Gulf Air Strikes: `Vietnam risk' in Iraqi conflict

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The Independent Online
LABOUR BACKBENCHERS attacked the recent air strikes on Iraq yesterday, demanding that there should be no further military action unless there was a two-thirds majority of MPs in favour of it.

Tam Dalyell, the Labour MP for Linlithgow, warned that Britain may get embroiled in aconflict without proper consultation on the moral issues involved. "I want to bring home to MPs and government members exactly what they are supporting and the moral dilemmas they face," he said.

Explaining his Military Action Against Iraq Bill, Mr Dalyell said: "This is a simple proposition that in circumstances where Britain is embarking on a protracted military operation with no clear end in sight, Parliament must be formally consulted and a decision made by majority vote before our country drifts into conflict, the consequences and end objectives of which are far from clear."

Mr Dalyell went on to refer to an exclusive investigation, published earlier this week in The Independent, which reported that MI6 officers worked undercover in Iraq as part of the UN arms inspectors.

"There are very real questions when Unscom turns out to be a nest of spies. Before getting deeper and deeper into what could so easily turn out to be a Vietnam-like conflict, the pros and cons should have been hammered out on the anvil of parliamentary argument. Had that been allowed to happen, the question would have been asked: `What do we do after we have bombed and bombed and bombed?'"

Earlier Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary, made a strong defence of the Government's action against Iraq at a meeting of the party's ruling national executive committee. But the leadership angered left-wing members by voting 19 to 5 to prevent a full debate and vote on the issue after they put down a motion, claiming there was widespread concern in the Labour Party about the action.

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