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tv   American Politics  CSPAN  March 8, 2010 12:30am-2:00am EST

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this is what it is cruel, because it sends a very clear message to children in families where the par >> that is another reason we will introduce it. >> my constituency was on there eight months before he got a job. this is the highest figure in the northwest. is this not the real reality of where they have failed young people? >> the reality is that there are four times fewer people unemployed now than there were in the previous recession because of the action that we have taken. i can assure him that we will fight hard to support jobs and particularly jobs for young people that is why we have introduced the future jobs with
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a guarantee that within only six months, ever person under the age of 24 will be guaranteed work or training. >> can my right hon. friend inform that foreign money is being used? representations from the electoral commission of foreign money being used to i constituency? >> well, i think there is an important issue that my honorable friend has raised. it is evident that the toward party is for sale, but britain is not. [shouting] >> town crier and firefighter dave taylor has got cancer. his doctor, his oncologist has described him medicine which is not approve. what can she do to keep this man alive in?
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>> well, the national institute for clinical excellence is independent, and acts on the best scientific and medical advice. and i pay tribute to the progress that has been made in cutting the loss of life from cancer. and the work that is done i oncologist and throughout the health service, which is improved people's length of life and improve healthcare, and that's one of the things that has benefited from the great increase in investment that we have put forward. and also, that i would ask him to back our commitment that there should be a one week guarantee that after visiting -- then again at 9:00 p.m. eastern and pacific at c-span --
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or, you can find a video archive of past prime ministers questions. >> coming up next on c-span, prime minister gordon brown on the iraq war. former ambassador paul bremer on the situation in iraq and then after that, a comfort station with dr. rajiv shah. the conversation with rajiv shah. >> president obama will be speaking in glen siad, pennsylvania. >> which four president lived
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past 90 years old? it was john adams, herbert hoover, while reagan and gerald ford. >> it is a guide book. it is a moot many history -- it is a mini 3. you can tell a lot about people at the end of their lives. >> a resource guide and stories of their final moments. now available in favor bookseller or get a 25% discount. what's up next, the british iraq war testimony from prime minister gordon brown. the panel is examining british involvement in the war and the circumstances that led to the 2003 invasion and war's aftermath.
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he takes questions on british funding of the war. mr. brown has served as prime minister since 2007. this portion last about one hour 25 minutes. >> good morning. >> good morning prime minister. >> today, the prime minister he is here to give evidence. this hearing takes place in the months leading up to a general election from the time that we began our work last july, we have been trying to display
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personality. we had to remain outside party politics and we have asked the political parties to respect that position and we repeat tha. we repeat that request today. it was for that reason my colleagues and i originally decided that we should ask to see the prime minister, the foreign secretary and the development secretary after the general election. on january 19, the prime minister wrote he was preparing to give evidence whenever the committee saw fit. we discussed this letter and concluded that in the interest of fairness, we should offer the prime minister, the foreign minister to chance to give evidence before and all three have taken up this offer. we'll see the foreign secretary on monday morning. we have a very serious task before us to establish the
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u.k.'s involvement in iraq between 2001 and 2009 and to learn the lessons for future british governments facing similar circumstances. we can only accomplish that task successfully if we are seen to be fair, impartial and apolitical and we are determined to do so. we recognize that witnesses -- of their recollection of events and we cross check what we hear. i will remind all witnesses they will be asked to sign a transcript that the testimony they give is truthful, fair and accurate. prime minister, you have been a senior member of the cabinet since 1997 and prime minister since june 2007. it has been borne in on this inquiry from the outside that the coalition's decision to
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take military action led directly or most often indirectly to the loss of lives of many people. service men and women in the national forces, the iraqi forces and many civilians, men, women and children in iraq. still, more have been affected by those losses and by other consequences of the action. given all that experience, i should like to ask right at the outset whether you believe the decision to take military action in march 2003 was indeed right? >> it was the right decision and it was for the right reasons but i do want at the outset to pay my respects to all the soldiers and members of our armed forces who served with great courage and distinction in iraq, for the loss of life and the sacrifices that they have made and my thoughts are with the families. next week, we will dedicate a
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memorial to the 179 service men and women who died in iraq and and the thoughts avenue prepares with all the families today. there were also many civilian injuries and deaths in iraq as well. british citizens and my thoughts and prayers are with them and we know there was a huge loss of life in iraq among civilians so any loss of life is something that makes us very sad indeed. i would like to acknowledge the sacrifice of those who lost their lives. i think that this is the greatest decision of all, to make a decision to go to war. i believe we made the right decision for the right reasons because the international community had for years asked saddam hussein to abide by international law and the obligations that he had
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accepted. 14 resolutions were passed by the united nations and at the end of the day it was impossible to persuade him that he should abide by international law. my feeling was and still is that we cannot have an international community that still works if we have terrorists who are breaking these rules or in this case, aggressor states that refuse to obey the laws of the international community. i do think we have lessons to learn however, i think in three areas, i would like to discuss with you and i hope that you will take onboard the questions and the answers that come from these issues. the first is that we have been fighting two wars and it is essential that we have the proper structures of decision making and of course as time has gone on, both tony blair and i have changed the structures of decision making in the government and i think the second thing is we won the battle within almost seven days
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but it has taken seven years to win the peace in iraq and i think we are developing the concept of a just peace and how we can actually manage conflicts like this -- in this case, the iraqi people and the third thing we have learned and i would like to discuss it with you. there will be interventions in the future and international cooperation has got to be far  greater than it was. global problems require better global institutions and i would particularly draw attention to the importance in all of this of the relationship between europe and america, something that i'm determined to build up and to continue to make stronger in the future. >> thank you, mr. brown. we would like to begin, if we may by discussing your role as a senior member of the cabinet. we would propose then to come to the specific issues, your responsibilities as chancellor and then your role as prime
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minister after june, 2007. first your role as a senior member of the cabinet. >> prime minister, as the chairman said, i want to discuss your role as the senior member of the cabinet in the period up to march 2003. but before that, i would like to get a better understanding in your views about iraq because by 2005, the government had been in power for four years and had taken the action that iraq -- after 9/11 -- in afghanistan and what conclusions did you draw about the role of force in supporting the policy objectives? >> i think we had no alternative but to intervene in situations where there were two risks to the post cold war world. the first, the action of terrorism and the second is the action of rogue state or in the case of iraq, aggressive states
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and? the world community is going to mean anything in terms of our ability to hear and our ability to deliver peace then we have to be prepared to take international action. it is of course, far better, if all countries are united in the action that is going to be taken but it has been necessary to take action in situations where either through terrorism we have been at risk in our owe country or aggressive states, the region in this case, iraq, the region of iraq, has been a risk swell. -- risk as well. >> mr. blair -- on march 18, 2003. that they were the link between terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, which constituted what he said a fundamental assault on our way of life and that -- regimes the w.m.d.
