Monthly Archives: March 2003

Iraq

Comment by Gavin Strang for The Speaker

In a comment Gavin Strang said this week:

‘I deeply regret that military action has been started in Iraq at this time. I admire and support our armed forces now engaged in Iraq, and hope that their operations will be completed with minimal casualties on both sides.’

Iraq

Comment by Gavin Strang for the Musselburgh News

‘Nobody doubts that the Iraqi regime is guilty of atrocities. We have been reminded of the war between Iraq and Iran and the use of chemical weapons supplied by companies based in the West. Nor do we forget the use of chemical weapons against the Kurds in Northern Iraq. And it is true that the United Nations first addressed Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction in the immediate aftermath of the last gulf war 12 years ago.

‘However, war means death and injury to military and civilians, and must always be the last resort after all other options have been exhausted.

‘It is my view that the weapons inspection process set in place by UN Security Council Resolution 1441 last November remained an alternative to war that was far from exhausted. The weapons inspections were making progress, and should have been pursued until they concluded successfully or until it became clear that they could not work.

‘For this reason I voted in the House of Commons for the amendment that the case for war against Iraq has not yet been established, and against the motion endorsing military action.

‘I should make it clear, however, that I yield to no one in my admiration and support for British servicemen and servicewomen. I can only hope that the military action will be carried out with minimal casualties on all sides.’

Iraq

Article by Gavin Strang for The Speaker

As I write the eyes of the world are on United Nations in New York. In a fast moving situation, we watch to see whether the international community can resolve the current crisis over Iraq.

War against Iraq must be the last resort. Military action on the scale envisaged would mean injury and death for civilians and military personnel, and further destruction to Iraq’s infrastructure. War would also have a destabilising effect on the fragile situation in the Middle East.

War can only be justified when all other options have failed, and it is my view that we have not reached that point. There is still an alternative to war that is far from exhausted, and that is the weapons inspection process set in place by UN Security Council Resolution 1441 last November.

The weapons inspectors have been in Iraq for just fifteen weeks, and some real progress in disarmament has been made. The weapons inspection process should be pursued until it is concluded successfully or until it becomes clear that it will not work.

That is why I voted with 198 other Members of Parliament in the House of Commons debate that the case for war had not yet been proved.

So what are the options before us today?

Obviously the best outcome is full Iraqi cooperation with weapons inspectors, and the peaceful dismantling of Iraq’s weapons programmes. That would be a victory for the UN, and for the stance taken by Tony Blair.

A second scenario is military action that is not backed by the UN. Now some may say that Resolution 1441 gives authority for war. But it was clear when that Resolution was agreed that neither France, China nor Russia considered that their support for that resolution meant that they automatically supported future military action. An attack on Iraq will only be seen by the world as authorised by the international community if there is a further resolution from the UN backing it.

Without a second resolution we can be confident that war in Iraq would be detrimental to the international coalition against terrorism that has been built since 11 September 2001. Some states now cooperating would reduce their involvement, and individuals would be discouraged from cooperating with police and security services to thwart terror attacks. Indeed a bloody war in Iraq could be a factor in encouraging more people to adopt a misguided and radical approach and support terrorist acts.

If military action is clearly endorsed by the UN then, while many people worldwide would resent the attack, the fact that it was explicitly authorised by the UN would reduce the scale of opposition. A second resolution would unequivocally demonstrate to Iraq and the wider world that any military action was based on international agreement and properly authorised by the only institution in the world which has the authority to do so – the United Nations.
Please follow this link to see Gavin Strang’s speech in the Parliamentary debate on Iraq on 26 February 2003