"Sir: Let me see if I've got this right. I admit straight out that my grasp of the history of both Iran and Iraq is shaky, but I am relying on what I have learned this week.
"In 1953 in Iran the Brits and Yanks conspired to oust through a coup, in favour of the Shah, the secular and democratic government of Dr Moussadeq because he was going to nationalise what is now BP. (He took the odd view that it was their oil, not ours). Since the Shah imprisoned or killed off all his other opponents, by 1979 the only forces capable of organising the Iranian revolution were Ayatollah Khomeini and his mates. Result: Islamic state.
"In 2003 in Iraq, the Brits and Yanks conspired to invade in order to remove the secular though vile and tyrannical government of Saddam Hussein. The justification was that he was either dangerous or horrible; the latter was certainly true, the former has proved untrue. The objective was, in the words of George W Bush, to make Iraq "a beacon of democracy". But it transpires that Iraqi women and probably men will be losing freedoms, not gaining them. The draft constitution hammered out, with a great deal of help from US draughtsmen, not only establishes Islam as the religion of the state but Sharia law as "a fundamental source for legislation". Result: pre-Islamic state.
"Apart from all the usual reactions one could have - anger, despair, hysterical laughter, I told you so - I think my main conclusion is to support even more fervently the need for alternative fuels to oil. Not only for the sake of the planet, but for the sake of our moral honour."
BARONESS SARAH LUDFORD MEP
LIBERAL DEMOCRAT EUROPEAN JUSTICE SPOKESWOMAN, LONDON N1