I agree with this motion. I also believe that since Mr Blair is going ahead with his support of a US attack without unambiguous UN authorisation, he should be branded as a war criminal and sent to The Hague.
I have served in the House of Commons as a member of the Labour Party for 41 years, and I would never have dreamed of saying this about any one of my previous leaders. But Blair is a man who has disdain for both the House of Commons and international law. This is a grave thing to say about my party leader. But it is far less serious than the results of a war that could set Western Christendom against Islam.
The overwhelming majority of international lawyers, including several who advise the government (such as Rabinder Singh, a partner in Cherie Booth’s Matrix Chambers and visiting law professor at the London School of Economics), have concluded that Blair’s decision to sanction military action in Iraq without proper UN Security Council authorisation is illegal under international law. The UK Attorney General Lord Goldsmith disputes this.
The UN charter outlaws the use of force with only two exceptions: individual or collective self-defence in response to an armed attack, and action authorised by the UN Security Council as a collective response to a threat to peace.
At the moment, there are no grounds for claiming the need to use such force in self-defence. Moreover, the prime minister’s assertion that, in certain circumstances, a vetoed resolution becomes ‘unreasonable’ and may be disregarded has absolutely no basis whatsoever in international law.
The doctrine of pre-emptive self-defence against an attack that might arise at some hypothetical and unforeseeable future time has no basis in international law.
Neither Security Council Resolution 1441, to which Mr Blair constantly refers, nor any prior resolution authorises the use of force in the present circumstances. This puts the prime minister and those who will be fighting in his and president Bush’s name in a vulnerable legal position.
Already lawyers report that they are getting phone calls from anxious members of the armed forces. Blair accuses opponents of war of ‘appeasement’ in spite of the fact that, in many cases, their active opposition to Saddam’s dictatorship well pre-dates his. But if anyone is the ‘appeaser’ it is Blair: in his support for the US government in its long-planned pre-emptive attack on Saddam.
It is clear that the extremists who have hijacked the US government are pursuing plans hatched as long ago as 1991 to gain control over Iraq’s oil reserves and, equally important, to eliminate an obstacle to US-Israeli political dominance over the Middle East.
I am not anti-American. I was a member of the executive of the British-American parliamentary group. I share at one remove four times over a grandmother with former US president Harry S Truman, and I hope to accept the invitation to attend the celebrations to mark the anniversary of Mr Truman’s birthday on 8 May in Independence, Missouri.
But many of us in this country think the fundamentalists now running the White House are using the support of a British Labour prime minister as a fig leaf against their critics and against opposition to war in the US.
It is useful for these people to say to their opponents: ‘But a BritishLabour prime minister supports us.’ If Britain had made it clear months ago that we would not be party to a US attack on Iraq, that the US was acting entirely on its own, I think US public opinion itself might well have stopped this war from ever being contemplated.
Many of us in the Labour Party who are opposed to war believe that Blair has misunderstood the pressing danger. It comes not from Iraq, but from terrorism. If there is a link between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, it is this: Osama bin Laden hates Saddam Hussein. On at least two occasions bin Laden’s organisation has tried to assassinate Saddam.
The effect of this war, however, could well be to bring the pair together. Far from this being an effective war against terrorism, it is a war that will strengthen terrorism. I don’t think that Mr Blair really understands the horrors of 21st century warfare.
In 1994 I visited Baghdad (all expenses paid by me) and saw the carbonated limbs of women and children who had been impregnated against a wall by the heat of just one cruise missile. In the coming war, we are told that 800 cruise missiles will be launched just to soften up the enemy. We are told that the US intends to use incapacitating bio-chemical and depleted-uranium weapons.
We are also receiving information that the US intends to use war in Iraq as an opportunity to test out a whole range of new weapons: cluster aviation bombs with self-guided munitions and pulse bombs being examples.
The UN was created in response to the indiscriminate horror of modern warfare in the 1940s. The UN’s charter describes its role as saving ‘future generations from the scourge of war’. Surely, that means that all those who claim to uphold the UN charter should pursue peaceful solutions to their limits?
The draft work plans of the UN weapons inspectorate make clear that the inspectors believed they could have made real progress down their non-violent path to disarmament. The Labour Party will not tolerate a leader who takes the country into an avoidable war.
