Iraq: 10 Years On Newsnight

Iraq: 10 Years On

Kirsty Wark presents a special programme with a studio audience, looking at how Iraq and the world changed following the war ten years ago.

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Tonight, as we approach the ten- year anniversary of the war in Iraq,


we explore how Iraq, Britain and the world changed.


I'm with an audience made up of members of the public, as well as


former players, experts, thinkers, including Colonel Tim Collins,


weapons inspector, Hans Blix, and the author, Michael Morpurgo, and


the Prime Minister who took us into war, Tony Blair, tells us Iraq


remains a devisive issue for Welcome from the BBC Radio Theatre


at broadcasting House, to a Newsnight special, Iraq, ten years


on. An invited audience of experts, players, as well as members of the


public joins us tonight. Ten years ago we were told that Iraq had


weapons of mass destruction. That the war could rid the country of


those weapons and a brutal dictator. Things look very different now. A


conservative estimate says 100,000 Iraqis have died since the war


began. Other estimates put that figure as high as 650,000. But both


are heavily disputed, what is not disputed is that 179 British


soldiers lost their lives in the conflict. We pulled out over three


years ago, but sectarian violence continues. First I want to talk to


our panel, and I'm joined by the Iraqi film maker, Mohamed Al-


Daradji, life is still very precarious? Life is not easy in


Baghdad today. I just came from Baghdad last week, and it is still


difficult. It is you look back and you look like 2003/04, things have


changed for the good, but there is a lot of things have been changed


for the bad. From the Kurdish point of view, as


the Kurdish representative here. Life is not good for all Iraqis is


it, Bayan Sami Rahman? Kurdistan there is life, there was an


attempted genocide against the Kurds, there was chemical


bombardment, today we have a prospering economy, everyone in


Kurdistan is better off, young people all over Iraq, not just


Kurdistan, instead of worrying about being conscriptsed into an


army and going into crazy wars, they are more worried about is


their Facebook profile correct. Things are better for many Iraqis,


but much better for Kurdistan. Coming to you in Baghdad, as an


opposition leader, you wanted to persuade Tony Blair and George W


Bush to invade Iraq. Did you think it would look like this ten years


on? Absolutely not. I did not encourage neither Tony Blair nor


Bush to invade Iraq. We were all ourselves in agreement with trying


to change the regime from within Iraq. Rather than to invade Iraq.


So this is what has happened, unfortunately. We were faced by a


lack of policies, post-conflict policies, what to do with Iraq


after the occupation of Iraq. That is what we are left now. We will


talk about that in a minute. We will carry on the conversation


after we have heard from the BBC world affairs editor, Jon Simpson,


who has travelled to the country regularly since the 1980s. This is


his personal assessment of Iraq, ten years on.


Iraqi denials of weapons of mass destruction, this is part and


parcel of a policy of evasion and deception that goes back 12 years.


It is all the web of lies. He has existing and active military


plans for the use of chemical and biological weapons, which could be


activated within 45 minutes. Saddam Hussein and his sons must leave


Iraq within 48 hours. Tonight British servicemen and women are


engaged from air, land and sea. Their mission, to remove Saddam


Hussein from power and disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction.


It came as a genuine shock to Blair and Bush to find that Saddam had


craftly got rid of his weapons beforehand. There was another


serious miscalculation, the man who later became Iraq's vice-president


told me he went to see President Bush not long before the invasion,


and was horrified to realise that neither he nor the people around


him had any conception of the deep divisions between Shia Muslims and


Sunni Muslims in Iraq. Under Saddam Hussein's ferocious control, those


kind of divisions had been heavily stamped on, now they were to come


out into the open once again. They are urging them to pull the


statue down, there it goes. 25 years of hatred and rage as they


jump up on the statue, trouncing it with anything. At first the


Shi'ites were delighted with the invasion, and celebrated around the


statue of the fallen President, a Sunni himself, who depended on


Sunni support. When the Sunni town of Fallujah rebelled in April 203,


the Americans made an example of it. Staging all-out attacks and killing


rebels and ordinary civilians alike. The insurrection grew fiercer and


fiercer, by 2006 it seemed to be a possibility the Americans might be


defeated outright. The vital supply road from Baghdad Airport, code


named Route Irish, was the most attacked area of the entire country.


Plans were drawn up to evacuate the Green Zone if necessary. The


American commanders seemed listless and pessimistic. It looked as


though they had lost their nerve. But a new American commander, David


Petraus, proposed a surge in American troop numbers, that would


damp down the insurgency, and at least give the impression it had


been defeated. It was degenerating into a sectarian Sunni versus Shia


war. Things are unquestionably better nowadays in Iraq, and the


economy is doing well. Basic supplies like water, electricity


and even rubbish collection, are still a very real concern, whether


you are Sunni, Shia or Kurd. So, of course, is security. When I look


back on it all nothing has gone as expected. It has been a real mess.


Sure, a savage and unpredictable dictator was Joan thrown, but he


was the one that was keep -- overthrown, but he was the one that


was keeping control over Iran in the region. Now the Americans are


losing power and Iran is gaining it. The price paid by ordinary Iraqis


has been a terrible and continuing one.


We will be hearing a little more later in the programme about that.


Out to the audience, you were the spokesman for the Iraqi-Islamic


Party, you are a Sunni. How have things changed for you, are things


better? Things are worse now, because now there is an ethnic


divide and sectarian divide that is very difficult to be bridgeed now.


