Introduction Part 1 of 3
The invasion of Iraq was illegal. Every applicable law unequivocally confirms this conclusion. There are no grey areas, no extenuating circumstances. Not according to the law.
When Tony Blair and George Bush decided to abandon the United Nations and launch their aggressive war against Iraq in March, 2003 they committed themselves to the most serious of all breaches of International law, “the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole”, as defined by the prosecutors at Nuremberg following the defeat of the Nazis.
For members of the Tony Blair apologist’s club, far from being the worst kind of war criminal, their patron saint is a courageous champion who faced the ultimate moral dilemma and emerged in triumph, tortured by having to choose the lesser of two evils yet vindicated by the shining light of democracy now rising in the Middle East.
When Blair and his fan base flirt with the law of war, they construct their case not as a reasoned, legal argument based on the facts, prevailing laws and treaties or precedent set down over centuries. Instead they approach the law as an obstacle to be circumvented or entirely dispensed with if they can get away with it. When no remotely credible legal position is available they simply substitute supposedly moral pleadings based on cost and benefit calculations.
They speak of the cost of not acting, or how a benefit allegedly derived from their action outweighs a cost. If a desired benefit fails to materialise and the cost is all too evident and cannot be spun away they console themselves with whimsical visions of what might have been, if only their good intentions had yielded the desired result.
They justify their actions by their own interpretation of what is right and what is wrong, regardless of what the law might actually reveal. Such judgements they see only themselves as being qualified to make. When the law or a part of it is inconvenient to their self-assessment of their righteousness they toss it aside, they leave it out of the reckoning. Or they unilaterally redefine it to suit their purpose.
So it is we are treated to talk of others “forcing” Blair and Bush into sending their bombers against Iraq, and “terrible mistakes made in the post-war period”, or “the depraved enemy”, who resisted the invaders instruction to throw rose petals and resorted to rocket propelled grenades.
The idea that none of the carnage and tragedy would have unfolded were it not for the unforced decisions taken in London and Washington to abandon the law and launch an aggressive war is considered too fanciful for consideration. In more reflective moments they might consider how many people Saddam would have murdered had it not been for their intervention, and so begins another round of congratulations as they conclude they saved lives by bombing cities and towns and villages in Iraq.
They pragmatically lament, at dinner parties a thousand miles behind the lines, that “war is hell”, all the while reminding us their heroes were forced, had no choice, acted in self-defence, killed to avoid being killed.
Indeed their heroes are the real victims. Great men misunderstood by ignorant and eternally ungrateful masses who couldn’t possibly comprehend the difficult decisions faced by the reluctant invaders as they hurriedly and with darkly comical amateurism “sexed up” their propaganda in an attempt to undermine the efforts of those seeking peaceful routes to resolve the conflict.
Apparently, it would take a person of “all-knowing wisdom” and “insight… of God-like proportions”, to understand the great complexities behind decisions that resulted in hundreds of British soldiers being killed, thousands more injured, a hundred thousand to a million Iraqis dead, four million made homeless, a smashed, polluted country and billions of pounds consumed in flames.
The fault is mine if I cannot see that such a horrific result is actually, when all things are considered, an outcome steeped in morality and altruism of the noblest form.
I have neither all-knowing wisdom nor God-like insight, so perhaps it is true, perhaps in the mind of God there exists some proviso to His most celebrated directives, “You shall not kill, Neither shall you steal, Neither shall you bear false witness against your neighbour, Neither shall you desire anything that belongs to your neighbour,” and, most pertinently, “You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.”
I am familiar enough with the words from God to guess that when Blair smugly turns his nose up at the law of man and informs us God will be his judge, he has spectacularly miscalculated. Again we see his blind spot for law, this time law set down literally in stone. God’s laws are explicit. So is the law of war.
Nowhere in God’s law will the aggressor find the legal defence, “the ends justify the means.” Does the law of man allow such latitude? Can the apologist bolster the flagging moral argument by subverting a legal concept so that his violence may be condoned under certain circumstances? Only when the aggressor can be transformed into the victim can all the death, mayhem and destruction be justified – as an act of self-defence. This is the centrepiece in the apologist’s legal case.
Taken together with a casual rewriting of the United Nations Charter, United Nations resolution 1441 and a faded memory of events in New York in 2002, it’s a poorly manufactured, shabby and unconvincing case that’s as easy to brush aside now as it was at the time. It’s a case entirely unsuited to underwrite a grand act of statesmanship, rather it is a fig leaf to dress a fait accompli staged by criminals who have enough influence to deter the machinery of justice from acting against them.
In a recent article, “Apologising for Blair”, I wrote about the outrage in certain circles at the prospect of Blair having to attend the Iraq Inquiry to assist us all in determining why it was necessary to kill so many people in Iraq.
Originally Gordon Brown, unelected successor to Blair’s old job at 10 Downing Street, had declared the promised Iraq Inquiry would be held in secret and bound by a tight remit. The intended aim of the game was to “learn lessons”, which is a euphemism for absolving all concerned parties of wrongdoing when the public demands government corruption is investigated.
A hallmark of the Blair administration was its readiness to hide behind a shield of national security interests whenever its misdeeds leaked into the public domain. Most recently, and despite considerable pressure from an incredulous public, Brown and his partner in war crimes Jack Straw continued the tradition when they once again succeeded in suppressing the crucial minutes of the cabinet meeting during which the war criminal Blair and his initially reluctant but by then rehabilitated crony, Lord
Ashcroft Goldsmith, set down their phoney legal case for pre-emptive aggression.
In the next two postings to this blog I will examine bomber Blair’s legal case and set it against the laws that explode each of his disingenuous and immoral arguments just as thoroughly as his high explosives ripped through roads, bridges, water treatment plants, power stations and even hospitals in Iraq. As I list the apologists’ excuses for the illegal war, see how many of the bahavioural traits discussed in this posting you can identify. And at the same time, see if you can spot even a single, valid, legal justification for the aggression against Iraq.
But to begin with it would be wise to consider motive. Assuming what any rational person capable of intelligently observing the progress of Blair’s terrible crimes is forced to conclude, that Blair’s frivolous and insulting claims of liberation, freedom and democracy are a sham, what could drive a British Prime Minister to betray the trust of a nation by selling out to a foreign power and in the process murder or dispossess millions of innocent victims? It’s the oldest of motives – greed.
With motive, the means and the will, Blair committed one of the greatest atrocities in British history. How long shall we apologise for his actions on his behalf? How long will we attempt to understand his position? How long shall we allow him to evade a justice that would fall on us from the heavens were we to engage in such acts ourselves?
Are there thousands upon thousands dead and millions homeless, or not? Has a whole nation been smashed, or not? Has even a shred of evidence emerged that Iraq was a threat to Britain, or not? Has any linkage between Saddam Hussein and Al’Qaeda ever been established, or not? Is it pure misfortune that every single claim made to justify the illegal war has turned out the be a lie, or something else? Has Blair benefited massively from his close ties to his warmonger friends since he left office, or not? And should Blair be at least forced to answer the many questions raised by his actions, or not?
Is he a victim of circumstances or a quisling and a war criminal? The answer is obvious but, unfortunately, given his powerful friends and a legion of bag holding, coat throwing attendants, the obvious must be stated and re-stated so the truth does not vanish down the media memory hole.