From our archive: Five years on
Five years ago Red Pepper published a number of articles on the Iraq war, we’re reprinting a selection here covering the period March to June 2003
Regime change without war
Those of us who oppose war should not allow ourselves to be seen as defenders of the status quo in the Middle East says Mary Kaldor
No more demockery
We failed to stop the war but another world is still possible writes Hilary Wainwright
The warfare state
Now that the fog of war has lifted David Beetham assess the implications for British democracy
Yasmin Gunaratnam reflects on John Berger’s gut solidarity with the stranger
Charlie Clarke and Heather Mendick discuss how to work through the tensions within Momentum
As man-made global warming gets closer to the tipping point, Andrew Simms finds reasons to be positive about averting catastrophic climate change
In this extract from his new book The Candidate, Alex Nunns tells the inside story of how Jeremy Corbyn scraped onto the Labour leadership ballot in 2015
Graham Jones proposes a framework for a diverse movement to flourish
Bryony Moore profiles Stitched Up, a non-profit group reimagining the future of fashion
Musician Eliane Correa reflects on the fading revolution
Trump's victory is another sign of the failure of the centre-left's narrative on climate change. A new message is needed, and new politicians to deliver it, writes Alex Randall
Siobhán McGuirk says the question we are too afraid to ask is simple - what kind of society leads to Donald Trump as President?
The battle lines are clear. Democracy is in peril and the left must take itself seriously electorally and politically. Ruth Potts speaks to Gary Younge, who was based in Muncie, Indiana, for the US election, about the implications of Donald Trump’s victory
Utopia: Work less play more
A shorter working week would benefit everyone, writes Madeleine Ellis-Petersen
Short story: Syrenka
A short story by Kirsten Irving
Mum’s Colombian mine protest comes to London
Anne Harris reports on one woman’s fight against a multinational coal giant
Bike courier Maggie Dewhurst takes on the gig economy… and wins
We spoke to Mags about why she’s ‘biting the hand that feeds her’
Utopia: Daring to dream
Imagining a better world is the first step towards creating one. Ruth Potts introduces our special utopian issue
Utopia: Room for all
Nadhira Halim and Andy Edwards report on the range of creative responses to the housing crisis that are providing secure, affordable housing across the UK
A better Brexit
The left should not tail-end the establishment Bremoaners, argues Michael Calderbank
News from movements around the world
Compiled by James O’Nions
Podemos: In the Name of the People
'The emergence as a potential party of government is testament both to the richness of Spanish radical culture and the inventiveness of activists such as Errejón' - Jacob Mukherjee reviews Errejón and Mouffe's latest release
Survival Shake! – creative ways to resist the system
Social justice campaigner Sakina Sheikh describes a project to embolden young people through the arts
‘We don’t want to be an afterthought’: inside Momentum Kids
If Momentum is going to meet the challenge of being fully inclusive, a space must be provided for parents, mothers, carers, grandparents and children, write Jessie Hoskin and Natasha Josette
The Kurdish revolution – a report from Rojava
Peter Loo is supporting revolutionary social change in Northern Syria.
How to make your own media
Lorna Stephenson and Adam Cantwell-Corn on running a local media co-op
Book Review: The EU: an Obituary
Tim Holmes takes a look at John Gillingham's polemical history of the EU
Book Review: The End of Jewish Modernity
Author Daniel Lazar reviews Enzo Traverso's The End of Jewish Modernity
Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants
Ida-Sofie Picard introduces Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants – as told to Jenny Nelson
Book review: Angry White People: Coming Face to Face With the British Far-Right
Hilary Aked gets close up with the British far right in Hsiao-Hung Pai's latest release
University should not be a debt factory
Sheldon Ridley spoke to students taking part in their first national demonstration.
Book Review: The Day the Music Died – a Memoir
Sheila Rowbotham reviews the memoirs of BBC director and producer, Tony Garnett.
Power Games: A Political History
Malcolm Maclean reviews Jules Boykoff's Power Games: A Political History
Book Review: Sex, Needs and Queer Culture: from liberation to the post-gay
Aiming to re-evaluate the radicalism and efficacy of queer counterculture and rebellion - April Park takes us through David Alderson's new work.
A book review every day until Christmas at Red Pepper
Red Pepper will be publishing a new book review each day until Christmas
Book Review: Corbyn: The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics
'In spite of the odds Corbyn is still standing' - Alex Doherty reviews Seymour's analysis of the rise of Corbyn
From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation
'A small manifesto for black liberation through socialist revolution' - Graham Campbell reviews Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor's 'From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation'
The abolition of Art History A-Level will exacerbate social inequality
This is a massive blow to the rights of ordinary kids to have the same opportunities as their more privileged peers. Danielle Child reports.
Mass civil disobedience in Sudan
A three-day general strike has brought Sudan to a stand still as people mobilise against the government and inequality. Jenny Nelson writes.
Mustang film review: Three fingers to Erdogan
Laura Nicholson reviews Mustang, Deniz Gamze Erguven’s unashamedly feminist film critique of Turkey’s creeping conservatism
What if the workers were in control?
Hilary Wainwright reflects on an attempt by British workers to produce a democratically determined alternative plan for their industry
Airport expansion is a racist policy
Climate change is a colonial crisis, writes Jo Ram
Momentum Kids: the parental is political
Momentum Kids is not about indoctrinating children, but rather the more radical idea that children have an important role to play in shaping the future, writes Kristen Hope