"I am obsessed with the next five years in Iraq, not the last five years in Iraq. And I think that the best 'inquiry' is putting the best brains to think about how to make sure the next five years in Iraq get that combination of political reconstruction, economic reconstruction and security improvement that are so essential."
As the Independent correctly reports, this is rather cooler than a number of previous Ministerial comments. The paper reports that this suggests that the government has "backtracked over demands for an independent inquiry into the mistakes made in the run-up to and aftermath of the invasion of Iraq". That could be a significant development.
However, the headline goes a bit further than the story itself. (As can often happen: reporters don't get to write or approve the headlines on their pieces). I think is too early to say "Government rules out inquiry into Iraq conflict". I think it is equally plausible to regard David Miliband's comment as an attempt to give a fairly neutral/open answer - that the focus should be on the future - because no decision has yet been taken or announced. Fabian Review is very important, of course. But it isn't Hansard! I don't see that Miliband has given a definite indication of future government policy.
In my view, the issue remains an open one. The case for an inquiry will continue, within and outside government.
The call for a public inquiry is one of the points in my own 10-point 'Manifesto for the World After Bush', which will also be published in the Fabian Review.
"Learn the lessons of Iraq to rethink intervention"
We must learn many lessons after the Iraq war – from the failures of intelligence and diplomacy to the shameful lack of a reconstruction plan. In the UK, Gordon Brown should announce that a full public inquiry will begin once British troops leave Iraq. Increased government contributions to the Iraqi Reconstruction Fund (IRFFI), and civil society engagement with Iraqi media, trade unions and other bulwarks of democracy is the best way to reflect our continuing moral responsibility to post-war Iraq.
Learning the lessons of a catastrophic pre-emptive intervention should not involve ignoring genocide in future. The UN Responsibility to Protect principles should be at the heart of a new European Security Strategy: national governments should promote much greater awareness of how these principles address public concerns about how intervention can be effective and legitimate