Monday, September 3, 2012

Tutu: Bring Bush-Blair to trial in the Hague for Iraq war

“The then-leaders of the U.S. and U.K. 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 specter of Syria and Iran before us,” said Archbishop Tutu, who last week withdrew from a conference in South Africa due to Mr. Blair’s presence at the event.
While the International Criminal Court can handle cases of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, it does not currently have the jurisdiction to prosecute crimes of aggression. Any potential prosecution over the Iraq war would likely come under the aggression category.
The U.S. is among nations which do not recognize the International Criminal Court.
(From David Stringer's piece below, in Globe and Mail, September 2, 2012)
First, the international community's outrage at the Iraq war continues, in voices like Tutu's and others. To that chorus, we add our small voice, earnestly and unequivocally.
In Canada, we are most thankful that our then Prime Minister, Jean Chretien, refused to join the "coalition of the willing" in that fight.
However, the world community is, as Tutu suggests, far more unstable, far more willing and eager to use hard power to settle disputes and far more contentious and volatile than before the Iraq debacle.
Even the political rhetoric is much more militaristic and stuffed with lies, (witness the Republican convention in Tampa last week), almost as if the video-game industry with its millions of devotees has surged under the cover of the war.
Although there may be an argument that a trial of Bush and Blair would come under the "aggression category" as Stringer says, there is clearly no doubt that the war inflicted "crimes against humanity" and there is also little doubt that there would be an army of legal professionals willing and able to mount such a case, should Tutu's perspective gain traction internationally.
The fact that the U.S. can and does bomb another country, without considering itself obliged to commit to the International Court of Justice in the Hague, is, in a word, reprehensible. President Obama and his administration has done much to rebuild a decimated U.S. reputation among the international community (such denigration came at the hands of the Bush-Cheney administration), to the degree that most people in most world capitals would vote for his re-election if they could vote.
However, the U.S. as the world's most militarized nation (equal to the sum of all other countries combined, in their military budgets) continues to avoid, ignore and disdain most international bodies, including both the ICC in the Hague and the United Nations, where the Russian and the Chinese veto have blocked international collaboration, for example, in Syria, another scene of unmitigated slaughter of innocent people by a government in power.
This United States position, regardless of which party holds the White House, in our view is unacceptable. The United States demands a position of leadership, warranted primarily by its military might, without surrendering its independence to the legal scrutiny of the same world it seeks to police, and upon which it seeks to impose its values, often at the point of a bayonet, an AK-47 or a missile.
And within the U.S., the Republican party is adamant about retaining the military budget, even in the face of a potential bankruptcy at the end of fiscal 2012, with sequestration, the extention of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, and 23,000,000 unemployed or underemployed or no longer looking for work.
Tutu is correct that the Bush-Blair duo "behaved like school-yard bullies" and must be held accountable for their actions, even amid Blair's vociferous protests to the contrary. Bush, meanwhile, remains mute, while his brother dubs him 'blunt and courageous' at the recent Republican "lie-in" in Tampa.
Sometimes the prophetic voice is both hard to find willing spokesmen and women, and always it is very hard for the rest of us to hear, comprehend and act upon. Tutu's voice is that of the prophet, in the Old Testament tradition, calling for justice and righting the balance against the "bully" archetype unleashed in the second Iraq conflict.
And all steps to confront that archetype, including any restrictions on violent video-games, violent movies and television programs, especially those based on deceptions, lies, mis-representations and rumour and innuendo, and political rhetoric that spawns and fosters the bully archetype in school yards, in corporate board rooms, in universities and colleges and in the workplaces around the world, as well as bringing the Bush-Blair tandem to trial, would serve the world community's need for both justice and fairness. It would also go a long way to restoring some semblance of accountability within and among the world's "leading" powers.
Leadership, after all, is not leadership when it refuses to be accountable!

Bush, Blair should face trial for role in Iraq war: Desmond Tutu
By David Stringer, The Associated Press, in Globe and Mail, September 2, 2012
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Desmond Tutu called Sunday for Tony Blair and George Bush to face prosecution at the International Criminal Court for their role in the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq

Archbishop Tutu, the retired Anglican Church’s archbishop of South Africa, wrote in an op-ed piece for The Observer newspaper that the ex-leaders of Britain and the United States should be made to “answer for their actions.”
The Iraq war “has destabilized and polarized the world to a greater extent than any other conflict in history,” wrote Archbishop Tutu, who was awarded the Nobel prize in 1984.

“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,” he added.
The Hague, Netherlands, based court is the world’s first permanent war crimes tribunal and has been in operation for 10 years. So far it has launched prosecutions only in Africa, including in Sudan, Congo, Libya and Ivory Coast.
Archbishop Tutu has long been a staunch critic of the Iraq war, while others opposed to the conflict — including playwright Harold Pinter — have previously called for Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair to face prosecution at the Hague.
“The then-leaders of the U.S. and U.K. 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 specter of Syria and Iran before us,” said Archbishop Tutu, who last week withdrew from a conference in South Africa due to Mr. Blair’s presence at the event.
While the International Criminal Court can handle cases of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, it does not currently have the jurisdiction to prosecute crimes of aggression. Any potential prosecution over the Iraq war would likely come under the aggression category.
The U.S. is among nations which do not recognize the International Criminal Court.
In response to Archbishop Tutu, Mr. Blair said he had great respect for the archbishop’s work to tackle apartheid in South Africa, but accused him of repeating inaccurate criticisms of the Iraq war.
“To repeat the old canard that we lied about the intelligence is completely wrong as every single independent analysis of the evidence has shown,” Mr. Blair said. “And to say that the fact that Saddam (deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein) massacred hundreds of thousands of his citizens is irrelevant to the morality of removing him is bizarre.”
However, Mr. Blair said that “in a healthy democracy people can agree to disagree.”
In Britain, a two-year long inquiry examining the buildup to the Iraq war and its conduct is yet to publish its final report. The panel took evidence from political leaders including Mr. Blair, military chiefs and intelligence officers. Two previous British studies into aspects of the war cleared Mr. Blair’s government of wrongdoing.
The Iraq war was bitterly divisive in the U.K. and saw large public demonstrations. However, Mr. Blair subsequently won a 2005 national election, though with a reduced majority.



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