John Baron MP: The Key Lessons from Iraq

July 15, 2016

MP says truth must be spoken to power and foreign policy must be properly informed

This week MPs held a two-day debate on the findings of the Iraq Inquiry chaired by Sir John Chilcot. John Baron MP said there were a number of key lessons from Iraq, including the need for the legislative to better scrutinise the executive, and for our foreign policy apparatus to be better funded and informed in order to better meet global challenges. In the Chamber, John said,

“I suggest that Iraq 2003 ranks with Suez in a catalogue of British foreign policy disasters. It set in train a terrible sequence of events, including a vicious civil war and a fundamental alteration in the balance of power in the region. Thirteen years later, we are still living with many of those consequences.”

“I suggest that there are two key lessons from this episode. First, Parliament should have done more to question the evidence put before it. If the legislature does not examine the evidence and question the Executive at times like that, when is it going to do so? There was also the failure of those in the know—at all levels, in my view, but particularly in the Cabinet—to challenge what was being presented to the public.”

“The second important lesson is that we need a properly functioning, properly funded and well-informed foreign policy apparatus. There is no doubt that Iraq revealed clear deficiencies in that apparatus, and subsequent interventions suggest that, in large part, we have still not put them right.”

“In this increasingly challenging international environment, we need a knowledgeable Executive to be firing on all cylinders. A well-informed and resourced FCO is essential to that, both to act as a better counterweight to the impulses of No. 10 and to help us avoid costly errors and conflicts in the future. There must be within the system a readiness to speak truth to power.”

“We must restore our foreign policy and defence capabilities, otherwise the country risks being left behind. This is happening at a time when the international community is failing to produce co-ordinated responses to many of the challenges facing mankind, including poverty, organised crime, conflict, disease, hunger and inequalities.”

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