War crime case against Tony Blair now rock-solid
Neil Clark: A trial would be warmly welcomed by millions – so what happens next?
By Neil Clark – December 14, 2009
Tony Blair’s extraordinary admission on Sunday to the BBC’s Fern Britton – that he would have gone to war to topple Saddam Hussein regardless of the issue of Iraq’s alleged WMDs – is sure to give fresh impetus to moves to prosecute our former prime minister for war crimes.
The case against Blair, strong enough before this latest comment, now appears rock solid. Going to war to change another country’s regime is prohibited by international law, while the Nuremburg judgment of 1946 laid down that “to initiate a war of aggression”, as Blair and Bush clearly did against Iraq, “is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole”.
Blair’s admission, that he “would still have thought it right to remove him [Saddam]” regardless of the WMD issue, is also an acknowledgement that he lied to the House of Commons on February 25, 2003, when he told MPs: “I detest his [Saddam’s] regime. But even now he [Saddam] can save it by complying with the UN’s demand. Even now, we are prepared to go the extra step to achieve disarmament peacefully. I do not want war… But disarmament peacefully can only happen with Saddam’s active co-operation.”
The view that Blair is a war criminal is now mainstream: when comedian Sandi Toksvig, host of Radio Four’s News Quiz, called him one on air, the BBC, according to the Mail on Sunday, did not receive a single complaint.
But while it is easy to label Blair a war criminal, what are the chances of him actually standing trial – and how could it be achieved? Various initiatives have already been launched.
The Blair War Crimes Foundation, set up by retired orthopaedic surgeon David Halpin, has organised an online petition, addressed to the President of the UN General Assembly and the UK Attorney General, which lists 14 specific complaints relating to the Iraq war, including “deceit and conspiracy for war, and providing false news to incite passions for war” and violations of the Geneva Conventions by the occupying powers.
The campaigning journalist George Monbiot, who attempted a citizen’s arrest of the former US Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, for his role in the Iraq war, said at the Hay Literary festival in 2008 that he would put up the first £100 of a bounty payable to the first person to attempt a non-violent citizen’s arrest of Blair.
Monbiot has also called for the setting up of national arrest committees in countries which, unlike Britain, have incorporated the ‘Crime.