Tutu Slams Tony Blair for Illegal Iraq War, boycotts Leadership Conference

South African Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu made waves by refusing to attend the recent Discovery Invest Leadership Summit in Johannesburg because of the presence of former British prime minister Tony Blair. His reasoning? Blair is a war criminal because of his support for and participation in the 2003 George W. Bush invasion and occupation of Iraq. Tutu is tired of African leaders being dragged off to special courts or the International Criminal Court for trial on charges of having committed crimes against humanity, while white European leaders get a pass.

Tutu is right that there should be accountability for illegal wars, because otherwise they legitimize aggression. The architects of the Iraq War in the United States are now glomming onto Mitt Romney in hopes of maneuvering themselves into a position to get up a war on Iran. That they got away scott free with their earlier atrocities has only whetted their appetites.

The leadership conference did go on, and Blair addressed it, defending himself on the Iraq War, saying that even if there had not been weapons of mass destruction, Saddam Hussein had been a brutal dictator who killed thousands and used poison gas against his own people, and now he is gone; what, he asked, is wrong with that result? Blair’s self-defense, despite the accuracy of his charges against Saddam Hussein, is ethically and legally weak, since it takes the form of an “the ends justify the means” argument. Ironically, al-Qaeda, Blair’s arch-enemy, argues the same way in justification of its killing. One of the ugliest points Blair made in self-defense was that Iraq’s gross domestic product is now three times what it was in the late Saddam period. But Blair and the US and other UNSC members had engineered an economic blockade of Iraq that threw its economy down into fourth-world levels, so it had been Blair who set the low baseline that he said his invasion and occupation improved on! All that happened was that the invaders lifted their sanctions! Blair was paid thousands of dollars to attend the conference; if Tutu had gone, he would have spoken gratis.

Blair’s attorney general, Lord Peter Goldsmith, reasoned that an attack on Iraq in the absence of an explicit UN Security Council resolution allowing it was very possibly illegal in international law, and might expose British cabinet members to prosecution in European courts. He admitted of a grey area, because of the first UNSC resolution demanding Iraq reveal its WMD. Blair unethically connived at keeping his cabinet members in the dark about Goldsmith’s reservations, according to Alastair Campbell. That is, Tutu is right that Blair had legal advice that what he was about to do was very likely illegal, and he did it anyway.

But Tutu seems to have been especially angered by Blair’s 2010 admission that he would have invaded Iraq even if he had known that it possessed no chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. Many observers took this admission as a sign that Blair actually did know that the WMD case had been weak, and that he was advocating might makes right, opening him to charges of war crimes.

British law professor Philippe Sands points out that if you look at the International Criminal Court’s web site’s listing of defendants, they are largely African. We are confronting a world, he says, reminiscent of nineteenth-century French novelist Honoré de Balzac’s observation that laws are “spider webs through which the big flies pass and the little ones get caught.” He argues that international law will only really advance when the playing field is leveled.

Tutu’s observations are very much of a piece with Sands’s. He argues that Blair went to war against Iraq on fabricated false pretenses, since there were no Iraqi “weapons of mass destruction,” and he implies that Blair knew this to be the case before the war was actually launched. He tells the story of how he called then US National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice in early March, 2003, urging that United Nations inspectors be allowed to do their job before hostilities were initiated. Bush, Blair and the UN had demanded that the weapons inspectors be sent back in under Hans Blix. They were admitted, in February. The CIA gave them a list of 600 suspected weapons sites. They got through 100 by early March and had found nothing. Zero, zilch, nada. It was clear that if they were allowed to complete the list of 600, the casus belli or cause for war trumpeted by Bush and Blair would evaporate.

Tutu says that in response to his request that the weapons inspectors be given a chance, ” Ms Rice demurred, saying there was too much risk and the president would not postpone any longer.” Bush pulled the inspectors out and went to war.

There was, of course, no risk at all from ramshackle, beaten-down Iraq. The risk was that Bush’s shaky coalition of the willing to commit war crimes might falter or fall apart if he didn’t immediately launch a Blitzkrieg.

Tutu’s charge is that the Iraq War was a crime against humanity because it was a “fabricated” war, with no legitimate or moral casus belli, which resulted in massive deaths of Iraqis, their displacement in the millions, and continued instability in Iraq and in the region. Tutu even lays the blame for the current instability in Syria at Blair’s doorstep.

