A senior British law lord, former Lord Chief Justice Lord Bingham, stated yesterday in a speech at the British Institute of International and Comparative Law in London that the decision to go to war in Iraq in 2003 was “a serious violation of international law”.
Lord Bingham’s comments were made in reference to the Parliamentary statement made by the then Attorney-General, Lord Goldsmith, that existing UN resolutions justified the decision to resort to force against Iraq, due to the fact that this country had violated the terms of Resplution 1441 (November 2002). This resolution stated that Iraq was in material breach of the ceasefire terms under Resoluton 687, relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction, long-range missiles and the refusal to compensate Kuwait for the looting after the invasion of 1991.
However, at the time, the inspection teams led by Hans Blix had found absolutely nothing incriminating and were continuing their work in the field. Iraq had no WMD. Secondly, Resolution 1441 stated clearly that the UN Security Council would “remain seized of the matter” in the event of material breach (which in the event did not exist) and in any case, the basic precept of the UN Charter declares that decisions to go to war must necessarily pass by the UNSC.
Moreover, why did the USA in particular apply so much pressure to Member States of the Council to back a decision to go to war if it was not necessary? Why did Tony Blair, the then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, declare that they were working on a second and separate Resolution?
And where is the legality of attacking civilian targets with military hardware? Where is the legality of dropping cluster bombs in residential areas? Is it legal to beat prisoners? Is it legal to torture people? Is it legal to set dogs on detainees? Is it legal to kidnap and take people to he held in concentration camps without the right to due legal process? Is it legal to force prisoners to stay awake through shining lights in their faces and playing loud music day and night?
Is it legal to urinate in their food? Is it legal to force someone to consume what he would not normally eat due to his religion or culture? Is it legal to rape female detainees? Is waterboarding legal? Is it legal to wire up a prisoner’s testicles? Is it legal to deny a prisoner access to sanitary installations?
Is it legal to force prisoners to strip naked and lie in pyramids on the floor? Is it legal to kick them on the ground? Is it legal to shoot wounded prisoners of war? Is it legal to deny access to medical treatment? Is it legal to strafe civilian areas with artillery fire? Is it legal to target hospitals and hotels?
Is it legal to destroy a country’s water supply with weaponry? Is it legal to destroy the gas and electricity supply lines? Is it legal to dole out contracts to cronies without tender?
Is it legal to massacre hundreds of thousands of people or create the conditions for this to take place? Is it legal to enter and damage property in a sovereign nation after an unlawful invasion?
The fundamental law governing the case was very clearly defined in this column months before this hideous breach of international law was purposefully and wilfully committed by the regimes in the USA and UK.*
However, the American and British governments, joined by a sickening clique of snivelling yellow-bellied cowardly sycophants whose heart was not in it but who were too gutless and spineless to say no, pressed ahead. The precepts of international law exist to be adhered to, not to be broken. Therefore the perpetrators of this illegal act of butchery, this stain on the collective conscience of Mankind must be brought before a court of law and justice must be done, if we do not want future generations to deride us for what we are collectively showing ourselves to be.
Unlike their detainees, these criminals should have access to due legal process. The interrogators of Donald Rumsfeld might like to “waterboard” him just for him to see what it is like and George W. Bush might be tried under a legal system which allows the capital penalty of hanging. After all, here is a man who callously signed 152 death warrants (Saddam Hussein signed 148).
Or shall we all accept once and for all that international law in fact does not exist, that the whole UN thing is a sham, that Faculties of law vomit forth nothing other than simpletons and gutless whimps who are high and mighty when bullying a young divorcee but utterly useless when it matters, and that the international community is incapable of making an important statement at the begging of the Third Millenium, which the mass murderers and war criminals of this world have already sullied?