the war not more lies.

Anonymous said...

Antipholus Papps - "[Iraq invasion] constitutes the supreme international crime."
======================================

No it did not. Your argument is predicated on a false analysis that there is a such as thing as "international law". The Iraq invasion did not constitute a crime because there is no law it broke.

In order for law to exist there must be a common power in the form of a sovereign to enforce it. The last time I looked there is no such international sovereign. The United Nations has had no sovereignty conferred to it. It has no power to stop nations doing anything. It has no authorising power for military action either. It is a talking shop.

As such, if there is no international common sovereign there can be no international law. And if there is no international law then there can be no notion of injustice or illegality in terms of the actions of nation states. As such the Iraq War was neither illegal or legal, it just was.

Anonymous said...

Guthrum said... The 'mission' was based on a pack of lies and a grab of Iraqi oil asset

===================================

No oil assets have been grabbed. We are buying the oil.

wrinkled weasel said...

I'll start by agreeing with Daily Referendum, that our armed services are to be respected for their very real sacrifices and their dedication to this present lost cause. If the Harrod's incident is true, Al Fayed should be shot.

But what is obscene is the level of attendance at the current debate in the House of Commons.

There are a few Conservative heavies..Peter Tapsell, IDS, Malcom Rifkind, Michael Ancram (there may be more)and the usual Labour suspects..but where is the Labour front bench? I spotted Ian McCartney. Ian McFucking Cartney!

Are they busy panicking about gays adopting kids? Are they just too venal and pusilanimous to stand up for what it right?

This is a national shame. We as a nation stand in symbolic relation to the age of pragmatism, not principles.

As for your point about getting out of Iraq Iain, yes we should get out and we should get out now. If you think for a moment that one more, two more, three more, four more dead British soldiers are going to make a difference you are living in Tunbridge Wells.

wrinkled weasel said...

I'll start by agreeing with Daily Referendum, that our armed services are to be respected for their very real sacrifices and their dedication to this present lost cause. If the Harrod's incident is true, Al Fayed should be shot.

But what is obscene is the level of attendance at the current debate in the House of Commons.

There are a few Conservative heavies..Peter Tapsell, IDS, Malcom Rifkind, Michael Ancram (there may be more)and the usual Labour suspects..but where is the Labour front bench? I spotted Ian McCartney. Ian McFucking Cartney!

Are they busy panicking about gays adopting kids? Are they just too venal and pusilanimous to stand up for what it right?

This is a national shame. We as a nation stand in symbolic relation to the age of pragmatism, not principles.

As for your point about getting out of Iraq Iain, yes we should get out and we should get out now. If you think for a moment that one more, two more, three more, four more dead British soldiers are going to make a difference you are living in Tunbridge Wells.

Anonymous said...

..... The 'mission' I refer to above is to gradually restore order and bring about a situation where people can safely go about their business and the Iraqi Police and security forces are capable of keeping the peace. blah blah blah
You are, Sir, having a laugh!

Anonymous said...

wrinkled weasel said...
I'll start by agreeing with Daily Referendum, that our armed services are to be respected for their very real sacrifices and their dedication to this present lost cause.

More like their dedication to carrying out the military, political and economic policy will of another country, in another country where we have no National Interest. Now hang on, doesn't that make them mercanaries?

Alan Connor said...

The verbatim quotation is: "If the Prime Minister feels that strongly, he should come and debate the issues this afternoon. What can possibly be more important than that the Prime Minister should be here to debate the issue of Iraq at a time when the lives of British forces are at risk every day? Is not that the kind of leadership to which we are entitled?"

Anonymous said...

out in a matter of months leaving THE DALE SAID-the Iraqis to their own devices is the equivalent of moral cowardice

No I don’t see that , it had nothing to do with morals , in that sense ,that we went in the first place .It had to do with assuring our own security and specifically backing the US the only meaningful strut in our defence policy.
The only reason that civil war was not happening before we got there was because any likely contenders were hauled off an shot in the middle of the night. There will never be a good time to go and setting an agenda will focus everyone’s minds and give the process a direction .

We did not cause the civil war in Iraq . Sadaam stopped it by a policy of brutal murder and it was only an incidental. It is not the tax payers responsibility to pay for someone elses version of what may or may not be moral ( or indeed” cowardice"...a bit theatrical..) . We pay for defence and that is all.

