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Tony Blair performs Blair at Chilcot « Previous | |Next »
January 31, 2010

British political news has been caught up for the last several weeks by a formal inquiry into the illegality and deceptions behind Tony Blair's decision to join the U.S. in invading Iraq to disarm Saddam Hussein of weapons he did not possess. Blair as war leader used secrecy and slick subterfuge to attain his ends. That war is the defining choice of Blair's premiership.

RowsonMBlair.jpg Martin Rowson

The Dutch have found that that the war, which was supported by the Dutch government following intelligence from Britain and the US, had not been justified in law. Blair regrets nothing and his performance exhibited his question-dodging skill.

As mentioned in an earlier post this stands in stark to Australia, which pointedly refuses to "look back" or concern itself with whether it waged an illegal (and horribly destructive) war. It is not even possible to imagine John Howard and Alexander Downer being bought before an investigative body and forced, under oath, to testify publicly about what they did as a means of determining the legality or illegality of that war; their knowledge of Fallujah massacres,or their complicity in Abu Ghraib and the CIA renditions.

We know that the invasion was launched on a misleading prospectus constructed from intelligence which was flaky when it was not simply fake. Yet we refuse to come to terms with the true scope of our wrongdoing when it comes to the aggressive war in Iraq. One begins to think that our politicians have ashtray hearts.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 4:37 PM | | Comments (3)


Generally speaking, we've accepted the contrived, retroactive justification for the invasion and occupation of Iraq... regime change. Never mind that, at the time, we were sold the WMD myth.

We forget that "regime change" was the not sole reason for this war of aggression. It was neither the stated primary goal, nor was it the intent.

While the plasmodium parasite spreads malaria through the bloodstream, a symptom of the disease is weight loss. Clearly many people (myself included) would benefit from shedding a few pounds. This is of no concern to the parasite. It is indifferent to what benefits or harm it brings to the host, the parasite is only doing what is in it's best interest.

In Iraq, the much-hyped liberation of the people was no more than a useful by-product of an UNPROVOKED {I use the word since few are willing to stand by what it really is... "illegal"} attack. The invasion was driven by purely ideological and strategic motives. A significant number of former Bush regime "insiders" have made this prefectly clear.

We, the great unwashed, can argue all we want about the morality of the war of aggression but essentially the war happened because Bush and the neocons wanted it to. The reasons they put forward were fabrications to stampede the people. The WMD, the terrorist connections, the collusion in the horror of Sept 11.

At the Nuremberg Trial Proceedings, the United States and Britain pressed the prosecution of Nazi leaders for planning and initiating aggressive war. To quote Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson (head of the American prosecution staff) "launching a war of aggression is a crime that no political or economic situation can justify" {30 Sept. 1946}.

Jackson went on to say, "if certain acts in violation of treaties are crimes, they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them, and we are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us."

He also declared, "War is essentially an evil thing. Its consequences are not confined to the belligerent states alone, but affect the whole world."

"To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole."

John Howard, our littlest diggerfell back on the "freedom" excuse when the Iraqi people refused to stick to the script and shower the invading troops with flowers and gratitude.

Up until then our former prime miniature thought that fear-mongering (WMD, terrorism etc) was the best bet to keep the voters on-side. With those myths exposed and the Iraqi people stubbornly ungrateful for being blown up, "democracy" became the catch-cry.

Interesting words from Blair just before the unprovoked war:

"I have never put the justification for action as regime change. We have to act within the terms set out in resolution 1441 - that is our legal base. But it is the reason why I say frankly that if we do act, we should do so with a clear conscience and a strong heart."

UNSC resolution 1441 was NOT the legal base. There was NO legal base. It was simply a war of aggression.

There is such a thing as a LEGAL war and indications are that the Iraq fiasco didn't fit the criteria.

The chances of it being a "just war" are also fairly remote.

Under the UN Charter, there are only two circumstances in which the use of force is permissible: in collective or individual self-defence against an actual or verifiable, imminent armed attack; and when the Security Council has directed or authorised use of force to maintain or restore international peace, security and national sovereignty.

That definition applies to ALL members of the United Nations.

The Catholic church uses a different set of guidelines to determine if war is justified. It is called the "Just-War Theory" and I understand this standard is also accepted by other Christian faiths.

For a "Just-war" to be sanctioned by the church several criteria need to be met. These include:

Just cause: War is permissible only to confront "a real and certain danger". The threat must be verified. Wars of vengeance are prohibited.

Competent authority: War must be declared by those with responsibility for public order, not by private groups or individuals.

Right intention: War can only be waged for the reasons set forth above as a just cause. The reasons cannot change once war is declared.

Comparative justice: Are the rights or values at stake consistent with Christian justice, and are they important enough to justify killing?

Last resort: War must be the last resort for resolving a conflict. All other reasonable possibilities for a peaceful resolution must have been attempted in the time available.

Proportionality: The good to be gained by a war should outweigh the damage and costs, both material and spiritual, to be caused by it. eg. during the Vietnam war, the American bishops concluded that the damage being done to each side could not justify the continuation of the war.

Probability of success: Force may not be used in a futile cause or in a case where disproportionate measures are required to achieve success

In addition to these criteria for determining whether a war is justified, another criteria applies during the war itself. The principle of discrimination: lethal force may only be directed at individuals threatening to do violence. Noncombatants such as children, prisoners of war, and other civilians may not be targeted.

If a civilised, Christian nation wants to declare war legally, it's really, really, really hard! In theory anyway.

"While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein."

As US Senator Robert C. Byrd commented on 19 March 2003:

"The case this Administration tries to make to justify its fixation with war is tainted by charges of falsified documents and circumstantial evidence. We cannot convince the world of the necessity of this war for one simple reason. This is a war of choice."

The pro-war mob claims the moral high ground with the meme that the "liberation" of Iraq was their reason for supporting the war. This is a spurious claim.

I know it's awfully unfashionable to bring facts into it but considerwhat Honest John said on ABC Radio in January 2003 when asked about regime change:

"That has not been one of our policy objectives. That could be a consequence. Because of the circumstances in which military action might take place. But our goal is the removal of weapons of mass destruction"

And on March 14, 2003:

"I would have to accept that if Iraq had genuinely disarmed, I couldn't justify on it's own a military invasion of Iraq to change the regime. I've never advocated that"

Sounds to me like didn't think regime change was worth going to war over. Oh well..... no harm done.

The only way that I can make sense of Blair's actions is the imperial temptation --Blair is an old fashioned imperialist practising gun boat policy. The temptation is to play Churchill. Saddam was not a threat and would not be able to resist the US. Easy picking.

Blair's justification, that at it was his fear of 9/11-style attackers using WMDs that changed the “calculus of risk” away from containment and in favour of invading Iraq, is a bit thin. This evokes Hollywood scenario of a murky rogue state handing over briefcases containing nuclear bombs or chemical nor biological weapons to suicide bombers ready to detonate in downtown LA.

Blair seems unconcerned with the catastrophic costs of the Iraq invasion on the Iraqi people or the secrets and lies.

Blair seems unconcerned with being held accountable...