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The Coalition
Brown Commits to "Learn Lessons" From Iraq
Incoming British PM to Take Over From Blair on Wednesday
06/25/2007 10:46 AM ET
MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 24: Gordon Brown waves before he addresses Labour party members at The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, after being confirmed as the new party leader on June 24, 2007, Manchester, England.
Christopher Furlong/Getty
MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 24: Gordon Brown waves before he addresses Labour party members at The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, after being confirmed as the new party leader on June 24, 2007, Manchester, England.

Pledging a new era in leadership and a policy for change, Gordon Brown assumed leadership of Britain's Labour Party on Monday, paving the way for him to take over as prime minister later in the week.

Tony Blair's administration has been plagued by the spectre of chaos in Iraq, and opinion polls have shown large percentages in the UK view the war as a dark strain on the prime minister's legacy. Speculation has been rife that the incoming leader might accelerate the withdrawal of British forces as a way to engender good favor with the British public.

Iraq had "been a divisive issue for our party and our country," Brown acknowledged while speaking to fellow Labour members during his acceptance speech for leadership of the party.

Brown did not confirm any plans for pullout, but did commit that Britain would "learn lessons that need to be learned" from Iraq, adding that Britain's future foreign policy would "reflect the truth that to isolate and defeat terrorist extremism now involves more than military force."

Brown apologized for mistakes in intelligence made in the run-up to the Iraq war in a BBC television interview on Friday.

"We have apologised, and I repeat that, for the mistakes that were made in intelligence," he said.

Brown committed to establish a clearer boundary between intelligence and politics to prevent futures errors. "I'm setting in place what I think are far more rigorous procedures so that the intelligence is seen to be different from, if you like, any decision by a politician," he added.

"I want people to know that in future, they can be satisfied that, where public information is provided, it has gone through an authoritative process and it is free of political influence."

Brown voted for the invasion, but has been vocal about the failings of the occupation, and has opposed calls for inquiry into the pre-war handling of intelligence.

He repeated his criticism of the post-invasion occupation in the Newsnight interview, saying, "I think we've got to be honest about it that mistakes were made at the point of reconstruction after Saddam Hussein fell... mistakes made by all of us in the reconstruction progress," he said.

On the "special relationship" with the US, Brown restated that he would stand up for Britain's national interest but added: "It is in our national interest that the prime minister has a good relationship with the president of the United States of America."

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