Thursday, 4 February 2010

So The Iraq War Was Illegal

The most senior Foreign Office lawyer at the time of the invasion of Iraq said that he had considered the Iraq war to be illegal because it had not been authorised by the United Nations. Sir Michael Wood said
"I considered that the use of force against Iraq in March 2003 was contrary to international law.
He also made plain that he consistently over two years advised both Blair and Straw direct that the war would be illegal.

In potentially explosive testimony to the otherwise rather tame Iraq Inquiry, Sir Michael Wood also told how Jack Straw, then Foreign Secretary, had told the Americans he was "entirely comfortable" to be making the case for military action a year before the invasion eventually took place. That runs counter to Mr Straw's own evidence to the inquiry last week, when he insisted that he had only "very reluctantly" supported the war.

His deputy, Elizabeth Wilmshurst said "In my opinion, that use of force had not been authorised by the Security Council, and had no legal basis in international law." Ms Wilmshurst became the only British civil servant to quit over the war when she resigned days before the first attacks on Iraq, telling her superiors that an invasion without UN sanction would be a "crime of aggression".

Craig Murray quotes Tony Blair "You would be hard pressed to find anyone who in September 2002 doubted that Saddam had WMD". Craig argues that it wouldn't have been that hard. "If he had asked members of the Near East and North Africa Department of the FCO, the Middle East experts in the FCO's Research Analysts, or in the Defence Intelligence Service, he would have found absolutely no shortage of people who doubted it, whatever position No 10 was forcing on their institutions."

He goes on to say "One of the many failures of this Inquiry has been a failure to ask individual witnesses before it whether they personally had believed in the existence of any significant Iraqi WMD programme. I know for certain that would have drawn some extremely enlightening answers from among the FCO and probably MOD participants."

Craig goes on to make an interesting point about the "government spends a very great deal of public money on employing a whole cadre of the best public international lawyers in the world, but takes its legal advice on matters of war and peace from a shifty barrister mate of Tony Blair." He lists some publications from Sir Michael, and contrasts this with Lord Goldsmith who has no 'internationally accepted publications on international law'. 'The decision whether to go to war is a political question. But the legal advice should come from the most qualified source, not the source most likely to agree with the Prime Minister.'

That Blairs Cabinet are now saying they were not informed of the opinion of Sir Michael, just given a summary of Lord Goldsmith, says plenty about Labours methods.

Craig Murray was British Ambassador to Uzbekistan from August 2002 to October 2004. He found Western support for the dictatorial Karimov regime in Uzbekistan unconscionable and spoke out about what was happening, particularly torture and human rights abuses. Murray was subsequently removed from his ambassadorial post on October 14, 2004.

No comments: