ACCORDING to TheyWorkForYou, I voted “strongly against” an inquiry into the war in Iraq. Apparently.
Now that a date has been set for withdrawal of British troops from Iraq, an inquiry is back on the agenda. But an inquiry into what? Nick Clegg says he wants an inquiry into “an illegal war“. So, no prejudging the outcome there, then.
And if Nick doesn’t think the legality or otherwise of the war needs to be looked at, what does he want to be examined? An inquiry into the conduct of the war, or of events leading up to the start of the war, would be fair enough. But I would not support an inquiry seeking to make judgments about political decisions made in February and March 2003 by ministers and MPs. Yes, MPs sometimes make mistakes, and when that occurs, they are responsible for those misjudgments to their electorates, not to an inquiry headed up by some judge or other who isn’t accountable to anyone.
Similarly, ministers should be responsible to parliament, not to an inquiry. Supposing Judge Whoever decides that the decision to go to war should not have been made. He or she is entitled to his or her view. But my judgment, and the judgment of most MPs, was that it should. The electorate have since had an opportunity to make their own judgment.
Whenever an inquiry is held, and whatever its structure, it will be a huge disappointment to many people. Many of those calling for an inquiry are doing so only because they expect it will bolster their own view on Iraq.
But I doubt if there is a single person in the UK (among those who care one way or the other) whose mind is not already made up about the justification, or lack of it, for the invasion of Iraq. Personally, I’m not about to change my mind just because an inquiry tells me I should. And before you start fulminating at my arrogance, just remember that the same goes for those who opposed, and still oppose, the occupation: will any of them change their mind if the inquiry concludes the invasion was justified? Of course not.
An inquiry will happen; an inquiry should happen. Just don’t expect it to draw a line under this particular episode.