There is a lot of provinces in Iraq are demanding more power-sharing,


because they don't trust the Government. Now there is in the


western and northern part of Iraq there is a kind of Arab uprising


because of the deeply sectarian policies of the Government. Do you


feel you are on your way to a Civil War? Yes, I think we feel very much


so. Because the Government in the past three or four years they have


purged the military and the Security Services of all the other


communities apart from the Shia community. This is a problem.


You, I know are involved in a number of ways, including trying to


get young people involved in democracy, is this the picture you


recognise? No, to be fair, there are many problems and I think my


colleague did allude to them. But the fact is, Iraqis now have that


space to be able to negotiate those power struggles. They are able to


express themselves. They are able to look to the future. I think the


conditions now are so much different than they were before.


Through my work in Iraq there is so many signs for optimisim. Huge


challenges. Look these problems were deep-seated and pre-war. Let's


not pretend they came out just because of the war itself. In terms


of even things like insecurity of water and electricity, do people


feel that they are being dealt a tough hand at the moment? They are


still struggling and the infrastructure is still struggling,


I total low agree with that. But, they are looking -- totally agree


with that, but they are looking towards the future and it will take


time. Nadia, you have worked in Iraq and with women way back in the


late 1990s, it is not black and white about how things have changed,


but tell me what do women feel? Do they feel they have essential


freedoms now or not? I mean Iraqi women as women in Britain don't


think one thing, they are different views. Baseded on my own research


and talking to Iraqi women's rights activists, there are lots of


problems in terms of basic education, labour force


participation is very low. Just moving around, and also we have an


increased and gender-based violence. Having said that, despite all the


problems, trafficking is high, forced prostitution and forced


marriages, domestic violence, rape, all these have increased, and I


mean I agree that in the Kurdish region it is actually much better,


but there are problems as well with women. But, despite that, you


actually have women mobilising. I think it is important to be nuanced.


In a sense they feel they have to come through this. You have talked


a lot about the feminineisation of poverty, they are the ones that get


hit worse? We have a large percentage of female-headed


household, widows, divorcees, they are really struggling. Emma


Nicholson, you were very much for the invasion, you work with Iraqi


business, you must be very disheartened when you hear about


this. Apart from anything else, talking about increase in rape and


forced marriage, this is not what you fought for? I have just spent


two weeks going from the top to the bottom of Iraq, I will be back


there in another fortnight. Iraq is transformed country. Yes there is a


lot to be done, there are a million widows, it is not easy looking at


them all on the register. Just under half a million already


receiving widows stipends, but today Iraq is a different country.


Wage, jobs, future, all there for the asking. And the most essential


thing of all is freedom. That's the precious thing. You have writ an


new book about the new authoritarianism, is it there for


the asking? When we look at Iraq today we see a grossly imbalanced


state, a million men are armed, 12% of the population, yet they can't


deliver more than seven-and-a-half hours of electricity a day. The


legacy of the invasion is the hugely mill tar raised society,


pumping millions -- militarised society, pumping millions into the


armed services. The interior services are double the size of the


army, specifically designed to repress the population. We need to


have an independent report. The Human Rights Watch report, latest


report, it talks about the failure of the judicial system and the


failure of the ruem rights abuses by the Iraqi Security Service --


human rights abuses by the Iraqi Security Services. We need an


independent report, not from an interest group. This is the problem.


We have an Iraqi MP here? A British MP of Iraqi origin. I think Kirsty


is what you meant to say. Before I became an MP, I ran YouGov, they


did extensive research in Iraq. The big challenge when you ask the


people of Iraq, they are looking for a strong decisive be nef lant


leader, rather than -- benevolent leader, rather than the democracy


that they interpret as sectarian. Strong leaders. You couldn't make


it as a strong leader, Dr Law, though you did have a -- Mr Allawi,


now you see a Government divided along sectarian lines? Now we are


getting down to a sectarian, unfortunately conflict again. This


is all because of the stability of the country is in question. The


political process has not been inclusive. It has been based on


sectarianism. Disenfranchising larger groups of people. Important


sections of the Iraqi operation too, and there was no effort to create a


reconciliation in the country. million people under arms, Dr


Allawi, that is a pretty bad state of affairs in 2013? A million,


probably even over a million if you incorporate the militias that exist


in Iraq. It will be over a million. Do you agree with the guest in the


studio that we might be heading towards Civil War in Iraq? I hope


not, but definitely the stability of the country is in question. I


think Iraq is at a crossroads now, and God forbid things may be pushed


into more violence, more sectarianism, and indeed more


instability. The current Government, the current political process is


still not an inclusive political process. You heard Toby Dodge


saying this idea, that we might be on our way to a new


authoritarianism. And that actually, a million people under arms. Do you


feel you are heading towards some kind of awful future now? I will


disagree about we are heading to a Civil War. What we see in Iraq


today is, I think, the main problem is the problem of the politicians


in Iraq today. We talk about the Government, who is the Government?


