Peter Ainsworth MP is not unpatriotic in opposing a war with Iraq.
(Spectator 14.9.2 ‘I dare to dissent’). Nor is he an apologist for the
vile Saddam Hussein and his regime. He is right to say that war cannot be
justified because of ‘unfinished business’ left over from the Gulf War.
Peter is brave to speak out and write the article he has.
But he is seriously wrong on two counts.
Firstly, he has fallen for the line that there is some sort of linkage
between Saddam’s behaviour and the tensions between Israel and the
Palestinians. I am afraid this is nonsense. Saddam’s invasions of Iran in
1980 and Kuwait in 1990 and the atrocities he continues to perpetrate on his
own people have nothing to do with the wider problems in the Middle East –
it has everything to do with his desire to expand his dangerous hegemony
over the region.
Secondly, and more crucially, Peter argues that our national interest is
not threatened by Iraq and that therefore we have no locus in our joining
the US in deposing the Iraqi Ba’athist regime. He could not be more wrong.
There is little point in learning history unless the lessons from history
are learned. Well intentioned and, no doubt, patriotic British in the 1930s
argued that despite Germany being in breach of League of Nations mandates,
we should not intervene militarily. France and Britain could have done so.
Germany was weak. It would have saved the lives of 24 million Russians, 6
million Jews and countless millions more in the conflagration that was to
follow. Our early intervention would have been in our national interest.
The weakness of the League of Nations and of its members lead to its being
replaced by the United Nations after the war.
Saddam may not be as evil as Hitler, but he is now in breach of 23 separate
United Nations resolutions. Before they left Iraq, UN inspectors were
unable to account for 3,000 tonnes of nerve gas precursor chemicals, 360
tonnes of Chemical Weapons agent, and growth media used for the production
of germ warfare. Iraq has acquired nuclear trigger devices and has been
trying to obtain fissionable materials. They have acquired specialists
from the former soviet republics to help them extend the range and accuracy
of their ballistic missiles.
Iraq has a consistent and frightening track record. If Saddam now uses his
enhanced weaponry to capture oil fields in the middle east, the economic
effects on this country would be catastrophic with millions made unemployed.
Worse still, if he uses his weapons to attack Israel, there could be a
Unlike Peter Ainsworth, I do believe it is in our national interest to stop
Saddam before it is too late. I do believe that lessons can and must be
learned from history.