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Kant: 'No confidence that mistakes on Iraq won't be repeated'

16 February 2010

Kant: 'No confidence that mistakes on Iraq won't be repeated'

"On the basis of the conclusions that this government has drawn from the Iraq report, the SP parliamentary group can have no confidence that the same mistakes won't be made again,” said SP leader Agnes Kant in the debate on the government's reaction to the Davids Commission's report on the decision-making process which led to the N Netherlands' political support for the war in 2003. “The cabinet has learnt lessons, but these concern in every case the form, and not the content. There is no acknowledgement that the government of the day gave its support to an illegal war."

Agnes KantKant wondered aloud during the debate whether the Prime Minister, faced now with the same situation, would take the same decision. “The cabinet accepts that with what is known now a more adequate mandate in international law would have been necessary before it could act in such a fashion in relation to Iraq. But what we know now is that this knowledge was already present. So I'm asking the Prime Minister: does he acknowledge that an adequate mandate in international law was lacking?"
As for the Davids Commission's conclusion that the government had not been completely open with parliament about the matter, Kant saw this as the political equivalent of a “mortal sin”, adding that “The reaction of the cabinet 'that it gave wise testimony' in giving all the information also falls short of the truth. It was not simply that it was wise to do so, it was something it was simply obliged to do.”

The cabinet's reaction regarding its conduct in relation to the information from its own intelligence services on the situation in Iraq was also, Kant said, unsatisfactory. "The cabinet acknowledges that the doubts and uncertainties discussed in various reports should have been disclosed more extensively and more explicitly in the information given to parliament. I would say that selective use of information is misleading. The cabinet knowingly set parliament off on the wrong foot."

According to Kant, the Davids Commission did its work well and drew pointed conclusions. Despite this, the SP will continue to argue for a parliamentary enquiry. “Thorough preliminary research has been done, but there are still people who have not been questioned – neither under oath nor in public. And there are documents which have not been made public. This information is crucial for future decisions over war and peace."

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