The Government is the coalition Government. A representative of Mr


Allawi's block, and the Kurdish and the Shi'ite block, they are the


problems of Iraq today. They are, I think, the problem, because, to be


honest with you, they are the old generation. Dr Latif has been


working with young Iraqis, and you culturally work with young Iraqis,


is there a cafe society from Baghdad, kids coming from Fallujah


and bass ra, do they see a different kind of future? I sent


two students from the film institute where I work outside Iraq,


I didn't know they are Shi'ite or Sunni. And somebody later on told


me about oh they are coming from that sectarian of Iraq. We didn't


care, we created a cultural event, we made films and tried to tell the


story of Iraqi people. You are defiantly, you never say whether


you are Sunni or Shia? No, I am Iraqi human being.


APPLAUSE The gentleman there, what is your point? I think it is worth


thinking about why is that Kurdistan is in much better shape


than main Iraq. The problem I think is the problem of sectarianism. It


is a very, very deep problem, it is not just the problem with Iraq, but


the Muslim world as a whole. Sectarianism, look at Pakistan,


what is going on there. In a sense we need to re-think, not just the


society theself, but also to some extent how we view Islam. These are


actually problems of Islam more than anything else. Do you think,


Nadia, that the solution does lie with the younger generation, that


actually the older generation is a kind of busted flush? I wouldn't


put it this way, but I certainly agree that the problem is with the


political elite, that has spent 20, 30 years outside, and is


discredited inside Iraq. Lots of people inside Iraq, in the past


there were lots of what I called "sushi" marriages, between Shi'ite


and Sunni, and I don't recognise the narrative that Mr Simpson


portrays, that this sectarianism was stopped by Saddam. I don't see


Iraq this way. It seems to me that what is happening in Iraq is that


all the negative elements are right in our faces. You can see all the


bad things that might lead the country to a disastrous second


Civil War. There is no doubt about it that many of those possiblities,


at any rate, exist. But you see I think there is another Iraq, I


think it is a stronger Iraq, which has managed to stick together since


the end of the First World War. These divisions are not something


invented. Whatever one says about whether Saddam had a role in that,


that is to be honest not a very valuable question to raise. Because


the divisions have always been there, it is a question of how


intense they are. Actually, my personal feel something that Iraq


is strong enough to be able to withstand a second Civil War, as


with stood a first Civil War. the Kurds' point of view, you are


federated in Iraq, it may not always be the case, you think the


best bet for you at the moment is to stay within the broader country?


Absolutely. In 2003 we made a decision that we would voluntarily


remain part of Iraq. It is the first time that we voluntarily have


made such a decision. But so long as Iraq is federal and democratic.


Of course, there are enormous challenges, there have been


enormous taisics. I think the gains -- mistakes. I think the gains that


Iraq has made reversible, they are not set in stone. We are where we


are because of the blood that has been shed. It is very important,


listening to Mohammed and others in the audience that we don't let go


of that sacrifice. Both of British lives, American lives and Kurdish


and Arab lives in Iraq. Let's not waste that sacrifice that has been


made. What Toby Dodge would say is malcan I is the new dictator, --


Malaki is the new dictator, but you plug away at this, and think this


is the best way to do it from within? Iraq was in a dictatorship


for a minimum of 40 years, we are not going to get rid of the taste


for authoritarian central control overnight. That will take a long


time. While we have parliament and take constitutional decisions, this


is the Iraq we will stick with. Give me your point, the gentleman


in the back. A window into the future of Iraq are the children of


Iraq. There are about 4.5 million orphans, 6,500 are street orphans.


The gentleman with the red tie, yes? We seem to blame Iraqis in


terms of the whole war, but we seem to shed the blame from the west.


Every time we go into a Civil War in these countries, or invade these


countries, we seem to support the rebels, and we actually arm them.


Then we actually turn around and ask where the million people who


are armed are from? We armed them, how do we disarm them? Good point.


APPLAUSE Someone who was persecuted under


Saddam, left the country, returned after the invasion and helped to


set up the free he had if raifgs trade unions in Iraq was


assassinated in 2005, Hadi Salal, I'm wondering how trade unions in


Iraq are functioning now, having a free trade union movement is the


hallmark of a civil society. will talk about that.


I was going to saying, as has been noted, there is a vast problem with


sectarianism, more should be done with involving community leaders,


family leaders in teaching and ensuring there shouldn't be that


difference between Sunni and Shi'ites. As the leader mentioned


early on, there were "shoe shi" marriages, Sunni and Shi'ite


marriages. More should be done, if nothing tangible can be seen from


the Government's point of view, a lot can be done with community


leaders, with the head of families, in working out as one.


Mohammed mentioned that the youth of today is the future for Iraq.


But what about the youth of tomorrow. The orphans, the people


left behind were is the reconciliation process to make sure


that those who have lost family, won't militarise themselves for


vengence later. There seem to be big care issues, we are talking


about so many orphans and people without working rights, is civil


society strong enough to deal with these things Dr Allawi? No, neither


civil society is strong enough, nor do we have a functioning state. In


fact, what the people, your audience is mentioning are all


correct. I agree with them. Unfortunately we in Iraq we should


not look only at the angle of Shia versus Sunnis, Arabs versus Kurds.


