Britain above the Law

Tony Blair's Words Reveal Subverting of International Law and the United Nations Charter

The first pretext for attacking Iraq was patently false. Former British prime minister Tony Blair has come up with a new reason for joining with the United States in aggressing Iraq. The original pretext was that Iraq had weapons-of-mass-destruction; but Iraq was scoured from top to bottom by the occupiers, and there was no WMD to be found.

In an upcoming interview on BBC1 Blair was asked: “If you had known then that there were no WMDs, would you still have gone on?” ((See Riazat Butt and Richard Norton-Taylor, “Tony Blair admits: I would have invaded Iraq anyway,” Guardian, 12 December 2009.)) The question presumes that Blair did not know what he claimed to know. Can such a presumption be taken at all seriously?

It is unfair to focus solely on Blair given that he was openly chided as being Bush’s poodle.

If Bush and Blair were so sure of WMD being in Iraq, would Blair have needed to resort to a plagiarized dossier as evidence? Would chemical weapons expert David Kelly have been offed? ((Was it suicide or was it murder? See Tim Shipman, “Dr Kelly WAS murdered and there has to be a new inquest, say six top doctors,” Mail online, 5 December 2009.)) If Bush and Blair were so sure of WMD in Iraq, would Bush have seized on such flimsy false evidence as yellow cake from Niger? Would the Bush administration have needed to malign Ambassador Joseph Wilson and out his wife as a CIA operative?

The non-existence of WMD was not surprising given that UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter had stated that Iraq was “fundamentally disarmed.”

To the question Blair responded: “I would still have thought it right to remove him [Saddam Hussein].” Blair does not mention the means to the end of regime change: genocide. By 2007, the aggression-occupation had managed to tally over 1.2 million excess moralities in Iraq. ((See Newsroom, “More than 1,000,000 Iraqis murdered,” ORB, September 2007.)) One can deduce from Blair’s words and actions that he considers wreaking a genocide “right” to remove Hussein.

Blair attempts to justify the attack on Iraq as regime change. Blair claimed that Saddam Hussein was “a threat to the region.” However, regime change is not a legal ground for launching an attack on a sovereign country.

The United Kingdom is a founding member of the United Nations; in fact, it is a member of the Security Council charged with upholding international law and world peace. As a founding and ratifying member of the UN, the UK is beholden to the UN Charter.

The preamble to the UN Charter has as a raison d’être “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war” and UN member states are “to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained.”

Military action as self-defense is permitted under article 51, but otherwise UN Security Council authorization is required for military action. Blair and Bush knew this authorization was not forthcoming, and they launched the aggression anyway.

Even Kofi Annan, UN secretary general at the time, conceded: “…from the charter point of view, it [the attack on Iraq] was illegal.” It must have been very difficult for Annan to admit this since it brought the wrath of the US and UK down on him, and it also weakened the authority of the UN. How could UN Security Council Resolutions against Iraq and other nations be enforced when the UK and US blatantly violate the UN Charter and international law? It underscores that “justice” in the world is something meted out to weaker nations while militarily powerful nations are untouchable.

So egregious was the attack on Iraq that in Nuremberg legal terms it was deemed: “To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

Blair said the world is a better place with Saddam Hussein removed from power. ((See Riazat Butt and Richard Norton-Taylor, “Tony Blair admits: I would have invaded Iraq anyway,” Guardian, 12 December 2009.)) True or not, it is not for Blair and Bush to decide.

“When it comes to a decision like that, I think it is important that you take that decision as it were on the basis of what is right, because that is the only way to do it,” Blair said. ((See Riazat Butt and Richard Norton-Taylor, “Tony Blair admits: I would have invaded Iraq anyway,” Guardian, 12 December 2009.))

Is breaking international law the right thing to do? If Britain has such a right, do not other nation states have an equal right? (( “The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members.” — Article 2 of the UN Charter.)) Such pontificating by Blair points clearly to lawlessness. Certainly, there are bad laws, but are laws that protect the world’s peoples from the scourge of war bad? Moreover, Britain was a partner to the drawing up of the UN Charter and Nuremberg Law. In essence Britain is saying the laws it helped establish do not apply to itself.

Kim Petersen is an independent writer. He can be emailed at: kimohp at Read other articles by Kim.