Friday, October 18, 2002

Guess what - today I received a lovely letter from the Rt Hon Frank Dobson, MP for Holborn and St Pancras, in response to my fax about how we should not attack Iraq. Here's the text in full - I am not sure whether Franko is giving me the party line or his own opinion (if there's a difference), so maybe any political pundits out there can read between the lines and tell me what's really going on in his mind:

Thank you for your recent letter about the possibility of war against Iraq. I share your concerns. I do not support unilateral military action by the United States and Britain. Measures to secure Iraq's compliance with United Nations resolutions can only be taken with the explicit authority of the Security Council.

Before launching any military action, even with the authority of the UN, it would be necessary to consider the long-term impact on Iraq, the Middle East and the world in general. Questions which would need to be answered, and answered satisfactorily, include:

- could the disarming of Iraq be secured by other means?
- could military action achieve this aim without a large loss of life by the invading forces and enormous Iraqi civilian casualties?
- what would happen to Iraq afterwards?
- what form of government would be acceptable both to the divided inhabitants of Iraq and the United Nations?
- what would be the impact on the Middle East?
- what would happen to oil supplies during and after such a conflict?
- what impact would a conflict have on the fragile world economy?

That said, it is undeniable that the current Iraqi regime is vile, has invaded two of its neighbours, and used chemical weapons against both its people and Iran. The people of Iraq and neighbouring countries would be better off if Saddam Hussein and his Government were ousted.

Many aspects of the problems posed by Iraq and the general instability and lack of democracy in the Middle East are inextricably linked with the conduct of Israel towards its neighbours and in particular the treatment of the Palestinians. Some people argue that action to disarm Iraq will not be acceptable to other Arabs until action is taken to re-establish the Israeli/Palestininan peace process and bring it to a successful conclusion. Conversely it could be argued that the issue of Iraq distracts attention from the Israel/Palestine problem, and provides an excuse for the United States not to get on with putting its weight behind the peace process. One thing is sure, there will be no lasting peace and stability in the Middle East until both Israel and Palestine are sovereign states with secure, internationally accepted boundaries inside which their people can live in peace with one another and their neighbours.

Thank you for writing,

Yours sincerely,

Frank Dobson [signature]

He's succeeded in making me think that maybe we won't attack Iraq after all, but correct me if I'm wrong - I'm a naive Libran and am usually prepared to believe anything I'm told if it sounds sincere enough. Anyway, I'm remarkably impressed that he wrote back - he's certainly gone up in my estimation.


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