Iain seems to be subscribing to the Liberal notion that we should have kitty we pop our pennies into for doing "good " in some semi conceived way in the opinion usually of frustrated ideologues whose silly isms are patently unworkable domestically .When was this greater objective agreed upon ?

As to Iain being a Neo Con…I would say he has gravitated left and I would have to call him something like a Liberal Conservative. I wonder where this thrilling sleigh rise will end , perhaps in a pact with the Minger and his be-sandaled bretheren.
He is , I think , Like Boris Johnson , establishing right wing credential by adopting attitudes on small things , like mobile phones , but is signed up to the Pro EU high tax socially Liberal agenda of the “Liberal Conservatives” or Cameroons .Or not ..thats my impression at least.
What alternative is there for an A lister ?

DIZZY is of course entirely right about the concept of an illegal war. There is no such thing. Jaques Chirac once said “We are creating world government” but they have way to go yet. It is instructive to look at the corruption and sloth of the UN when imagining what world government might look like

There must never be such a thing we need to reclaim sovereignty and control on all fronts.

Iain Dale said...

Newmania, you are talking absolute, total b*****s

Anonymous said...

Anonymous (2:25) said...
When we leave it will be in the interests of Iran, Syria and others to calm it down.

That'll be like Lebanon then. You really haven't got a clue have you! FFS!

Antipholus Papps said...

Dizzy:

I am taking as precedent the Nuremberg Trials where planning and waging aggressive war was defined as 'the supreme international crime'.

Anyway, surely international law is defined by the treaties and charters that are signed by sovereign nations. We are signatories to the International Criminal Court in the Hague and therefore bound by our agreements in relation to that body. As far as I'm concerned, if we fail to hold Blair accountable for launching a war of aggression, and don't send him to the Netherlands to stand trial, we are complicit in his crimes against humanity.

griswold said...

What on earth makes you think that foreign troops can bring peace and democracy to Iraq. Deluded and dishonest to believe that US/Britain are doing anything other than saving face by going through the motions pending defeat and dishonourable abandonment of Iraq. Better for all concerned to say "Our monumental hubris, a complete lack of historical perspective and a casual logistical approach have caused this disaster." Better for the Conservatives to admit that the whole operation is a monumnetal mistake.That apart US are backing the wrong people, much as Kennedy did when backing the Catholic Diems instead of the Buddhists in South Vietnam. US will pull out and than blame Iraq Govt as not fit for purpose. How disgusting.

Inamicus said...

Iain - I am watching the debate as it happens. I didn't hear a great deal from Hague about what the Tories would do in Iraq - he focused on the wider Mid East. As I write Michael Ancram is making a powerful speech in favour of withdrawal which essentially endorses Ming Campbell's position.

AnyoneButBlair said...

Iain
Thanks for mentioning me in your response and I do respect your point of view. To clarify where I stand....
The game is up! Face facts Iraq is in civil war and may fragment into three separarate states. The US "surging" another 25,000 troops into Iraq is a drop in the Ocean.
The facts on the ground are that we have a small number of troops in a vast area with less helicopter support than the chief constable of surrey and who are barely equipped for their mission as I briefly chronicled earlier. We have effectively handed over control to the shia-militias in the military and police and our soldiers minimise their time outside their bases to minimise the political risks of casualties. I agree we do have a responsibility to the Iraqis, but that responsibility does not last into perpetuity.
We are already pulling out as chronicled by Des Browne's laughable updates on the security situation in parliament and how the iraq police/military (aka shia-militia) are taking further responsibilities. Do you propose to stop this?
Will we hand over the residents of Basra and the south to carnage? Maybe but on balance I don't think so as the shias have won and the fighting there will be clan based.
We fucked up and have created a truly disasterous situation that our presence worsens so we should get out sooner rather than later.
Where's the moral cowardice? I think it's just facing the facts on the ground..we've lost, we fucked up and hanging on is not going to help.
Honestly in Blair and Bush I see visions of OKH (Gernan High Command in WWII) meeting with Hitler moving non-existent divisons to defend Stanlingrad and calling for impossible counter-attacks. Iain, please don't buy into this narrative of madness.....

