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
Hilary Wainwright argues against reclaiming populism for the left and for a leadership that supports people’s capacity for self-government
It may seem as though these apps are working for us, but we are also working for the apps, writes Kurt Iveson
It's over 100 years ago that domestic workers began to organise to demand the same rights as other workers. Yet with LSE cleaners on strike this week, historian Laura Schwartz asks: how much has really changed?
Omar Barghouti asks whether Donald Trump, in his recent break with America’s long-standing support for the two-state solution, has unwittingly revived the debate about the plausibility, indeed the necessity, of a single, democratic state in historic Palestine?
Glenn Greenwald was interviewed by Amandla Thomas-Johnson over the phone from Brazil. Here is what he had to say on the War on Terror, Trump, and the 'special relationship'
In 1972 David Widgery wrote about the bitter intensity of love in capitalism
Andrew Dolan on how the left must match the anti-establishment rhetoric of the right, but with a different politics
Emma Snaith speaks with directors Emer Mary Morris and Nina Scott about the power of theatre to encourage community resistance to estate demolitions.
In the first of a series of interviews with migrants' rights and racial justice activists from the US, Marienna Pope-Weidemann speaks to Peter Pedemonti, co-founder and director of the New Sanctuary Movement in Philadelphia
Photos from The World Transformed festival in Liverpool, by David Walters
Changing our attitude to Climate Change
Paul Allen of the Centre for Alternative Technology spells out what we need to do to break through the inaction over climate change
Introducing Trump’s Inner Circle
Donald Trump’s key allies are as alarming as the man himself
Secrets and spies of Scotland Yard
A new Espionage Act threatens whistleblowers and journalists, writes Sarah Kavanagh
#AndABlackWomanAtThat – part II: a discussion of power and privilege
In the second article of a three-part series, Sheri Carr reflects on the silencing of black women and the flaws in safe spaces
How progressive is the ‘progressive alliance’?
We need an anti-austerity alliance, not a vaguely progressive alliance, argues Michael Calderbank
The YPJ: Fighting Isis on the frontline
Rahila Gupta talks to Kimmie Taylor about life on the frontline in Rojava
Joint statement on George Osborne’s appointment to the Evening Standard
'We have come together to denounce this brazen conflict of interest and to champion the growing need for independent, truthful and representative media'
Paul O’Connell and Michael Calderbank consider the conditions that led to the Brexit vote, and how the left in Britain should respond
On the right side of history: an interview with Mijente
Marienna Pope-Weidemann speaks to Reyna Wences, co-founder of Mijente, a radical Latinx and Chincanx organising network
Disrupting the City of London Corporation elections
The City of London Corporation is one of the most secretive and least understood institutions in the world, writes Luke Walter
#AndABlackWomanAtThat: a discussion of power and privilege
In the first article of a three-part series, Sheri Carr reflects on the oppression of her early life and how we must fight it, even in our own movement
Corbyn understands the needs of our communities
Ian Hodson reflects on the Copeland by-election and explains why Corbyn has the full support of The Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union
Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 15 March
On 15 March, we’ll be holding the first of Red Pepper’s Race Section open editorial meetings.
Social Workers Without Borders
Jenny Nelson speaks to Lauren Wroe about a group combining activism and social work with refugees
Growing up married
Laura Nicholson interviews Dr Eylem Atakav about her new film, Growing Up Married, which tells the stories of Turkey’s child brides
The Migrant Connections Festival: solidarity needs meaningful relationships
On March 4 & 5 Bethnal Green will host a migrant-led festival fostering community and solidarity for people of all backgrounds, writes Sohail Jannesari
Reclaiming Holloway Homes
The government is closing old, inner-city jails. Rebecca Roberts looks at what happens next
Intensification of state violence in the Kurdish provinces of Turkey
Oppression increases in the run up to Turkey’s constitutional referendum, writes Mehmet Ugur from Academics for Peace
Pass the domestic violence bill
Emma Snaith reports on the significance of the new anti-domestic violence bill
Report from the second Citizen’s Assembly of Podemos
Sol Trumbo Vila says the mandate from the Podemos Assembly is to go forwards in unity and with humility
Protect our public lands
Last summer Indigenous people travelled thousands of miles around the USA to tell their stories and build a movement. Julie Maldonado reports
From the frontlines
Red Pepper’s new race editor, Ashish Ghadiali, introduces a new space for black and minority progressive voices
How can we make the left sexy?
Jenny Nelson reports on a session at The World Transformed
In pictures: designing for change
Sana Iqbal, the designer behind the identity of The World Transformed festival and the accompanying cover of Red Pepper, talks about the importance of good design
Angry about the #MuslimBan? Here are 5 things to do
As well as protesting against Trump we have a lot of work to get on with here in the UK. Here's a list started by Platform
Who owns our land?
Guy Shrubsole gives some tips for finding out
Don’t delay – ditch coal
Take action this month with the Coal Action Network. By Anne Harris
Utopia: Work less play more
A shorter working week would benefit everyone, writes Madeleine Ellis-Petersen
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’