It is the state that has not been developed, it is the institutions


that are not functioning, and we don't have a full-blown civil


society yet. And all this is because of the political process


which has been an uninclusive political process. Without


including every Iraqi into the political process, and without


moving this society into becoming a civil society and having full-blown


institutions of the state, it is very difficult to rectify the issue


of stability in the country. Thank you very much indeed for your


contribution. We move on now, in Britain ten years ago we were told


that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction, which could be


deployed in 45 minutes. There have now been six inquiries related to


the war in Iraq, and the Chilcot Inquiry is due to report later this


year on the reasons we went to war. I spoke to former Prime Minister,


Tony Blair, about his reflections ten years after the start of the


invasion. Is daily life in Iraq today what


you hoped it would be ten years ago? No. Because for some people,


at least in Iraq, it is immensely difficult. Particularly if you are


living in Baghdad and around the centre of the country. There are


still terrorist activities that are killing people, killing innocent


people for no good run. The country as a whole, its economy is growing


very strongly, it has huge amounts of oil revenue, but there are still


big problems. At a Conservative estimate, since 2003, 100,000


civilians have been killed. 179 British soldiers died. Don't you


think that was too high a price? course the price is very, very high.


Was it too high? Think of the price that people paid before Saddam was


removed. Think of the Iran-Iraq War in which there were a million


casualties, hundreds of thousands of conscripts Iranians killed, many


by the use of chemical weapons. Chemical weapons attacks on his own


people, the Kurds. People oppressed, deprived of their right, tortured


and killed on a daily basis, year on year. There are sectarian


killings now? Yes, but what is the answer. The answer is not to say to


people, I'm afraid we should have left Saddam in charge, otherwise


these sectarians will come in and try to destablise the country. The


answer is get rid of the oppressive dictatorship and then you have a


long, hard struggle to push the sectarian elements out too. Getting


rid of the oppressive dictatorship is not why you went in. You only


went in for one single reason? course, the reason that we regarded


Saddam as a threat has been set out for many, many reports, and many,


many times, and we have gone out a huge amount. If you are asking me,


which you were, about the state of Iraq today, there are significant


improvements in many parts of the country for the people. But I agree


with you, it is not nearly what it should be, and the reason for that


is not because the will of the Iraqis isn't that they have that


prosperity and democracy. The reason is, because people have


deliberately tried to destablise the country. This is the problem


you have got all over the region. You wrote in your memoirs that you


think of those who died in Iraq every day of your life. What do you


think about? Of course you think about them and the loss of life and


the terrible consequences for the families. But in the end you are


elected as a Prime Minister to take these decisions. And the question


is, supposing I take the opposite decision. Sometimes what happens in


politics, and unfortunately these things get mixed up with


allegations of deceit and lying and so on. But in the end, sometimes


you come to a decision where whichever choice you take, the


consequences are difficult and the choices are ugly. This was one such


case. If we hadn't removed Saddam from power. Just think for example


what would be happening with these Arab revolutions, if they were


continuing now, and Saddam, probably 20-times as bad as Assad


in Syria, was trying to suppress an uprising in Iraq. Think of the


consequences of leaving that regime in power. When you say do you think


of the loss of life and the trouble that has been since 2003, of course


I do, you have to be inhumane if not to. Think of what would have


happened if he was left there. years on, some people call you a


liar, some people call you a war criminal, protestors follow you, it


is difficult for you to walk down the streets, of a country where you


once had a landslide victory. Do you think Iraq has taken its toll


on you? It doesn't matter if it has taken its toll on me. The fact is,


yes, there are people who will be very abusive, by the way I do walk


down the street. By the way, I won an election in 2005 after Iraq.


However, yes it remains extremely devisive, and very difficult. My


point to people is this. I have long since given up in trying to


persuade people it was the right decision. In a sense what I have


tried to persuade people of now is understand how complex and


difficult a decision it was. Because I think if we don't


understand that we won't take the right decision about what I think


will be a series of these types of problems that will arise now over


the next few years. You have got one in Syria right now, you have


got one in Iran to come. The issue is how do you make the world a


safer place. Would you say it was today rather than 2003, would you


really say that, nobody would say that? I wouldn't say, that but what


I would say is it is safer as a result of having, in my view, as a


result of having got rid of Saddam. In other words I think we are in


the middle of the struggle, it will take a generation, it will be


arduous and difficult, but I think we are making a mistake. I think a


profound error if we think we can stay out of the struggle. We are


going to be affected by it whether we like it or not.


We are going to also be talking during the programme about staying


out or going in other countries. You can hear the full interview


with Tony Blair on Newsnight tomorrow. I'm joined by Ed Husain,


at author of The Islamist, by Michael Morpurgo, and Charles


Kennedy and John Rentoul. Charles Kennedy, you heard Tony Blair say


there that Iraq is still divisive, do you think trust in politicians


has suffered because of Iraq and continues to suffer? Yes, I think


that even those at the time who were very sceptical, the number of


times I heard people say to me, talking about non-party political


people, whatever view they took, well they must know something we


don't. There was that element of give Blair, as Prime Minister, the


benefit of the doubt. Now, it turned out that what he thought he


knew he didn't know, because there weren't weapons of mass destruction.


Although I would have to say, going from the highest of high politics,


which is war like this, to what was very venal and menial grubby


politics, this distorted trust in British politics and institutions,


but my God so did the expenses scandal. And taking the two


together, that was really toxic for the parliamentary process. John


Rentoul, you backed the war in the first place. Do you think Tony


Blair says he has long since given up on people actually liking him.


