Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Steyn says Iraq War illegal and Inquiry should conclude that

Witnesses giving evidence to a panel chaired by Sir John Chilcot suggested that the US did not give enough thought to what should happen when fighting stopped.
Sir Peter Ricketts, the chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee at the time of the invasion and later the first British ambassador to Iraq in 13 years, and Edward Chaplin OBE, appeared at the public hearings.
Sir Peter said the US did not "put a great deal of thought" into what should happen after the war until Autumn 2002.
Mr Chaplin said the UK wanted a consensus that the United Nations should take charge when fighting finished but this was a "real blindspot" for the Americans.

The above is from Ruth Barnett's "UK Warned Bush Over Iraq War 'Optimism'" (Sky News -- link has text and video). The Iraq Inquiry continues in England. David Manning was the witness yesterday. Jason Beattie (Daily Mirror) emphasizes, "Tony Blair ordered the MoD to draw up secret invasion plans for Iraq NINE MONTHS before action started, the war inquiry heard yesterday. Sir David Manning, Mr Blair's former policy adviser, said the former PM asked the Ministry of Defence to prepare a 20,000-strong force in June 2002." Kevin Schofield (Daily Record) also leads with the "almost nine months before the invasion" hook. Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian) zooms in on the Crawford Ranch meet up between Tony Blair and Bully Boy Bush:

Manning recalled the meeting between the two leaders at Crawford, Bush's Texas ranch, in April 2002. "I look back at Crawford as the moment that he [Blair] was saying, yes, there is a route through this that is an international, peaceful one and it is through the UN, but if it doesn't work, we will be willing to undertake regime change," Manning said.
The issue is crucial because Blair was warned at the time by Lord Goldsmith, the attorney general, and other legal advisers that going to war with regime change as the objective was unlawful and breached the UN charter.
Manning was not questioned by the Chilcot inquiry about a previously leaked document in which Manning told Blair a month earlier that he had underlined Britain's position to Condoleezza Rice, Bush's national security adviser. "I said you [Blair] would not budge in your support for regime change but you had to manage a press, a parliament, and a public opinion which is very different than anything in the States," Manning wrote.

Iran's Press TV hits both of those notes as well:

By June of that year Tony Blair had asked for military options, the former ambassador said.
This is while during the time, Blair was warned by attorney general Lord Goldsmith and other legal advisers, that going to war with regime change as the objective was unlawful and breached the UN charter.
In response, Blair banned the attorney general from attending cabinet meetings.
Sir David also told the inquiry that former US President George Bush told Blair days after the 9/11 attacks that there could be a link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda.
The inquiry however found last week that British intelligence had no evidence of any connection between the Iraqi regime and al-Qaeda.

The most interesting report or commentary this morning is Johan Steyn's "Invading Iraq was not just a disaster: it was illegal" (Financial Times of London) which advocates for the inquiry to release an interim report issuing a finding "on the legality of the Iraq war". Steyn writes, "I would expect the inquiry to conclude -- in agreement with Kofi Annan, former secretary-general of the United Nations -- that in the absence of a second UN resolution authorising invasion, it was illegal." Today's witnesses are Edward Chaplin and Peter Ricketts. BBC reports Chaplin is offering testimony decrying what he sees as a lack of post-war planning by the US.

In other news, BBC reports that British MP Keith Vaz is calling on the UK Home Office to stop deporting Iraqis back to Iraq: "His call comes after Iraq officials turned back a flight on 15 October saying the refugees would be killed if they returned to Baghdad."

