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Government’s answers on Iraq war: 100 times nothing

19 December 2008

Government’s answers on Iraq war: 100 times nothing

The SP is extremely disappointed by the government’s responses to its questions regarding Dutch involvement in the war against Iraq. “We have been forced to wait more than six months for these answers,” says SP Senator Arjan Vliegenthart. “That’s a very long time. This gave me high expectations, but what has arrived is worthless: to our hundred questions, a hundred times nothing. A parliamentary enquiry remains therefore an absolute necessity.”

Arjen Vliegenthart In the answers sent by the government to the Senate today, they stubbornly adhere to the standpoint that no UN resolution was needed before the invasion of Iraq could take place. No openness is evident, however, in relation to the matters involved in the government’s consideration of the extending of political support for the invasion. The answers, in addition, do not indicate any serious evaluation of the information which we have since received from foreign sources. “The answers demonstrate that the Netherlands stands in a unique position in relation to the business of Iraq, both in the argumentation backing support for the war and in the refusal to go more deeply into the matter. These answers represent a missed chance for the government to come clean, more than five years after the war began,” says Senator Vliegenthart.

This coming Tuesday the answers will be discussed in the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Development Cooperation which will decide how to proceed further. “These answers have certainly put an end to the matter,” says Vliegenthart. “Putting questions to ministers is an elementary parliamentary right without which parliament cannot perform its task of monitoring the government. I would imagine that even parties which do not agree with us about the war itself may nevertheless share our view that you cannot treat parliament in this fashion. These answers get us nowhere. The government offers no openness and so parliament can scarcely place any value on its arguments.”

The SP will continue to demand a parliamentary enquiry, as Senator Vliegenthart explains: “To participate in a war is one of the most far- reaching decisions a nation can take. It therefore demands extremely careful consideration and thorough investigation. What was done? And did this turn out, with hindsight, to have been wise? With these answers we cannot do this. We will instead have to consider what to do next. If the government is unwilling to give answers, then in the end a parliamentary enquiry is the only means at our disposal to bring the truth about Iraq to light.”

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