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Anthony Barnett

David Miliband: we did not need to fight Iraq war - Telegraph - 0 views

  • This sounds like an oblique reference to the Iraq war, which Ed Miliband said led to "a catastrophic loss of trust" and Ed Balls condemned as "wrong." Asked directly about those remarks, he says: "The purpose of these elections is how we build a better tomorrow, not how we debate a better yesterday." Is that a rebuke to his brother? "No, it's just my position." But I suspect that David Miliband, who – unlike the two Eds – had a vote in 2003, still agonises over Iraq. Nor, with the Chilcot inquiry reconvened, and the war raised at every hustings and meeting, can it easily be consigned to history. "I've done Chilcot. I've said if I knew then what I know now, I wouldn't have [backed] it." Is he saying the war should never have been fought? "The way I put it is that if we knew then what we know now, there wouldn't have been a war. I've set out that if we knew there were no WMD, there would have been no UN resolutions and no war. "The toll in British and Iraqi life, never mind the toll in trust, has been very, very high. It's a war we didn't need to fight," he says before reverting to his previous formula, saying he is mindful of the dead and doesn't want to "rewrite my own history." He pauses, conscious that he has gone further than he intended. But his regrets and reservations over Iraq sound at least equal to those of his brother and Mr Balls? "Of course. People are dead. I voted in good faith." Did his brother ever express his misgivings to him? "I'm not getting into opening up private discussions," he says. "He was in America at the time." The other lingering issue of his old brief will surface shortly, with the Government expected to announce a judge-led inquiry into claims that British intelligence agencies were complicit in the torture of terrorism suspects. Mr Miliband hotly denies any policy of collusion. "I would not be sitting here if I thought there was the slightest suspicion of a doubt that a Labour government had any entanglement in torture." On last week's High Court order that M15 and M16 release guidelines alleged to tell British agents to turn a blind eye to the treatment of terrorism suspects abroad, he says. "After 2001, there was insufficient training and guidelines. That has been superseded and new guidelines put in place."
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