Tonight Barry O gives his speech at West Point. Hopefully once he does all the apologist and minimizers will either crawl in holes or wake the hell up. Yes, that includes a 'reporter' at the Boston Globe but it mainly includes the tattered remnants of the left. It's awfully lonely out here for those of us who want the illegal wars ended and don't intend to provide cover to War Hawks regardless of their party identification. (Lonely? Maybe we should just see it as a highly exclusive club and be glad that so much riff-raff has decided to whore for the Democratic Party? By the way, Isaiah has a comic that will go up tonight, FYI. After the speech starts.) The day after you inherit wealth or debt, you can say, "Well I inherited it." 11 months after? It's yours. Good or bad, you own it. Especially when you continue it. Bush is out of office. Bush is not the problem today. The one continuing the wars is Barack Obama. That's your War Hawk, that's where the protests need to be aimed today. Mia notes Cindy Sheehan's "You Get What you Vote For!" (Information Clearing House):

The so-called anti-war movement currently finds itself in somewhat of a quagmire: What to do when the man you raised money for, volunteered for, and yes, even voted for, actually fulfills one of his most repulsive campaign promises?
First of all, I never understood why, or how, peace people could support someone who voted to pay for the wars while he was a Senator and was quite clear on the fact that he would increase violence in Afghanistan and perform a slow, painful and very incomplete withdrawal from Iraq. Principles that were proclaimed so loudly while Bush was president get shoved aside and buried now that a Democrat is president and how do you get your principles back from the dung-pile of selling out?
Secondly, On January 23rd of a rapidly dissipating 2009, Barack Obama perpetrated his first war crime (as president) by authorizing a drone attack in Pakistan. In February of this same year, he ordered an increase of roughly 20,000 more troops to Afghanistan: more war crimes, no corresponding outcry. However, when I cried out, I was roundly attacked by the “left” for not giving Obama a “chance.” 2009 is going to be the most deadly year for our troops and Afghan and Pakistani civilians on record. I think George Bush is calling: he wants his Nobel Peace Prize back.
It is being widely reported (and it seems hotly anticipated by some)—that even though the “anti-war” movement wrote a letter to Obama and asked him to “pretty please” not send any more troops to Afghanistan and had us calling the White House all day on Monday the 23rd when Obama was scheduled to hold his final “war summit"—that the U.S. will commit 34,000 more troops to Afghanistan which is a 50 percent increase in troop strength in the Land of Certain Empire Death.
What is the “anti-war” movement's response going to be? Candlelight vigils; “honk if you love peace” rallies; a hundred rounds of “We Shall Over Come" (someday, not today or tomorrow); or, is the “anti-war” movement going to say: “Phew, McChrystal asked for 80,000, but our letter worked—he's only sending 34,000?”

James Cogan (WSWS) reports on the stalemate regarding the once-upon time intended January elections in Iraq (which were supposed to take place in December):

Changes made last Monday to Iraq’s election law have inflamed the sectarian and ethnic animosities fomented by the US occupation since the 2003 invasion. The dominant Shiite-based and Kurdish nationalist parties used their majority in the parliament to ram through legislation that increases the number of seats in areas they expect to win, at the expense of those with a majority Sunni population.
The original legislation was passed on November 8, after months of delay and intense pressure from Washington on the various Iraqi factions to reach an agreement. Constitutionally, the election has to be held by the end of January. Following the ballot, providing a stable government can be quickly formed, the US military plans to begin withdrawing up to eight combat brigades from Iraq, freeing up forces for the deployment of thousands of additional troops to Afghanistan.
The law's revision is widely blamed on the decision of vice-president Tariq al-Hashemi, a leader of the Sunni-based Iraqi Islamic Party (IIP), to veto the original legislation. Hashemi sent the law back to parliament on November 18 on the grounds that it discriminated against the Iraqis -- many of them Sunni -- who have fled to Syria, Jordan and other Middle Eastern states since the US invasion in 2003.

Today Reuters finally gets around to reporting on Monday's violence: 1 man shot dead in Rabia and three others wounded (it was an attack on Yazidis -- Reuters says the assailants were also Yazidis), 1 Iraqi army Col shot dead in Kirkuk, an attack on a Garma checkpoint which left three guards injured and Hawija hand grenade wounded eleven people. Remember that just because they call "stop the presses!" doesn't mean the deaths stop.

The Bat Segundo Show (radio show) is back online with new programs:

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richard norton-taylor
the guardian