Monday, 11 August 2014

London Evening Standard letter: We have a moral responsibility to stop genocide in Iraq with UK air power


Online at Evening Standard here.




We must stop genocide in Iraq

The Prime Minister must weigh the consequences of action against inaction. Visiting Iraqi Kurdistan last year showed me both sides. The no-fly zone from 1991 protected fleeing Kurds then helped them build prosperity.

Yet there was also evidence of our past failure to act: an event commemorating the Halabja attack; a weeping son digging up the remains of his father in an Erbil mass grave. We have had a long and sometimes troubled history in Iraq - we know that air power can help and we possess the required forces. We have a moral duty to do more than apply humanitarian sticking plasters.

John Slinger

Read my articles about intervention here and letters here.

The full text of my letter is below (i.e. the version published in the newspaper was shortened):

The PM must weigh the consequences of action against inaction. Visiting the Kurdistan Region of Iraq last year showed me both sides. The British-US (and initially French) no-fly zone from 1991 protected Kurds fleeing into the mountains then helped them build prosperity. Yet there was evidence of our past failure to act: an event commemorating the Halabja WMD attack; a weeping son digging up the remains of his father in an Erbil mass grave.

With haunting parallels, Yazidis are stranded on a mountain, as ISIS fills new mass graves and threatens Erbil. President Obama is right to act, as inaction would have allowed ISIS to butcher civilians and undermine stability, making future intervention almost inevitable.

In 2003, despite Saddam’s genocide and continuing repressive rule, the case for intervention rested on legal points about his violation of Security Council Resolutions and WMDs. After chemical weapons were actually used last year, MPs remained unpersuaded on military action. We have had a long and sometimes troubled history in Iraq, we know that air power can help and we possess such forces. For these and the above reasons, we have a moral duty to do more than apply humanitarian sticking plasters. We must act.


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