Jeremy Corbyn held a speech today at House of Commons in the light of the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war. Corbyn started the speech by paying tribute to the victims of the Iraq war which encompassed both British servicemen and women as well as Iraqi civilians. The implications of the Iraq war were surfaced briefly by Corbyn:
Frankly, it was an act of military aggression launched on a false pretext as the inquiry accepts and has long been regarded as illegal by the overwhelming weight of international legal opinion. It led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and the displacement of millions of refugees. It devastated Iraq’s infrastructure and society. The occupation fostered a lethal sectarianism – as the report indicates – that turned into a civil war. Instead of protecting security at home or abroad, the war fuelled and spread terrorism across the region. Sunday’s suicide bomb attack in Baghdad which killed over 250 people, the deadliest so far, was carried out by a group whose origins lie in the aftermath of the invasion. By any measure, the invasion and occupation of Iraq has been for many a catastrophe.
Furthermore he surfaced a number of facts directly from the Chilcot Inquiry that shed light on how the US & British governments bypassed democracy at home and disregarded international law to successfully launch what he refers to as a “war of aggression”. The closing part of the speech focused on the need to self-reflect, pass anti-war legislation and reform its relationship with the United States:
They include the need for a more open and independent relationship with the United States, and for a foreign policy based on upholding international law and the authority of the United Nations which always seeks peaceful solutions to international disputes. We also need, and the prime minister indicated this, much stronger oversight of the security and intelligence services, full restoration of proper cabinet government, and to give parliament the decisive say over any future decision to go to war based on objective information and not just through government discretion but through a War Powers Act that I hope this Parliament will pass.
And as, in the wake of Iraq our own and other western governments increasingly resort to hybrid warfare based on the use of drones and special forces, our democracy – and our democracy is crucial and important – needs to ensure that their use is subject to proper parliamentary scrutiny. There are no more important decisions a Member of Parliament ever gets asked to make than those relating to peace and war. The very least that MPs and the country should be able to expect is rigorous and objective evidence on which to base their crucial decisions. We now know the House was misled in the run-up to the war and the House must now decide how it should deal with that 13 years later, just as all those who took the decisions laid bare in the Chilcot report must face up to the consequences of their action whatever they may be.
To read the interview transcript click here.
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