Thursday, January 28, 2010

I Hate The War

We're hours away from War Criminal Tony Blair facing the Iraq Inquiry in London. What will he say? What will it mean?

The Inquiry, for those paying attention, has provided a wealth of resources. And something's get missed. Or get set aside in order to cover other issues.

Peter Goldsmith appeared before the Inquiry on Wednesday. His testimony should have received a lot more scrutiny.

Not only did he screw up the timeline repeatedly (2003 is not 2002) but he also attempted to avoid answering questions. What he would do, when given a direct question he didn't want to answer, was to take it in another direction. In doing so, he often made statements he may not have intended to make.

Let's go back to before the Iraq War started.

When we look back now, we know that the US didn't want a second resolution. We pretty much knew that in real time. But we know it and we know that England (at least publicly) would prefer one.

Great Britain and the US were allies. They would invade Iraq together (Australia and other countries participated as well).

What you had between the two countries was a difference of opinion.

So England pursued a second resolution or at least seriously looked into it and the US, against the resolution, used the time to plan (such as it was).

That's the popular narrative.

That narrative got exploded when Goldsmith testified.

A number of people don't seem to grasp what Goldsmith said.

Popular narrative: US didn't want a second resolution, wasn't going to fight for one.

But what Goldsmith said takes it in another direction.

The popular narrative allows the British government to do as they indicated they were doing: Pursue a second resolution.

But Goldsmith testified Wednesday that it wasn't just that the US didn't want it. The US government based their legal approach (set aside whether it was legal or not) on the 'legal' opinion that UN Resolution 1441 (granting the power for inspectors to go back into Iraq) was all that was necessary for the start of war on Iraq. In addition, Goldsmith testified that the US didn't want a second resolution, couldn't accept one, because of their legal opinion. Going back to the UN for a second resolution risked hemming in the US legal opinion.

If they went and got a resolution with conditions, that could hem the US in. If they went and were shot down (as most believed they would be), then the US government's assertion that a second resolution wasn't needed to start a war would have been exposed as the lie it was.

The US didn't just not want a second resolution, they couldn't afford one. If there was one -- one passed or one rejected -- it revealed the legal opinion wasn't sound and opened up a whole set of issues that the Bush administration didn't want to deal with.

What does this mean?

It means Tony Blair was never serious about a second resolution -- despite his claims otherwise.

If the US just didn't want to get one, Tony could work to get one. Fine and dandy. US doesn't want anchovies on the pizza but Tony does so he can order his own pizza and we're all well and good.

But the US was basing its entire legal strategy on the premise that the first resolution was all that was needed.

It is known and accepted that Bush was determined to go to war with Iraq in 2002 and was not going to be stopped short of death putting him in the ground.

If you grasp that and you grasp that the legal argument was that 1441 allows the US to go to war, then you should be able to grasp that the US government did not want Tony Blair pursuing a second resolution. There's no way. Tony cannot go for it. He knows it, the US knows it.

And Goldsmith may very well know it. He didn't speak to France why? He had a number of excuses and lies but the most plausible reason is because the US didn't want him to. (Which is the subtext of his testimony.) They don't want note comparisons with the French government, they don't want anything that will undermine their legal position. So Goldsmith doesn't speak to the French. That's the best possible explanation. (And his reasons for refusing to speak to the French, remember, was greeted with disbelief by the Chair John Chilcot and Committee Member Roderic Lyne. Goldsmith wouldn't even allow anyone to communicate through diplomatic channels. It made no sense unless you factor in that Blair's cabinet grasped they couldn't risk the US legal position.)

Goldsmith agreed with other lawyers originally: Without a second resolution, the Iraq War would be illegal.

In his testimony, he made very clear that Tony Blair, Jack Straw and others didn't want to hear it.

Best possible reason why that was? Because they already knew that a second resolution would weaken the US legal position and they weren't going to risk that.

Instead, they pressured the British legal advisors to go along with the American logic.

And eventually, Goldsmith did.

And there's even confusion about why he did that.

He spoke to the Americans!

Uh, he did speak to the Americans but that's not why he changed his mind according to his testimony on Wednesday.

Well, can I answer this way, and I know I'm moving forward, but at that point that I took the view -- and I'll explain why -- that I had actually to come down on one side of the argument or other, I used a test which I quite frequently use when I'm having to advise on difficult matters, which is to say "Which side of the argument would you prefer to be on?" and I took the view I would prefer to be on the side of the argument that said a second resolution wasn't necessary.

He made his decision based on "which side of the argument would you prefer to be on?"

That's telling as well and it's being ignored.

Goldsmith's testimony has multiple nuggets of gold in it. Let's hope the Committee Members grasped that because very few other people appear to have grasped it.

It's over, I'm done writing songs about love
There's a war going on
So I'm holding my gun with a strap and a glove
And I'm writing a song about war
And it goes
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Oh oh oh oh
-- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)

Last Thursday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 4373. Tonight? 4374.

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