Archbishop says Iraq war 'morally flawed'

Rowan Williams says Iraq war was morally flawed
Rowan Williams says Iraq war was morally flawed

The archbishop of Canterbury has described the decisions that led to the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 as morally flawed.

Rowan Williams said he could accept that the decision to go to war was made "in good faith" but said there were mistakes in going to war - and the continuation of these was putting British troops "increasingly at risk".

His comments this morning were the archbishop's second attack on the government over the war within a fortnight. They follow a newspaper article last week in which he condemned the "short-sightedness and ignorance" of the invading forces.

"I am wholly prepared to believe that those who made the decisions made them in good faith - but I think those decisions were flawed," he told Today.

"And I think the moral and the practical flaws have emerged as time has gone on - very painfully - and they have put our own troops increasingly at risk in ways that I find deeply disturbing."

Mr Williams said he had considered speaking out more openly during the early stages of the war, but had asked himself whether playing a prominent part in protests against it "might be effective or that just becomes words, that just becomes noise".

He told the programme: "I said what I believed I needed to say. I shall need to think quite a long time about whether I ought to have said more or less on that matter."

The remarks come after the head of British forces in southern Iraq, major general Richard Shirreff, on Wednesday predicted that his troops would have a presence in the Basra region "for some time to come now".

He told the BBC that the mission there would shift from a security mission to "much more of a military assistance mission" where British soldiers embedded with Iraqi army units would help "stiffen the backbone" and build confidence in the force.

"And that'll take time. But we're not in the business of cutting and running from here. We're going to maintain a brigade or thereabouts in this part of Iraq for some time to come now," he said.

  • Yesterday the Ministry of Defence confirmed that a soldier from 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery was killed in the Helmand province in southern Afghanistan.

Three others were injured when their vehicle was involved in an explosion. The death is the 44th British military casualty since troops entered the country in October 2001.


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