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extreme terrorist groups with the possibility of the two coming together rented what he called a real -- represented a real and present danger. he made similar points in january to the inquiry. did you see a real and present danger of this kind coming from iraq in 2003? >> i think we're dealing with this post cold war world. after the end of the cold war, and the expectation that we would have peace and that the instabilities that existed because of the cold war were over, we found that there were a number of states and then we found that there were a number of non-state terrorists that were preparing to cause huge instability around the world. we will be seen as a post cold war era where you had terrorism
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like iraq and the relation to iran and kuwait. in my view, the world community is just find in taking action where international obligations in this case accepted by iraq at the enof the@@@@@ @ @ @ @ r r
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>> so you would agree with mr. straw, who i think told the
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inquiry that military action stood -- whether iraq posed a threat by reasons of weapons of mass destruction. would you agree with that? >> my thesis is this. persistently iraq had been asked by the international community to disclose and dismantle weapons that every country who signed that united nations resolution believed that they had and that we had a responsibility to ensure that international law was upheld and the international community would mean very little if we could not in the case of a country that was in fact a serial violator of international law, we would have no sense that the political will would be there for future interventions which may be necessary if we could not show that we could come together to deal with the problem of iraq, but of course what we wanted was a diplomatic route to succeed and right up
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to that last minute and that last weekend many of us were hopeful that that diplomatic route could succeed. >> your concern mainly was about the breach of the resolutions. >> yes, my view has always been throughout this episode that the sanctions and then the no flight zones and then the tightening of sanctions and then of course the deand in iraq disclose to the international community what it had and what it was doing. this was all about the implementation of a new international set of rules that were necessary in a post cold war world. that we had already seen how much instability could be caused by individual states that were either failed states of r or rogue states. that we have essentially failed in are you wanda to take action
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when it was necessary. we have triled hard in the balkans to take action but it was hard. it was our responsibility to make sure that the international order could work for the future. >> can i move to specifically about your role as a senior member of the cabinet. we understand from early evidence that mr. blair discussed iraq frequently with you in private conversations. is that correct? >> yes, we had formal meetings of the cabinet. >> i'm coming to that but i'm talking about private conversation. >> i was going to say in addition to these formal meetings with the cabinet, i talked with mr. blair frequently. we're dealing with the economic issues and the reforms of the health service and issues including dealing with the euro
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and inquiring to how we would approach the euro but i would talk about iraq and about the process of diplomatic negotiations. >> so you would say you were in the loop from 2002 to -- >> yeah, i think we have to understand foreign affairs, that i've understood since i became prime minister is quite different from the conduct of domestic policy and there has been a whole debate over many, many years. what you've got now is a unique situation where in the past 50 years ago, prime ministers and foreign secretaries would operate through ambassadors and memos and you've got instant contact between the prime minister and the american president and instant contact between foreign secretary and the secretary of state. that is true of france and
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germany and our relationships with them. foreign policy is essentially the prime minister and the foreign secretary and the defense secretary involved directly with their numbers in every country and they are in a position to report to you and report to the cabinet about what is actually happening on a day-to-day, sometimes hour-to-hour basis and sometimes the intermediaries of the past there is a huge issue about how -- how individuals that work far more closely together. the better the relationships, the better the connect of the foreign policies. >> i understand. mr. blair told us there were lots of ad hoc meetings and he described a constant misdirection among the government on the key issues. were you part of that?
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>> i was talking from the defense secretary from june 2002 about what would be necessary in case we failed in our diplomatic -- >> from what time 2002? >> from about june 2002. what we would have to do, i think you will find that the correspondence between the defense secretary and the treasury, that we were discussing what if our diplomatic efforts failed, what would we do and what would be the nature of our military engagement and i said immediately to the prime minister that the military options that were under discussion, there should be no sense that there was a financial restraint that prevented us from doing what was best for the military. i think the treasury did a paper in june about these very issues. i was then advised i think to talk to mr. blair. i told him that i would not --
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this was right at the beginning. i would not try to rule out any military option on the grounsd of cost. quite the opposite. he should feel free and it was the right action to discuss the military option that was best for our country and the one that would yield the best results and we understood that some options were more expensive than others and we should accept the option that was right for the country. >> when did you support the u.s. invasion for iraq? >> the decision was made by the cabinet. >> when did you become aware? >> at the last minute in march. right up until the last minute. i was hopeful, as i think the whole country were that we would reach a diplomatic resolution of these issues. >> that was a decision to go to war. but i'm talking about -- on u.k. support for the u.s. invasion if one was to take place. >> that we would support the
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u.s. invasion only at the last minute when we were deciding that it was not possible for the diplomatic route to work any further. i remember going on television the sunday before the parliamentary board and the day before the cabinet decision on this matter and even backstage, we were hopeful that diplomatic routes could work but we were also worried that the united nations were preventing a resolution and it was not possible to imagine this could be sorted out simply by a delay. it was for me a hope right up to the last minute that a diplomatic action could work. i think in putting our case to other countries and the united nations, they should not be faulted because they tried everything in their power to avoid a war and i think you will see when i spoke to the cabinet on the meet, the day before the parliamentary board,
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i was very clear that we have had to exhaust all dip maic avenues before we could conclude that it was in evidenceable or impossible to avoid a decision about war. these diplomatic avenues consider tried right up to the last minute. >> in the wake of 9/11 and the change of approach of the u.s. administration in 2002, mr. blair said that there were whole -- of discussion about sanctions and a very structured debate about the review policy of government strategic options. now you were not at the meeting that took place on april 2 at crawford. for craufed on april 2. -- crawford on april 2. were you part of this review that took place?
