Speech by the Rt. Hon Ann Clwyd MP on the occasion of the
Carolyn A. Wilson Lecture 2006
"Bring back Saddam" ...? Human Rights in Iraq and Beyond'
15 November 2006
So, where do we go from here?
We have acted in the Balkans, in Sierra Leone, in East Timor, in the Congo . . . . and in Iraq.
Many of you are probably wondering, however, whether, knowing what I do today, with Iraq blighted by sectarian division and continued bloodshed, I would have still supported military action in Iraq.
Was life under Saddam, better than it is now in Iraq now, and better than it will be in future?
The post-liberation phase did not exactly turn out as we hoped. There were many mistakes made. I regret particularly that the promotion of human rights was not more central to our strategy.
But too much criticism is levied at those of us who supported the action in Iraq.
Because by acting, we were to a large extent, enforcing up to 20 UN Security Council Resolutions, that had been broken over many, many years.
The world had to show that such abuse will not be tolerated.
I cannot emphasise too strongly the depravity of this regime.
And let us not forget the mistakes of those who refused to get involved. Those who were blinded by short-term economic and political interests. Those who were in Saddam’s pocket.
So yes, I remain thankful for Saddam’s downfall.
And Iraq won’t always be the way it is now. It will get better.
Nation-building is always a long-term exercise, a continuing and evolving process. Look at Kosovo, Afghanistan and East Timor – or further back in history, the reconstruction of Germany and Japan after the Second World War.
So I believe that the recovery from the legacy of Saddam will take time, but it will happen.
For much of my political life, I have gone against the grain.
Deciding whether, when, and how to act, entails making some hard and sometimes very uncomfortable choices.
Sometimes to end violence, force has to be used.
Sometimes to protect the sanctity of human life, lives are lost.
And, if the mistakes made in Iraq, lead to the international community ignoring the need for humanitarian intervention in the future, great suffering will result. The world will become a more dangerous place for all of us.
We cannot duck these issues.
As Winston Churchill said:
“You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life.”
I appeal to you to remember these words throughout your lives. Don’t be frightened to take a stand.
Believe me, it is the true measure of our humanity.