31 October, 2006

Iraq Inquiry

British service men are being killed in Iraq and Afghanistan but that does not seem worry some in the House of Commons who see it as an opportunity to mount a political attack on the government. Today, as the Times reports, an anti-war coalition of Welsh and Scotch nationalists and Labour left wingers is attempting to force an inquiry into the Iraq war and its aftermath to be carried out by senior MPs. Not to be outflanked, the Conservatives have their own proposal for a different sort of inquiry but say that if the government does not agree to it, they will vote with the anti-war coalition.

There is no doubt that the government badly mishandled the issue of the Iraq invasion. There was a very strong case for the invasion but the government chose not to make it. Blair instead preferred to rely on incredible lies, which were inevitably going to come back to haunt him. I have seen no evidence that the government has subsequently mishandled events, although ministers are guilty of failing to present the strong argument for current attempts to turn Iraq into a functioning democracy.

The parliamentary vote is no more than a political manoeuvre, designed to politically embarrass the government. If the rebel MPs were really interested in defence issues they would be attacking the government over the disgraceful state of affairs in Afghanistan, where insufficient numbers of troops and a lack of helicopters has been a serious problem. As for the Conservatives' opportunism, it is disgrace but hardly surprising since the military experience amongst the backbenchers is long gone and the party is now dominated by pink and green liberals.


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