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>> well, clearly when sanctions were being examined, the treasury and the foreign office would be involved because the implementation of those sanctions depends on the treasury's ability to do certain things as it does the foreign office but we were coming to a position where sanctions were being accepted by saddam hussein. he was finding ways around them. >> i know that. my point really is were you involved in discussions about -- and were you part of these discussions about -- considered in the early part of 2002? >> i was not at any meetings prior to the prime minister's visit to crawford but i would know about the discussions about sanctions. if sanctions were to be changed, the treasury would be involved and i would be involved in taking skgses. >> you will be kept informed by the officials in the treasury? >> yes, we would cobt continue
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to monitor what's happening with sanctions. it was obviously our policy in reaction to iraq. the conclusion that we had reluctantly to draw was that sanction were not being effective in the way that we had wanted and were inflicting damage of the iraqi people and at the same time causing the greatest of concern to the ruler of iraq. >> has the situation evolved 2002, 2003. were you and other senior members on the policy? >> of course. we had reports that you will see regularly in the cabinet about the diplomatic course that was being taken and of course a lot of the discussions, the cabinet was being kept in touch about what was happening.
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i cannot see an argument that the cabinet was not informed. we were informed fully. they were essentially focused on the diplomacy and the problems as well as the opportunities that came from that diplomatic process. >> were you informed with number so's exchanges with the white house and did you see mr. blair's letters to the president? >> no, i would not expect to see private letters between mr. blair and president bush. >> the conversations he was having, the private conversations. >> i would be discussing with him all the other issues we were dealing with and he would keep me up to date as he did with the diplomatic route. at the same time as i'm making it clear to you from june 2002, we at the treasury had to start making preparations in case there was a possibility of war. in june, we looked to the defense secretary with a number
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of options. we said finance was no barrier to discussing and concluding on the best options. in september we wrote a paper about the reconstruction of iraq and looked at the problems that had to be dealt with if there was to be reconstruction had we ended up in a war that we had not solved. i think we did some very important work in estimating what the cost of the war would be and i think we got it -- i think our first estimate was $2.5 billion by 2006 and then it was $4 billion. i think we were right. >> ki just go back to your point -- can i just go back to your point about the cabinet meeting. mr. blair told us there were some 24 cabinet meetings. was the discussion substantive? was it an
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-- was this just information? >> i think they are getting a report from each of the sectors. there are issues that have to be reported on. in the case of iraq, everybody was trying to get a diplomatic solution. the discussions of the cabinet were on how to push forward a diplomatic process so that we could get a diplomatic solution that would prevent war. what was being reported to the cabinet on most occasions was what were the difficulties and successes in the diplomatic efforts to persuade europe and other countries to join us in un resolutions to put pressure on iraq. that was the main just love it. we were anxious to avoid war.
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the cabinet was discussing how we could do more to move forward on the diplomatic route. >> it was a diplomatic rule -- a rule. this information was a meeting at crawford. but was this properly explored? this is because of the discussions i was having with the department of defense. the various military options that were being looked at. in fact, as you probable know from the evidence that you have received, one set of military options would have led us to -- if war had to happen, would
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have led us into one part of iraq. eventually the decision was to move into another part of iraq and we became responsible for the basra area. that was not the original plan and that changed over a period of time. i was involved in discussions about making sure that sufficient resources were available to do that and i've always said the resources would be available but i would say the most general discussions that we had were generally the discussions were about the diplomatic effort but in different committees obviously, the prime minister was talking to the foreign secretary and the defense secretary about the options. i was not involved in these discussions but i was aware of the discussions because of the role the treasury had to play. >> you received, i know all in written briefings about the polls and planning. what issues did the officials raise with you?