Anonymous said...

Dizzy- we are buying the oil ! I am still laughing at the innocence of that remark

Anonymous said...

It seems odd to me: I've heard many who want British forces out of Iraq state that one of their reasons for doing so was out of concern for the troops.

If these people really did feel concern for British soldiers in Iraq, they wouldn't continually spout this withdrawal nonsense, which serves not only to collectively demoralise, but to render everything that our soldiers have fought and died for as void. The serving soldiers will feel they've let down their dead comrades, and we would be ashamed as a nation.

Anonymous said...

To anon 4.21

So if you were causing mayhem and violence destabilising the Iraq govt whilst under occupation what would you do if the allies lost and moved out? You would calm it down, make out all the violence was the fault of the invaders, do all the things we should have done like basic law and order electricity and water. They will then have won the second war against the infidels in 2 years after Lebanon.

It is in Iran and Syria’s interest to have an unoccupied, independent Iraq that has an weak and easily influence government. They will have then won hearts and minds all over the mid east, will have blamed all of the violence on the west and be in a position to control Iraq long term. Why would they be fighting the Americans if they wanted to destroy the country? They would wait till the US left and then do it.

This is the reason they are happy to string it out, west has already lost and every day we stay is a propaganda victory for them.

Dont fall for the arguments of the very people who have screwed up already and are the only ones advocating us "staying the course", both are out of office in 18 months with no comeback.

They have been wrong about everything so far why fall for neo-con knob now?

Steve

mark williams said...

Dizzy: "The Iraq invasion did not constitute a crime because there is no law it broke."

Much as I respect your blog writing, this is rubbish. It sounds like the sort of argument put forward by NeoCon loonies and/or Tim Montgomerie.

First of all there is such a thing as international law. On a different level there are treaties covering Iternational Ownership Treaties, Antarctic Treaty System, Law of the Sea, the Outer Space Treaty, the Treaty, International waters and Extraterrestrial real estate.

Each country agrees to abide by its treaty obligations. Those include its obligations as a signatory to a UN Charter. There may be many faults in the way the UN and its various bodies work, but I don't think that anybody has seriously said that the basis of the UN charter is seriously flawed. OK, Blair and Bush have said that it would be nice to have an exemption for a Coal ition of the Willing to go round picking on what they deem to rogue states, but back in the real world the values of the UN charter still apply.

The UN Charter is probably the highest level of agreement between nations regulating disputes and the conduct of nations. Any serious breach might well be treated as a criminial offence as happened at the Nuremberg Trials, which were established "for the just and prompt trial and punishment of major war criminals of the European Axis".

The indictments at Nuremberg were for (i) Conspiracy to wage Aggressive War, (ii) Waging aggressive War, (iii) War Crimes and (iv) Crimes Against Huumanity.
I am not saying that any of those apply to Iraq, but neither am I saying they don't. You may remember the heads of the British Army wanting a legal opinion that there actions in invading Iraq were not in breach of UK law or international obligations.

It may be that in 30 years time, if the American Empire has faded and China and India are running the world, Bush or Blair might be arrested Pinochet-style while on holiday in some sunny country by a zealous magistrate for deportation to Iraq.

John Miller said...

I find reducing things to a very personal level usually gives you a clear path forward. Your son (or daughter) has been invited by someone very important "down your street" to separate two bullies from fighting each other in the road. Your progeny has a sense of moral responsibility but is in no way equipped to deal with this but agrees. The trouble is, for every other punch the bullies land on each other they sock your son or daughter on the jaw, just because they are there. The two bullies are paying absolutely no attention to your son or daughter other than to occassionaly assualt them. Do you as a parent: a) leave your offspring there while you have a think about what to do next, even though you are giving them no support whatsoever or b) countermand the order given by the self important person and tell your child to get the hell out of there while you have a think about what to do next?

Anonymous said...

Iain, this is the only sensible debate on Iraq going on today. Those losers are still talking to thin air in Westminster while Bliar shreds more papers and whats left of his credibility.

I dont agree with you but applaud you for hosting the debate.

John Miller said...

