.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Rewriting history

The level of obfuscation, spin and downright deceit coming from Ministers about the reasons for going to war in Iraq is becoming unbearable. Now the Foreign Secretary is expecting us to believe that the possibility that Saddam Hussein might have weapons of mass destruction which could be deployed against Britain within 45 minutes was a side issue, an 'irrelevance':

Ministers were facing questions tonight after Margaret Beckett, the Foreign Secretary, appeared to accept that a key claim over Iraq's weapons capability was in doubt before the 2003 invasion.

Mrs Beckett said the assertion that Saddam Hussein could launch weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes of an order had not been repeated in Parliament because people were "not sure" it was true.

She said that the claim - originally included in Downing Street's controversial September 2002 dossier making the case for war - was considered "irrelevant".

The Foreign Secretary said: "That was a statement that was made once and it was thought to be of such little relevance - and perhaps people began quickly to think, 'I'm not sure about that' - it was never used once in all the debates in the House of Commons."

She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the Government had not placed much emphasis on the claim, although it made headlines in many newspapers.

This is not my recollection nor that of many tens of thousands of people. It is one of the factors in the collapse of public trust in the Prime Minister. The reason it appeared in all the newspapers of course is because the Government made damned sure that it would. Whatever the reasons given now for the war, and irrespective of its outcome, there is no doubt that it was sold to the British public on the basis of an imminent threat to western civilisation.

We may have got rid of a nasty dictator but there are many more out there we are apparently not concerned with. Even the justification of regime change does not stand up to scrutiny when measured against objective criteria and the actions of the USA and Britain subsequently. The only possible explanation for Bush's actions is strategic self-interest. Margaret Beckett must think we were born yesterday.

Hat Tip: Dave Weeden
> the justification of regime change
is shameless. The UN charter forbids such action against a sovereign state. This is why such an elaborate case against Iraq for possessing strategic chemical and nuclear weapons was built up.

Now that the case has been exposed as bogus by professionals in both US and British intelligence, Mrs Beckett appears to be blaiming the media for hyping it up. She conveniently forgets the bias in the first official dossier on the subject, not to mention the massive steer which was given to journalists in unofficial briefings. Praise the Radio 4 news programmes for exposing this attempt to rewrite history.

- Frank Little
The UN Charter has many virtues. That is not to say it's perfect. Why should regime change be forbidden in all cases? Aren't there some regimes that are so repugnant (and Saddam's Iraq was certainly that) that regime change is morally justified? Isn't the mass murder of its own citizens sufficient cause to decide that regime change is the only way to go?
Praise Radio 4? You must be kidding.

Praise Gilligan - described as an unsatisfactory witness by the Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee? Praise the BBC, who put so much pressure on Susan Watts to corroborate Gilligan that she hired her own lawyer?

felt the BBC was trying to mold my stories so they reached the same conclusions [as Gilligan] . . . which I felt was misguided and false.

- Susan Watts.

Praise the supremely pompous John Humphries?

Tell you what. You want to praise them but I don't. You want to pay for them, I don't. The answer's simple.

Let me choose whether I pay for the BBC without a threat of legal action and possible imprisonment for non-payment of licence fee. Put your convictions where your mouth is and allow people in the UK to choose whether or not to support the BBC financially.

Does it ever strike you that a state broadcaster, paid for by a regressive tax, is as absurd as a state-run newspaper for which we're all obliged to fork out 50p per day? Would you put up with that?
No Anonymous. Article 2(4) of The United Nations Charter explicitly forbids Regime Change:

"All Members shall refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or POLITICAL INDEPENDENCE of any state, or in any manner inconsitent with the purposes of the United Nation."


The two internationally recognised exceptions apply:

1. The inherent right to self defence. (As authorised under Article 51).

2. A Chapter VII Enforcement Action authorised by the Security Council.

There is a growing number of States worldwide that advocate including a third exception – that of Humanitarian Intervention. That would have been much easier to swallow, however, no effort was made to justify the war on these grounds. Indeed, it would have been far easier to justify on the grounds of Humanitarian Intervention since the precedent had already been set – by, inter alia, NATO intervention in Kosovo.

But of course, we were misled instead………………
I didn't doubt what the UN Charter said; I questioned whether it was right.

It seems pretty plain that a UN Charter that doesn't allow Humanitarian Intervention is somewhat less than perfect. Most states represented in the UN are not democracies. Frankly, the idea that Sadam Hussein should be protected by a clearly imperfect Charter in some pseudo legalistic way is a bit rich.

But then we all seem to forget what a truly odious regime Sadam ran in our headlong rush to demonise our own flawed, mistaken but ultimately much better leaders.
The point here however, is that even though Article 2(4) explicitly forbids regime change, it can be authorised, by the Security Council, under a Chapter VII Enforcement Action (exception to the 2(4) rule).

So it would seem that the problem isn't with the Charter itself but more with the apparent weakness of the Security Council and its regular inability to reach agreement on Resolutions authorising the use of force.

Having said that, the adoption of a third exception of Humanitarian Intervention would circumvent such apparent weakness in the Security Council and thus authorise Member States or groups of Member States i.e. NATO, to legally act in order to prevent an atrocity.

So on balance Anonymous, your argument that the UN Charter in its current form is less than perfect would seem to hold water.
Our minds have met!
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?