[OPE] After the Iraq war was fought and the regime toppled, the war is now admitted to have been illegal...

From: Jurriaan Bendien <adsl675281@telfort.nl>
Date: Sun Nov 29 2009 - 14:54:06 EST

The UK Mail on Sunday disclosed that Attorney General Lord Goldsmith wrote a
letter to Mr Blair in July 2002 - a full eight months before the war -
telling him that deposing Saddam Hussein was a blatant breach of
international law. It was intended to make Mr Blair call off the invasion,
but he ignored it. Instead, a panicking Mr Blair issued instructions to gag
Lord Goldsmith, banned him from attending Cabinet meetings and ordered a
cover-up to stop the public finding out. He even concealed the bombshell
information from his own Cabinet (...) Lord Goldsmith set out in
uncompromising terms why he believed war was illegal. He pointed out that:

- War could not be justified purely on the grounds of 'regime change'.
- Although United Nations rules permitted 'military intervention on the
basis of self-defence', they did not apply in this case because Britain was
not under threat from Iraq.
- While the UN allowed 'humanitarian intervention' in certain instances,
that too was not relevant to Iraq.
- It would be very hard to rely on earlier UN resolutions in the Nineties
approving the use of force against Saddam.

Lord Goldsmith ended his letter by saying 'the situation might change' -
although in legal terms, it never did. The letter caused pandemonium in
Downing Street. Mr Blair was furious. No10 told Lord Goldsmith he should
never have put his views on paper, and he was not to do so again unless told
to by Mr Blair. The reason was simple: if it became public, Lord Goldsmith's
letter could make it impossible for Mr Blair to fulfil his secret pledge to
back Mr Bush in any circumstances. More importantly, it could never be
expunged from the record as copies were stored in No. 10 and in the Attorney
General's office.

Subsequently, however, Lord Goldsmith said in a written parliamentary answer
that the authority to use force against Iraq stemmed from the combined
effect of resolutions 678, 687 and 1441. Lord Goldsmith stated: "All of
these resolutions were adopted under chapter VII of the UN charter which
allows the use of force for the express purpose of restoring international
peace and security."
http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2003/mar/17/foreignpolicy.uk2 In other
words he did a 180 degree turn in the argument. What kind of morality is

The point there is that the law was just "interpreted" in a way to be
conducive to state policy. If this can be done on the most critical question
of peace and war, one may be forgiven for thinking that the law is an ass.
Since Mr Bush and Mr Blair both said publicly "History will prove the
decision we made to go to war to be the right decision", this creates the
dillemma that if perchance they were proved right, international law must be
wrong, and that it is okay to be above the law. Of course, saying that
"history will prove me right" is a let-out clause, because you don't know
how long you have to wait for the proof to come, and in the meantime you
don't have to provide any proof. Which is just to say "history" has nothing
to do with it, one is merely absolving oneself with a "don't know".

Should the International Court of Justice eventually rule that the war was
indeed illegal, Iraqis can sue many countries for damages. As Noam Chomsky
put it, "we wrecked that country". It could be a hefty price tag. UN
Secretary Kofi Annan said in September 2004 that: "From our point of view
and the UN Charter point of view, it was illegal."
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3661134.stm (for the range of legal
arguments, see e.g. http://www.robincmiller.com/ir-legal.htm ).

The greatest moral obscenity of the war however was that the reasons
provided for why the war was being staged meandered from one "media theme"
to another as time went by. But by the time world leaders do not even know
anymore themselves why they are fighting a war, we are dealing with truly
massive confusion. Can you have any confidence in these people?

Mr Bush pontificated many times about "infinite justice"... while
politicians were bribed to support the war. Well, let "infinite justice" be


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Received on Sun Nov 29 14:55:48 2009

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