And also! In our own personal lives we very quickly identify personal situations where persuing a wrong policy will get us nowhere; we tend to quickly abandon that policy. You can reflect on your own lives and see where this is true - I need not cite examples. But it seems where one's own life is not at risk then principles last that much longer, past the point where as an individual you revise your own strategy. So Blair is still reciting the names of the dead at PMQ's even though he is partly responsible for those deaths. Hipocrisy? Go figure...

Ian Thorpe said...

Iain,
I can normally see sense in your arguments even if I do not agree. On this however, you have lost the plot.
(1) We are further away from "finishing the job now, after nearly 4 years than we were when we joined the invasion.
(2) I do feel for the parent of a dead soldier who said that if we were to withdraw now his son would have died in vain, but I must ask how many more will have died in vain before our leaders face facts and withdraw without having achieved anything?

Anonymous said...

I agree with your comment Iain.

Could someone please advise me the last time a PM led a debate which followed a Motion for the Adjournment of the House? I do not recall such an occasion.

The PM was at the CBI this afternoon - I watched his speech and subsequent discussion in between watching what was happening in the House. Todays speech and discussion were very important to me as they related to public services being directed to the user regardless of who provides - public, private or voluntary. The NHS is of great importance to me rather than a debate which was politically motivated. We all know that British Troops will be brought home as soon as possible - everyone even General Dannatt has said that we must complete the mission. Ming Campbell was unable to persuade me and many others in the House. I would feel total embarrassment if "we cut and run" from Iraq. Yes his views will be welcomed by the anti war brigade and he will win some votes.

My views will be criticised. I am from a military family and noone I know would follow Ming's plan. They are horrified and worry about the reputation of the British Forces running when the going gets tough.

Anonymous said...

Mark Williams: Much as I respect your blog writing, this is rubbish. It sounds like the sort of argument put forward by NeoCon loonies and/or Tim Montgomerie.
===========

Actually, it's called classical liberalism. A gentleman called Thomas Hobbes in a book called Leviathan, 1660, Chapter 13, ON the natural condition of mankind as concerning their felicity and misery. I realise it's fashionable to throw the neo-con term around, but in this case it is you that's talking nonsense.

International treaties are not laws, they are agreements which can quite easily be broken. Laws enforcable by sovereigns, there is no international sovereign, ergo there is no international law. The UN Charter is just the same, it carries absolutely no legally binding wieght on nations whatsoever, hence the fact the UN passes resolutions (like the People's Front of Judea) rather than actually doing anything.

You may wish to believe that treaties bind nations, but there is no international sovereign to enforce said treaties, so if one side reneges that's it, over, kaput.

griswold said...

Anon 529

We will cut and run however this is dressed up. This is absolutely no reflection on our troops who are lions led by political donkeys. Our political masters have no right to use our troops in this way. Iraq is in the throes of a civil war. We and the US either have 500000 troops there for the next ten years or none at all. We owe it to our troops to get out now. They deserve more informed and more honest politicians. Vietnam. 500,000 troops and vanquished. 50,000 dead US. 1million Vietnamese. Inflation for 15 years. Country still recovering from that devastation. What for. US ideology. Go figure. Whats the end game.

realist said...

I totally agree with what you say on this Iain.

I myself have never felt easy about this war and was convinced we were being conned into it by Blair and Bush. That said we are in this mess now and must not just desert the people we were supposed to be helping and supporting.

As an ex serviceman myself, I cannot help but feel that, any withdrawal should be left firmly in the hands of the military, as to the timescales and methods employed. They are the people being shot at, not the bloody politicians.

Our senior commanders must feel like car drivers, with some deranged idiot, siting in the back seat, with his hands on another steering wheel.

It is hard enough, for the services to engage with the enemy in front of them, without having to worry about a bunch of lawyers, polytechnic lecturers, ex trades unionists, socialists and assorted ex CND supporters, telling them how to run a military campaign.

I Hope, when Blair retires, to some ancient junkie, pop star's home, having his life of Riley, he understands, that the pages of his memoirs are written in the blood of the armless, legless, blinded, crippled and lifeless. Braver men and women than he is. All sent to Iraq on a lie and to form part of his legacy. It makes you want to weep.

Anonymous said...

Guys - it's simple.

We should not have gone to war
We having nothing to win
We have already lost
We owe the Iraqi's nothing and they will not remember us for anything other than illegal occupation. The "dont cut and run" strategy is a simple delaying tactic as both GW and Bliar hope somehow it will turn round. We have lost thats why hes sending more troops!

