Friday, November 27, 2009

Iraq war legitimacy 'questionable' says ex-diplomat.

The Chilcot inquiry today heard from Sir Jeremy Greenstock, the UK's ambassador to the UN in 2003, who stated that although he did not think the Iraq war would be proven to be illegal, even he thought it was of "questionable legitimacy" as it was not supported by a majority of the UN or even a majority of UK citizens.

Asked about the legality of the war, he said there were different opinions and that a "final and conclusive" verdict was never likely to be made.

But he added: "If you do something internationally that the majority of UN member states think is wrong, illegitimate or politically unjustifiable, you are taking a risk in my view."

"I regarded our participation in the military action against Iraq in March 2003 as legal but of questionable legitimacy in that it did not have the democratically observable backing of a great majority of member states or even perhaps of a majority of people inside the UK.

"There was a failure to establish legitimacy although I think we successfully established legality in the the degree, at least, that we were never challenged in the UN or International Court of Justice for those actions."

So, the fact that the decision to go to war was never challenged at the UN or at the International Court of Justice is going to be used to argue that the invasion was not actually illegal.

This is exactly the problem with the Obama administration refusing to prosecute the Bush regime for torture; in future, other Republicans - Hell bent on taking part in barbarous practices - will quote the fact that Obama has not prosecuted Bush and Co. as proof that torture is not illegal.

Greenstock's evidence came after yesterday's revelations by Sir Christopher Meyer, where he stated that the US decision to invade Iraq - which Blair had agreed with - precluded any findings on the ground.

In other words, a decision was made to invade, and the UK was left, as Meyer stated, looking "for a smoking gun" in order to justify a decision which had already been made.

He attacked the UK-backed process of weapons inspections in the run-up to the war, saying officials had been forced to scramble for a "smoking gun" while US troops gathered.

"The key problem was to let the military strategy wag the diplomatic and political strategy. It should have been the other way round," he said.

It's very much as those of us opposed to the war at the time suspected, nothing Saddam could have done would have prevented the invasion. Bush wanted to go in and was going to do so no matter what the UN or Saddam or anyone else did about it.

Scott Ritter:

In short, Saddam had been found guilty of possessing WMD, and his sentence had been passed down by Washington and London void of any hard evidence that such weapons, or even related programmes, even existed. The sentence meted out – regime termination – mandated such a massive deployment of troops and material that all but the wilfully blind or intentionally ignorant had to know by the early autumn of 2002 that war with Iraq was inevitable. One simply does not initiate the movement of hundreds of thousands of troops, thousands of armoured vehicles and aircraft, and dozens of ships on a whim or to reinforce an idle threat.

President George Bush was able to disguise his blatant militarism behind the false sincerity of his ally Blair and his own secretary of state, Colin Powell. The president's task was made far easier given the role of useful idiot played by much of the mainstream media in the US and Britain, where reporters and editors alike dutifully repeated both the hyped-up charges levied against Iraq and the false pretensions that a diplomatic solution was being sought.

The tragic final act of the farce directed by Bush and Blair was the theatre of war justification known as UN weapons inspections. Having played the WMD card so forcefully in an effort to justify war with Iraq, the US (and by extension, Britain) were compelled once again to revisit the issue of disarmament. But the reality was that disarming Iraq was the furthest thing from the mind of either Bush or Blair. The decision to use military force to overthrow Saddam was made by these two leaders independent of any proof that Iraq was in possession of weapons of mass destruction. Having found Iraq guilty, the last thing those who were positioning themselves for war wanted was to re-engage a process that not only had failed to uncover any evidence Iraq's retention of WMD in the past, but was actually positioned to produce fact-based evidence that would either contradict or significantly weaken the case for war already endorsed by Bush and Blair.

Bush and Blair were always going to remove Saddam; and the entire UN process, whilst useful for Blair politically, was never going to give them what they wanted, as they had no proof to back up their claims.

That's why they wanted the UN inspectors pulled out so quickly, because the more they searched, the more they undermined Bush and Blair's case.

It's interesting now to hear that some of the people who were at the time the public face of that war (from the British perspective) - Greenstock, Meyer, - were actually having doubts of their own at the way the build-up to that war was being handled.

That's always going to be the problem with making a decision to go to war and then searching for reasons to justify that war.


Ritter hits the nail on the head:
There is a big difference between searching for a "smoking gun" and searching for the truth. By ignoring and/or undermining the work of the UN weapons inspectors in the lead-up to the war with Iraq, British officials demonstrated that they were not interested in the truth about Iraqi WMD, a fact that testimony provided by the likes of Sir Christopher Meyer alludes to, but falls short of actually stating.
Bush and others condemned the UN inspectors because they were undermining their case for war. That fact alone should tell us that Bush and the neo-cons had decided that Iraq was going to be invaded no matter what.

They claim now to have genuinely believed that Saddam had WMD, but they arrived at this conclusion without any proof. And any time the UN inspectors were failing to find what they wanted found, they blamed the inspectors rather than their basic assumption.

They were never looking for the truth, they were looking for reasons to invade, which is why this war was fought on totally false premises. If that's not enough to make this war illegal then I don't know what is.

Click here for full article.

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