Pear Shaped in Fitzrvoia

Iraq Inquiry

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part 4

After Gordon Brown's Testimony...

photo of David Miliband c/o the World Economic Forum

Douglas Alexander and David Miliband (the ministers responsible for trying to sort out the post Iraq invasion situation) also gave evidence but as they hadn't been involved much in the build up to war no one was really interested in what they had to say.  David Miliband was closely questioned on the legal case for war....

...he went on to say he thought the war had actually been good for Britain's international reputation in the middle east .....by linking himself so closely and uncritically with the Blair government's position on the Iraq war he gave his younger brother Ed a political stick to beat him with in the later battle for the Labour Party leadership so this testimony is actually quite interesting historically.

David Miliband professes not to be an expert in International law. As do many of those commenting on this page. Which raises the question... ...where does International Law come from anyway....? The answer is that it is, ironically for neo-Conservatives, an American invention and the UN was invented to arbitrate it. The UN replaced the League of Nations which was slightly discredited by World War II. The League of Nations was born of the 1919 peace conference at Versailles at the end of World War I and its founding principles were based on President Woodrow Wilson's 14 points. The Fourteen Points were based on the research of "the Inquiry", a team of about 150 advisors led by foreign-policy advisor Edward M. House into the topics likely to arise in the anticipated peace conference. So rather than any more analysis of what is legal or illegal under international law... ...let's go back to the start. Here are the 14 points again ,,, as read by Sarah Palin:

The Iraq Inquiry then moved on to the view from Baghdad and Basra from 2004 to 2006 interviewing Consul Generals, deputy heads of mission in Baghdad and Basra and minor functionaries Lindy Cameron, Simon Collis, Tim Foy and James Tansley.  It is quite hard to comprehend their evidence as the inquriy interviewed them collectively rather than as individuals - to quote Sir John Chilcot  "This is, in rugby terms, a sort of rolling maul, I think."

As the participants at these hearings were not all civil servants the sessions were in private and though transcripts were made available large sections are redacted on the grounds of National Security, International Security and to protect diplomatic relations.

Although hidden away in the waffle and technical FO-speak is this rather blunt exchange

After this it was the role of the Bruce Mann CB, Tom McKane, and Trevor Woolley CB the Director General Financial Management and the Director General Resource & Plans to talk about paying for and planning the war in detail.  I cant claim to be able to understand the internal decision making procedures of the MOD but I did find this flowchart which has made it all as clear as mud.

It seems pointless to repeat their testimony as Gordon Brown has now retracted his statement to the Inquiry that spending on defence just went up all the time he was Chancellor and Prime Minister and whenever the Inquiry asked whether they had to choose between funding the Afghanistan or Iraq conflict or which had higher priority...I am unable to disentangle the circumlocution or they fall back on claiming that priorities are a political decision.  So who knows?

Cathy Adams who wrote the drafts of Lord Goldsmith's legal advice on how the start of the document and the end of the document seem to conflict with each other.

Iain McLeod Legal Counsellor to the United Kingdom’s Mission to the United Nations, 2001 to 2004 says he believes the legal advice was correct because the resolutions allowed military action for even minor material breaches but that that didn't make it legitimate because what people had in their minds as the reason for going to war wasn't the real reason for it.

Sir John Holmes Ambassador, Paris, 2001 to 2007 contradicts Jack Straw saying that the French actually contacted him to explicitly correct the misinterpretations being applied to President Chirac's use of the words "this evening" at the time and that Jack Straw and other senior politicians knew of these communications because he made sure they knew by sending a vey diplomatic telegram.

Sir Jonathan Cunliffe CB Managing Director, Financial Regulation & Industry, 2002 Managing Director, Macroeconomic Policy and International Finance, HM Treasury, 2002 to 2007 talks about the Treasury's attempts to guess on the impact of the war on the oil price and the impact that would have on the UK. His statement that the increase of the oil price to a peek of $150 rather than $40 has had little effect on the world economy seems to fly in the face of the reality of the credit crunch which may not be related but for as long as I've been working in the oil industry when I'm making money everyone else is broke and when everyone else is making money I'm broke...?

Mark Etherington CBE Head of Provincial Reconstruction Team, Basra, 2006 to 2007 talked about what it was like on the ground.

The saga of the lack of unmanned aerial vehicles continued as General Sir Kevin O’Donoghue KCB CBE Deputy Chief of Defence Staff (Health), 2002 to 2004 Chief of Defence Logistics, 2005 to 2007 and Chief of Defence Material, 2007 to 2009 was asked repeatedly about the lack of UAVs and repeatedly replied that "I dont know".

...confirmed that neither he nor the rest of the Cabinet had actually seen the legal advice given by Lord Goldsmith.

He claims that the Cabinet should have seen the advice but it may not have changed the decision. He then says that he does not recall Clare Short protesting in Cabinet.

Continue to part 4...