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>> first of all, the cost and we looked at different estimates of what intervention would cost depending on the options that were decided on and my view was that it had to be the best military option and we had to support the military decision that was made an not rule out any option on financial grounds. the second thing we looked at was the reconstruction of iraq and we how that that there would be world economy implications, for example. the oil price spiked $10 higher and that was an effect of the initial part of the war. we had foreseen that but we also had to look at reconstruction. i was determined, i may say, it is one of my regrets that i wasn't able to be more successful in pushing americans further on this issue was that the planning for reconstruction was essential just at the same time as the planning for war if the diplomatic avenue failed
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and we were working on reconstruction and what might be done. what i've called earlier, the search for a just peace. we were looking at that early on. we had a paper in september. we discussed a number of options when it came to march, we had a special -- >> this is discussion within the -- officials. >> discussion with the treasury and officials but also discussion about how the international institutions could be brought in. >> did you discuss those concerns raised with the prime minister? with the cabinet? >> of course. we had a meeting with the cabinet at the beginning of march. >> march -- >> 2003. where we discussed the construction issue. i offered a paper that was to be sent to americans about the issues of reconstruction that was to be dealt with if there was to be military action. we were determined to understand how we could get the international institutions involved in reconstruction. we didn't see that it was possible for britain and
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america. there were some 40 countries available in the original -- but we didn't see how it was possible without the international monetary fund, the world bank and the united nations in the end being involved in reconstruction to get finance that we thought would be $45 billion for reconstruction. we were focused on this issue of reconstruction and, as i say, i wish that it had been possible to follow that through much more quickly in the aftermath of the first few days of the battle. >> what you're telling me, it seems to me that you have very comprehensive submissions from officials and you were fully appraised of these issues. how can you be sure what what was represented to the cabinet by your colleagues, how were you able to influence your colleagues about this issue? >> i think we had a meeting of
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the cabinet at the beginning of march in which we discussed -- the cabinet committee, we discussed these issues of reconstruction. tony blair asked know prepare a paper that he then sent. >> what about the options? because there was a question, -- involved in south of iraq, the cost of that? >> i have already made it clear, the military option, to be one that was best for the military, the treasury would not in any way interfere and suggest that there were cost grounds for choosing one option against another. that was not our job. the treasury was there to advise on how we could deal with the financial issues that were roles from the military decisions and the political decisions that were made. so there was no time from june when the treasury said this is a better military option because it is cheaper or lest costly at every point, i made it clear that we would support
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whatever option the military decided upon with the prime minister and the cabinet there would be no financial -- what was to be done. >> we've been told by some cabinet members that they had -- on intelligence. did you receive such briefings? >> i asked to be briefed. >> when was that? >> i've got the dates of the meetings for you. march 4, 2002. very early. december 9, december 13. february 24. i had five meetings with the intelligence. i was briefed on the evidence and information that they had and it was -- these were very full briefings. >> and you were convinced that w.m.d. was a real threat? >> it was evidence that was known to many countries. not just our country about the
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weaponry that the iraqi government held. and of course, at that time, there was a greater certainty amongst the intelligence community that this weaponry was there. i think we have learned that intelligence can give us insights into what's happening but we've got to be more sure as people have recognized about the nature of intelligence that we were sing from certain people. >> thank you. >> prime minister, i wonder if i could just pick up one vital detail from your conversation, which is that in march of 2002, the cabinet's office produced an options paper, a streamic review of the -- strategic review of the courses available with iraq, the continuing containment of regime change in different forms. obviously a very important paper which we discussed with
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mr. blair. did you see that paper? >> i don't recall seing that paper. my main involving in looking at the options started in june. >> do you think this is one of the most senior members of the cabinet that you should have seen that paper? you are going to have to obviously pick up the bills and you are also a key member of the cabinet? >> yes, but i think everybody knew that we were pursuing the diplomatic route and that sanctions were being considered and how we dealt with them. a no-fly zone had been an issue of course. there were options available to us. it was only when we became clear that we had to look at specific options. >> the treasury role was your role, as a very, very senior member of the cabinet. here was the government looking at the fundamental question of whether you continue the movement. people were pushing for regime change there.
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the government was looking at this choice. isn't it curious that you were not actually shown the paper? >> i think i knew what was happening at the type. i don't think i needed to see every paper that was about this. by june i was very much involved in looking at the financial aspects. >> moving forward by then. ok. i would just like to form a clear understanding of the situation that the cabinet faced in march of 2003 as it came to the point of decision and perhaps in a few minutes move on to the conflict itself and its aftermath. you have talked about the need to exhaust the opportunities for diplomacy in trying to make peace. were you convinced that we had exhausted all possibilities for a solution via the u.n. and through diplomacy by the middle of march 2003?
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>> yes, i'm afraid we had to draw that conclusion. i think members of the cabinet when presented with the information and the evidence drew that conclusion as well with one exception. i think that we have tried very hard on the diplomatic route. we have reached a situation where everybody agreed in november that there was an issue with iraq that the weapons had to be disclosed, that disclosure had to come and there was a final opportunity to do something about it. this had not happened in the intervening period. we have therefore reluctantly to come to the conclusion that there was first of all little chance the that saddam hussein would take the action that was necessary. unfortunately the countries that had signed for one, including syrian countries, like that, that we couldn't find an agreement about the nature of the action that was to be taken.
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>> we were still in a situation in which the u.n. inspectors were reporting they were getting some cooperation from iraq and they wanted more time to pursue their inspections and many members of the united nations agreed with them. so shouldn't we have given them more time? >> but it was also obvious, i'm afraid that some countries were making it clear that they would not support action under any circumstances. whether we had begin them more time at that stage, of course it would have been far better if we had begin them more time. countries that signed 1441 were prepared to reach a decision at some point and that was not the information that was available to us as we made our cabinet decision. >> i would like to come back to that in a minute. on march 17 the cabinet decided that time had run out. is there a contradiction there?
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>> no, because i think people did want to exhaust the diplomatic process to the full but by that weekend, it was clear to us that there was a number of countries that supported the original resolution that under no circumstances would agree to military action, even though people thought that was the only route ahead as saddam hussein continued to defy the united nations. united nations. so it wa the conclusion that arose from other countries now saying that even if there was more time for the inspectors, they would not support action. >> you refered to iraq as an aggressive state and clearly iraq had been an aggressive state. had an appalling record of aggression under all of its neighbors under saddam hussein, but at the time we're talking about in march of 2003, was there actually a current threat of aggression by iraq?