Thes etroops are dying, its not about politics and spin. Its about reality of both sacrifice and advantage gained; we must pull out.

Anonymous said...

Two quick points:

First, can we please get away from the fiction that this is about oil. Please visit the International Advisory and Monitoring Board - the auditors for the Development Fund for Iraq (DFI) - who have detailed reports on where the oil money has gone since the invasion. The DFI was established pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1483 and holds the proceeds of petroleum export sales from Iraq.

http://www.iamb.info/

Second, Iraq is a society in transition. No country that has been so brutally ruled for so long was going to move without problems to a free and democracy at the flick of a switch. Post war Germany took years to be helped back to the fold of civilised nations. And it will be the same with Iraq. We must stay the course, and help the Iraqis to rebuild their country. The Lib Dem policy would leave Iraq at the mercy of the gunmen and no doubt in time some form of dictatorship.

Anonymous said...

"I have to say this is one of the most irresponsible policy announcements I have heard from them for a long time"

Jolly good job you have such a poor view of the majority of US and UK Generals Iain, as well as the Baker Commission. If you're in a hole with quicksand pouring doewn the side you stop digging. A few climb on top of each other and may get out - this way the numbers who die (and some do!) is halved.

The whole point is that nobody is 'relying on our troops for their security". They are unfortunately relying on our troops (and much more so the Americans) to be the (unwitting) recruiting sergeants for hordes of fresh insurgents.

Anonymous said...

"WTF is Blair doing which is more important?"

Probably some rehabilitiation in the company of Ms caplin is called for?

Anonymous said...

"No oil assets have been grabbed. We are buying the oil."

Dizzy if you believe this, you are indeed obviously Tony Blair. certain hand-picked firms are charging the earth for XextractX steling the oil for us.

Anonymous said...

The Tory policy, as we all should know, is to send Iain Dale to baghdad on a camel.

Greg said...

Almost all modern democracries have had a civil war at some point in their history. In almost all cases it was bloody, with hundreds of thousands of deaths resulting, but most are looked back on, with the benefit of hindsight as having been vital steps on the journey to where they are today.

Remaining in Iraq, indefinitely, simply in the hope of averting Civil War, will not solve anything, and may actually delay the prospect of Iraq emerging from its nightmare.

Tom Tyler said...

Well spoken Iain, I agree with your position.

Anonymous said...

You really have been conned rotten by the neo-cons haven't you Iain?

Just remind me again, who's keeping the peace? And what peace is that then?

Bernie R said...

Iain, you say you want to avoid wishful thinking in this discussion, but it's you who is engaging in it: your stated reason for staying in Iraq is that you think that eventually this will result in the people of Iraq going peacefully about their business, but there's no sign that that is what is going to happen.

It's your side that is being irresponsible in your refusal to face up to the consequences of your actions. And it's been like this from the outset, don't you talk to me about hindsight, damn it, the present disaster was quite predictable, and it was authoritatively predicted in the pre-invasion debate.

Our leaders acted irresponsibly by putting us into this situation. We didn't need to make Iraq our special responsibility, because it didn't present us with a direct threat. Responsibility for this kind of problem needs to be shared as widely as possible around the world, but our leaders foolishly rejected that obvious principle.

The bad decisions taken up until now have been immature, based on emotion instead of facts, and this idea of staying until "our mission" is complete is just another example of that sort of superficial thinking.

Campbell's call to pull troops out is a mature and responsible recognition of the reality.

Best wishes,

Bernie R

mark williams said...

Dizzy: "No oil assets have been grabbed. We are buying the oil."

Strictly speaking that may be true, but under the 30 year Production Sharing Agreements that are going to become law soon, Western companies will invest in the infrastructure, extract the oil when they like (although it still "belongs" to the Iraqi government) and sell it on behalf of the Iraqi government, keeping 70% of the revenue until they have recovered their costs, and then keeping 20% of the profits of extraction there after. Of course they won't be obliged to start investing until things have calmed down.

