28 April 2004

Yours, in the hope Britain will think again on the direction we are heading

The conduct of the war in Iraq has made it clear that there was no effective plan for the post-Saddam settlement. All those with experience of the area predicted that the occupation of Iraq by the coalition forces would meet serious and stubborn resistance, as has proved to be the case. To describe the resistance as led by terrorists, fanatics and foreigners is neither convincing nor helpful. Policy must take account of the nature and history of Iraq, the most complex country in the region. However much Iraqis may yearn for a democratic society, the belief that one could now be created by the coalition is naive.

The military actions of the coalition forces must be guided by political objectives and by the requirements of the Iraq theatre itself, not by criteria remote from them. It is not good enough to say the use of force is a matter for local commanders. Heavy weapons unsuited to the task in hand, inflammatory language, the confrontations in Najaf and Falluja, all these have built up rather than isolated the opposition. The Iraqis killed by coalition forces probably total 10,000-15,000 (it is a disgrace that the coalition forces appear to have no estimate), and the number killed in the last month in Falluja alone is apparently several hundred, including many civilian men, women and children.

We share your view that we have an interest in working as closely as possible with the US on both these related issues, and in exerting real influence as a loyal ally. We believe the need for such influence is a matter of the highest urgency. If that is unacceptable or unwelcome, there is no case for supporting policies which are doomed to failure.



One of the war party's resounding themes before the war was to invoke the mass graves of the period when Saddam was acting as a US proxy and the US was providing diplomatic cover. Halabjais one example.

Iraq has newer mass graves than that. The ones in Falluja is only a few weeks old.

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