Friday, May 06, 2005


Read Juan Cole. Now.

Secret British Memo Shows Bush Tampered with Iraq Intelligence


It is even worse. British Attorney-General Lord Goldsmith was at the meeting. He had to think up a justification for the war in international law. Britain is in Europe, and Europe takes international law seriously. You could have war crimes trials. (Remember that Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet almost got tried in Spain for killing 5000 people in the 1970s).

Goldsmith was as nervous as a cat in a roomful of rocking chairs: "The Attorney-General said that the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action. There were three possible legal bases: self-defence, humanitarian intervention, or UNSC authorisation. The first and second could not be the base in this case. Relying on UNSCR 1205 of three years ago would be difficult. The situation might of course change."

The driness of the wit is unbearable. "The desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action"! Naked aggression is illegal, he could have said. Then he reviews the three possible grounds for a war. You could have a war if Iraq attacked you. Iraq had not attacked the US. Or you could have a war if it was a humanitarian intervention (e.g. under the genocide convention). But Saddam's major campaigns of death had been a decade before. Or you could get a United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing the war, in accordance with the UN charter. But Goldsmith makes it clear he thought you would need a new resolution, that the old ones wouldn't work for this purpose.

The Attorney General of the United Kingdom thought the reports Dearlove and Straw were bringing back from Washington reeked of an illegal war. People who plan out illegal wars are war criminals. He knew this. He was stuck, however. They were all stuck.

The man from Connecticut with the Crawford ranch had decided to cut down some trees. And they were all hostages in his guest house and he was going to put chain saws in their hands and make them help, whether they liked it or not. Goldsmith's hands trembled as he reached out for the chainsaw rig. He saw himself and the others sitting in the Hague, one day, facing the same judges that Milosevic harangued. Charged.

But it is a long way from Crawford to the Hague. The man from Connecticut with the cowboy boots and the fake twang would get away with it. They would all get away with it.

But people would know they had lied.
It will be harder and harder for all but the Koolaid-drinkingest of Koolaid drinkers to continue to ignore the stench as public knowledge of - and utter disgust with - Bush's illegal war grows. The only reason it didn't sink him last year was because the press was still in cheerleader mode. Tony Blair did not enjoy that coddling - the British press can fairly and accurately be described as carnivorous - but he had a decent record in other areas (unlike Bush) and a relatively weak opponent (unlike Bush). You need all 3 things - a gelded press, a poor record, and a weak opponent - to escape being charged with crimes of war.

But it's coming for Bush. Oh yes, it's coming. No wonder he hates the very idea of the International Criminal Court.
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