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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 October 2005, 15:37 GMT 16:37 UK
Have your say: Iraq debate
Jack Straw

In a special edition of Newsnight on 13 October, 2005, the Foreign Secretary Jack Straw was questioned by a special panel in a live studio debate.

The panel consisted of experts, commentators and people directly affected by the war in Iraq.

What would you ask the Foreign Secretary? How long should we be prepared to be in Iraq? Will the ratification or refusal of the constitution fuel or stop the insurgency? What are your views on the War on Terror?

E-mails published will reflect the balance of opinion received.


In discussing whether British troops should pull out of Iraq, no-one mentioned that we are inevitably tied to American policy and cannot withdraw unless they agree. There is no way in which Blair and Straw can withdraw British troops unilaterally. A point that I would make about the imposition of democracy in Iraq is that I had no idea that troops in the British and American armies were trained to bring democracy to the countries that they had conquered.
Ian Connolly, Nottingham

What gives Jack Straw and the Government the right to keep referring to their actions as being what the "Iraqi people" want? Which Iraqi people? How do they know? I don't see them wandering around the streets of Iraq asking. They don't even represent what most of the UK people want! Why is our government so obsessed with the establishment of an imposed western style Democracy? Surely a more basic human requirement is to be able to live in a safe environment? In the part of the programme I saw, Jeremy Paxman seemed to reject questioning of the original arguments given for war. These are still relevant - for one thing the people who made these decisions are still making the current decisions. If they cannot justify those decisions, then how can they justify their current and future actions?
Carl Ross, Ipswich

Was this supposed to be a balanced programme? If so, why were those supporting the ousting of Saddam heavily outnumbered by those who opposed it? And the anti-war brigade tries to tell us that their voice is suppressed? Not on the BBC it 'aint!
Eamonn, UK

A note for Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to take into consideration when comparing the democratisation process in Iraq with that in other contexts. I would put it to Jack Straw that his frequent use of a comparison with post WWII Germany rests on shaky foundations. Both contexts differ considerably with regard to the historical experience within regional contexts (West vs East) and constitutional framework (Germany had been a democracy before the war, note that Adolf Hitler had been democratically elected) whereas Iraq begins from an entirely different politco-institutional background.
Professor Antje Wiener, Belfast

I write to congratulate the Newsnight team for conducting the most balanced and enlightening debate I've ever witnessed on the Iraq War. Jeremy Paxman was splendid, probing and determinedly questioning, yet fair. This was great television. Thanks.
Rev. Alex Muir, Inverness

Of course, Jack Straw's mission is to minimise Iraq's perceived significance in motivating Islamic terror attacks on London. But virtually everyone here knows perfectly well, that whilst Western foreign policy in general and US double-standards on Palestine/Israel are cumulative and highly combustible grievances, the trigger for suicide attacks on mainland Britain remains unquestionable
John Jay, Walton-on-Thames

To Jack Straw: Although you have said a British attack on Iran is inconceivable, in the event of another scenario, would you endorse an American or Israeli air attack on Iran's suspected nuclear weapon manufacturing facilities or would you unequivocally condemn such an act as illegal aggression?
Alan Johnstone, Edinburgh

The sooner we end our occupation of Iraq the better. The Iraqi people have suffered enough at our hands.
Sanjeev Chowdhury, Germany

I'm curious: how is it that the poll finding of 1 in 3 believing troops should pull out of Iraq immediately (which presumably means 2 in 3 do not) is the headline in your news coverage, yet in the same poll, the same number believe that the war was right and lo, your editorial judgement is that this figure is not of merit? is there any chance the BBC can report and not editorialise please?
Adam Gray, London

Mr Straw showed a total lack of understanding of the military position and an even greater inability to understand the complexities of Iraq. We know to our cost that those who really knew what the invasion would mean were ignored, while the wishes of those who knew least prevailed.
Kennedy, Brighton



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