'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Lawless World 

The publication of a new book has re-awakened accusations that Tony Blair committed a war crime by aiding Bush in waging his war. From the Sunday Herald:

Enemies looking for legal evidence that would brand Blair a potential war criminal have seized upon the publication next week of Lawless World, by University College London law professor and QC Philippe Sands. His book is a detailed account of how the attorney general, Peter Goldsmith, changed his mind on the legality of the war within a crucial 10-day period in March 2003. An added embarrassment for the government is that Sands is attached to Cherie Blair’s legal chambers, Matrix.

Goldsmith presented his first advice to Downing Street on March 7 in a 13-page document which laid out the argument that going to war without a new UN resolution sanctioning hostilities “could be found to be illegal”.

“The March 7 memorandum is rather equivocal,” says Sands. “It is as well-balanced a document as one would expect from a lawyer of that quality. It sets out pros and cons and reaches a conclusion, including a view that it would be safer to have a second resolution.”

Yet 10 days later – on March 17 – Goldsmith published another report in which he felt able to state that the existing UN resolution 1441 would, by itself, provide a legal basis for invading Iraq.

What happened to change his mind – and indeed the exact basis on which he issued his original warning – have still not been revealed.

I found the following observation in the Herald piece dryly humorous:

For the US the legality of the war was not a great issue. In a neo-conservative dominated political arena, in a country still reeling from 9/11, the idea that international law could stop military retaliation by the world’s strongest nation was a non-starter. Once Congress gave Bush the authority to use force the war against Iraq was on.

In the UK, the status of the war in international law was crucial, and not just to satisfy sceptical Cabinet members and Labour backbenchers who were dubious about supporting military action. Senior British military officials wanted assurances that the war, which like any conflict involved killing, would be within international law.

Yeah, you would think that when you want to wage a war -- which, as noted above, often does involve killing -- it's important to make sure your war is legal, as a general rule. But if you live in the good old U. S. of A, you would be wrong, or at least very unfashionable. Here -- as I never get tired of pointing out -- one of the chief intellectual architects of the Iraq War admitted that the war was illegal from the get go. Actually, "admitted" is the wrong word. Richard Perle kind of alluded to the illegality of the invasion in the context of making another point -- the illegality of the war being such an obvious and a trifling matter...

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?