Iraq

Loz Kaye : Iraq - Repeating Past Mistakes

Before we move forward against ISIL in Iraq, we have to learn from our past mistakes, or we will be doomed to repeat them.

So here we are again. Parliament has voted to back military intervention in Iraq. In fact it is not so much as here we go again, as back to business as usual. Since 1990 we have been militarily involved in the country every year apart from 2012 and 2013. That in itself should give us pause for thought. 

It's certainly the case that the most recent Iraq war has left a deep scar on British politics. Cameron is clearly all too aware of that with his statement that we should not let the mistakes of the past affect decisions about the future. 

But the mistakes of the past are much broader than the "dodgy dossier". What the rise of ISIL shows is that the implementation of our entire defence strategy has been mistaken. The stated aims have been to tackle instability, identify security risks, to exploit influence to manage risks, to help resolve conflicts and strengthen international norms.

Does giving ISIL what it wants with a scrap in their own back yard achieve any of this? Plainly, no. US and UK strikes pave the way to further undermining the territorial integrity of Iraq, the precise opposite of the motion agreed.

Andy Halsall : The cost of action in Iraq

Our involvement must be more than military and truly in the cause of freedom and democracy.

When parliament voted to invade Iraq in 2003, it was based on what we later found out to be disinformation and deceit. We were misled. The countless thousands who opposed the war were vocal in their opposition - but they were not listened to, they were ignored. And the UK went to war.

Today, Iraq isn't the beacon of peace and democracy that we had hoped it would become, in a region with far too little of either. Far from it. Iraq is a very troubled state. The sectarian divisions that arose after our invasion and the impact of the poor planning and even poorer decisions taken during the post-invasion period continue to hinder progress and freedom in Iraq.

It is absolutely true that the situation in Iraq is at least in part down to the choices we made in 2003. Yet the decision parliament was asked to make today was very different, the situation it aims to address is different and the context in which it was raised is different.  

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