Not for the first time, SP Senators demand openness on Iraq

18 April 2008

Not for the first time, SP Senators demand openness on Iraq

On Tuesday the SP made the latest of its many attempts to force the government into the open over the Netherlands' support for the war in Iraq. SP Senator Arjan Vliegenthart, together with fellow opposition senators from the centrist party D66 and the Green Left, tabled thirty-nine questions concerning the government's decision-making process in relation to the war. "Unless we can reconstruct that process we will not be able to draw an lessons from what happened," said Senator Vliegenthart. "That would represent a risk for the future."

The Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Development Cooperation was busy Tuesday presenting written questions to the government on its political support for the invasion of Iraq in 2003. These questions are the result of the debate regarding the absence of any adequate mandate for the war in international law, held in the Senate last July. The Senate political groups of the SP, the PvdA Labour Party), Green Left and D66 concluded on the basis of this debate that they needed more information from the government, information which has not been forthcoming.

Arjan VliegenthartSP Senator Vliegenthart sees it as extremely important to get an idea of what went on during the decision-making process on whether to support or not to support the invasion. “Unlike other countries involved in this war, no detailed reconstruction has taken place. Without such a reconstruction, nothing can be learnt. This would be dangerous in an uncertain world characterised by a number of ongoing conflicts and threats of conflicts. With the help of these parliamentary questions we will at least gain a partial view of what occurred.”

The questions are aimed at uncovering the decision-making course of the Dutch government, the role of the intelligence services, response to the various resolutions of the United Nations and the role of the national parliament. “On none of these are things yet clear. With an eye on the future, we need a great deal more transparency on these important points. When it comes to matters of war and peace it is of the utmost importance that a transparent and painstaking decision-making process take place, which can then be critically evaluated. So it's good that the Senate, 'the Chamber of Reflection', as it is designed by our Constitution to be, is once more holding the decision-making process regarding Iraq up to the light."

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