I was not sure where to post this. Pete I'm sure you can move it if needed.
I came across this while browsing the web.
And I personally think Sir Peter Tapsell (Con, Louth and Horncastle) raised a very good point. Infact the same question could be asked today.
Telegraph.co.uk By Andrew Gimson
Published: 12:01AM GMT 03 Mar 2004
Horrors in Iraq evoke memories of a distant past
"It sounded like a joke. The House of Commons certainly took it as a joke, for the comparison made by Sir Peter Tapsell (Con, Louth and Horncastle) sounded so bizarre, so old-fashioned and so obscure that it was almost impossible to react in any other way.
Sir Peter asked Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary: "On the issue of the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, has any British leader ever before been so uninformed about a selected enemy since Lord Chelmsford invaded Zululand?"
Mr Straw joined in the laughter which greeted this question. He remarked, in a gracefully patronising way, that he is "not quite as senior" as Sir Peter (who entered Parliament in 1959) and does not have as good a grasp of "the detail of Lord Chelmsford's invasion of Zululand" (which took place in 1879, but which Sir Peter seemed rather grandly to imply he himself could remember, perhaps because he had been attached as a junior officer to Lord Chelmsford's staff).
But Mr Straw soon reverted to his prosaic role as Foreign Secretary and said of the British Government's knowledge of Iraq before the invasion: "We were very well-informed... in full possession of the facts... that Iraq was and remained in breach of its international obligations." The 12 years during which Saddam Hussein had defied the United Nations meant, Mr Straw contended, that the dictator had to reckon with "serious consequences", including the invasion.
On a day of terrible bloodshed in Iraq, this repetition of the legal case for going to war did not seem quite to rise to the level of events. Mr Straw later sent "our condolences" to the relatives of those killed in Karbala and Baghdad, but soon afterwards moved without any apparent sense of incongruity to the provision in the Transitional Administrative Law, agreed by Iraqi politicians on Monday, under which at least 25 per cent of the seats in the new assembly will be occupied by women.
This was, Mr Straw quickly admitted, before anyone else could point it out, a higher proportion of women than is found in the House of Commons and in most other elected assemblies in Europe. But there it is: Iraq's problems will be solved, he suggested, in part by electing an unusually high proportion of women.
The Foreign Secretary could well be right in theory. The question, however, at which Sir Peter was driving was whether the invaders of Iraq really understood, before embarking on that venture, what that country would be like in practice. Lord Chelmsford, it may be remembered, so grievously underestimated the dangers of invading Zululand that his forces suffered the humiliating defeat of Isandlwana, when a column of 1,600 Europeans and 2,500 natives was surprised by 10,000 Zulu and massacred.
The heroic defence soon afterwards at Rorke's Drift, where 80 men held out against 4,000 Zulu, was used to help obscure the carnage of Isandlwana, reinforcements were dispatched from Britain and the Zulu were, in time, defeated. But the general lesson, that imperial expeditions can turn out to be far more costly and protracted than was originally expected, did not seem out of place on a day of such discouraging news from Iraq.
The odd thing about Foreign Office questions is that they allow such momentous matters to be raised in such a light-hearted way. Much of yesterday's proceedings sounded like a kind of oneupmanship competition, in which three junior ministers competed with each other to establish that they had been to more exotic places.
Denis MacShane (Rotherham) told the House, "I was in Vienna recently", Chris Mullin (Sunderland South) revealed that only two weeks ago he was in Kampala, where he "discussed the situation in northern Uganda with President Museveni", and Mike O'Brien (North Warwickshire) discoursed from the dispatch box about Afghanistan, remarking airily that "I was up in Mazar-i-Sharif a few weeks ago". Mr O'Brien even took it upon himself, in a manner which Stephen Potter, who discovered and analysed oneupmanship, would have admired, to declare that conditions are different in the south of that country.
But Tam Dalyell (Lab, Linlithgow), the Father of the House, trumped them all when he said that in 1994 he was in Karbala, and was shown round by the imam, and while he knows it is a very complicated situation, he expects that today the Foreign Secretary will tell the House something about the carnage which occurred there."