Saturday, October 29, 2005

British Officer Declare Iraq Invasion Illegal

A British officer is facing court martial because, after two tours of Iraq, he has concluded it would be illegal to return. By John Pilger

An RAF officer is about to be tried before a military court for refusing to return to Iraq because the war is illegal. Malcolm Kendall-Smith is the first British officer to face criminal charges for challenging the legality of the invasion and occupation. He is not a conscientious objector; he has completed two tours in Iraq. When he came home the last time, he studied the reasons given for attacking Iraq and concluded he was breaking the law. His position is supported by international lawyers all over the world, not least by Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general, who said in September last year: "The US-led invasion of Iraq was an illegal act that contravened the UN Charter."

The question of legality deeply concerns the British military brass, who sought Tony Blair's assurance on the eve of the invasion, got it and, as they now know, were lied to. They are right to worry; Britain is a signatory to the treaty that set up the International Criminal Court, which draws its codes from the Geneva Conventions and the 1945 Nuremberg Charter. The latter is clear: "To initiate a war of aggression . . . 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."

At the Nuremberg trial of the Nazi leadership, counts one and two, "Conspiracy to wage aggressive war and waging aggressive war", refer to "the common plan or conspiracy". These are defined in the indictment as "the planning, preparation, initiation and waging of wars of aggression, which were also wars in violation of international treaties, agreements and assurances". A wealth of evidence is now available that George Bush, Blair and their advisers did just that. The leaked minutes from the infamous Downing Street meeting in July 2002 alone reveal that Blair and his war cabinet knew that it was illegal. The attack that followed, mounted against a defenceless country offering no threat to the US or Britain, has a precedent in Hitler's invasion of Sudetenland; the lies told to justify both are eerily similar.

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