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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
Drawing connections between events as disparate as the ‘social murder’ of Grenfell and recent mudslides in Sierra Leone, Remi Joseph-Salisbury points to the enduring relevance of Pan African thought for anti-racist struggle today.
We work ourselves into the ground for little economic benefit. It's high time to for a change, writes Aidan Harper.
Deregulation and tax loopholes are justified by saying that they 'protect growth'. But really, they just protect the wealthy, writes James Fox
Inequality is often treated as a law of nature - but really, it's the result of conscious political choices. It's time to choose equality, writes the IPPR's Carys Roberts.
Tom Palmer, aka Agent Kingfisher, was the 'messiah' of London's squatting scene until his death last year. But who was responsible for his fate? MI5, late capitalism or simply a drug overdose? Matt Broomfield investigates.
'Docs Not Cops' write that we must resist attempts to make our NHS any less universal
Louis Mendee explains the real human costs of climate change for the global south.
From climate change to automation to demographic shifts, Mathew Lawrence explains the challenges our economy will face in the coming decade.
Fifty years after the Abortion Act, women are still dying from being denied basic services, write activists from Feminist Fightback
We need to tackle the patronising ideology that lets Tory think-tanks sneer at social tenants, writes Emma Dent Coad
Labour Party laws are being used to quash dissent
Richard Kuper writes that Labour's authorities are more concerned with suppressing pro-Palestine activism than with actually tackling antisemitism
Catalan independence is not just ‘nationalism’ – it’s a rebellion against nationalism
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte argue that Catalonia's independence movement is driven by solidarity – and resistance to far-right Spanish nationalists
Tabloids do not represent the working class
The tabloid press claims to be an authentic voice of the working class - but it's run by and for the elites, writes Matt Thompson
As London City Airport turns 30, let’s imagine a world without it
London City Airport has faced resistance for its entire lifetime, writes Ali Tamlit – and some day soon we will win
The first world war sowed the seeds of the Russian revolution
An excerpt from 'October', China Mieville's book revisiting the story of the Russian Revolution
Academies run ‘on the basis of fear’
Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT) was described in a damning report as an organisation run 'on the basis of fear'. Jon Trickett MP examines an education system in crisis.
‘There is no turning back to a time when there wasn’t migration to Britain’
David Renton reviews the Migration Museum's latest exhibition
#MeToo is necessary – but I’m sick of having to prove my humanity
Women are expected to reveal personal trauma to be taken seriously, writes Eleanor Penny
Meet the digital feminists
We're building new online tools to create a new feminist community and tackle sexism wherever we find it, writes Franziska Grobke
The Marikana women’s fight for justice, five years on
Marienna Pope-Weidemann meets Sikhala Sonke, a grassroots social justice group led by the women of Marikana
Forget ‘Columbus Day’ – this is the Day of Indigenous Resistance
By Leyli Horna, Marcela Terán and Sebastián Ordonez for Wretched of the Earth
Uber and the corporate capture of e-petitions
Steve Andrews looks at a profit-making petition platform's questionable relationship with the cab company
You might be a centrist if…
What does 'centrist' mean? Tom Walker identifies the key markers to help you spot centrism in the wild
Black Journalism Fund Open Editorial Meeting in Leeds
Friday 13th October, 5pm to 7pm, meeting inside the Laidlaw Library, Leeds University
This leadership contest can transform Scottish Labour
Martyn Cook argues that with a new left-wing leader the Scottish Labour Party can make a comeback
Review: No Is Not Enough
Samir Dathi reviews No Is Not Enough: Defeating the New Shock Politics, by Naomi Klein
Building Corbyn’s Labour from the ground up: How ‘the left’ won in Hackney South
Heather Mendick has gone from phone-banker at Corbyn for Leader to Hackney Momentum organiser to secretary of her local party. Here, she shares her top tips on transforming Labour from the bottom up
Five things to know about the independence movement in Catalonia
James O'Nions looks at the underlying dynamics of the Catalan independence movement
‘This building will be a library!’ From referendum to general strike in Catalonia
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte report from the Catalan general strike, as the movements prepare to build a new republic
Chlorine chickens are just the start: Liam Fox’s Brexit trade free-for-all
A hard-right free marketer is now in charge of our trade policy. We urgently need to develop an alternative vision, writes Nick Dearden
There is no ‘cult of Corbyn’ – this is a movement preparing for power
The pundits still don’t understand that Labour’s new energy is about ‘we’ not ‘me’, writes Hilary Wainwright