Blog

  • Why I Attempted to Arrest Tony Blair by Tom Grundy

    posted by Keito
    2012-09-04 21:29:12
    'In June, I attempted a citizen's arrest of Tony Blair for crimes against peace as he was about to present a speech at Hong Kong University about faith. It seems particularly dubious for the ex-British Prime Minister to address the subject of religion, as he has done so much to enrage the Muslim world and thus set back religious tolerance by decades.

    My confrontation with Blair came during the deadliest week of violence in Iraq since the US pull-out, and a day after the International Criminal Court prosecutor asked judges to hand down their first sentence to a fellow war-criminal, Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga. All current ICC investigations and prosecutions are related to African nations, yet Mr Blair's status as an ex-Western leader does not exempt him from its founding Rome Statue, to which Britain is a signatory.

    Some will find the comparison absurd but there is little moral difference when the products of their respective leaderships were mass human rights violations against civilian populations. Blair has requested that people “move on” from the Iraq War yet, with documented civilian deaths now totalling at least 107,013, leading QC Michael Mansfield has confirmed that there now appears to be enough evidence to trigger an ICC investigation. Legally, the type of weaponry deployed in the war (depleted uranium and cluster bombs) can be described as ‘indiscriminate’, thus making him liable for mass civilian causalities.

    As I put to Blair personally, he is answerable to the sixth 1950 Nuremburg Principle which forbids ‘wars of aggression’ and gave rise to the Rome Statute – I also stated that he defied articles 31 and 51 of the UN charter. Leaked Downing Street memos from 2002 reveal his determination to follow the US into Iraq despite knowing his government would be violating the two aforementioned UN articles which would permit an invasion. In fact, the later discredited evidence of Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction was irrelevant to Blair as he admitted during the 2009 Chilcot Inquiry that he would have attacked Iraq regardless as to whether such WMDs were discovered.

    Blair responded to the charges I put to him by joking to his audience how he’s “used to” such protests and how “that’s democracy for you.” I do not know whether he believes the incident showcased freedom of speech or whether he was lamenting such political rights, but Britons will be familiar with the erosion of civil liberties he bought about in the UK. His Orwellian legacy leaves fewer effective options remaining in the activist’s toolbox. Neither the coalition nor the opposition harbour much political appetite for a domestic criminal investigation, I therefore encourage members of the public to heed journalist George Monbiot’s call to challenge Blair directly and pursue peaceful citizen’s arrests against him.

    My own attempt turned out to be the least controversial thing I’d ever done – the public seemed unified across comment sections and social networks, from the left and right, that there is a strong case against him. However, he continues to travel freely around the world earning millions as head of a complex, opaque mix of political, business and philanthropic ventures. He commands huge sums from the financial industry and even accepted £13million to advise brutal Kazakh autocrat Nursultan Nazarbayev.

    It was improbable that Hong Kong police would uphold local law and frogmarch the ex-PM to The Hague, but there has been some success in renewing awareness of the outstanding legal questions. One day, it is hoped the charges will stick and he may finally find himself in court. In the meantime, it is important that the pressure is maintained, that the media spotlight is constant and that Mr Blair rightly continues to feel the threat of prosecution wherever he goes.'

    https://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/09/02-5
  • Desmond Tutu: War based on lies polarised the world to a greater extent than any other conflict in history. Has the potential for terrorist attacks decreased?

    posted by Keito
    2012-09-02 17:07:26
    'Why I had no choice but to spurn Tony Blair.

    I couldn't sit with someone who justified the invasion of Iraq with a lie.

    The immorality of the United States and Great Britain's decision to invade Iraq in 2003, premised on the lie that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, has destabilised and polarised the world to a greater extent than any other conflict in history.

    Instead of recognising that the world we lived in, with increasingly sophisticated communications, transportations and weapons systems necessitated sophisticated leadership that would bring the global family together, the then-leaders of the US and UK fabricated the grounds to behave like playground bullies and drive us further apart. They have driven us to the edge of a precipice where we now stand – with the spectre of Syria and Iran before us.

    If leaders may lie, then who should tell the truth? Days before George W Bush and Tony Blair ordered the invasion of Iraq, I called the White House and spoke to Condoleezza Rice, who was then national security adviser, to urge that United Nations weapons inspectors be given more time to confirm or deny the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Should they be able to confirm finding such weapons, I argued, dismantling the threat would have the support of virtually the entire world. Ms Rice demurred, saying there was too much risk and the president would not postpone any longer.

    On what grounds do we decide that Robert Mugabe should go the International Criminal Court, Tony Blair should join the international speakers' circuit, bin Laden should be assassinated, but Iraq should be invaded, not because it possesses weapons of mass destruction, as Mr Bush's chief supporter, Mr Blair, confessed last week, but in order to get rid of Saddam Hussein?

    The cost of the decision to rid Iraq of its by-all-accounts despotic and murderous leader has been staggering, beginning in Iraq itself. Last year, an average of 6.5 people died there each day in suicide attacks and vehicle bombs, according to the Iraqi Body Count project. More than 110,000 Iraqis have died in the conflict since 2003 and millions have been displaced. By the end of last year, nearly 4,500 American soldiers had been killed and more than 32,000 wounded.

    On these grounds alone, in a consistent world, those responsible for this suffering and loss of life should be treading the same path as some of their African and Asian peers who have been made to answer for their actions in the Hague.

    But even greater costs have been exacted beyond the killing fields, in the hardened hearts and minds of members of the human family across the world.

    Has the potential for terrorist attacks decreased? To what extent have we succeeded in bringing the so-called Muslim and Judeo-Christian worlds closer together, in sowing the seeds of understanding and hope?

    Leadership and morality are indivisible. Good leaders are the custodians of morality. The question is not whether Saddam Hussein was good or bad or how many of his people he massacred. The point is that Mr Bush and Mr Blair should not have allowed themselves to stoop to his immoral level.

    If it is acceptable for leaders to take drastic action on the basis of a lie, without an acknowledgement or an apology when they are found out, what should we teach our children?

    My appeal to Mr Blair is not to talk about leadership, but to demonstrate it. You are a member of our family, God's family. You are made for goodness, for honesty, for morality, for love; so are our brothers and sisters in Iraq, in the US, in Syria, in Israel and Iran.

    I did not deem it appropriate to have this discussion at the Discovery Invest Leadership Summit in Johannesburg last week. As the date drew nearer, I felt an increasingly profound sense of discomfort about attending a summit on "leadership" with Mr Blair. I extend my humblest and sincerest apologies to Discovery, the summit organisers, the speakers and delegates for the lateness of my decision not to attend.'

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/sep/02/desmond-tutu-tony-blair-iraq