Tutu is careful to quote only the most conservative estimates of Iraqi deaths deriving from the Anglo-American war and occupation, saying 110,000 died. It likely was a much larger number, several hundred thousand. Since about 3 times the number of people are typically severely wounded as killed in such conflicts, some 300,000 to a million Iraqis likely lost limbs or suffered long term cognitive and other damage. A lot of the killed were men, forcing their widows and orphans into penury, and even sometimes sex work. Although Blair in his defense cited the Iraqis who died under Saddam, likely the US and Britain were responsible for similar numbers of Iraqi deaths.

Tutu is arguing from the black South African experience. South Africa suffered British conquest and colonialism, and then white Apartheid under the racist National Party (mainly an Afrikaaner institution, but more British whites passively supported it than would later admit to having done so).

Tutu, unlike a lot of South African intellectuals to whom I have spoken or whom I have read, is not a believer in absolute state sovereignty. He does believe that there are regimes so awful that they cry out for United Nations intervention, and he once said he would support a UN intervention against the dictatorship of Robert Mugabe in neighboring Zimbabwe.

I presume that part of Tutu’s charge against Blair is that he did not secure a UN Security Council resolution for war against Iraq, in the absence of which going to war is illegal in the post WW II international legal framework. If so, Tutu would have done us a favor by saying so. (This lack of a legal framework for war was one of the reasons I opposed the invasion of Iraq.)

I have long advocated that the criminal actions of Bush, of his vice president Richard Bruce Cheney, and of other high officials, be investigated. Bill Clinton was impeached for a fib about fellatio, but taking the US into an illegal war was treated with impunity.

The only thing I’d differ with in Archbishop Tutu’s argument against Blair is that probably the instability in Syria is not very related to the Iraq War. People in Syria were tired of Baath dictatorship and Bashar al-Assad pushed them into armed struggle. Most of those fighting al-Assad were opposed to the Anglo-American invasion and occupation of Iraq.

48 Responses

  1. I nearly choked on my breakfast when I read that part of Blair’s defence was that Iraq was now a wealthier country than it was under Saddam – but then our Tony does have a real affection for the folding stuff, so I shouldn’t really have been surprised. I choked, too, as I was reading it on my way home from a trip to Norway – a truly civilised country.

  2. On this morning’s news I heard Tutu called for both Bush and Blair to be indicted by the World Court…… Ah, American politics. Rise to the top, become Secretary of State, or President, and once out of office you can’t travel anywhere outside the country because you may be arrested….. A good trend, in fact. Too bad Pinochet escaped Garzon’s clutches…..

    • Unfortunately, US law provides specifically for military(!) intervention whenever an American is indicted and brought to trial for war crimes in The Hague.

  3. “The architects of the Iraq War in the United States are now glomming onto Mitt Romney in hopes of maneuvering themselves into a position to get up a war on Iran. That they got away scott free with their earlier atrocities has only whetted their appetites.”

    I don’t know about you guys but I found the bellicosity at the convention really shocking…….

  4. Juan, you say, “If so, Tutu would have done us a favor by saying so.”

    From Oliver Wright in the Independent:

    ‘Archbishop Tutu has long been a critic of Mr Blair’s stance on Iraq – even before the invasion.

    In 2003 the archbishop said Mr Blair’s support for the Bush administration was “mind-boggling”. “I have a great deal of time for your Prime Minister, but I’m shocked to see a powerful country use its power frequently, unilaterally,” he said.’

    I couldn’t find Wright’s source for the quote from Tutu in 2003.

  5. It’s impossible to believe that Saddam Hussein could have killed 110,000 Iraqis between 2003 and 2007. And that’s what we’re talking about: how to fix international problems with the LEAST NUMBER OF PEOPLE maimed and killed. That is also the basis of a non-interventionist foreign policy. Aggression, meddling or humanitarian intervention by another state is more likely to inflame internal conflict and cause more death than not.

    • Having the least number of people killed should be the goal. But non-interventionism, following international law, self-determination, sovereignty, toppling tyrants– none of these are perfect guidelines for attaining the goal of minimizing killing. Humanitarians need to be flexible.

