Friday, November 27, 2009

The Iraq War Inquiry

Today Sir Jeremy Greenstock, Britain's ambassador to the UN from 1998 to 2003, was giving evidence to the inquiry on the decision to invade Iraq and the most interesting thing for the mass media appears to be his saying; "I regard our participation in the military action in Iraq in March 2003 as legal but of questionable legitimacy in that it did not have the democratically observable backing of the great majority of member states, or even perhaps of the majority of people inside the UK." Well, is this the beginning of a great media whitewash that will see the decision to go to war as legal and end up by arguing that it should, however, have had broader support?

Of course, the war was illegal and when Bush in his speech to the UN on September 12, 2002, described Saddam's regime as "a grave and gathering danger," that threatened the United States, there was absolutely no evidence to support this. which, of course, means that Chapter VII, Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, which allows for states to use force in self-defence, is not applicable here. Moreover, any attempt to envoke Article 42, which allows for "operations by air, sea, or land forces of Members of the United Nations" as an ultimate resort to enforce a UN resolution, is surely doomed by a number of factors despite the superficial appearance of legitimacy given to the crime by some of "Uncle Sam's" sychophants.

On the 24th of February, 2003 the US, the UK and Spain presented a draft resolution to the Security Council which declared that Iraq had failed to comply with UN resolution 1441, the supposed breach of international law which was used provided the sole "legal" basis to attack Iraq. However, the resolution was eventually withdrawn, with many countries in the UN, opposing it. Indeed, when Kofi Annan, the UN General Secretary, was asked outright if the war was illegal. He replied: "Yes, if you wish." He then added unequivocally: "I have indicated it was not in conformity with the UN charter. From our point of view and from the charter point of view it was illegal."

Of course, another point that we can only hope will be exploited at the inquiry is that both Bush and Blair knew that there were no weapons of mass destruction. On September the 18th 2002, . Bush was told by the CIA director, George Tenet, that, according to two former senior CIA officials, Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction. It was information that Bush "thought" worthless although in fact it was absolutely accurate. There is also evidence to suggest that Blair had similar information at least ten days before the invasion. Indeed, the late Robin Cook claimed that two weeks before Iraq was invaded Blair had privately conceded that Iraq had no usable WMD. 

Sir Jeremy Greenstock is right to say that the war did not have popular support. Nevertheless, that is no revelation and once again we have a British official and the mainstream media trying to whitewash what is a crime against humanity.  Washington and London tried to hijack international support to lend credibility to an illegal war, they then lied to convince the international community that this war was necessary and, finally, when their reason for going to war was directly undermined by real facts, they conveniently choose to ignore them. However, we should not rely on people like Jeremy Greenstock to have these criminals pulled in front of the ICC. The inquiry might, however, start to become interesting when the UN weapons inspectors themselves to deliver testimony.

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