Thursday, 18 December 2008

Troops Out

Much is being made of the (politician's) promise that our troops will be out of Iraq - less a few there to train Iraqi forces - by the end of July 2009. I would like to think that the euphoria will not distract attention from the real need that the Nation deserves to know just why we went there in the first place. Blair and Bush have wavered on this for longer than the forces have been in Iraq. Weapons of Mass Destruction? The only weapons of mass destruction have been Bush and Blair. 45 minutes from launching an assault - total lack of any supportive evidence. It seems to me that, other than Bush and his claim about The Voice Of God, they just settled on the excuse 'It Seemed a Good Idea At The Time'. Well, lads, I'm afraid that won't do although I would accept it if they in their turn accept that their trial in an International Court for war crimes also 'Seems A Good Idea Right Now' They are just as responsible for the deaths and destruction in Iraq as those Generals with unpronounceable names were in Bosnia.
Doubtless they would squeak and squirrel away about having made genuine mistakes based upon duff intelligence given to them. Well, they employed the givers and assessors of that evidence and must be responsible for their ability and performance. I cannot see much sympathy for the driver who mistakes accelerator for brake and ploughs down a column of school kids en route to school. So it is for them. There is sufficient prima-facie evidence; the senior member of the Attorney General's office who resigned. The rejection of the first opinion when the senior law adviser was sent away to form another more favourable conclusion. Even that was a lukewarm statement:

" I remain of the opinion that the safest legal course would be to secure the adoption of a further resolution to authorise the use of force.... Nevertheless, having regard to the information on the negotiating history which I have been given and to the arguments of the US Administration which I heard in Washington, I accept that a reasonable case can be made that resolution 1441 is capable in principle of reviving the authorisation in 678 without a further resolution"

That further resolution was not sought despite it being identified as a 'safe legal course' . On the basis of what he was told, he accepts that there is a reasonable case ........ Blair chose not to accept the safe legal course - reckless at the least. Criminally reckless where the action he wanted was sure to result in loss of life. We now have reason to doubt what he was told so that destroys the basis for his secondary and grudging go ahead. He describes it as a 'reasonable case'. Not, notice, a stone cold certaintity. The final opinion given almost under duress needs to be revisited in the light of the true situation as it was when he gave it. There is further documentation for the AG's study. The Downing Street Memo. The "Downing Street memo" sometimes described by critics of the Iraq War as the "smoking gun memo", is the note of a secret 23 July 2002 meeting of senior United Kingdom Labour government, defence and intelligence figures discussing the build-up to the war, which included direct references to classified United States policy of the time. The memo recorded the head of MI6 as expressing the view following his recent visit to Washington that "Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." It also quoted Foreign Secretary Jack Straw as saying that it was clear that Bush had "made up his mind" to take military action but that "the case was thin", and the Attorney-General Lord Goldsmith as warning that justifying the invasion on legal grounds would be difficult.

Blair has wormed his way into a strong diplomatic rank but no man is so superior that he cannot be brought to trial. And, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands killed and those families and dependants whose lives have been ruined, that is what should happen to him. And Bush as a joint conspirator.

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