    • It’s impossible to believe that Saddam Hussein could have killed 110,000 Iraqis between 2003 and 2007.

      Or at any point after 1992, when he was thoroughly contained. There was no way his government could have conducted another Anfal Campaign even if it wanted to.

      That is also the basis of a non-interventionist foreign policy. Aggression, meddling or humanitarian intervention by another state is more likely to inflame internal conflict and cause more death than not.

      I suppose this is true, if we are only able to evaluate intervention in the aggregate and come up with an average, but why would we do that? Why would we act like libertarians, who discuss “economic intervention” in the abstract, as some sort of undifferentiated mass, alike in every root and branch, instead of looking at the specifics of individual interventions into particular situations?

      The French intervention into the American Revolution surely didn’t cost more lives. Nor did the American intervention against Japan as it was devouring China. Nor did the American intervention into the war between Germany and Britain. Nor did the Vietnamese intervention into Cambodia, deposing the Khmer Rouge.

      • But, to use the Republicans favorite term: it’s a slippery slope. There are exceptions to the rule, but the rule should be non-intervention. The UN and whole international order are predicated on non-intervention and respect of sovereignty. That was the lesson coming out of the urber-destruction of the World Wars. In Japan, Germany/Britain, the US was not the aggressor. I don’t remember if the Khmer Rouge invaded Vietnam first, but even if they didn’t, crushing Pol Pot was certainly appropriate. (good example of exception) The American Revolution was a different era.

        • During the time of Vietnamese occupation of Cambodia, Cambodia’s seat at the UN was kept for Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. There was international condemnation of Vietnam and widespread refusal to recognize the new government of Cambodia. This was an example of a failure of the international legal framework.

        • I’m not sure how slippery the slope is, but I more-or-less agree with the notion that non-intervention is a rebuttable presumption. The burden of proof falls on those who want to intervene, and they have a high bar to clear.

          Anyway, at least you consider looking at the specific facts of individual situations as the appropriate way to answer the question. There are too many people, both hawks and doves, who seem to think that they only need to know that there is a possible American military action in order to know exactly what their opinion is.

        • Knee-jerk reactions from both sides, unfortunately, is the order of the day. As Clint implied, they are all clowns.

  6. Archbishop Tutu is one of my heroes, and I’m so glad you devoted a long blog post to what he said.

    I have long felt that the Bush/Blair war of aggression needs to be seen in the longer context of unprincipled Western policy vis-a-vis Iraq. The Reagan administration (and Bush I up to the invasion of Kuwait) coddled Saddam at a time when he was at his worst, i.e., invading Iran, using chemical weapons against the Kurds, etc.

    He was (indirectly) supplied with weapons, was supplied with tactical battlefield information about Iranian troop movements, was given access to US agricultural credits (to buy grain more easily so he could keep his own population “happy” during the long war of attrition against Iran), and the Reagan admin. gave him diplomatic cover at the UN to conceal his use of chemical weapons. They even glossed over Iraq’s attack on a US navy ship (the USS Stark) in 1987, which killed three dozen sailors (could you imagine what the US would do today if an Iranian plane attacked a US Ship??). Only when it was convenient for the US and the West did they turn against Saddam, but from then on he was “properly vilified.”

  7. I guess that Archbishop Tutu wouldn’t be too happy if Senator Kerry would become the next US Secretary of State.

    CNN, August 10, 2004
    Kerry stands by ‘yes’ vote on Iraq war
    Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry said Monday he would not have changed his vote to authorize the war against Iraq, but said he would have handled things “very differently” from President Bush.

    Bush’s campaign has challenged Kerry to give a yes-or-no answer about whether he stood by the October 2002 vote which gave Bush authority to use military force against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

    The question of going to war in Iraq has become a major issue on the campaign trail, especially in light of the fact that no weapons of mass destruction have been found there.

    • Not sure where you’re trying to go with this.

      If it’s to point out the political cowardice of John Kerry, I would agree.

      If it’s a variation of “But Mom! The other kids did it too!”, I’d say that wasn’t a valid excuse when I was 8 and it hasn’t improved any with age.

