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Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Blair a step closer to trial

It is a long time since 15th February 2003, when I walked along with a million others through central London in protest at Blair's intentions to wage war on Iraq. I knew then with absolute certainty that his reasons were spurious; the case was manifestly weak and fatally flawed from the start. Robin Cook reminded the Commons of the meaning of honour with his resignation from Blair's government, in a speech that resonates still;
The threshold for war should always be high. None of us can predict the death toll of civilians from the forthcoming bombardment of Iraq, but the US warning of a bombing campaign that will "shock and awe" makes it likely that casualties will be numbered at least in the thousands. I am confident that British servicemen and women will acquit themselves with professionalism and with courage. I hope that they all come back. I hope that Saddam, even now, will quit Baghdad and avert war, but it is false to argue that only those who support war support our troops. It is entirely legitimate to support our troops while seeking an alternative to the conflict that will put those troops at risk.
It was a truth lost on the Conservatives, for whom the political expediency of being seen to act in concert overcame their disbelief of Blair's lies - and those who have subsequently admitted so have mired themselves in opprobrium. Others have chosen to rely on a fatuous post-hoc rationalisation that getting rid of Saddam made it the right thing to do, anyway, even if Blair misled the nation. Labour's own stinking hypocrisy is exemplified by Harman's enthusiastic applause at Red Ed's condemnation of the war, which prompted his brother to audibly demand of her "What are you clapping for? You voted for it".

Iraq has remained an open sore, yet each year has brought to light a little more of the evidence needed to put Blair on trial. Of the other great officers of state, Hoon is disgraced and a figure of public ridicule and Irvine is a wreck of alcoholic remorse and self-pity unfit to appear in public any longer. Only Straw remains at large and unaffected. I have no doubt that Hoon and Irvine at least would be happy to turn Queen's evidence if given the opportunity to do so. 

As Steven Glover reports in the Mail, the declassification of Goldsmith's evidence has already established conclusively that Blair lied to the Commons. Chilcot also has in his hands evidence that Blair conspired to wage an unlawful war, evidence that if available would, I suspect, be sufficient for an indictment. Gus O'Donnell has so far refused Chilcot permission to declassify this, but no matter; the evidence is there, and no doubt the courts will wheedle it out into the light of day in due course. 

This is a long haul, and Blair has less reason to sleep soundly with each passing day. This, at least, is an encouragement that should not be underestimated.


Blue Eyes said...

I wish I believed in God and an afterlife, because then Blair would at least get his justice there. Like many other naive fools I believed that if a British Prime Minister thought it necessary to wage war then it probably was.

It isn't even a matter of how many deaths of civilians the war caused, it is that it is totally unacceptable to wage war on a country that is no threat to your own just because you don't like the leader of that country.

The 1990 Gulf War was a war of principle. The 2003 invasion was a war of dishonour. Britain's reputation as an honest broker will take generations to repair.

Don Cox said...

"Blair conspired to wage an unlawful war"

Which British law did he break?

Budgie said...

The UN is not a world government; it is a meeting place for sovereign nations to metaphorically pat each other on the back, or punch each other's faces. As such it does not make worldwide law. A UN resolution is a fig leaf.

A UN resolution in favour of the second Iraq war would not have made it any more legal, or saved any more civilians' lives. The lack of a UN resolution did not make this war illegal either. In the end any nation can declare war on any other; and Bliar will use this.

Otherwise I tend to agree with what you have written here, especially about Bliar's personality. However if Goldsmith really was "uncomfortable" with Bliar's interpretation of his advice, he should have resigned then. Now Goldsmith is just wriggling and deserves only contempt.

English Pensioner said...

I'm rather like the Israeli approach to such problems, quiet undercover action. Attacking the computer system at Iran's atomic research centre was just as effective as a bomb on the place and causes far less fuss. Assassination, to me, poses no major moral problem, far better to have paid someone to kill Saddam than go to war with Iraq, and I imagine that if Iran becomes too much of a threat, Israel will take this type of action.
The US effectively carries out and condones such action which, after all, is merely an extension of the "Wanted, Dead or Alive" concept on which the country was founded. The FBI has a wanted list of terrorists with huge rewards and looked at objectively $25 million for Bin Laden would be but a tiny fraction of the cost of a war.
Trouble is, we have too many Human Rights idiots in this country who insist that such people (who would have no hesitation in killing anyone if it suited their purposes) most have a fair and proper trial. What about all the innocent people who were killed simply in order to give Saddam a fair trial.

Sean said...

I remember well being called into the mess tent in Bahrain to be told that the "war was over", the sense of betrayal and off not finishing what we had come to do. I remember the groans, and the quite shakes of the heads.

And then for another 3 years (when I left the RAF) loading up the bombs to enforce the no fly zone in the south, which btw rarely came back to be unloaded.

It was never the second gulf war, it was and is the first gulf war part 2. Saddam signed a surrender document, he did not observe the terms of it.

I cant stand TB, but credit where credit is due, he knew the score and Ive not meet any former comrades who think otherwise. The fault was always with the terms of engagement in 1991.

Bill Quango MP said...

At the time I said "They wouldn't go to war without good cause. War is so risky and expensive. There must be a really good reason. "

Can't believe I was so stupid.

Bill Quango MP said...

The fault was always with the terms of engagement in 1991.

This is true. However the truly global, successful coalition put together would never have sanctioned the invasion of an Arab nation and would have fractured. George senior knew that the war must end with the liberation of Kuwait.
The terms to invade and therefore occupy Iraq, indefinitely, would never have made it through the UN.

measured said...

You marched. That was a brave act.

It is easy to forget that there was so much spin back then, that if we didn't support the war, we were branded as unpatriotic. This was grossly unfair and, as we know, Raedwald, you are indeed an Englishman with a boat.

Don't raise your hopes; Sir John Chilcot is not outspoken but, as you point out, at least it is evident the Inquiry has concerns.

Edward Spalton said...

The danger is that the wish to see Tony Blair get his just deserts will lend credence to another dangerous, supra-national institution, the International Criminal Court - to which Blair signed us up. That would be poetic in a way but it is as dangerous to sovereignty as the EU Court of Justice and has far higher ambitions. If he is tried, he should be tried here.

Just to give a flavour of what the proponents of the ICC are about - there is a strong move to make "ecocide" and infractions against "climate change" measures justiciable before it.

Bob Doney said...

What about an "Al Capone" gambit? Like Al was done for tax offences, get Tony under the Theft Act - "obtaining pecuniary advantage by deception" would do nicely.

Curly said...

Getting Blair to court, and into prison will probably be , sadly, beyong the normal justice system. But he can be punished by us, the little people, by keeping the pressure on, daily, weekly, and yearly. 'Death by 1000 cuts' will bring the mass murderer Blair to his knees.