But the approbium is on him, it is not generally in politician, it


might be about the expenses scandal, but he owned that invasion, didn't


he? I think he did. But actually I take a much more optimistic view


than Charles does. Actually if you look at opinion polls, people


generally didn't trust politicians to tell the truth before the Iraq


War, and they were exactly the same after the Iraq War. Charles is


absolutely right, the one thing that shifted public opinion in this


country of the MPs' expenses business. Iraq, I think was a


triumph of British democracy, because parliamentary democracy


worked. It wasn't just Tony Blair's decision, it was parliament's


decision. A triumph for democracy, or a breach of trust. Siegfrid


Sasson called it callous complacency. And what seems to have


happened is politicians decided on this war. They should have taken a


great deal longer, diplomacy should always be given a chance again and


again and again and again, before you commit young men to die, to


spend their lives maimed. It has to be thought through, and you have to


think through the consequences. I think that's not what happened.


APPLAUSE I wouldn't defend everything that


has happened. I think it has, it went very badly after the invasion.


The occupation was very badly handled. One of the most stupid


decisions that the British Government made was to assume that


the Americans knew what they were doing. We should have learned from


history that wasn't a reliable thing to do. That does Amenas, as


Tony Blair said in the clip, that it was an easy decision to take.


There were consequences of not going into Iraq as well. Initially


you supported the war, didn't you. But did you feel let down, and you


supported it and you have to deal with it? I was in neighbouring


Syria when American and British troops and others went into Iraq.


Looking at Syriaed today, and looking at Iraq then -- Syria today,


and looking at Iraq then, living under the harsh circumstances of a


dictatorship in Syria, I wasn't alone. Thousands of Syrians felt it


was the right thing to get rid of Saddam Hussein. Getting rid of


Saddam Hussein doesn't equate to supporting the invasion and the


mistakes were made. There is a disconnect there. It is worth


highlighting the fact that getting rid of barbarians is the right


thing to do, but having the day after plan is where it went wrong.


You are here to talk about this as a British Muslim. Did you feel it


has had an impact on trust, particularly among British Muslims


and the Government? Absolutely, I totally disagree with John, I think


we trusted politicians a bit more before the Iraq War. But after the


Iraq War, which was based on a mega-lie, and subsequent events,


including the MP expenses affair, we trust the politicians less.


Interestingly, in the Muslim community itself, we have two


simultaneous reaction. There is a large segment of the Muslim


community that, although it doesn't trust the politicians, it wants to


get actively involved in politics. But at the same time, there is a


very small segment that trusts, that distrusts everything and is


taking a rather extremist stance. want to take a lot of hands up. You


look at this from a different perspective? I agree that


definitely the issue of trust has really been a massive sea-change in


British politics since the Iraq War. There is now massive distrust with


British political institutions. That has been compounded as Charles


Kennedy said, by all the subsequent scandals. The fundamental thing


missing here is the reality that Intelligence Services did receive


evidence that there were no WMDs, that is now becoming a massive


issue. It has come out through the Iraq Inquiry and various other


things. The question is how we had the political class interfering


with the intelligence process, to create this resolve that we didn't


like. What affect has that had on the Muslim community? For the vast


majority of British Muslims they feel very loyal to Britain and they


are engaged. The danger is with the minority. It has definitely


increase the vocalism of an irate extremist minority, who are using


the issue of Iraq, the issue of Afghanistan and the foreign policy


in the Muslim world, to rile up the extremist ideology. That is the


danger, that they are creating this very devisive "us" and "them" out


of it. That whole issue of trust, you have done both things, Iraq,


Afghanistan, politics, trust has gone particularly with some members


of the British Muslim community? And the big question for us is what


are we going to do about it. How will we reform, we made mistake


after mistake, that is parliament and the army, what reforms have we


introduced to stop this happening again. How can you trust a Prime


Minister now who travels around the Middle East with a group of arms


dealers on his plane? APPLAUSE


I will come back to the panel on that. The woman right in the back


with the white T-shirt on? Have we forgotten one of the reasons that


we went into Iraq, and that was to bring democracy to the country. I,


a daughter of Iraqi parents, was very proud to vote in the 2005


Iraqi elections. APPLAUSE


Despite the travails and the problems, you think for every


ordinary Iraqi there is more hope? I would hope so.


Gentleman down here with the grey hair, we haven't heard from you?


mustn't forget when it came to the Iraqi invasion we had a lot of


people protesting in this country and European countries, and various


European Governments ignored the people's views. And the invasion


continued. 54%, three days after the war. 54% said the invasion


should continue. Somebody we haven't heard from. Gentleman right


in the middle, the white shirt. can't believe I have heard this


gentleman say it was a triumph for democracy. It was a triumph for


obfuscation and deceit. To take up the last point there. Mob rule.


Listen, there were 665 cities throughout the world, there were


millions of people demonstrating against that war, and they were


ignored. That would be mob rule if you listened to people on the


streets. At what level would you say you are allowed to go to war,


is it 50,000 or 100,000, or 200,000. Legitimate protest is not mob rule?


The people who say we should have decided the policy on Iraq


depending on how many people out on the streets are the people


advocating mob rule. That point can be extended to this feeling, what


is that British Muslims constantly feel and how do we avoid offending


them. British Muslims are bishop first and all, their foreign policy


is not decided by their Muslimness. The Iraq War and consequences were


a disaster, but there is a narrative that grips not just the


extreme minority, but the silent kol allless sense of the silent


majority that some how the west is at war with Muslims. That is what


was said, among some, among a minority of younger Muslims, they


feel very, very, shall we say empowered by this in a strange way?


Before the Iraq War they felt immediately after and before 9/11.


