Church questions the process by which UK went to war in Iraq

Steve Hucklesby, Methodist Secretary for International Affairs:"Two years on, there is still insufficient evidence available aboutthe legality of the war in Iraq. In addition, questions concerningthe ethics of a war that caused at least 20,000 civilian deathsappear to be brushed aside. The elections demonstrate a cleardesire of the Iraqi people for peace and democracy, yet it isdifficult to argue that the intervention was just.

"The Just War tradition cannot sustain the argument that thedecision to go to war was right because a majority in Iraq appearto support the outcome. The war resulted in significant loss oflife and many people, in Iraq and around the world, are deeplyconcerned about the use of violence to bring about democracy.

"Our government may not be able to make public all of theevidence to support the decision to go to war but they must revealas much as possible. After two years and two major enquiries, theprocess by which we went to war in Iraq still generates morequestions than answers. Certain aspects are clear. The content ofthe Government's weapons dossier was significantly influenced by adesire to convince the public of the threat posed by Saddam's WMDprogramme. The dossier Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction remains alasting embarrassment to the British Intelligence community. Evennow it is not clear that the failures in process that led to thepublication of erroneous and biased information have beenadequately addressed.

"The 45-minute claim arose from a poor quality piece ofevidence, which appeared in the dossier four times. This, in LordButler's view, led to suspicions that it had been included for 'itseye-catching character.' The enquiry judged that it should not haveappeared at all without the clarification that it referred only tobattlefield weapons.

"Those defending the intervention in Iraq have placed increasingreliance on the 'rightness' of the action in bringing aboutdemocracy. But in our post 9/11 world, unilateral intervention onthe part of countries with a strong military capability could wellbe counter-productive to overcoming the threat of terrorism."

Anthea Cox, Methodist Coordinating Secretary for Public Life andSocial Justice, said, "Two years on from the start of the Iraq warwe are at a very serious place in international relations Ð aposition that the UN Secretary General has described as 'a fork inthe road.' We must hope that we can in future achieve a greaterinternational consensus on the justification as well as thelimitations of military intervention. We await the response of KofiAnnan to recommendations on the reform of the UN hoping that thesewill move this process forward. It is essential that thoseadvocating intervention face up to the responsibilities that theyhave, not only to their own national constituencies, but also tothe international community through the UN. Decisions about futureintervention would benefit from a more honest and frank assessmentof the way in which power was exercised in the lead up to the Iraqwar."