Saturday, April 21, 2007
Should Blair be Tried as a War Criminal?
This question was posed to me by someone following my post yesterday on Blair's record. I'm no lawyer so what follows reflects merely my lay understanding, but it seems to me that given Blair was not in command on the ground in Iraq, such a charge would have to focus on the decision to go to war. From here on in one encounters a number of key questions.
i) As the decision was endorsed by Parliament is it not all those approving MPs who should face such charges?
ii)if i) above is not feasible then was Blair culpable of misleading Parliament?
iii) Arguably the September 2002('45 minutes') dossier was such a misrepresentation of Saddam's harbouring of WMD.
iv) Could it not be maintained in response to the above accusation that Blair was accepting, in good faith, what many other intelligence services throughout the world also accepted as the truth?
v) But, allowing for iv) above, did Blair massage intelligence which Lord Butler went on to describe only as 'thin and patchy' into something much firmer and apparently authoritative?
If it were down to me, on the basis of everything we know, especially Butler's damning report, I would argue the case against Blair under v) above is pretty solid and should/would have led to his resignation in more honourable times. Why did he(or rather his aides) massage the data? In order, we can only assume, to bring the UK into line with the US for the invasion which he must have known was going to happen.
Now such slavish obedience to the White House constitutes a grave political misjudgement, or even 'crime' by any standards- which should have put paid to his career in Downing St- but whether it constitutes a prima facie case for a charge of war crimes, under international law, I would very much doubt.
1. Where is this International Law?
2. Who wrote it?
3. When did I get a vote for it?
4. Who is the judge?
Blair is an incompetent. He should be charged for any of the following: robbing pensioners, selling peerages, destroying the constitution, or surrender of our sovreignty to our European enemies. But I think it would be wrong to criticise the man for possibly the only thing he has got right in his premiership.
1. International law is a body of rules affecting countries who ratify the relevant documents, e.g. the Geneva convention or the UN charter. It is not international because it binds all countries, but because it is law 'between nations' rather than within a single nation state.
2. Governments and their representatives.
3. At General elections. regarding that that existed before you could vote, such as the UN convention, you might as well claim that you are not British because you didn't vote for the ratification of the act of union. Take Kyoto-that was in the 1997 Labour manifesto.
4. Depends which particular law you are talking about.
However, since the decision to go to war is exercised by the monarch (as commander in chief), on advice from the Prime Minister, I would point out that Blair would be extremely difficult to prosecute. You would have to prosecute the Queen, and thereby the UK itself.
2. See above.
3. The British people have never endorsed this treaty. It is not realistic to claim democratic legitimacy for any action done by a Government. There was no distinctive mandate. It has no democratic legitimacy.
4. No law = no judge.
Back in the real world, the only people being prosecuted as a result of this war will be Saddam and his soon-to-be fellow corpses. May they burn in hell. After Iran is crushed, even the myopic left will stop looking to the busted UN and the faux-justice of "international law".
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