Mr Miliband, think twice: is Tony Blair really ‘fit for purpose’?
In a Guardian article earlier this week, Archbishop Desmond Tutu is said to have broken “the protocol of power – the implicit accord between those who flit from one grand meeting to another” by naming Blair’s crime.
There is widespread agreement on Blair’s culpability, but one dissenter said:
Iraqi minorities were gassed, otherwise slaughtered, imprisoned, tortured and generally persecuted by Saddam’s criminally fascist regime for decades and the west did nothing about it; indeed, it even supported this monster with aid and armaments. Today, he is long gone and Iraq is on the road to democracy.
Iraq was ruined by us and continues to be a place of great deprivation and danger
That commentator should remember that Saddam was our own monster. No doubt at the behest of the United States government, we built him up as a counterweight to the feared Iranian regime. He had built an Iraq where all people had good services and by far the greatest equality of income in the region. True, dissent was crushed- as it is in other regimes supported by the Anglo Saxon allies.
It was only when he went a step too far that the two governments realised that once again one of their despotic friends had become too hot to handle.
The author of the article, George Monbiot, points out:
“The offence is known by two names in international law: the crime of aggression and a crime against peace. It is defined by the Nuremberg Principles as the “planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression”. This means a war fought for a purpose other than self-defence: in other words outwith articles 33 and 51 of the UN Charter(3).
“That the invasion of Iraq falls into this category looks indisputable. Blair’s cabinet ministers knew it, and told him so. His Attorney-General warned that there were just three ways in which it could be legally justified: “self-defence, humanitarian intervention, or UN Security Council authorisation. The first and second could not be the base in this case.”(Blair tried and failed to obtain the third.
“His foreign secretary, Jack Straw, told Blair that for the war to be legal, “i) There must be an armed attack upon a State or such an attack must be imminent; ii) The use of force must be necessary and other means to reverse/avert the attack must be unavailable; iii) The acts in self-defence must be proportionate and strictly confined to the object of stopping the attack.” None of these conditions were met. The Cabinet Office told him “A legal justification for invasion would be needed. Subject to Law Officers’ advice, none currently exists.”
“But while the case against Blair is strong, the means are weak. Twenty-nine people have been indicted in the International Criminal Court, and all of them are African. (Suspects in the Balkans have been indicted by a different tribunal). There’s a reason for this. Until 2018 at the earliest, the court can prosecute crimes committed during the course of an illegal war, but not the crime of launching that war.”
But when the masonry begins to crack, impossible hopes can become first plausible, then inexorable. Blair will now find himself shut out of places where he was once welcome. One day he may find himself shut in.