Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Iraq conflict 10 years on

It is 10 years since the tanks rolled in to free Iraq.
We still await the Chilcot Inquiry's report into the build up and decision to go to Iraq and shortly the House of Commons will debate the conflict once again but aside from remembering those who lost their lives it is a good time to pause and reflect on the conflict. This is particularly important given the potential trouble we face with Iran and North Korea.
Iraq is now a democratic country, with people free to express their beliefs without fear of being carted off to one of Saddam's torture chambers.
We focus often on the justification for the actions, and rightly so. But we should not forget that Saddam freely admitted in his interview to the Iraq Survey Group after his capture that, although he had put many of his WMD systems into cold storage, he fully intended to reconstitute them again the moment the sanctions regime collapsed, and he was no longer subject to a regime of international inspections.
There are lessons to be learnt: this is the basis on which the Chilcot report is set up:
"It will consider the period from the summer of 2001 to the end of July 2009, embracing the run-up to the conflict in Iraq, the military action and its aftermath. We will therefore be considering the UK's involvement in Iraq, including the way decisions were made and actions taken, to establish, as accurately as possible, what happened and to identify the lessons that can be learned. Those lessons will help ensure that, if we face similar situations in future, the government of the day is best equipped to respond to those situations in the most effective manner in the best interests of the country."