Let's not fool ourselves about the narrative that is out there.


A couple of more questions. The gentleman with the green jacket and


the blue tie? Ten years ago we went to war, the coalition went to wa,


we were an illegal war, no resolution. Completely lost the


piece. Blair and Bush should be taken to the Hague and prosecuted


for war crimes. What do you say to the woman in the back whose family


managed to vote in 2005. She says, from her point of view, as an Iraqi


woman, her family feels better about it. You don't think it was


our responsibility to do that? was certainly a good idea to get


rid of Saddam, he was obviously a bad man and committed bad crimes,


but we were taken to war on a lie and that is wrong. You go ahead


are focusing on British Muslims, but there are other religions in


Iraq that are feeling this. For example Iraqi Christians who are


leaving Iraq by the droves, it is not just Muslims, I think.


I firstly object to your description of the march being a


mob, it was a peaceful demonstration. Millions of us


marched. And the arguments being presented in Hyde Park, it wasn't


just the one there were many others, we were all on them. That is not


what I said. You were decribing it as a mob with conotations of


violence. I was saying the people who say you should decide your


foreign policy by the number of people on the streets are the


people who advocate mob rule. We have a parliamentary democracy in


this country. I think you have a parliamentary democracy in this


country. But a parliamentary democracy cannot just work


effectively or with legitimacy inside the confines of the House of


Commons. I was one of the million on that march, it was a very


peaceful affair. It was a privilege to address the event on the day


itself. I would like to think, it comes back to this issue of trust,


one of the things parliament's now put in place, British Governments,


God forbid have to commit Armed Forces in the future, have got to


get the affirmative vote of parliament. Not the way it happened


over Iraq. That was a con, an absolute conat the time. How you do


that in practice might be more difficult. But the second point is


the argumentation of any Prime Minister in the future, they would


not get away with what Tony Blair Z he never answered the question that


I raised, for months. Which was, and it comes back to what the


gentleman says about the absence of the second resolution. If the


Americans went in, without a second resolution, where are the


circumstances with which his Government wouldn't go with them.


To which answer there came none. I don't think a Prime Minister could


or would or should ever get away with that in the future. Let's talk


about the whole issue of trust. problem with being ignored, is it


seemed to set a precedent that us as a society couldn't have a say on


how we were representing ourselves on a world stage. As we become


increasingly more world aware and citizens of the world, people want


to be able to go and say look we are a country that's putting


ourselves out there. You can't ignore so many people saying we


want our country to go in this direction. That's not democracy.


The gentleman two along from this. I was actually thinking, ten years


from now, ten years ten as your topic is, what have we learned? Is


there a proto-type to a certain extent to say we have learned the


way forward? We went into Libya. What have we learned actually? That


is a key question I would like to ask? Michael Morpurgo what do you


think this has taught us about the kind of society we are? I think it


is taught me we are not this kind of a country any more. My feeling


about us now is represented, and I know this isn't a picture, by the


kind of show we put on just before the Olympics. We are rather than


eccentric people, rather odd, quite funny, but we don't do this boots


on foreign territory any more. That's what seems to me have rubbed


the country and made us feel really uncomfortable. Not just about Iraq,


but Afghanistan, is we are not this sort of country any more. Unless I


have got it all wrong. We will come on and talk about intervention.


Let's stick with you on this. How does that make you feel. Do you


want to be one of the world's policemen? No. I feel those days


are not for you. We are, yes a significant European power. We work


in conjunction with other democratic nations to make this


world a better place. But we don't do going off on our own with boots.


We can't wash our hands of the rest of the world. You can't. You may


not be interested in wa, but war is interested in you. Trotsky said


that and it is good reason to think that Britain is not there. You walk


the streets of the Arab world today the Bafour declaration comes up


again and again. Britain has to correct the mistake of the part,


and we can't do that without American support. And answering the


question that Charles Kennedy asked, how tight will the relationship


between the UK and the US, who will it be close to, Russia, China. The


UK on its own cannot sustain the global responsibilities that we


face in an interdependant world. Let's talk about that. The world is


a different place now. The Middle East is convulsed by the Arab


Spring, Syria has descended into Civil War, and there is the ever-


lingering threat of WMD in Iran. Ten years after Iraq, the American


public is now, as Ed Husain said, reluctant to intervene beyond its


borders, however Britain since Iraq has intervened in Libya, and more


recently Mali. In the 1980s Saddam's Iraq went


head-to-head with revolutionary Iran, earning the gratitude of


western and gulf Arab states alike. They bank rolled his long war with


Iran, and an �80 billion shopping spree for weapons.


After the 1991 invasion of Kuwait, the US sought to break Iraq's power,


culminating in their 2003 invasion. Today Iraq hardly ranks as a


regional player. Except in oil production. Iran has gained by


default, but it can't control what Iraq does. Instead, that country


has become a buffer state, weakened, sandwiched between the forces now


defining the Middle East. For a time the US extoled Iraq as a model


democracy, an example for the region. When US pressure brought


elections, they carried Hamas to power in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon,


