Yet another article has appeared about the mess that is the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Max Hastings, writing in the Daily Mail yesterday, described how our soldiers in Afghanistan feel that the continued conflict is pointless if there is no clear political strategy to resolve the situation.
The British army is overstretched, apparently at the behest of the USA. According to the article, our military badly needs to redeploy both normal troops and the SAS from Iraq to Afghanistan, but the US is unwilling to allow this to happen for political reasons. The Americans also appear to be making shameless use of the SAS.
So, let’s remind ourselves of how we got into this mess. At an informal meeting with Bush in 2002, Blair unilaterally committed this country to support the American invasion of Iraq. Without the support of Blair, Bush could not have pretended that he had a meaningful international coalition to invade Iraq.
Having made this promise, Blair needed to deliver. Intelligence material, rather than being used to inform policy making, was manipulated to fit around pre-determined decisions. This was summarised clearly by the then head of MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove, in the notorious leaked “Downing Street Memo”, in which he is quoted as saying that the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.
Following on from this came the September Dossier, which not only placed undue emphasis on the claim that WMD could be launched against British interests in 45 minutes, but also the fake intelligence that Saddam was trying to procure uranium from Niger. And finally, we had the Dodgy Dossier of February 2003, based largely on a 12 year old PhD thesis culled from the internet, but which also contained nuggets of raw intelligence from MI6. Interestingly, it has been established by the Foreign Affairs Select Committee in parliament that Blair did not have prior written permission from MI6 to publish this intelligence, which leaves him wide open to prosecution under Section 1(1) of the 1989 Official Secrets Act.
These are the false assertions that inexorably took this country to war. But even if these claims had been true, aggressive war is illegal under both international and British law. A raft of legislation prohibits our country engaging in any military action except in self-defence:
The General Treaty for the Renunciation of War (Kellogg-Briand Pact)
The United Nations Charter
The Nuremburg Judgment
The Nuremburg Principles
The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court
The UK’s International Criminal Court Act 2001
The Iraq and Afghan wars are unwinnable and illegal. It is time for the people of the UK to inform themselves of the laws of war and demand that they be upheld. We are all equal under the law – even the former Prime Minister. Every day we delay results in the deaths of more of our servicemen and of yet more innocent people in the Middle East.