» Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Put that if the Government strategy on Iraq was correct, why did the majority of British people think that we should withdraw by the end of the year, the PMOS replied that he was not going to act as a commentator on opinion polls. What we recognised was that if the news was dominated each night by pictures of suicide bombers etc, then it would have an impact on public opinion. Equally, when a goal was being pursued of a democracy in Iraq, people had to recognise that when it was being attacked by terrorism, it was going to call for patience. What people needed to think through was what the consequences of a premature departure would be. The consequences would be that the first democratically elected Government of Iraq would collapse and that the terrorists would win. That was not in the interests of the people of Iraq who turned out in such numbers to vote for that Government, nor was it in the interests of the international community, nor this country.

The PMOS said that people had to think through the logic of what it was that they were calling for. We fully understood that people did respond to the reality and the perception of the reality of the number of attacks there were in Iraq, and as the Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq had said, we did have to address the issues. Mr. Salih had also said, however, that progress was being made.

Asked if we were suggesting that people were getting the wrong impression of what was happening from media coverage, the PMOS said that of course, the number of attacks was of concern, and we recognised that. The numbers of attacks did result in far too many deaths. Firstly, we had to think through who carried out those attacks, and secondly, we had to recognise that that was not the picture in the whole of Iraq. There was considerable progress being made throughout Iraq, but that did not get the same attention as the attacks. What we were not saying was that people should not report suicide bombers or attacks etc. Equally, however, what we should have was an overall sense of perspective about life in Iraq as a whole and what we were trying to achieve, as well as thinking through the implications of what people were calling for.

Asked if there had been an assessment of how long the current Iraqi Government would last if the troops pulled out, the PMOS said that he was not aware of any assessment.

Asked if we had discussed a presentation with broadcasters or editors, the PMOS replied that as people knew, the Government believed in editorial independence.

Briefing took place at 16:00 | Search for related news

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