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>> i think all the evidence that people had in november, let's say, before we come to the march resolution, that all the rest of the world agreed that there were problems that had to be addressed by iraq if they were to be a member of the international community and they felt they had a final opportunity to deal with issues where he had not been honest with the international community and had nozz disclosed or dismantled any of his weapons. from november to march, the issue is not it seems to me that the rest of the world did not agree that there was disclosure problem or disposal problems. the question was whether people would be prepared to follow the rules of the international community that where someone consistently and persistently is a serial violator over the rules of the international committee, action has got to be taken. >> iraq had been in breach of these rules for many years and
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many resolutionses as you pointed out and the international community responded to that through a range of measures. you responded through sanctions and no-fly zones. my question was was there a threat of aggression from iraq threat of aggression from iraq that required us@@@@@@@@@ @ @ @ i come back to my original argument. for me, the issue was, we are in a post cold war. we are dealing with instabilities that exist in different parts of the world. if the international community cannot, then we are sending a message to other potential states and other potential aggressors that they are free to do as they will, so for me, the issue was are we prepared to follow through the logic of our
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position, and when the diplomatic route has failed, then we have either got to show ourselves unable to take action because we cannot agree, or we have to be prepared to take the action that is necessary, so for me, the issue goes back to how we as the international community will deal with problems where you of rogue states, where you have failed states, and if we cannot find a way of dealing with these problems, then the world will be a very unsafe place for the future, and i am afraid this became a test about whether the international community was prepared to deal with these issues in a post cold war world, ere these are becoming cold war world. >> it was that reason rather than the threat of aggression that convinced you? >> i've always taken the view that if we can build a strong international community where people abide by the rules that are set, and if we can not do so, then we are sending a message to other states and
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countries that they are free to do as they plfment >> this is a message that other states will have heeded because of the action in iraq? >> this is one of the issues. one of the lessons i learned from iraq and i think it is the less often the whole of the world has really got to come to terms with. the international institutions for global corporation on these matters is not strong enough. one of the problems in iraq was that closeness of working was not seen, american-europe -- working together closely with the americans. if we are going to build an international community where people will feel safer from the threat of terrorism and failed states or rogue states then we have to have an international system of governance which people feel that will take action when those people who break the rules are --
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>> yeah. from the answers that you gave -- would i be right in understanding that you were briefed on the terms in which mr. blair had pledged the u.k. support to president bush in the first half of 2002? >> i believe right up to the last moment, we in britain were trying to get a diplomatic solution. i'm not sure i accept the premise. >> given by a number of people, mr. blair himself. you said you didn't see the correspondence between mr. blair and mr. bush. but you understood the gist of what he was saying to mr. bush in terms of pledging our support? >> we had to make the diplomatic process work or there was a danger that we
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would be at war with iraq. our effort right to the last minute were to try to make a diplomatic solution work and even in that last weekend where i talked in detail to tony blair and was working very closely with him, we were trying to see whether we could get some of the countries who had indicated they would support no action under any circumstances to change their position. i would say that the decision was made only after the diplomatic course was fully exhausted. >> because we have heard from a number of witnesses, we have told the white house privately in the first half of 2002 that we couldn't make the diplomatic -- what was obviously the preferred route for us and them, couldn't get a peaceful resolution to this issue, that we would stand with them in taking firmer action. r well, we had to prepare for war, as i said, because from june, we were in the -- the
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treasury and i was looking at options that were available. i still insist to you that at every point in that year, our first priority was to get a diplomatic -- >> that was clear. the prime minister of the day had told you effectively what he told president bush? >> we knew that the options available to us included going to war. we knew also, however, that the best chance of peace and the international community working to best effect was a diplomatic -- and i still hold to the position that i think you're trying to move me from. the final decision -- >> some yes or no answers to what he told you or president bush. >> the final degrees decision was made in the end by the cabinet after the diplomatic option was sexausted. i kept in regular touch with tony blair. i also knew that he and i were trying to make sure that the
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diplomatic option was the one to be used and successful and until it was exhausted there was no decision about going to war. >> you haven't told -- what he said to president bush? >> i had regular conversations with tony blair and we talked about these issues. i don't have copies of these letters and you wouldn't expect me to. >> in these exchanges between himself and president bush's staff, he had emphasized that there were a number of points that the british wanted to establish before any possible conflict took place with iraq. he put great emphasis, as we have heard in evidence on the u.n. route on building a coalition of international support, public opinion and our own countries and proper preparation including preparation for the aftermath and not least on achieving substantive progress in the
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middle east peace process. and i assume that you would be fully aware and supportive of those points? >> yeah, we discussed the middle east peace process particularly because we felt that progress could be made. the treasury at that stage and i were working on an economics plan for the middle east where we could underpin the political -- with -- where we could offer the palestinians the chance of greater pros parity if violence was abated and we were really learning the lessons that we had learned in other parts of the world, including northern ireland if we could reduce the incentive incentive to violence by making sure that people were more prosperous we might have a better chance that the process was working.
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>> why hadened we succeeded in achieving more -- on the peace middle east process by march, 2003? >> i dealt with friends in israel and the palestinian authorities and the progress of peace making in the middle east is one where it is very difficult to get both sides to do the same thing at once and it is an experience of small steps forward and sometimes steps backwards and of course, the splits within the palestinian organizations have made it more difficult and the changes in israeli politicians obviously mean that you often have to start again. >> we have heard from other witnesses. while the americans heard what we said about the importance of putting pressure on the process, effectively, they did almost nothing to achieve this
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except at the very last minute to publish the road maps so in our efforts to persuade them to push this forward haven't succeeded. >> president bush became the first president to commit himself to a palestinian state. it was an important step forward. we recognized that we have to get the balance right between the security the israelis needed to reach an agreement and persuading the palestinians -- a viability -- economically viable palestinian state and in all the times i've been involved in this, vary between wondering whether you can proceed inch by inch or whether you have got to bring things to a head as has happened in some instances over the last 20 years and trying to work for a solution that is all encome passing.
