David Miliband has confirmed that an inquiry into the Iraq war will be held sometime after July 2009. This is long overdue and it is to be hoped that the inquiry is comprehensive and wide ranging, and this time actually deals with all the circumstances leading up to the war especially the use of intelligence by ministers in making decisions.
Those Muslims in Luton protesting against soldiers returning from Iraq should this morning reflect on and carefully consider their behaviour and actions. The shouting and waving of placards accusing the soldiers of being criminals and murderers was not only offensive but indefensible and portrayed them in the worst light imaginable.
Over a million people marched against the Iraq war and many more opposed it. But their opposition does not give them the right to abuse soldiers who having risked their lives in battle have returned home – no doubt elated simply to be alive! The decision to go to war was a political one and not taken by a vote among soldiers. They were following orders which every army in a democratic society has to do otherwise the governance of a country would simply fail. Regardless of the rights and wrongs of any war, a nation’s soldiers must be treated with dignity and respect and the soldiers parading in Luton should not have had to face the abuse and vile placards as they did yesterday.
The protestors should give thanks to the fact that they are living in a country which allows them to publicly protest regardless of the offense their behaviour causes to the rest of the country. If they had been living in Iraq under Saddam Hussain’s rule and had carried out the same protest against Iraqi soldiers returning from war in Iran or in Kuwait, they would have been very fortunate to have had more than 24 hours to reflect on their actions.
With freedoms of speech and expression comes responsibility. The protestors should have given thought to the consequences of their actions and the offense they would have caused and exercised caution and restraint. Whatever cause they were supporting is not done any favours by such abusive and childish behaviour and once again a minority has brought shame on the majority of Muslims in this country.
The decision by the Information Tribunal to order the Government to release minutes of Cabinet meetings in 2003 at which the invasion of Iraq and the legality of the war were discussed is a very important, welcome and significant decision. It will be interesting to discover how the legal advice relating to the legality of the Iraq war was presented and discussed and what concerns were raised regarding the bogus weapons of mass destruction argument.
I suspect that the Government will appeal this decision but its good to see the Freedom of Information Act being put to effective use for a change instead of the spurious and time wasting requests that we too often hear about.