    • As a Christian, Tutu would not doubt recognize Kerry’s admission of his error and his subsequent effort to make amends, and forgive him.

      The idea that genuine penitents should be forgiven and welcomed back into the good graces of the church is one of the more admirable elements of Christian ethics, and one that others would do well to adopt.

  8. If, in 2003, there had been rational concerns that Iraq had WMD, then the increasing evidence of absence revealed by the inspectors should have triggered a rational re-examination of those concerns. But, rather than startle the political establishment (and the mass media), this evidence was an annoying reality that had to be smothered.

    An easy smothering tactic was to denigrate the UN. Claims of UN incompetence are readily accepted by the US public and the politicians. But feeding our blood lust vengeance for 9/11 was the most effective way to trivialize the inspection results. At the time we collectively wanted Arab blood (Taliban blood was too vague to satisfy our lust).

    As much as it didn’t matter that the inspectors were making fools of our intelligence agencies, it also didn’t matter that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. Bush and his court will never be tried for war crimes because they swam in a sea with millions of co-conspirators.

  9. To be rather pedantic it isn’t correct to refer to Lord Goldsmith as Lord Peter Goldsmith, that is the style of the son of a peer who doesn’t have a more specific courtesy title. Goldsmith is a life peer in his own right so Lord Goldsmith would be correct as would Peter Goldsmith, Lord Goldsmith or just Goldsmith.

    The thing is if you accept that overthrowing a tyrant for tyranny is sometimes justified then you have to accept that it is possible to honestly disagree whether it is justified on a specific occasion. Even by comparison with other third world dictators Saddam had a horrible human rights record. For Blair at least the real reason for the war was moral, the WMD was more an attempt to garner a little extra support for an action he believed morally justified in itself.

    The sanctions were an attempt to pressure Iraq into complying with the terms of the ceasefire at the end of the Gulf War. The alternatives while Iraq was non-compliant, were either giving, or direct military action. Neither were attractive options.

    ICC charges have been disproportionately brought against Africans as the wars which provide the context in which war crimes occur have disproportionately taken place in Africa. Even in Iraq where there was a western force involved the atrocities were overwhelmingly carried out by the anti-western forces. Where, such as in former Yugoslavia, war crimes have been committed in Europe they have been prosecuted as such.

    I’m not sure that you can really blame Britain for that much in South Africa, the second Boer war ended in 1902, South Africa became a dominion in 1910, direct rule in Transvaal and Orange Free State had lasted just eight years. Britain was understandably disinclined to provoke the Boers further.

    • Prior to the Iraq War, there was an effort at the UN – led by Colin Powell – to improve the sanctions regime, to make it both more effective and more humane. Given the status and respect the U.S. had in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, Bush could have surely made this happen if he’d put the weight of American prestige behind it.

      But he didn’t, because he didn’t want the sanctions regime to work. He was determined to have a war.

  10. Where are these assholes coming from? I originally thought, stupidly I might add, that these type of “conservatives” were limited to America, but now I see, there is a worldwide movement going on. Honestly, what is there beef with the Middle East; they obviously don’t care what happens to the people there.

  11. Just to point out how weak Iraq was in 2003:

    I was flying my third Operation Northern Watch tour out of Turkey in late 2002.

    The Iraqi Air Force had on any given day perhaps 10 flyable aircraft. Of those 10, they might have launched 2 or 3 training sorties on that day. If they were feeling really frisky they might actually send one up towards the no-fly zone to see if we were paying attention.

    There would normally be a Marine EA-6 fragged to Northern Watch and another down south with Southern Watch. One day, by pure coincidence, they both turned their jammers on at the same time. This shut down the entire Iraqi air defense network.

    When we invaded in 2003 they sortied exactly zero aircraft. None. With the country being invaded and the very existence of the regime at risk they didn’t even put a single MiG in the air.

    That’s how “grave and gathering” a threat they were in 2003.

    • Indeed, the Iraqi defensive strength was built up on this side so that there would be no doubt how dangerous and capable they were! Deep in the neocon and Bush/Rovian universe they manufactured this “reality” in order to have the congressional approval to use force. The consequent billions or as some have suggested trillions in treasure and as much or more in blood was not, it seems, enough an argument against these outright cruel and inhumane lies-both for us the citizens and for those on the receiving end of the Bush/Blair and company’s wrath. Tutu has once again shown courage. Imagine a world were we had a genuine body that could prosecute ALL who commit crimes against humanity no matter the national origin!

