Wednesday, 2 December 2009

"An Exemplary Role" Denied

Gordon Brown may have dug his own grave in ordering yet another Iraq War Inquiry. He may have thought to gain or regain voters from the vast desertion of the Labour party that resulted from New Labour's war on Iraq. He might have thought to damage Blair by the exposure of the circumstances of the Iraq war - which is certainly happening. He might have thought to load all vilification for this policy so destructive not just of the New Labour faction but of the whole Labour Movement onto Blair alone and distance the New Labour cabinet and, most importantly (for he is so very self-important), his own role in the attack upon Iraq. A major role, for as Chancellor of the Exchequer Brown was absolutely responsible for the funding of the United Kingdom's part in the Iraq war.

Brown is, perhaps, unaware enough not to grasp what Blair's reaction might be to the trashing of Tony. And what the reaction of other acolytes of New Labour is to the damage this Brown-instigated Inquiry is doing to the progressive governance post-democratic project, we can judge from Mandelson's response to the evidence given by the United Kingdom's then ambassador to Washington.

The witnesses on Tuesday (there were no hearings today)have already shifted the focus from Blair-alone-with-Bush, to ministerial briefings, circulated papers, the importance of other ministries (particularly the Foreign Office) in ensuring that the various stages of preparation for war, war itself, and the aftermath of war were legally sanctioned. And legality specifically requires the proper conduct of occupying forces both during and after the conflict. How unfortunate that the United States was displaying a to-the-victor-the-spoils standpoint, "a US blind spot", on the aftermath of Shock and Awe.

The United Kingdom attacked in the south of Iraq. Reasonably it was there that our standards should be applied - at a minimum international legal standards - to the conduct of the attack and the conduct of the occupation, for a state of war 'alters the legal landscape'.

"Did we have enough resources to play an exemplary role" in this, the witnesses were asked. We were told that the budget was insufficient - there were not enough people, not enough funding for the needs of the South. Half a million troops were needed to cope with the post-conflict situation in all of Iraq. The US sent enough to win a war but not to hold a victory.

While the UK government could have no influence on what was going on in the US zones, our troops sought to play an exemplary role but our government, our Exchequer acted so that:

"The resources were never provided for us to play an exemplary role in the South."

Brown must be brought before the Inquiry to explain why not.

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