It is the model that was used by the British in their colonial days and compares unfavourably with the current North Sea regime. Companies pay a 15% royalty, 50% PRT on their net field receipts (deductible from corporation tax), corporation tax on their profits at 40%. Unlike the North Sea where investors have to find the oild and then drill for it in hundreds of fett of water, in Iraq there are 58 fully mapped but undeveloped fields waiting to be exploited. So much for taking risk.

Jess The Dog said...

I don't agree with those who are calling Iain a neocon, but this does not make his argument correct. The Lib Dems are currently the only party in Westminster with a coherent policy on Iraq.

There is a military saying, and I am an ex-military type: never reinforce failure. The mission in Iraq - whatever that is - has been thrown away through gross negligence. The Iraqi army should never have been disbanded, de-Baathiciation was a ludicrous idea, there was no coherent occupation policy, nowhere near enough troops to maintain security and the supposed "reconstruction" was both a miserable failure and blatant profiteering by US companies. We should know better. The UK kept many thousands of troops in Northern Ireland, initially to prevent sectarian attacks. The troops themselves became targets and the ratio of troops to population in Northern Ireland was far higher than is currently the case in Iraq. There is no way that troop levels in Iraq - regardless of Bush's surge - are enough to provide security or to regain control of the country.

We are where we are. Dubya declared "Mission Accomplished" in 2003 and this is now 2007. If the Lib Dem plan was implemented, troops would be out by late 2007. If not, their presence in Iraq will drag on to 2008. Meanwhile, another war is dragging on in Afghanistan and we are likely to lose two wars instead of admitting defeat in Iraq and refocusing resources in Afghanistan. The British Army (and sister services) is grossly overstretched, obscenely underequipped and the MoD is effectively bankrupt. Ming Campbell started by stating it was not longer reasonable or legitimate to ask our armed forces to bear this burden.

So why are UK troops still in Iraq? The answer is simple - they are there (along with US troops) to preserve the illusion that the situation can be recovered, to preserve the political careers of two lame-duck leaders on the way out. British troops are risking their necks, suffering wounds and dying for one reason only - to preserve Bliar's fading political career, his vanity and his refusal to accept reality. His failure to lead today's debate clearly shows that he is a coward, a disgrace to office and a disgrace to those who have served - and who continue to serve - in Iraq.

Paul said...

We bent it, we need to stay and help mend it.

rkjfyoung said...

"It sends all the wrong signals to those in Iraq who rely on British troops to keep the peace......"

Anyone in Iraq who relies on the Yanks or the Brits to keep the peace should surely have realised that their hopes were seriously misplaced by now. It was Bush and Blair who chose to break the peace (of sorts) that had been enforced prior to invasion. Alas, they have no hope of putting it together again now. Might as well admit it.

Cornwallis said...

Fantastic.
Dozens of people claiming that either "we are making things worse" or "we are making things better."
People saying that Iraqi people do or do not rely on the British and American forces.

Hands up who's actually been to Iraq and asked them? Or witnessed what the British troops are doing out there?

Funny story: my hand is down and I don't have the extraordinary arrogance to comment either way without having seen for myself.

Rifleman Dando said...

I agree wholeheartedly with you on this, it would be an act of quite staggering moral cowardice for us to leave Iraq in the present circumstances, like it or not we had a hand in creating the mess that exists and I cannot see how we could hold our heads up in the world were we to withdraw and leave the many millions of innocent Iraqis at the hands of fundamantalist madmen. To run away in the face of a bunch of primitive savages would send an appaling message to the world about the type of people we really are, henceforth our word would be worth nothing, Perfidious Albion indeed!

Lagwolf said...

I hope this does not worry you too much mate but I agree with 100% on this one. Pulling out by October would just empower Iran and its followers. I think a more measured pull-out would be better. It seems that many people just want to leave the peace-loving Iraqis to their own fate...well assuming that these people have even given a thought or two.

Jess The Dog said...

Send Blair a "White Feather" - join the campaign!

http://www.arrse.co.uk/cpgn2/Forums/viewtopic/t=56614/start=30.html

Dear Mr Blair

Your failure to lead the debate on Iraq on 24 January was the action of the most craven coward.

I attach this white feather as a token of my contempt. You must either apologise in public or resign from office immediately.

Regards

White Feathers at:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/48/A_single_white_feather_closeup.jpg/200px-A_single_white_feather_closeup.jpg