Brown: War decision was right

2010-03-05 14:33

London - Britain’s backing for the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq was "the right decision", British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Friday as he fought off critics.

Facing questions about his role in funding the war as finance minister under Tony Blair, Brown said Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had flouted international law for years.

"It was the right decision and it was for the right reasons," Brown said in opening comments to the Chilcot Inquiry into Britain’s role in the conflict.

"This is the gravest decision of all to make," he said, but added: "Fourteen 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."

'Unsympathetic'

Witnesses to the inquiry, including the defence minister at the time of the invasion, Geoff Hoon, have said the military lacked sufficient funding and equipment for years before the war.

Adding to the pressure, a former chief of the defence staff has alleged British soldiers' lives were lost in Iraq and Afghanistan because Brown turned down pleas for better equipment.

General Charles Guthrie, who led the armed forces from 1997 to 2001, told Friday's edition of The Times: "Not fully funding the army in the way they had asked... undoubtedly cost the lives of soldiers.

"He should be asked why he was so unsympathetic towards defence and so sympathetic to other departments."

The families of soldiers killed in combat have already demanded to know why the government did not equip troops with more helicopters and more robust vehicles which could resist roadside bombs.

As Brown was grilled, a small group of protestors outside the hearing brandished a blood-soaked cheque for 8,5 billion pounds, the amount critics say has been spent on Iraq.

"I think he is politically as responsible as Tony Blair for the war, as he had the possibility of stopping it," said Andrew Burgin, spokesman for the Stop the War lobby group.

Labour lawmaker Jeremy Corbyn, a long-time critic of the war, condemned the waste of money. “This could have... built many hospitals. It could have built many schools.

"But what has it done? Killed and destroyed, hurt and maimed," he said.

Career damaging

Brown arrived by the front entrance of the London conference centre where the Iraq inquiry is being held - in contrast to Blair who was taken in through a back door when he answered questions on January 29.

Blair robustly defended his reasons for going to war when he gave evidence, but Brown - his principal and often bitter rival within the Labour Party - has until now kept mostly silent about his role.

Jocelyn Cockburn, a lawyer for relatives of soldiers killed in lightly armoured Snatch Land Rovers in Iraq, said in Thursday’s edition of The Times that she was urging the inquiry to challenge Brown over funding concerns.

The use of the Snatch vehicles has been the focus of growing anger in Britain because of their apparent inability to withstand so-called improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Brown has insisted that spending on defence is sufficient, but his appearance before the inquiry is fraught with risk ahead of a general election widely expected to take place in May.

Any fresh revelations linking him to the divisive Iraq conflict - seen by many as a black mark on Labour's 13 years in power - could be highly damaging.

The British military lost 179 soldiers in the Iraq campaign and is currently engaged in fierce fighting in Afghanistan, where casualties since 2001 are edging up to 270.


 

Read more on:    gordon brown  |  tony blair  |  britain  |  iraq war inquiry
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

 

Inside News24

 
/Movies
Traffic & Train Alerts
Traffic
Cape Town 16:11 PM
Road name: M3 Southbound

DELAYS between Hospital Bend and the Rhodes Avenue exit

Cape Town 16:07 PM
Road name: N2 Outbound

HEAVY DELAYS through Borcherds Quarry Road Interchange

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Deal of the Week!

Get bestselling John Green novels now just R99 each! Hurry and get yours while stocks last. Shop here.

Mind blowing deals on beauty & fragrances

Save up to 30% off beauty and fragrances. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 50% off hair care products!

Save up to 50% on professional hair care products at kalahari.com. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Social media is pulling you in and you have the desire to find out everything you know about your friends and you have the urge to...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.