and religious-based parties in Iraq itself. Far from stablising the


Middle East, the invasion may have removed popular fear of tyrants,


and empowered intolerance. As Iraq's insurgency progressed, it


mutated from an anti-American movement noing Sunni Arabs, into an


orgy of anti-Shia violence. Symbolic acts against religious


prosessions, pilgrims and mosques, goaded the majority Shia into


reaction. America tried to dissuade Iraq's


neighbours, particularly Sunni Saudi Arabia, and Shia Iran, from


turning Iraq into a proxy religious war. But since US combat troops


have left, surrounding countries have intensified their struggle for


influence. Recently Syria has seen an inflation of Iraqi-Sunni


extremists, skilled in insurgency, taking their fight to the Assad


regime. Having triggered the insurgency, America regarded it as


a point of honour to overwhelm it. And by 2008 they had brought about


a dramatic downturn in violence. But the cost of wielding this


sledgehammer was so great, that now further US intervention on this


scale seems barely conceivable. Far from cementing the special


relationship, as Tony Blair had hoped, what happened in Basra left


many Americans critical of British military performian. And back in


Westminster, there was a groundswell that in future the UK


should be a little more awkward in the dealings with the US.


The world ten years on looks quite different. Unitary secular Iraq,


Saddam's Iraq crushed. In its place, a caldron of Sunni-Shia rivalry, it


is not pretty and it might have happened eventually without outside


intervention. But the fores unleashed by the invasion of ten


years ago was so ugly, that the US and Britain can barely look them in


the face any more. I'm joined by Tim Collins, who led


the 1st Battalion The royal Irish Guards in the invasion. Sir


Christopher Meyer, UK ambassador to America in the run-up to the war.


And Mark Urban, the Newsnight diplomatic editor is here, and we


are joined by Hans Blix from Stockholm, the UN weapons inspector


in Iraq just before the invasion. Tim Collins, from your experience


of Iraq, what can we learn about future adventures? Was the Royal


Royal Irish scam regiment, by the way. We can learn in a strange way


that our forefathers learned after the Boer war is that our military


needs to be fit for purpose. I think that the leadership and the


quiping of the British army was woeful -- equipping of the British


army was woeful at the time of intervention when we led the


invasion. By and large we have learned that getting involved in


other people's affairs isn't as simple as we thought. I think it is


a reluctance to get involved in Syria as a result. And certainly


our intervention in Libya of very measured as a result.


Christopher Meyer, you heard Tony Blair saying there, this is a


generation of struggle and he made it clear that he thinks that we


have a role in Syria and maybe in Iran, maybe not boots on the ground


or whatever. But do you think that is our place now. Do you think that


we were damaged by the Iraq business to the extent that can we


even do it? Morally and physically, do we have the capability to go in?


Of course we are damaged by the Iraq intervention. Not least


because we left Iraq in rather humiliating circumstances, when we


withdrew from Basra. That is not a God precedent. Having said that, we


are still, like it or not, a permanent member of the UN Security


Council. With that comes certain responsibilities. And the challenge


of the age is when to intervene, and when to stay out. I have to say,


if I may, that Iraq and Afghanistan, and Sierra Leone, and others, don't


give us a universal template to tell us what to do. No, and the


other thaiing that doesn't give us a universal template is the idea of


UN resolution, we have been there without UN resolutions, we have we


were m in Kosovo, for example. Is - - we were in Kosovo, for example.


Is this through the UN council, we will never get agreement on Syria?


Even if we did get agreement, I'm not sure that is the place to take


boots on the ground. Because you will then get caught in the middle


of another bloody Civil War, where is exactly we don't belong. Hans


Blix, joining us from Stockholm. You were the senior weapons


inspector, you were tasked with looking for and finding WMD. We are


in a position now where Iran may well be on its way to having WMD,


but you know, is any country now going to go to war on the basis of


intelligence after what happened in Iraq? I hope not. I think that the


starting of the Iraq War was a tragic and terrible mistake. I


think Mr Blair probably felt that there was a special responsibility


of the great powers, members of the Security Council, and he had been


encouraged by the successes he saw in Kosovo and Sierra Leone, but he


didn't care or feel the need to have an approval of the Security


Council. The US was pretty high on its hyperpower that had developed


as the lone superpower in the 1990. They wanted to take further revenge


on the 9/11 in Afghanistan. They maintained then that they would


weed out the weapons of mass destruction and that they would


also take out Al-Qaeda. These were contention that is didn't really


stand up. They were failures. me, sorry to interrupt, do you


think the unintended consequence of what has happened in Iraq has been


the inexorable rise of Iran? think the lack of Security Council


approval of the action in Iraq should have stopped them from doing


it. I think that it is perplexing that in the current situation there


is much talk about going to war with Iran, when it is perfectly


clear that Iran has not committed an aggression and has not a track


record of aggression. That certainly Security Council is not


going to approve any act against Iraq.


Do you think the idea of exporting democracy at the end of a barrel of


the gun has gone now for Britain? You can say that it wasn't really


there at the start. It was a very small number of people in the US


policy system who really thought that putting democracy into Iraq


was really a central war aim. 2003/04/05 there was the high


summer of that idea. Since then it was thoroughly discredited. Very


few people would argue that invading and taking democracy in on


a tang is a viable approach. In any situation, from backing peaceful


protests in Tahrir Square, to the Libyan scenario and any future


scenario, what else do western Governments say they want. They


don't have another language except that of democracy. Simon Brown you


went into Iraq not once or twice, wounded both times, very seriously.


