Tony Blair Must Be Prosecuted

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Tony
Blair must be prosecuted, not indulged like his mentor Peter Mandelson.
Both have produced self-serving memoirs for which they have been
paid fortunes. Blair’s will appear next month and earn him 4.6
million. Now consider Britain’s Proceeds of Crime Act. Blair conspired
in and executed an unprovoked war of aggression against a defenseless
country, which the Nuremberg judges in 1946 described as the "paramount
war crime." This has caused, according to scholarly studies,
the deaths of more than a million people, a figure that exceeds
the Fordham University estimate of deaths in the Rwandan genocide.

In
addition, four million Iraqis have been forced to flee their homes
and a majority of children have descended into malnutrition and
trauma. Cancer rates near the cities of Fallujah, Najaf and Basra
(the latter "liberated" by the British) are now revealed
as higher than those at Hiroshima. "UK forces used about 1.9
metric tons of depleted uranium ammunition in the Iraq war in 2003,"
the Defense Secretary Liam Fox told parliament on 22 July. A range
of toxic "antipersonnel" weapons, such as cluster bombs,
was employed by British and American forces.

Such
carnage was justified with lies that have been repeatedly exposed.
On 29 January 2003, Blair told parliament, "We do know of links
between al-Qaida and Iraq …." Last month, the former head of
the intelligence service, MI5, Eliza Manningham-Buller, told the
Chilcot inquiry, "There is no credible intelligence to suggest
that connection … [it was the invasion] that gave Osama bin Laden
his Iraqi jihad." Asked to what extent the invasion exacerbated
the threat to Britain from terrorism, she replied, "Substantially."

The
bombings in London on 7 July 2005 were a direct consequence of Blair’s
actions.

Documents
released by the High Court show that Blair allowed British citizens
to be abducted and tortured. The then foreign secretary, Jack Straw,
decided in January 2002 that Guantanamo was the "best way"
to ensure UK nationals were "securely held."

Instead
of remorse, Blair has demonstrated a voracious and secretive greed.
Since stepping down as prime minister in 2007, he has accumulated
an estimated 20 million, much of it as a result of his ties with
the Bush administration. The House of Commons Advisory Committee
on Business Appointments, which vets jobs taken by former ministers,
was pressured not to make public Blair’s "consultancy"
deals with the Kuwaiti royal family and the South Korean oil giant
UI Energy Corporation. He gets 2 million a year "advising"
the American investment bank J P Morgan and undisclosed sums from
financial services companies. He makes millions from speeches, including
reportedly 200,000 for one speech in China.

In
his unpaid but expenses-rich role as the West’s "peace envoy"
in the Middle East, Blair is, in effect, a voice of Israel, which
awarded him a $1 million "peace prize." In other words,
his wealth has grown rapidly since he launched, with George W. Bush,
the bloodbath in Iraq.

His
collaborators are numerous. The Cabinet in March 2003 knew a great
deal about the conspiracy to attack Iraq. Jack Straw, later appointed
"justice secretary," suppressed the relevant Cabinet minutes
in defiance of an order by the Information Commissioner to release
them. Most of those now running for the Labour Party leadership
supported Blair’s epic crime, rising as one to salute his final
appearance in the Commons. As foreign secretary, David Miliband,
sought to cover Britain’s complicity in torture, and promoted Iran
as the next "threat."

Journalists
who once fawned on Blair as "mystical" and amplified his
vainglorious bids now pretend they were his critics all along. As
for the media’s gulling of the public, only the Observer’s
David Rose, to his great credit, has apologized. The WikiLeaks’
exposs, released with a moral objective of truth with justice,
have been bracing for a public force-fed on complicit, lobby journalism.
Verbose celebrity historians like Niall Ferguson, who rejoiced in
Blair’s rejuvenation of "enlightened" imperialism, remain
silent on the "moral truancy," as Pankaj Mishra wrote,
"of [those] paid to intelligently interpret the contemporary
world."

Is
it wishful thinking that Blair will be collared? Just as the Cameron
government understands the "threat" of a law that makes
Britain a risky stopover for Israeli war criminals, a similar risk
awaits Blair in a number of countries and jurisdictions, at least
of being apprehended and questioned. He is now Britain’s Kissinger,
who has long planned his travel outside the United States with the
care of a fugitive.

Two
recent events add weight to this. On 15 June, the International
Criminal Court made the landmark decision of adding aggression to
its list of war crimes to be prosecuted. This is defined as a "crime
committed by a political or military leader which by its character,
gravity and scale constituted a manifest violation of the [United
Nations] Charter." International lawyers described this as
a "giant leap." Britain is a signatory to the Rome statute
that created the court and is bound by its decisions.

On
21 July, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, standing at the Commons
despatch box, declared the invasion of Iraq illegal. For all the
later "clarification" that he was speaking personally,
he had made "a statement that the international court would
be interested in," said Philippe Sands, professor of international
law at University College London.

Tony
Blair came from Britain’s upper middle classes who, having rejoiced
in his unctuous ascendancy, might now reflect on the principles
of right and wrong they require of their own children. The suffering
of the children of Iraq will remain a specter haunting Britain while
Blair remains free to profit.

August
6, 2010

John
Pilger
was born and educated in Sydney, Australia. He has been
a war correspondent, filmmaker and playwright. Based in London,
he has written from many countries and has twice won British journalism’s
highest award, that of "Journalist of the Year," for his
work in Vietnam and Cambodia. His latest book is Freedom
Next Time: Resisting the Empire
.

John
Pilger Archives

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