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Singapore’s reasons for involvement in Iraq War should be addressed in Parliament

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A letter writer to TODAY’s Voices asked if Singapore deployed its servicemen, ships and aircraft to the Persian Gulf in 2003 to support of the Iraq war, because the Government was independently satisfied of the factual and legal basis for invading Iraq, or if it felt the need to stand together with an important ally.

The Chilcot Report on the Iraq war released on Jul 6 in London criticized Tony Blair’s Government for misrepresenting the severity of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, and said that Blair’s “certainty” about Saddam’s alleged weapons of mass destruction did not match the realities of Iraqi capabilities. Chilcot also did not accept the claim made by Blair during the inquiry that “the difficulties encountered in Iraq after the invasion could not have been known in advance.”

The writer Aziah Hussin said that it is important for the matter to be discussed in Parliament because it not only “goes to the heart of our foreign and defence policy, but also because Singaporean lives were put on the line.”

Singapore’s Ambassador Bilahari Kausikan commenting on the letter in his Facebook said that “we never believed in the rationale given by the Bush administration.” My Kausikan who was a top official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at that time further said:

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“..we understood that the administration was in a ‘either you are with us or you are against us’ mood after 9/11 and given America’s importance to Singapore, we went along in a way that was useful to America and so gave us a few political points, but minimized the risk to Singaporean lives. These debates in the UK and US have nothing to do with us: we act on the basis of the Singapore national interest which has its own considerations. Get real. Some of our intelligentsia seem to live in their own world which is a refracted version of western worlds. Lack of intellectual self confidence, I would guess.”

A writer for this publication, Tan Wah Piow, had also expressed similar sentiments earlier. (https://theindependent.sg.sg/goh-chok-tong-and-the-war-of-mass-deception/) He said:

“At the time of the Iraq invasion, Goh Chok Tong was the loudest cheer leader for George W Bush in the ASEAN region. In a speech in Washington in May 2003, Goh Chok Tong went out of his way to promote the myth about the “weapons of mass destruction” and in one breath linked the issue of the invasion of Iraq, to 9/11 and weapons of mass destruction when there was no evidential nexus.

As the apologist of an invasion conducted without the UN mandate, Goh Chok Tong also asserted at the time that “Iraq could not have been disarmed without getting rid of Saddam Hussein. The war was necessary.”

Ultimately the Iraq war ended “a very long way from success” and was “an intervention which went badly wrong, with consequences to this day,” said the report. We now know how factually wrong Goh Chok Tong was in his foreign policy when he supported the American war efforts in Iraq.”

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