What do you say, you went in as a soldier doing his job. Do you think


it is our place to intervene. Do you think we have a moral duty to


intervene in the world? Morally we put ourselves in a position where


we are going to be involved by being part ofate and the UN. As a


soldier, speaking personally as a soldier, I went to Kosovo and


cleaned up after going in too late. I personally would like to go in


early and prevent death, than going in late and clean up death.


think that has to be a big policy decision that, either soft power,


not necessarily with boots on the ground, but we have to change a


different way? We have to learn the right timing to go in and make the


proper decisions. Isn't the problem here, that one of the other


unintended consequences is there isn't an American voter now who


would vote to go in in to Syria with bombs, boots or to Iran?


think that is right. Both in America and Britain, war of all


kinds has become very unpopular. We are weaker for it. Because there


are case on both humanitarian grounds, and sometimes even


democracy grounds, when we might want to. Because these are our


values. There was an extraordinary interview you had with Tony Blair,


he made marvellously, fluently, the humanitarian case for going in p


and even a bit the democratic case, both of them I feel are strong ones,


he this just happen not at all to be the arguments he made at the




From your point of view, when can intervention work, is it short and


sharp, or as Simon is saying, has it got to be ahead of the game?


think we the tragedy of Iraq was that it undermined the nation and


discredited the notion of humanitarian intervention, which is


about going in to prevent violation of human rights, genocide. It is


not about war fighting, it is about protecting people on the ground. At


the time of Bosnia there was massive civil society pressure to


protect people from "ethnic cleansing". That doesn't exist now


today in Syria, and I think it is not because Syria is an Arab


country, it is because of the experience of Iraq. Is that your


view? I think there is no doubt about it. We saw the Free Libyans


pulling out of the discussions in Rome and other place, they were


simply being abandoned. You are right, they are gun shy becoming


involved where we should be. There has to be balance somewhere along


the line. You are the politician, you are going to have to take a


decision about backing European intervention, what do you think?


There is no template to intervention. Mark asked the right


question w what sort of relationship do we want with the


countries? The moment you know, the moment you remove a dictator the


vacuum is filled with theocracy. It has taken us in the UK 1730 years


to go from the Magna Carta to 1928 where our democracy became healthy


and women got the vote. We have to take the long view. We have to


build relationships and support true democrats in those countries.


Is it about soft power, is it about getting in ahead of the game?


about soft power as well as hard power. How you use it. One of the


things that has gone wrong is that intervention, and humanitarian


intervention, has become plulted by the concept of nation build --


polluted by the concept of nation building. Nation build something


trying to impose on a foreign culture your own concepts of


democracy. We mustn't confuse democracy with Westminster


democracy or Washington capital democracy, because it is different


in every country. And one of the things that has gone wrong in


Afghanistan, for example, is to try to impose on a completely alien


culture, our own norms and precepts. APPLAUSE


Very briefly Hans Blix, do you think there is a role to intervene


in other countries? Not necessarily boots on the ground, but promoting


change, promoting democracy? think there is a presumtiousness


that the countries like the UK, or the US can take that decision. But


the UN actually has adopted something called the right to


protect, the R 2. P, which will enable the United Nations to


intervene. It presupposes that the Security Council gives its approval.


That is what was missing in the case of Iraq. They could not have


the approval, and they should not have it. It was to the merit of the


Security Council that they didn't give T we need that in the future.


It is not interventionists are excluded, but there should be a


legitimisation of it by the Security Council. Woman in green at


the back, a comment? I would like to ask you how do you build up the


trust between intervention of knowing when you should actually go


into war and actually build up the trust between the public and the


politicians. Just a comment? In 2006 Tony Blair


actually admitted that he was asking higher powers for advice,


that he was giving prayers for his decisions in this. You would think


in the 21st century that we wouldn't rely upon superstition,


and there would be a more quantitative and qualitative way in


making these decision. A completely unscientific audience, I will ask


you now about intervention. Whether you believe that the UK has a role


in intervening in other countries, where there are huge problems, in


order perhaps to promote democracy, but certainly to promote peace.


Those of you who think first of all that Britain still has a role,


please raise your hands? Those who don't? I would say that the ayes


have it, just, not completely. One abstainer in the middle! Thank you


very much, thank you to my audience and panellist to join us for the


Newsnight special, until tomorrow night a very good night from us


Hello there, it is frosty again in Scotland. Freezing fog patches,


especially through the central lowlands, not as cold by the


morning in Northern Ireland as the cloud moves in. Across Scotland we


will see sunshine, that will develop in northern England as the


dryer and brighter weather moves southwards. A much better day to


come in northern England. Feeling pleasant in the sunshine.


Eventually getting sunshine through much of East Anglia. The southern


counties more of a struggle to blow the cloud awa. It will stay cloudy,


not as damp and drizzley as it is now. The cloud won't be as either.


Wales will be improving in the afternoon, particularly North Wales.


Northern Ireland a bit of a change here. We are expecting more cloud


than we had today. It will feel quite chilly, I suspect. Scotland,


some changes into the west and the North West in particular. It won't


be quite as warm as it was today. Away from the North West and


Northern Ireland we should get a good deal of sunshine once again.


Sunshine in Inverness, but in the change on Thursday as more cloud


moves in here. Further south we have the cloud on Wednesday. But


the cloud should be thinner on Thursday. So a better chance of


seeing some sunshine. A change of fortunes, if you like on Thursday.


It will be a colder start for England and Wales, with frost and


Kirsty Wark presents a special programme with a studio audience, looking at how Iraq and the world changed following the war ten years ago.

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