  12. It is to the shame of this country that if you believe in law and justice you are doomed to frustration. On the one hand the prison industry lobbies mightily to ensure that drugs stay illegal to boost prison populations. People for benign infractions such as smoking marijuana end up in jail while those who destroy entire countries enjoy book deals, speaking engagements, and meters of column space in prominent newspapers (just what the hell is Henry Kissinger, architect of the Chilean debacle inter alia, still doing on the Washington Post’s op ed?).

    A war of aggression is illegal according to the Nuremburg Principles, because from that all other crimes stem. Yes, Bush, Cheney, and many others, including Rove, Addington, Feith, Yoo, and a host of such creatures (and I would include several propagandists in the press – remember Goebbels would not have been immune from prosecution but for his suicide) should be on trial for enabling what happened. There should be a truth commission.

    But the maudlin sentimentality of the ruling elite and a sheepish public will prohibit it. (“Oh goodness me, we can’t put the country through that”, and nevermind what we put Iraq through). In ancient Athens one of their most honored men, Miltiades, the victorious general at Marathon, was later in his career brought into court when he was ill on a stretcher to answer charges of peculation. Cimon, Aristeides the Just – their greatest men were famously as subject to justice as any other member of the polis. Now that is democracy; that is accountability. But on a very real level, that we ourselves do not bring Bush & Co. to book does not matter, since Nuremburg stipulates that a country’s internal law is irrelevant.

    You can quibble about whether principle Via was violated, but there is no doubt that principle VIb, which specifically prohibits ill treatment of the civilian population and prisoners in custody of the parties of war, as well as prohibiting the wanton destruction of cities, villages, and property private and public. (Remember the destruction of Iraq’s archaeological patrimony in favor of the defense of the oil ministry? Remember the destruction of Fallujah? Remember women refugees who had to flee to Syria and live through prostitution?)

    But let’s be honest – if we applied Nuremburg to American presidents, who, from Harry Truman on down, would escape the docket? In a just world, in a true democracy with accountability, this is as it should be. Nixon should have gone to the Hague for Cambodia (and while we’re at it, why not for Chile and Laos too); Reagan for – well, a half dozen or so countries he gobbled up before lunch (El Slavador and Nicaragua for starts); Bush I for the specious invasion of Panama and the enormous civilian casualties (relatively speaking) in its course; Clinton for his little Sudan adventure; Obama for his arrogation of dictatorial powers that allow him sans trial to execute American citizens (okay, maybe just impeachment for that one) and his trigger-happy use of drones in general. This is not about partisanship; this is about men who disturb the peace of the world on dubious pretexts. And in the process they drain resources away from teaching our children, cleaning our air, curing cancer, maintaining our roads, and a host of other things that would make for a better world and shovel them into the insatiable maw of their greedy friends in the energy, finance, and war industries.

    In 1967 Martin Luther King called the U.S. the greatest purveyor of violence in the world, and warned that if there were not a movement to end it then and there, the U.S. would maintain its position as such. He was tragically prophetic.

    • Agreed. I think Carter tried to do a gentle wake up call in his July 15, 1979 address to the nation-the speech later referred to as the “malaise” speech. His context was the rising energy costs, but it captured our fundamental blind spots rather well. Reagan, of course, used this to win the presidency-we are still paying for it!

    • Obama for his arrogation of dictatorial powers that allow him sans trial to execute American citizens (okay, maybe just impeachment for that one) and his trigger-happy use of drones in general.

      The use of force by the United States against al Qaeda is as clear-cut an example of legitimate self defense under the UN Charter as could possibly be imagined.

  13. “The leadership conference did go on, and Blair addressed it, defending himself on the Iraq War, saying that even if there had not been weapons of mass destruction, Saddam Hussein had been a brutal dictator who killed thousands and used poison gas against his own people, and now he is gone; what, he asked, is wrong with that result?”

