A brief comment on the Inquiry

I have made this brief comment at Progress Online
Gary Kent
Most people have settled views on the military intervention and won’t budge.
We should be clear about what happened and learn lessons – I am particularly concerned about the evident failure of post-war planning. Hubris and short-sightedness as well as a major underestimation of the physical and psychological impact of decades of a fascistic dictatorship caused great damage and bloodshed in which too many Iraqis and allied soldiers needlessly died.
We could focus on that and other issues to the exclusion of everything else but we would also be missing a vital part of the picture – the state of Iraq today and the needs of its people, democratic process and economic reconstruction.
I have had the privilege of visiting Iraq six times since 2006 and have seen fairly rapid change for the better. The second parliamentary elections in Iraq in March will be vital in consolidating politics and isolating terror.
I have mostly stayed in the Kurdistan region which deeply and widely talks of 2003 as a liberation. Some may not like to hear that but it’s the truth of how they see things and it isn’t surprising given that Saddam wanted to wipe the Kurds off the earth with WMD.
I have just returned from a week there meeting the president, prime minister and other senior political and business figures as well as Christian leaders, unions and women’s rights activists. They have made large strides, are seeking to overcome deeply embedded problems and are clearly asking for greater UK and international ties, commerce, investment and cultural exchanges. They rate Britain and its institutions – over half their MPs turned out for seminars by me and Meg Munn on how our system works (or doesn’t). Yet so much of the debate around the Chilcot inquiry ignores all this.
People who take different positions on the intervention or the inquiry can and should work together to support Iraqis who are trying to build a decent and democratic society.
I think it’s particularly important that the labour movement here does a lot more to support the labour movement there. Unions were nearly liquidated by Saddam and have re-emerged as a force, but are still stymied by illiberal laws and practices. International solidarity is vital to them as it is to the rest of their compatriots.