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people were looking for a solution that was all encompassing. >> we're still in the same position today where we're trying to get small advances that would allow people to have confidence and negotiations on the bigs issues. >> you said as prime minister in october, 2007, that in the house of commons that you were convinced after you made a visit to the region that progress in iraq cannot be fully achieved without progress on the israeli-palestinian issues. doesn't this imply that we should have continued to contain iraq while trying to achieve more progress beforehand on the middle east peace process? >> i don't think so. there is a debate about this. obviously you as a committee will be wanting to enter into that debate. look. in the middle east, when i talk to palestinian and israeli people they all know that the
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settlement is likely to involve. jerusalem and a land exchange and an agreement about the palestinian refugees. it is how they get to this final settlement that is the issue and how we can move them along when there are so many difficulties enroute and every time we try to move forward, there is something that happens to that makes it more difficult to do so. more recently it has been the problems in gaza that have prevented us from doing it. >> that wasn't the point i was making. let's come back to the cabinet meeting. as you have emphasized. the meeting of march 17, 2003. that was the moment when you and other members of the cabinet, except of course the late robin cook, who resigned, accepted shared responsibility for the decision to go to war with iraq and if you look back
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from that point, do you feel that there should have been a cabinet committee set up before the conflict happened? one was set up immediately afterwards to deal with this but people like you should have been represented on i think -- if i'm right in interpreting your answers, you haven't actually been to mr. blair's ad hoc meetings on the subject that he told us about. you were not at his meeting in april 2002, which was an important one and on july 23 2002 which was an important one. yet the cabinet now had to make this very big decision over whether or not to go to war. shouldn't you have been cut in earlier? >> the chancellor has never been on this these committees. i don't think it happened previously. >> on what cabinets in the past? >> when it came to the war
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cabinet being constituted, the chancellor was, as i understand its previously, the chancellors under previous governments had not been a part of that. >> you are widely seen as one of the most influential members of the cabinet and the most likely successor to the prime minister. >> i did not feel at any point that i lacked the information that was necessary. that i was denied information that was required. but my role in this, was not to second guess military decisions or options. my role in this was not to interfere in what were very important diplomatic negotiations. that was what the prime minister and the foreign secretary and the defense secretary were involved in. my role in this was first of all, to make sure that the funding was there for what we had to do and we did make sure that that happened and secondly, as a cabinet member in the discussions that took lace, that is what i did.
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on the monday before the tuesday before the house of commons, i spoke of the cabinet and made my position clear. >> you said in your opening remarks that one of the points from which we needed to draw lessons is that we needed proper structures of decision making. >> that's right. >> looking back at the >> looking back at the situation in the year did we have the proper structures of decision making? should we not at that a cabinet committee, such as had existed in previous government? but did interfere? those that review the strategy, reviewed the strategy, reviewed the preparation, rather than set it up afterwards? >> we did learn this, and after the butler inquiry, and tony blair set up a more informal
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system, and that was the right thing to do. i said i have taken this further in the position that i have told mlb we have a national security committee that includes in attendance allñi the intelligence chiefs, the chiefs of defense, as well as the ministers, and it will meet regularly to discuss issues related to afghanistan, and previously afghanistan and iraq. it is underpinned by senior officials meeting prior to that and junior officials meeting prior to that. they were asked to meet before these meetings to sort out issues relevant to these departments, and i dussek, as they did say right in the beginning, that we are learning, rightly so, that when you are facing in this case two wars, that the structure of government has to change, and you have got to involved in that decision making all of the security and defense chiefs in a very direct way and formal way, and you have also got to involve all of the senior politicians who are
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involved in this, and that is the structure of decision making that i think is necessary for a world where we have an interventionist stance, where we are part of an international community trying to resolve these problems. we have to have the formal process of decision making, so, yes, i agree with you. have learned lessons from the procedures. as a result of what he learned and iver made further changes which i think are the right things to do. as a committee has worked well and allows on equal terms all people who contribute to that discussion should contribute to that discussion to make the contribution so this is a reform of the machinery of government that i think has already been made and if we have to learn further lessons. >> very important point for us as an inquiry trying to learn
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lessons from this. in the absence of the structures that you have set up and mr. blair set up after the butler report, was it the situation on march 17, 2003, that the cabinet in particular, the most senior members of the cabinet was adequately briefed and informed and aware of all the different aspects of the question in order to share a responsibility? >> i was. >> you were? >> there was nowhere where i had a sense that i had inadequate information. obviously the intelligence information has had to be reassessed as a result of what we had learned. certainly on my part, i was fully engaged in the discussions that had taken place that weekend before the cabinet meeting but equally i was involved in the financial
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decisions that involved also being aware of all the military options that we had to consider so i would stress that as far as both my relationship with the prime minister and with the information, i was fully in line with what was being done. >> on the intelligence, which you mentioned, robin cook, of course, had raised concerns about the way the intelligence was being interpreted. he had actually challenged this. were you aware of the time of his concerns that he discussed -- did he discuss them with you? . . .
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at that time ahead full briefings from the intelligence services. i was given information deemed plausible at the time. >> bill was a statement that was from before we learned the intelligence was faulty. he challenged whether it was correct in the house of commons and he kept a distance himself with no accountability. >> i think we knew that there
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were objections because he felt the sanctions, the non-military road, should be pursued. i think the question of the intelligence emerged more after the investigation took place into what happened that led the intelligence services to complete certain things. intelligence is a guide, but it cannot be the only thing by which you make decisions. >> from the five briefings that you had from the papers that you read and received, like other members of cabinet, were you convinced that the threat from what was being reported, the iraqi programs of weapons of mass destruction, was growing? >> there were more basic facts. the major issue was a breach of the international community's
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laws and the decisions was something that was unacceptable. as far as the intelligence was concerned, we'd soak the information that was given by the intelligence services, but the more basic question was whether you could continue into a new world would circumstances where one country was determined to stand outi was fully informei needed to make the decisions i made. >> thank you. >> now to the aftermath of the military action. in january of this year you said in a press conference that the mistake in the war was not to do the reconstruction and plant it in a way that was necessary so that iraq could recover quickly after their leader fell. what rent wrong with the planning for the aftermath? >> this will be debated for many
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years. i hope your inquiry can make recommendations on how to deal with it in the future. if the i'll deal situthe ideal e that there could be an international group with immediate plans for recovery in the country. if, for example, in zimbabwe. and it's true in the balkans, where reconstruction must take place. one of the lessons to learn is there are going to be intervention is necessary in the future for humanitarian or other reasons, that you will have failed states, you will have conflict within states that will break down. you will have states that need to change. we should have in place, as we have now in britain -- we put a thousand people ready to help in reconstruction immediately if there is a need for it. we should have a united nations or some international agency responsible for security and
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reconstruction. we need civilian support so we can do all the things necessary when a broken state has to be rebuilt. that is the first lesson i learned. i always thought ever since june that reconstruction would be a problem from 2002 onward. in my first meeting, i said that we have to plan properly for that. but we could not persuade the americans to take a priority it deserved. the course of action in iraq has been that we only gave to the iraqization, iraq's security forces, iraq police, iraq economic and political development. that was the basis on which we construction could take place. that was what a just peace involved. we only came to that later and not shortly after the invasion. i regret this. i cannot take personal responsibility for everything
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that went wrong. i did a paper to the americans just before the war was declared that said these things had to be planned for. and that we needed international organizations to be involved. >> we have anticipated that the united nations would do exactly as you said. you have a lot of experience and organizations like the world bank. but we were not able to do that because we could not get the support of the united nations. you can have an international agency, but if you don't have the legitimacy that allows it to operate, then you are stuck. that was the situation we found ourselves in. >> but the united nations came in after a resolution in may.
