Gordon Brown defends Iraq decision

Saturday, March 6, 2010

File photo of Gordon Brown in 2008
Image: World Economic Forum.

On Friday, the current Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Gordon Brown defended the decisions he made leading up to and following the British invasion of Iraq in 2003. Brown made his statements while testifying before the Chilcot Inquiry. At the time of the invasion, Brown was the Chancellor of spending for the British Armed Forces.

Brown comments were mainly directed at critics who had alleged that he had limited the spending budget for the war. Brown said that he had told then Prime Minister Tony Blair that he "would not try to rule out any military option on the grounds of cost." One of the most notable criticisms involved the use of the Snatch Land Rovers, a patrol vehicle used following the invasion. People had complained that the vehicles were vulnerable to road side bombs. Brown, however, alleged that he fulfilled all requests for better vehicles. Regarding the Land Rovers, Brown said that he moved to replace them as soon as he heard complaints.

In addition to defending his budget decisions, Brown also defended the overall decision to go into Iraq. Brown said that invading was "the right decision" and that it was based on "the right reasons." He said the international community was justified in its invasion. However, Brown admitted he may have been unknowledgeable about certain aspects of the war, and hinted that the possibility that things could have been done better. Brown mentioned that there were "learnt lessons" from the war. One specific regret he made was that did not apply more pressure towards America regarding their plans for Iraq following the invasion. During the testimony, Brown emphasized the importance of post-invasion planning and reconstruction. Brown also mentioned that he was unaware of doubts that another Cabinet member had about the validity of the evidence that Saddam Hussein was harboring weapons of mass destruction. The member, Robin Cook, later resigned because of his opposition to the war. This is relevant because both the UK and America had claimed that Hussein had had the weapons, and used this as part of their cases for the invasion. It was later revealed that Hussein had never had the weapons.

In addition to the issues regarding his handling of the war, Brown is also in the situation of being up for reelection. The main opponent of Brown, who represents the Labour Party, will be David Cameron, from the Conservative Party. The elections will be held on June 3, 2010.