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Leading Conservative MP Opposes War Even If Weapons Discovered in IRAQ

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    A leading Conservative MP has reiterated his
    opposition to war on Iraq even if weapons of mass
    destruction discovered. Douglas Hogg says the
    ‘majority’ of Conservative MPs have ‘very serious
    reservations’ about the planned war.

    1) Partial transcript of interview with Douglas Hogg
    MP on Radio 4 Sunday 12 January 2003.

    2) Transcript of speech by Douglas Hogg MP in the
    House of Commons, 24 September 2002.

    Douglas Hogg, Conservative MP, a former Cabinet
    Minister under John Major, a Privy Councillor, and a
    leading lawyer – a Queen’s Counsel, or ‘QC’ – opposes
    war on Iraq even if it is established that Iraq possesses
    weapons of mass destruction.

    In January 1991, during the first Gulf War against
    Iraq, Mr Hogg was a British Foreign Minister with
    responsibility for Middle East policy – on one occasion
    answering questions regarding the war in the House
    of Commons on behalf of the Foreign Secretary.

    (Please note that Mr Hogg offers the argument that
    the war could be justified if there was a threat to
    Britain’s “interests”. This is not a position recognised
    in the UN Charter or in international law more

    1) Partial transcript of interview with Douglas Hogg
    MP on Radio 4, The World This Weekend, Sunday 12
    January 2003. Interview conducted by James Cox.

    Radio 4: ‘Mr Duncan Smith [Conservative leader] is
    not supported by all of his backbenchers. The senior
    Conservative and former Foreign Office minister
    Douglas Hogg has expressed and repeated his doubts
    about the moral and strategic justification for war
    against Iraq. I asked him how many of his Tory
    colleagues agree with him.’

    Douglas Hogg: ‘Very difficult to say, but I would have
    thought the majority have very serious reservations.’

    Radio 4: ‘The majority?’

    Douglas Hogg: ‘Yes.’

    Radio 4: ‘When Parliament was recalled last
    September the 24th, you made a significant speech in
    which you said, and I quote in part, “Facing the facts as
    they are known to the House today, I have come to
    the conclusion that war is not justified.” The facts have
    not in your view changed, and your view has not

    Douglas Hogg: ‘Not at all. You see the real problem is
    this, it seems to me, that if you’re going to go to war,
    you’ve got to identify a good moral basis for war. That
    has to be the case or you’re not justified in going to
    war. The only moral basis that exists in the modern
    world is self-defence. Now you can give self-defence
    an enlarged meaning, but ultimately it has to be a
    serious and imminent threat to yourself, your allies or
    your interests. And I do not myself believe Saddam
    Hussein poses a serious and imminent threat to those
    interests, and therefore I don’t think self-defence
    runs, and therefore there is no moral basis for war.’

    Radio 4: ‘You instanced a number of cases where you
    thought there had been that evidence: Pearl Harbour,
    the Falklands, the whole of the Second World War,
    and the last Gulf War – when you were a Foreign
    Minister of course.’

    Douglas Hogg: ‘Indeed, absolutely.’

    Radio 4: ‘The real problem, it seems to me, is the
    interpretation of the weapons inspectors’ assessment.
    Dr Blix has said there is no “smoking gun”. On the
    other hand he says there are difficulties, there are
    gaps between what Iraq has admitted and what it may
    have. American and indeed British intelligence say,
    “We know he has these things. If the weapons
    inspectors can’t find them, well that’s because they’re
    not being very efficient.” At that point, who do you

    Douglas Hogg: ‘I don’t know whether I have to believe
    either of them. I’m perfectly prepared to assume that
    Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction or
    alternatively is capable of making them. But that surely
    is not actually the direct question. The real question is
    not whether he’s got weapons of mass destruction,
    but rather whether – if he has got those weapons – he
    is a grave and imminent threat to the rest of us. Now,
    there are lots of other countries in the world that do
    have weapons of mass destruction, or are likely to
    acquire them, but we don’t necessarily conclude that
    they are a grave and imminent threat sufficient to
    justify war. So even if he had these things and I’m
    perfectly prepared to assume that he’s got them for
    the purposes of this discussion, unless he’s a grave and
    imminent threat there isn’t a moral basis for war,
    because the doctrine of self-defence isn’t properly

    Web address for Radio 4 The World This Weekend
    (requires RealAudio):

    2) Transcript of speech by Douglas Hogg MP in the
    House of Commons, 24 September 2002.

    House of Commons Debates (Hansard) 24 September
    2002 : Column 49

    Mr. Douglas Hogg (Sleaford and North Hykeham): As
    my right hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Mr.
    Ancram) said, the central question that the House has
    to face is whether we are prepared to authorise war
    or a course of action likely to lead to war. I recognise
    that we can only make a judgment on the facts as they
    are known today. Those facts may change, and if they
    do, as individuals we must be ready to change our

    Facing the facts as they are known to the House today,
    I have come to the conclusion that war is not justified.
    My principal conclusion and the reason for that
    conclusion is that I do not think the threat we face is
    either sufficiently grave or sufficiently imminent to
    provide the moral basis for war. I shall develop that
    argument in a moment, but first let me say that I
    believe there are a number of practical, military,
    political and diplomatic objections to war, many of
    which were touched on by my right hon. Friend the
    Member for Devizes in the questions that he posed.

