Thursday, October 12, 2006


"Iraq is an unequivocal humanitarian emergency. Civilians are being harmed by our presence in Iraq, not helped. That should force us to pause and ask what we are doing and why. There is no shame in saying that we have got the policy wrong. Moreover, we have a legal obligation under the Geneva conventions to do all we can to protect civilian populations. These findings show not only that are we not adhering to this legal obligation, but also that we are progressively subverting it year on year...We need a new set of principles to govern our diplomacy and military strategy - principles that are based on the idea of human security and not national security, health and wellbeing and not economic self-interest and territorial ambition" - Richard Horton, editor of the Lancet.

Even if you don't believe the figure of 655,000 deaths since 2003 in Iraq, the above is surely correct.

I don't agree with John McDonnell that if Gordon Brown and Jack Straw and any others who had misgivings about the war had resigned, then the war might have been prevented - there is no evidence that anything which British ministers had done would have stopped the Bush administraton, but if Gordon Brown had resigned, the government which he would now be leading would be far better placed to help try and bring about this new set of principles for human security, health and wellbeing, and the fact he didn't resign says nothing good about his judgement.

There's very little that I can add to what others have said, and been saying for years, about Iraq and British foreign policy. But just one thing which isn't often mentioned. As well as the urgent need to help, rather than harm, civilians in Iraq and victims of war around the world, I hope that when this conflict is over that the British government doesn't neglect our soldiers. Part of prioritising health and well-being is for the government to be planning now for how to support soldiers after they leave the armed forces. One of the classic examples of Thatcherism at its worst was people who had served their country in the Falklands, in Ireland or in the Gulf were left sleeping in the streets or suffering from physical and mental illnesses, with the government doing nothing to help them. Help shouldn't wait for pressure from the tabloids as we've seen on the issue of pay - the people who should be punished for the decision to invade Iraq are the politicians, not people in Iraq and not the British or American soldiers.


At 1:31 am , Blogger Bloggers4Labour said...

And the terrorists doing the killing - are they allowed to just slip away, while we concentrate on licking our paltry wounds, and on the serious business of picking one Labour candidate over another?

At 12:44 pm , Blogger donpaskini said...

The strategies pursued between 2003 and 2006 appear to have massively strengthened the terrorists, while causing massive loss of life.

The alternative isn't do nothing, it is instead to put the focus on poverty relief, working to help create a viable and independent Palestinian state and 'extinguish the heat that ignites the extremists', as Gordon Brown put it.


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