The British have embarked upon a highly moral expedition to compensate the widows and orphans of Iraq for damages done, this if they find that the war waged by America and Great Britain against Iraq was unjust and unwarranted. Morality is laudable, but the matter of compensation seems implausible from an economic point of view.
The past few weeks have been rich with testimony before the inquiry. Among those testifying was Baroness Manningham-Buller, an expert on counter-terrorism. This sort of work has been in the Baroness’ family for generations; her mother trained pigeons in World War ll for secret communication. Baroness Manningham-Buller testified that she saw no link between the 9/11 attacks on America and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. She included in her testimony a letter written by herself on March, 2002, recently declassified, which reports no credible intelligence to demonstrate that Iraq was implicated in planning those attacks.
Interesting testimony also came from former Attorney General for England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, Baron Peter Henry Goldsmith, who retired from that post on the same day that Prime Minister Tony Blair stepped down, during June of 2007. Goldsmith indicated that at that point he was opposed to any invasion of Iraq, and felt that such intervention was illegal and unjustified. He sided with Foreign Office lawyers who felt toppling Saddam Hussein would be a violation of international law. But then, having received a letter from Jack Straw, a British Labor Party politician and Member of Parliament, and following talks with United Nations and United States lawyers, he was swayed to change that opinion. He referred in his testimony to a resolution that failed to grant France or Russia a veto on the proposed invasion and war. He then determined that he depended on the American view. He conceded above all this that he had phoned the Defense Secretary and Foreign Secretary to warn them of concerns he held.
Most revealing of the testimonies come from the United Kingdom’s Iraq expert at the UN from 1997-2002, Carne Ross. He complained bitterly of the government’s refusal to grant him access to documents, many of which he himself had worked on, relating to Iraq. He planned to incorporate these varied documents in arguments that the U.K. government failed to consider or implement alternative plans to military action. He was refused, he said, specific records about the Syrian pipeline, through which Iraq illegally exported oil, which provided funding for the Saddam regime. He was told the wanted documents could not be found. He said a certain unnamed official encouraged him not to make reference to these issues and documents.
Furthermore, he said he was aware of documents that proved an exaggeration of Iraq’s nuclear threat. Some placed the threat of a nuclear Iraq within five years; Ross had involvements with documents which refuted these claims, and the documents were now unavailable to him. He referred to propaganda-filled papers which he had refuted with claims and implications to the extent of “one teaspoon of anthrax can kill a million people.” When invasion was advocated by Washington, his alternative plan, to topple Saddam financially by stopping the illegal flow of oil and/or by seizing the regime’s assets, was ignored. He was appalled by the refusal of documents and by the failure to mention any formal discussion by ministers or officials of alternatives to military action.
One source places the number of civilian deaths in Iraq resulting from the American/British-led invasion at about 100,000 to 105,000. Some studies suggest much higher figures. The British Chillcott inquiry has resolved that if the war is found illegal, the widows and orphans of these dead, many of whose fathers and sons died defending their homes and families from the invading forces, would be compensated, if such compensation is even possible. The British are highly moral people. We look forward to conclusions and decisions, and we hope this outcome will be in keeping with the cause of wisdom and peace in this volatile world.