    Supporters of the invasion of Iraq tend to forget that the invasion put an end to two murderous regimes – Saddam’s and the U.S./U.K. sanctions regime. Considering that we could have ended one of those genocidal regimes without an invasion and refused to do so should tell us how much Bush and Blair cared about humanitarian issues. I wonder to what extent those sanctions might have strengthened Saddam by making the populace more dependent on the state for survival.

  14. Juan:
    “more British whites passively supported it than would later admit to having done so”
    – I think you mean that more English speaking white South Africans supported apartheid passively than would later admit to. However few of these were British citizens. Of course the British government in the 1980s under Margaret Thatcher _actively_ supported the apartheid government of South Africa, as did the USA government under Ronald Reagan. They applied a policy devised by Chester Crocker, known as constructive engagement, which resulted in many more years of suffering and deaths by black South Africans (and neighbouring countries, who they subjected to proxy wars) than if they had applied the sanctions that Tutu was calling for. To his credit Blair did support sanctions against apartheid at the time.

    “Tutu would have done us a favor by saying so.”
    – Tutu would have done us a favour if he had gone to the conference and performed a citizen’s arrest of Blair.

    “Brett Cheney”
    – I think you mean Dick Cheney.

    Brett Dunbar:
    “For Blair at least the real reason for the war was moral”
    – well he has always sought to make a moral justification, but it is unlikely that this was a _reason_ he supported Bush. If he acted on his morals then this was possibly the first and last time that he did so. Blair is the consumate pragmatic politician.

  15. The last “white” guys to be called to account for war crimes were Nazis at Nuremburg, which apparently doesn’t count as any kind of precedent!

    • Among those Nazi war criminals was Luftwaffe Commander Alexander Löhr, whose war crime was the bombing of the city of Belgrade which killed between 5,000 to 10,000. The fire bombers of Dresden and Tokyo and the nuclear bombers of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were heroes – Löhr was hung.

      War crimes are only committed by the losing side.

      • Luftwaffe aircraft conducted “terror bombing” raids.

        RAF aircraft “de-housed the work force”.

        Actual British terminology from the period.

  16. I am confused why anyone is writing about WMD in Iraq, as Paul Wolfowitz has already told us that WMD was a marketing ploy to garner support for the invasion of Iraq.

    Further, Paul O,Neil told us that the invasion of Iraq was the primary issue discussed at Bush II’s first National Security Council meeting in March (?) 2001.

    As for Iraqi deaths, I still think that the Johns Hopkins epidemiologists got it right with their estimate of 400,000 to 900,000+ as of 2006.

    I find it interesting some are quick to indict many (all) US presidents without mentioning Putin and a Chinese president or premier or two.

  17. The oft-repeated lie by Bush and Blair that they did not know that Saddam Hussein did not possess Weapons of Mass Destruction must be shown for what it is. Apart from the reports of the inspectors that they had not discovered any WMD, the so-called “Downing Street Memo”, which came to light in May 2005, clearly shows that Blair knew that Bush was manipulating the truth in his determined build-up to the invasion of Iraq as early as 2002. The memo summarized a meeting of Blair and his top defense and intelligence aides that had taken place on July 23, 2002, more than a year before the start of the invasion. It reported the head of the British foreign intelligence service, MI6, who had just returned from Washington after meeting with top US government and intelligence officials, saying: “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.”
    If Blair possessed any facts about Iraqi WMD he did not need to fabricate the “Dodgy Dossier”.
    Worse still for Goldsmith’s argument that the first Security Council 1441 justified the invasion of Iraq, the British ambassador at the United Nations, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, who was one of the main architects of the resolution, told the council when it was being voted on:
    “We heard loud and clear the concerns about ‘automaticity’ and ‘hidden triggers’ – the concern that on a decision so crucial we should not rush into military action; that on a decision so crucial any Iraqi violations should be discussed by the Security Council.
    Let me be equally clear in response, as a co-sponsor with the United States of the text we have just adopted. There is no ‘automaticity’ in this resolution. If there is a further Iraqi breach of its disarmament obligations, the matter will return to the Council for discussion as required by paragraph 12.”
    Despite great efforts, Bush and Blair failed to get a second resolution. Therefore, the invasion of Iraq was morally and legally wrong.

