Greg Pope MP says the Iraq war WAS legal AND moral

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    7th December, 2009

    Labour MP Greg Pope has an excellent post here at Labour List. (Thanks to Rentoul for this “heads up”.)

    Perhaps Mr Pope would like to sign this petition – Ban Blair-Baiting – and join his Labour colleague Tom Harris. Surely, after all, there must be more than just ONE MP who thinks that stopping the endless baiting of Mr Blair might be  – well – fair, in this fair country.

    Surely? Mr Pope?

    Greg Pope’s article:


    Greg Pope is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee. In the first of a series of contributions during the Iraq Inquiry, he argues that we were still right to oust Saddam.

    Labour supporters could be forgiven for feeling that the timing of the Chilcot Inquiry into the war in Iraq is unfortunate as we approach the election. At some point Tony Blair is going to have to give evidence with all the attendant media scrum and, doubtless, hostile coverage. Only last week I was stopped by an elector in my constituency who told me in no uncertain terms that the Iraq war had been illegal; he was expressing an opinion so widely held that it is now almost a truism, that the war was both illegal and immoral. In fact it was neither and we ought not to be so downhearted.

    We should be proud of what has been achieved in Iraq. Saddam’s regime had brutalised the people of Iraq for more than a generation; it had waged bloody war on its neighbours and threatened to do so again; it had deployed weapons of mass destruction on both its neighbours (Iran) over a prolonged period and its own people (the Marsh Arabs). If anyone doubts this last point I am prepared to recount the chilling tales of the survivors of mustard gas attacks I met in Iran, their coughing a vivid and terrible evocation of Wilfred Owen’s poetry. Iraq is now a country with free elections and where opponents of the government no longer fear the torture chambers, its energy and water now supplied on the needs of the population rather than their loyalty to the President (one of the odder discoveries after the conflict was that the largely Saddam-loyalist city of Tikrit had a much better electricity supply than the much larger, but hostile, city of Basra). Iraq is not perfect, but it is now a country where oil revenues are now more likely to be spent on school books than the secret service.

    The legality of the war was covered by UN Security Council Resolutions 678 and 1441 and Saddam’s regime had long been in material breach of both resolutions by March 2003. But for many of the war’s opponents its legality was a red herring – I notice that pretty much the same people are opposed to the (completely UN-sanctioned and ‘legal’) intervention in Afghanistan. Sometimes in life you have to do what is right rather than what is popular: Russia may have vetoed intervention in the Balkans making NATO action to protect Bosnian Muslims ‘illegal’, but I was proud to support it. Sometimes a coalition of the willing is better than no coalition at all, and our actions gave Iraqis something that had long been denied them: the chance to choose their own government.

    The coverage of the Inquiry so far has been predictably biased and selective. The criticisms of the decision to go to war by former ambassadors such as Jeremy Greenstock and Christopher Meyer have been greatly improved by hindsight; they are, in the end, men with books to sell. But the case for liberal intervention has not yet been heard by the inquiry, and when it does it will conclude that Saddam was a murderous tyrant. Iraq and the world are better for the passing of his regime.

    You can read more from Greg at his blog The Audacity of Pope.

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