    I would like to illustrate the nature of those problems
    by raising a number of questions which I do not
    purport to answer today. First, what is the military
    strategy, how many troops will be engaged, where are
    the bases and what are the military risks? Secondly,
    will the Arab states rally behind the purpose and
    provide bases for a coalition? Thirdly, what will Prime
    Minister Sharon do if Iraq attacks Israel? Fourthly,
    would Iraq survive as a unitary state, and if it seemed
    likely that Iraq would collapse, what would be the
    impact on regional stability in the middle east? How
    long would coalition forces have to remain in Iraq
    after an attack and, perhaps most profound

    24 Sept 2002 : Column 50

    of all, what is the likely impact on middle eastern
    opinion or perhaps on our wider relationship with the
    Islamic world if we commit ourselves to war?

    I do not know the answers to those questions, but the
    probable answer to most of them raises a powerful
    case against war which only the most powerful
    arguments in a contrary sense would surely displace.

    My real objection to war is a moral one. I do not
    believe now, looking at the evidence that we have, that
    there exists a moral justification for war and I do not
    wish to sanction a range of policies likely to lead to
    that event.

    I am not a pacifist. I am a strong supporter of
    American engagement in world defence. I accept too
    that war, even pre-emptive war, can be justified.
    Proportionate self-defence accords with one’s notions
    of international and national law, personal morality,
    and indeed, common sense.

    For obvious reasons, I have to concede that at the
    time of the last Gulf war I was the Foreign Office
    Minister of State immediately responsible for
    departmental decisions concerning the middle east. In
    that capacity, I supported and participated in decisions
    that resulted in war. However, we must always keep
    in mind how terrible war can be. We have been
    extremely lucky in the conflicts of the past 20 years. In
    the Falklands, in the Gulf, in Yugoslavia and in
    Afghanistan the costs have been remarkably low, but
    when we authorise war we sanction action that may
    result in the deaths of thousands or in injury to many
    thousands of our own troops and citizens, but also to
    the Iraqis, in this case, many or perhaps even most of
    whom will be wholly innocent of blame.

    If the concept of self-defence is to provide a moral
    justification for the giving of such authority, the state
    against which that military action is being taken must
    either have embarked on an act of aggression or there
    must be compelling evidence that such a state poses a
    grave and imminent threat of aggression either within
    its region, to its neighbours or to ourselves and our
    friends and allies.

    We had to fight the second world war because of the
    German acts of aggression. The attack by what is now
    North Korea justified the action in Korea. We were
    right to use force in the Falklands, Kuwait and
    Afghanistan. To use another example, had the United
    States been aware of the Japanese carrier fleet sailing
    towards Pearl Harbour a pre-emptive strike would
    have been justified. Surely the nature of those
    illustrations where self-defence was invoked indicates
    how rare the cases really are. Surely we have to
    adhere closely to the proposition that one can invoke
    self-defence only when we face an act of aggression or
    it seems likely that one is imminent. Here we have to
    make a judgment and I am the first to admit that
    judgments in this sphere are extraordinarily difficult.

    Saddam, as the dossier makes plain, is an evil, wicked
    man, an aggressor and a killer who has acquired
    weapons of mass destruction and has no moral
    inhibitions about using them. However, I do not think
    that he is irrational. He must know, and I believe he
    does know, and he must understand, and I believe
    that he understands, the consequences to Iraq, himself
    and his regime if he uses force against his neighbours
    or the western alliance. Throughout the cold war we
    based our security on the concept of deterrence.
    Ultimately the Soviet Union collapsed. In this case, too,
    we should base our security on a concept of
    deterrence, not on a pre-emptive strike.

    24 Sept 2002 : Column 51

    I have two final points to make. First, in a democracy
    public opinion will sustain a war only if the justification
    for it is overwhelmingly clear?so clear that the public
    will view the horror shown on their television screens
    being done in their name and comment, “It has to be
    done.” I do not believe that public opinion will be
    satisfied that war in Iraq is justified. To lead a country
    into war without overwhelming public support seems
    not just wrong, but profoundly dangerous.

    Secondly?this point follows on from what the Father
    of the House said and from what I have articulated
    here previously?in a democracy no Government
    should commit forces to war without the authority of
    this House expressed on a substantive motion, so that
    those who oppose war can seek to change the policy
    by their vote. To commit Britain to war relying on the
    royal prerogative and without the explicit authority of
    this House seems to be an affront to democracy.






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Forums Life Politics, Media & Current Events Leading Conservative MP Opposes War Even If Weapons Discovered in IRAQ