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    Brown to hold Iraq inquiry

    by Sunny
    17th March, 2008 at 3:37 am    

    The front page of the Independent today says that Gordon Brown has formally committed himself to an inquiry on the Iraq war. About bloody time, though no date has actually been set. It is a big coup for Sunder Katwala though, who wrote to the PM pressing him to hold one.

    This is what the PM said:

    Dear Sunder

    Thank you for your letter of 11 February about Iraq. I agree with you that there is a need to learn all possible lessons from the military action in Iraq and its aftermath. This Government has already acknowledged that there will come a time when it is appropriate to hold an inquiry. But whilst the whole effort of the Government and the armed forces is directed towards supporting the people and Government of Iraq as they forge a future based on reconciliation, democracy, prosperity and security, we believe that is not now.

    We are making real progress in Iraq. The transfer of all four provinces in southern Iraq to the Iraqi authorities is ample evidence of the sterling work done by UK forces and our coalition partners. But the work is not complete. Our troops will remain in Iraq to train and support the Iraqi army, whilst our diplomatic missions will continue to work with the Government of Iraq to use the space created by the improved security environment to make real progress on political reconciliation and economic development.

    Despite the progress being made on the security, economic and political fronts in Iraq, the situation remains fragile and could easily be reversed. At this critical time it is therefore vital that the Government does not divert attention from supporting Iraq’s development as a secure and stable country. Since October 2006, Parliament, when debating the need for an inquiry, has twice supported the Government on this point.

    I have put reform of international institutions at the core of the UK’s foreign policy strategy. I want international institutions to be relevant to the twenty first century challenges, and credible and modern in the way they approach them. They need to command international engagement and be responsive to the needs of member states, civil society and peoples. The UK wants a Security Council that is more representative, but no less effective in tackling threats to international peace and security. I also support changes to the World Bank , the International Monetary Fund and the G8 that reflect the rise of India and Asia. As I said in New Delhi in January “we can and must do more to make our global institutions more representative”.

    The first change we must consider is reform of our international rules on institutions to reflect the urgency of tackling climate change and global poverty. I will continue to explore with EU partners how we can take forward this agenda together.

    Yours sincerely
    Gordon Brown

    This is what Sunder Katwala wrote to him in a letter a few weeks ago:

    Dear Prime Minister

    Next month will mark the fifth anniversary of the House of Commons’ debate on military intervention in Iraq in March 2003. I believe that this would be the right time for the government to set out plans to ensure the lessons from Iraq are learnt and inform the future of British foreign policy, by announcing an independent public inquiry into the Iraq war.

    Iraq has been the most significant foreign policy and military engagement of the last decade. It has also been the most controversial and publicly contested episode in British foreign policy for half a century, since Suez, dividing Parliament, political parties and the country.

    An inquiry can not change the course of events since 2003. But there is widespread recognition, among those who took different views about the war, of the need to learn lessons from the Iraq war and its aftermath. A full inquiry would ensure that a rounded assessment of the pre-war diplomacy, the intelligence failures regarding Iraq’s WMD programme, the conduct of the war itself, and the difficulties of post-war political and economic reconstruction could inform future policy.

    This is a particularly important moment for the future of foreign policy. The US election has provided a natural moment for America to take stock at the end of a political cycle: it is striking that the theme of change has been central to the campaigns of leading candidates for both parties. With a growing awareness among political leaders and broader public opinion in the United States of the limits to what even the most powerful nation in the world can achieve alone, it is important to show that working together for stronger international cooperation can provide a more effective alternative.

    Britain, our European partners and other allies can make a major contribution to leading an international public debate about how we can work together to strengthen multilateral institutions for an age of growing interdependence. This should lead to new thinking about how to address the global challenges of our age, including security and terrorism, climate change, the responsibility to protect human rights, and spreading global development and decent chances in life to all.

    This agenda should also be at the heart of the Labour Party’s thinking as it creates a new progressive foreign policy agenda to put forward at the next General Election in Britain, and the party should seek to reach out and work with those outside party politics who are working on these great progressive causes.

    But our ability to pursue this debate within Britain and beyond, and to engage people in it, will depend on acknowledging and learning the lessons of Iraq, showing a clear commitment to building from these to create the new internationalist agenda we need for the future. A public inquiry into Iraq would be an important way to achieve this.

    Yours sincerely,

    Sunder Katwala
    General Secretary
    Fabian Society

    A lot of waffle there by the PM, as expected, and its a shame he hasn’t committed to a date. So this could be seen as a public relations exercise, you never know. Let’s see.

                  Post to del.icio.us

    Filed in: Current affairs,Middle East

    7 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs
    1. Gordon Brown commits himself to holding a public inquiry on Iraq (…if he survives the next election) « pixelisation

      [...] Pickled Politics has the full letter Brown sent to Sunder Katwala. [...]

    1. Avi Cohen — on 17th March, 2008 at 8:29 am  

      It really depends on the remit. Is it a whitewash of the Govt as Blair did with the BBC enquiry or is it for real as Ali G would say.

      Government has to be accountable and Blair has never been held to account and in fact is being dusted down and presented in a variety of jobs as an international stateman.

      The legacy of the Iraq War in the USA and UK is that Govt is no longer accountable for its actions and can get away essentially with misleading people.

    2. Random Guy — on 17th March, 2008 at 9:01 am  

      This means nothing without a date set in stone, the threat of war crimes over the illegal decision to go to war, and 100% accountability and liability for prosecution at the Hague if found guilty, not to mention talk of reparations for infrastructural damage and loss of life.

      As only one of the above has even a remote chance of happening, I will not hold my breath.

    3. Letters From A Tory — on 17th March, 2008 at 9:39 am  

      Brown is having a nightmare at the moment, and what better way to try to steady the ship than sticking the knife into Blair and finally do what the opposition parties have been demanding for months, if not years.

      It’s cynical and it’s a hollow gesture.


    4. Muhamad [pbum] — on 17th March, 2008 at 8:45 pm  

      Great, is that going to cost poor taxpayers like me?

      If Blair is a war criminal, how would one get around those who worked with him?

    5. Nyrone — on 18th March, 2008 at 12:18 am  

      5-years later and that’s the most we can ask for? an enquiry? to achieve what exactly, closure?

      They are criminals, it’s not rocket science.
      The architects should be in prison, not doing book tours ETC…

      Did anyone just watch Dispatches and Battle for Haditha? I’m not sure if the heart can sink much further…Happy 5th birthday Iraq, hope you’re enjoying all the freedom and liberty..

    6. marvin — on 18th March, 2008 at 1:06 am  

      Nyrone, the Iraqis prefer to live as they are now than under Saddam’s regime. They just don’t want the occupying forces there - at the same time they see the illogic and blood soaked consequence in immediate withdrawal.

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