  18. Ahh, the International Criminal Court.

    Only last week Hilary Clinton in her usual arrogant and hypocritical style ‘mentioned several situations that are under ICC jurisdiction, such as Libya, Laurent Gbagbo of Cote d’Ivoire, and Joseph Kony of the Lord’s Resistance Army. Notably, she mentioned the International Criminal Court when she described how the Administration was acting on its commitment to the prevention of genocide and atrocities.

    But of course the US Administration’s ‘commitment to the prevention of genocide and atrocities’ does not extend to allowing its own officials and citizens to be indicted. At least to the credit of the UK Bliar could face prosecution.

  19. It is 7:00 am and I just turned off the radio. The NPR station had reported actions taken at several points in the country to remove Muslims from holding positions in public institutions and of legislation being proposed at various state levels to prohibit sharia law. This is how it begins. This is how we confined dark-skinned people to certain areas of the city. This is how we interred Japanese-Americans to defined and barren geographical areas.

    If NPR gave 2, maybe 3 minutes to the topic today, by November it will be one of the leading topics of national discussion leading up to the election. We will be well on our way to war internally and abroad.

    We can’t do this again!

  20. If one must indulge one more time in explaining Blair’s (and Bush’s with his Junta) indefensibility, the first thing to mention would be the Downing Street Memos, the line: “… but the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy” Has faded into oblivion. Even Pofessor Cole forgot about it. These memos are available for all to see:
    link to downingstreetmemo.com

  21. Thank you Archbishop Tutu for taking a principled stand. Obama would be way out in front if he had just attempted to hold those who created, cherry picked and disseminated false WMD intelligence ACCOUNTABLE. No one in the U.S. believes it when any of our leaders say NO ONE IS ABOVE THE LAW. As a nation as the world watched congress hold a President accountable for lying under oath about blow jobs and then watched congress allow an administration get away with an intelligence snowjob that resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths, injuries and millions displaced. No need to wonder why the U.S. is often the laughing stock of the world and why only 9% of U.S. citizens have any faith in our Reps and for that matter in the Obama administration on the issue of ACCOUNTABILITY

    • Obama would be way out in front if he had just attempted to hold those who created, cherry picked and disseminated false WMD intelligence ACCOUNTABLE.

      He’s certainly held the politically accountable, but under what legal theory would spinning intelligence about WMDs in a dishonest manner be legally actionable? Is there a law against politicians lying to the public?

      • Read “Dereliction of Duty” by H.R.McMaster about lead up to Vietnam 1960-1964.

  22. The only thing I’d differ with in Archbishop Tutu’s argument against Blair is that probably the instability in Syria is not very related to the Iraq War. People in Syria were tired of Baath dictatorship and Bashar al-Assad pushed them into armed struggle. Most of those fighting al-Assad were opposed to the Anglo-American invasion and occupation of Iraq.

    Indeed. If one was to attribute the uprising in Syria to the Iraq War, one would also have to attribute the similar, contemporary uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and throughout the Arab world to the Iraq War. That is to say, to attribute the uprising in Syria to the Iraq War is to accept the Bush administration’s claim that the invasion of Iraq would cause an outbreak of democratic reform in the region. I remain as skeptical of this argument in 2012 as I was in 2003.

    • Cause and Effect can be slippery. Because I have had oatmeal every morning for the past ten years we have seen an Arab Spring.

      I wouldn’t say the US destruction of Iraq didn’t have some impact on the region and Syria in particular.

      I would venture that the Arab world in general appears to be pushing for real change after 60+ years of aggravating events and circumstances, one of which has been US/Western intervention in more and less subtle ways.

    • There is perhaps an argument to be made that with a solid Iraq, Iran would be too busy watching its neighbour to support Al-Assad. It’s definitely a stretch, though.

  23. It would be rather hard to prosecute Blair in any event. Aggression, the only charge that could realistically be brought against him, is not as yet indictable before the ICC and even when that is ratified it will not be retroactive. Even if it were indictable he has a defence as he had received advice that the war was legal, either way it was marginal.

    The various atrocities were mainly committed by the various groups fighting the occupation forces. You can’t rationally prosecute someone for actions committed by their enemies which they are actively trying to prevent.

    It would be rather difficult to establish any direct link between him and the events at Abu Gharib sufficient to make a prosecution have any likelihood of success.

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