SP: ‘If necessary, we'll put 935 questions demanding clarification on Iraq.’

26 February 2008

SP: ‘If necessary, we'll put 935 questions demanding clarification on Iraq.’

Parliament will tomorrow debate, following a request from SP Member of Parliament Harry van Bommel, the reasons why the Netherlands supported the war against Iraq. “This war is a text book example of mismanagement concerning subjects of life and death, war and peace," said the SP's spokesman on foreign affairs. “A politician who tolerates such a thing is in my view not worth a damn."

Earlier this year the American Institute for Public Integrity published its finding that Bush, Cheney and five other US government leaders lied a total of 935 times over Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and Iraqi contacts with Al Qaida. President Bush was revealed to have lied on 232 occasions. The Dutch government has presented repeated assurances that Parliament had not been given incorrect or incomplete information. “On the basis of this report I put a number of parliamentary questions. The Prime Minister avoided any thorough discussion, which he said had 'in the government's opinion been exhaustively carried out.' Unfortunately, the discussion is still a long way from having reached the bottom of this."

Then the SP suddenly found support from an unexpected source. The popular television documentary series Nova revealed that three ministers from the first government of present Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, in office at the time of the invasion, had anonymously stated that they regretted their support for the war. Van Bommel called on them to drop their anonymity and come forward. "They would have the company of 137.000 people who signed the petition calling for 'Openness on Iraq' presented to the Senate last year," he said. "In addition, people from left and right, including former Commander-in-Chief of the Dutch armed forces HA Couzy, former defence spokesman for the (centre-right) VVD Theo Van den Doel and former Prime Minister Dries Van Agt have called for an enquiry. Former ministers Ben Bot and Laurens Jan Brinkhorst have made similar expressions of regret although under pressure from Balkenende they have swallowed their words. Now it has been confirmed that the US lied 935 times in order to determine what we would think. Why did they do that?”

“The politicians and the parties which think that this subject can be swept under the carpet are mistaken. That goes for the PvdA (Labour Party) which has openly admitted that that is what it wants, and it goes for sensible Members of Parliament such as the VVD's spokesman Hans van Baalen.”

In Parliament and Cabinet annoyance has been expressed over the fact that the SP and others keep bringing the point back on to the agenda. But that makes absolutely no impression on Van Bommel. “Balkenende should ask himself whether he has been made a fool of 935 times. If necessary, I'll come back to the question 935 times and demand clarification over this black page in Dutch politics.”

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