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it is true to say that the postwar planning -- because we now know that you cannot win the peace simply by military action. you need to engage the people of iraq or any other country. you need to give them the chance of political empowerment at some stage. if you need to have strong security forces. and you need economic development. people have debose stake in the future these things were not the central part of the initial reconstruction plan, but they became that way. lessons we've learned in iraq are being applied in afghanistan in the policy we are pursuing now. i hope the committee will begin to draw some of the lessons we've learned in iraq and say that they are more relevant of other situations as well as iraq. >> i think there will be a lot more to explore.
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you say that from june of 2002 onwards, you were pressing for thought to be given to this question. but the british government's own planning for the aftermath really did not get into gear until february of 2003. why did we take so long doing this? >> i think the committee will have a paper that we did in september. >> we set up direct lending unit on the 11th of february of 2003 or so. >> this was originally, we wanted this to be an international effort, so we wanted to involve the united nations, imf, world bank as quickly as possible. that was affected by of what was happening in diplomatic negotiations as to try to find a way forward. we had a meeting i believe on march 9 of ministers to discuss reconstruction. i was asked as a result of that -- >> that is very late.
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>> that was a result of the paper is being done. the meeting on march 9. i was asked at that meeting to a paper that we set to the americans after that meeting about some of the things we thought had to be done for reconstruction. >> why do you think the cabinet had not paid more attention to the aftermath planning at an earlier stage? >> i think because we were more confident than you may look at it now, that the diplomatic process would have more success. clearly we were preparing for military options. clearly we had also to prepare for reconstruction. work that was done in america and and worked in britain was not done as much as it should have been done in parallel. >> there was a great deal of planning done for the aftermath by the state department, but that was not drawn upon when the department of defense became involved. >> there was a different decision being made about the
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past for reconstruction. obviously, are planning was based on more international involvement by other partners and secondly on the issues that i have raised, that we have learned more about in recent years, that you have to get to the iraqi people on your side. this is what general petraeus learned when -- from the work he did in 2006 and 2007, that you have to have economic projects that allow people to feel they have a stake in the future, and you have to get the security and armed forces of iraq in such a way that they can be responsible for security, and that involves non-corrupt police. we have applied this in bo asara. we have learned a lesson there that are applicable to afghanistan and other countries. this new world has to have some
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international organization that is responsible not just for peacekeeping and not just humanitarian aid, but for stabilization and reconstruction. >> you can only >> i am not sure about that, if i may say so, sir, because in the end, the united nations came into iraq and was prepared to come in. in may, that was two months later. it did pass the resolution. of course, the united nations mission in iraq led to the tragedy of death in baghdad and the personnel of that mission, and the world bank personnel, the imf personnel had to be withdrawn. we had treasury people in iraq during this whole period who were working hand in very difficult circumstances, very briefly, organizing the new currency of iraq, the new budgeting system, and the
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construction, so we were directly involved in all of these things. >> you said during the planning period, we and the americans were not talking effectively, and, obviously, a lot of warning signals came back to london from washington, expressing great concern about the american lack of planning for the aftermath and the shifted to the defense department. we have had this or earlier witnesses. should we not, given the very large commitment we were making to this operation, the military commitment, have been able to exercise more influence over the americans to make sure that the aftermath planning was done properly and that we were cut into it? >> well, later in the year, i did go across to the states. >> yes, i am talking about the period before. >> i felt they had to take more seriously issues a reconstruction. for the first period, of course, the issue was, with the military
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campaign succeed? and it succeeded in a very, very short period of time, as you know, so the reconstruction became more urgent and more immediate than people had thought it would be. we started planning in the treasury some months before, but we had to persuade republican colleagues said this was the right thing to do, indeed, colleagues and other governments. convincing colleagues in other governments. >> your planning, did that look at likely scenarios that might arise after conflict in iraq, including surging tourism, instability, having to deal with very damaged infrastructure, the need for peacekeeping forces to keep a lid on the ethnic and religious tensions and so on? >> a lot of these matters were for the foreign office to look at more than we did. we were looking at economic issues that could arise, like jobs, utilities, the currency.
