Thursday, February 23, 2006
A case in point is shown by this letter in the Scotsman a couple of days ago about Ming Campbell
I was interested to read that Sir Menzies Campbell, one of the three candidates hoping to become leader of the Liberal Democrats, received great applause for his comments on the war in Iraq to a recent hustings meeting in Edinburgh for party members (your report, 20 February).He may be putting himself forward as a safe pair of hands who had a good anti-war but it must be clear that, had he been leader the Lib Dems would have supported the Iraq war (as they so enthusiasticly did the Yugoslav one) it is possible that a few members would have broken ranks but I suspect very few (expulsion is harsher weapon against MPs than us volunteers). During the Yugoslav War debate Simon Hughes was the only other Lib Dem to speak & he said, obviously having wrestled with his conscience, that he was supporting the war purely because the organisation we were part of (could be either NATO or the EU) was carrying it out. That is an argument which clearly lacks moral force or intellectual consideration. It does leave room for him to have wrestled more successfully over Iraq to the extent of opposing his leader but I doubt it.
Sir Menzies seldom passes up an opportunity to boast that on that matter he got it right all along.
But did he? If readers were to turn to Hansard (24 September, 2002), immediately after the publication of the 45-minute dossier (the so-called "dodgy dossier") you can see what he said then.
After denouncing the Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, as an evil tyrant who posed a real danger to both his own citizens and people from neighbouring countries, Sir Menzies went on to say: "He most certainly has chemical and biological weapons and is working towards a nuclear capability.
"This dossier contains confirmation of information that we knew or most certainly should have been willing to assume. Saddam's possession of chemical and biological weapons, have been eloquently demonstrated by this dossier."
Sir Menzies should explain why, and at what point did he have such a dramatic change of mind.
Had the Lib Dems supported the war on the basis of the WMD lie they would have lost the credibility they obtained at the last election the millions of people who demonstrated against that war would have been totally alienated from Parliamentary politics. Fortunately the leader was Charles Kennedy who took a difficult stand on principle & has been proven right. I hope his successor is not too much worse.
It was the absence of UN support that was the key component. Had this been present then the Liberal Democrats would undoutdedly have supported the action.
Therefore, there is no inconsistency between Campbell's initial comments about Iraq and subsequent opposition to the war.
Therefore the moral basis for Simon's position is that is not the UN but the non-US members of NATO alone who have authority to legitimise a war - I can see why that has an instinctual attraction to supporters of the EU but it is certainly legal, & I believe moral, nonsense.
Responding to something by ignoring the main issue and responding on a point of detail which allows you to avoid the crux of the matter is shabby debating
They are both guilty of the same hypocrisy it is merely that Campbell went further to approve the dodgy dossier.
If the Iraq war was illegal, which it was, then the Yugoslav war was triply so.