Monday, March 17, 2008
Iraq: the Prime Minister replies ...
11th March 2008
10 Downing Street
London SW1 2AA
11 Dartmouth Street
Thank you for your letter of 11 February about Iraq. I agree with you that there is a need to learn all possible lessons from the military action in Iraq and its aftermath. This Government has already acknowledged that there will come a time when it is appropriate to hold an inquiry. But whilst the whole effort of the Government and the armed forces is directed towards supporting the people and Government of Iraq as they forge a future based on reconciliation, democracy, prosperity and security, we believe that is not now.
We are making real progress in Iraq. The transfer of all four provinces in southern Iraq to the Iraqi authorities is ample evidence of the sterling work done by UK forces and our coalition partners. But the work is not complete. Our troops will remain in Iraq to train and support the Iraqi army, whilst our diplomatic missions will continue to work with the Government of Iraq to use the space created by the improved security environment to make real progress on political reconciliation and economic development.
Despite the progress being made on the security, economic and political fronts in Iraq, the situation remains fragile and could easily be reversed. At this critical time it is therefore vital that the Government does not divert attention from supporting Iraq’s development as a secure and stable country. Since October 2006, Parliament, when debating the need for an inquiry, has twice supported the Government on this point.
I have put reform of international institutions at the core of the UK’s foreign policy strategy. I want international institutions to be relevant to the twenty first century challenges, and credible and modern in the way they approach them. They need to command international engagement and be responsive to the needs of member states, civil society and peoples. The UK wants a Security Council that is more representative, but no less effective in tackling threats to international peace and security. I also support changes to the World Bank , the International Monetary Fund and the G8 that reflect the rise of India and Asia. As I said in New Delhi in January “we can and must do more to make our global institutions more representative”.
The first change we must consider is reform of our international rules on institutions to reflect the urgency of tackling climate change and global poverty. I will continue to explore with EU partners how we can take forward this agenda together.
As the Washington clocks strike twelve on 20th January 2009, listen carefully and you might just hear a swooshing sigh of relief travel around the world. The Bush Presidency will not leave the legacy its architects intended. But a critique of what should have been done differently since 2001 is not enough. This blog is about the new ideas which can create a 'new multilateralism' to tackle the global challenges we face.