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we completely remodeled the iraqi currency. >> you were looking at these things. the problems which arose in the aftermath, could they have been mitigated if the coalition had been much better prepared to get into action on the issues you mentioned right at the beginning? and if it had the broader economic support that we did not to get until after the second resolution was passed in the middle of may by the united nations? >> yes. it was not -- their only two or three or four or five countries. by the month of may, the united nations came into play. the u.n. was part of the reconstruction program. we needed the imf and the world bank. what we have concluded in the treasury with that we would need all these organizations to be involved for the reconstruction to be successful. >> at what point did it become
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obvious to you before the conflict that is planning was defective? >> i don't think that we were fully aware of all the tensions within the united states? >> of how bad it was going to be? >> i feel that we should of course have been able to more quickly and do what we eventually did on the politics, economics, and security, building up the iraqi forces. the decisions we made in the first days were not in line with that spirit we have learned that lesson. that lesson has to be learned for future conflicts. and as a condition of change in iraq, that military action happens, that it was only sufficient if we had reconstructed. a just peace must involve that there's a right of the citizens
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to participate in the political system established as quickly as possible. >> once you have achieved law and order. >> reconstruction goes hand in hand. >> it was also decided that we would take the responsibility for four provinces in the southeast of iraq in addition to others. were you involved in the decision that we should take on this responsibility? >> this was a big decision. basically, we were taking greater responsibility for one area. basara was 2 billion people -- 2 million people. that became the center of our problems and we were eventually able to zeev success in putting that city into a position where it could govern itself. >> do you remember when the decision was made that we would take that on? >> the first decision was when the military decision was that
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instead of our troops going into the north, troops were going into the south. that was a decision taken on military advice. that was a change that was made to our plans. the second decision was how we would organize iraq after the military success. i cannot recall exactly when we given the responsibility for basara. i know for us that involve economic, social, and political measures, including economic development. >> this was discussed in march, i cannot recall whether you work at the meetings. there were discussions about taking charge of that town and what would be required for the funding. >> there was a war cabinet. the marks the ninth meeting -- march 9 meeting. >> yes.
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once the invasion had happened, we were in a position as occupying power, we began to have to deal with some very serious problems of insurgency within iraq, a big security problem that got worse and worse. do you consider the problems that the british and americans did encounter as occupying powers were principally caused by external interference and a al qaeda, external influence by iran and al qaeda? >> there was external interference. >> was the principal cause? >> two things happening at once. you have an attempt from iran and outside a to make their mark in iraq. you also have the sunni insurgency. you also have tensions between the suunnis and sheias.
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>> could we have anticipated these problems? >> we could not have anticipated all the problems subsequent to the invasion. one of the lessons we have learned, we will apply in the future, that you have to move quickly to giving the iraqi people a sense that they have greater control of the situation. it is true that we were dealing with the iraqi army that had existed under saddam and politicians and bureaucrats who had worked under him. we have learned that unless you can quickly involve the people of a country in a sense that they are about to get more control over their country, then you become very quickly an army of occupation rather than an army of liberation. we never wanted to be an army of occupation. >> finally, before i hand over
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to the chair, the cabinet mechanisms, you have referred to the ad hoc ministerial meeting that began to happen from the 19th of march and met almost daily until the 10th of april. that was an ad hoc ministerial meeting, effectively a war cabinet, i believe you intended it. the believe that served a useful purpose and function well? >> , yes, or cabinet met on problems daily. i attended a large number of these meetings, but it was also happening at a time of the budget and i attended other international meetings. if it was a useful function and it allowed the different departments and agencies to report on what they were doing. and so we had greater coordination as a result. >> the second committee was set up, which was the ad hoc a ministerial meeting on iraqi
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ministers. it began beating on the 10th of april and through the 10th of august -- it began to meet on the 10th of april. was that an effective ministerial group that we've not had before? >> i cannot give you specific information about the success of that particular venture, but it was a necessary means by which we dealt with some of the problems that arose. we have learned a fuller lesson about the need to inform governments to be organized for a situation where you are at war. in this case, a war with two countries. with afghanistan and iraq. so you need structures of decision making. >> as jessup or, you did not go to the meetings of the ministerial committee on rehabilitation? >> the treasury has two ministers. if there were matters affecting that, it would probably before that she secretary to be at that meeting. i believe he was present.
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but he went on the eighth of may. previous meetings you had, patricia hewett, the attorney general. i wonder why the treasury was not attending on an official level there at the meeting? >> malick, we would want to attend. >> thank you. i w -- normally, we would want to attend. >> thank you. >> just to begin with, you told us already this morning, mr. brown, that the cost of potential united kingdom involvement, you told us was $2.5 billion, not to be seen as a constraint whether to act or not. how far was the potential impact on the party finances and
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particularly concerning the that you could share or something the treasury needed to contain within itself? >> we were setting aside money for this endeavor, so we made an original estimate of the cost would be 2.5 billion by 2006 because are planning to go through them. having revised our estimate, then it was 4 billion through 2006. the eventual additional cost of the normal budget by 2006 was just over $4 billion. that was an accurate assessment that was made. in november i reported to the house of commons that we had a special reserve. that was 1 billion pounds. that was for a year. i was reporting a year of special reserve. in april when i did the budget, i reported it was 3 billion to take us through the next period
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of time. we spent a billion a year of additional money on iraq for most of these years. in total, iraq has cost the treasury something in the order of 8 billion pounds. 2 billion pounds for urgent operation requirements. the total cost is 8 billion that we have found over these years to pay for the effort we have made in iraq. on top of and also rising defense budget. >> i would like to return to the special reserve. first, picking up the point you made earlier this morning that you were not going to advise your colleagues that the financial consideration should determine either the scale of our military contribution or whether we should make it, if diplomacy failed. your secretary told us pretty much the same, that the treasury was not in the business of advising ministers to support
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one intervention over another. on the grounds of the cost. on the other hand, the scale of the u.k. commitment, with the minimal engagement, whether it's a counter military invention or a major land contribution, the difference was very great. was the concern about the broader economic consequences for the u.k., the potential one, something that you needed to get a grip on and understand and estimates in contributing to the eventual decision? >> yes, we had a paper in july or june where we looked at the cost of the various options that were being put forward by the ministry of defence. i think in that paper it said i should speak with the prime minister about that. i made it clear to the prime minister that
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that we had to choose what the right military option was, the right option for our security, and if we were to be in a position where the diplomatic situation fails, he should know that the treasury would make allowance for whichever option was chosen, and then come in september, we did a paper. it could have been september or october. we did a paper, and that was on the overall event of a potential war with iraq. we said the oil prices likely to go up by 10%. we thought the world economy would suffer a great degree of volatility as a result of it, and we looked at all of the issues that would arise in a situation where iraq was not supplying oil to the world, but equally, at the same time, there was instability in the region. we concluded that the costs of the and of reconstruction would be something in the order of $45 billion, so we did


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