| UNSC: War criminals by default?

War criminals by default ~ Alan HartRedress Information & Analysis.

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council.

My last thought for 2013 is that for their failure to cooperate and coordinate to make the United Nations work to stop the slaughter and destruction in Syria, the leaders of the five permanent and controlling members of the Security Council – the US, Britain, France, Russia and China – are war criminals by default.

UN Security Council Five

And I agree with an end-of-the-year review comment by Basma Atassi for Al-Jazeera. As more videos emerged of atrocities, “the international community’s inaction continued to give Syrians the message that their human worth is insignificant. The perpetrators (on all sides) have a free ride to kill and the victims have no place to go for justice.”

Civilization vs jungle law

There are only two ways to run this world of ours.

One is in accordance with the rule of law and respect for the human and political rights of all people. In this way of managing Planet Earth, the governments of all nations, without exceptions (so including those of Israel and the US), would be called and held to account by the Security Council and punished as necessary and appropriate when they demonstrated contempt for the rule of law and their various treaty obligations and other commitments.

The other way is in accordance with jungle law. For some years it has been my view that our leaders are taking us back to the jungle. What has been allowed to happen in Syria has only reinforced my fear on this account.

From the moment in April 2011 when the Syrian army was deployed to quell the uprising and fired on demonstrators across the country, it ought to have been obvious (I’m sure it was) to the governments of the major powers that the minority Alawite standard bearers, President Bashar al-Assad and his top military and other security people, would kill and kill and kill to stay in power and, if necessary, would die fighting rather than let go the levers of their power.

Missed opportunity

In my analysis. the real tragedy is that something could have been done at a very early stage to stop the killing and destruction. What was needed was for President Obama to have a private conversation with President Putin along something like the following lines;

It’s not in any of our interests that this conflict be allowed to escalate and spread. What’s your price for using your influence to require Assad to step down and make way for elections? I understand, of course, that you’ll only be able to use your influence to this effect if there is a firm and absolute guarantee that after elections the wellbeing and security of the minority Alawite population will be assured.

There must be no recriminations and revenge for decades of police state rule by the Baath Party of Assad father and son. I give you my word that the United States, through the Security Council, will play its necessary role in making good this guarantee…

And one more thing, Vladimir. I also give you my word that the US will not seek to make use of regime change in Syria as a means of trying to have Russia kicked out of Tartus, the only Mediterranean naval base for your Black Sea Fleet.

If Obama had been wise enough to take such an initiative, I think it much more likely than not that he would have got a positive response from Putin.

It’s worth noting that after the G20 Summit in Mexico in October 2012, British Prime Minister David Cameron claimed that during the meeting President Putin had shifted his position and wanted Bashar Assad out of power. Cameron said:

There remain differences over sequencing and the shape of how the transition takes place, but it is welcome that President Putin has been explicit that he does not want Assad remaining in charge in Syria. What we need next is agreement on a transitional leadership which can move Syria to a democratic future that protects the rights of all its communities.”

Probably Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was partly right when he said that Cameron’s statement about Putin’s position was “not corresponding to reality”.

But Putin did say: “It is important after regime change, if it happens, and it must happen only by constitutional means, that peace comes to the country and bloodshed stops.”

The reality as it seemed to me at the time, and which Cameron put his own spin on, was that Putin had indicated that he could live with regime change in Syria if it happened by constitutional means. And that’s why I think it was much more likely than not that Obama would have got a positive response from Putin at a very early point in the conflict if he had had the wisdom to make his case along the lines I suggested above.

Zionists and jihadists

A question arising is why didn’t Obama take such an initiative to protect the best interests of all concerned? My guess is that it was more than a lack of wisdom and global leadership on his part. For far too long he was listening to those (Zionism’s verbal hit men in particular) who were telling him that regime change in Syria, assisted as required by American military force and therefore on American-and-Israeli terms, was a necessary step on the road to regime change in Iran.

Today I think it can be said without fear of contradiction that Putin is as alarmed as his Western counterparts by the prospect of jihadists of various kinds establishing a safe haven and engine room in Syria. I also think Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was correct when he recently indicated, by obvious implication, that behind closed doors American and Western European leaders are beginning to understand that they may now need Assad and his ruthless war machine if the forces of violent Islamic fundamentalism are to be prevented from having a permanent base in Syria from which to create regional and even global havoc.

The next test of what if anything is left of Obama’s credibility as a leader who can bring positive influence to bear on events in Syria is fast approaching. With a Geneva meeting to chart the way to ending the conflict scheduled for 22 January, he has to decide whether or not Iran should be a party to the talks. Russia and Lakhdar Brahimi, the very experienced UN special envoy to Syria and chief mediator, insist that Iran must be represented to improve the prospects of the Geneva talks being something less than a complete failure. I agree.

The Zionist lobby and its stooges in Congress, plus Israel’s Arab state allies-of-convenience in the Gulf, led by Saudi Arabia, are opposed to Iran’s participation in the Geneva talks.

Will Obama have the will and the courage to defy them?

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| Bounty hunters search for Tony Blair after latest sightings of UK’s most wanted war criminal 09 July 2013 Robin Beste Tony Blair Watch

Bounty hunters search for Tony Blair after latest sightings of UK’s most wanted war criminal ~ Robin Beste, Tony Blair Watch, Stop the War Coalition.


There are people the world over who are not prepared to wait for history to pass judgement on Blair — they want to see him held to account now for his monumental crimes.
Tony Blair has long had to duck and dive from public view for fear that he would face a citizen’s arrest for his war crimes.There is a price on his head and there have been repeated attempts to feel his collar in the hope that Britain’s most wanted war criminal will be held to account for his part in the mass murder of over one million Iraqis.

Appearing in public anywhere in the world is so risky for Blair that he is never seen in the company of the general public, but restricts his socialising to fellow war criminals, such as George W Bush and Benjamin Netanyahu.

Or despots such as Kazakhstan’s dictator Nazarbayev, who pays Blair  £8.5m a year. Or oil rich states like Kuwait which is reportedly paying him £27m for “advice”. Or bankers like J.P. Morgan which pays him £2.5m a year for “consultation”.

But Tony Blair is becoming increasingly confident about posturing and warmongering in the corporate media. And the media, having played its own disreputable part in promoting the lies which Blair used to take Britain into an illegal and unjustified war, has no reservations about giving him free reign to spout equivalent lies and distortions, this time in urging war against Syria and Iran.

Here he is on the BBC Today programme advocating intervention in Syria, and once again allowed to get away without challenge when stating:

There’s now been more people that have died in Syria in a civil war that shows absolutely no sign of ending than in the entirety of Iraq since 2003.

Blair knows only too well that this is simply not true. And the BBC should not have allowed him to get away with such a blatant distortion. The United Nations estimates that 100,000 have been killed in Syria. This figure includes troops from Syrian forces and rebels killed fighting them and yet this total is presented in the media as if they were all civilian casualties.

Compare this to Iraq, where the most compelling evidence shows that over the past ten years many hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians have died as a result of the Bush-Blair war, with the latest calculations putting the figure above one million

And the slaughter in Iraq continues today. Violence is escalating due to the decade of instability and division that the Bush-Blair intervention caused, with more than 2000 people killed in May 2013, making it the most deadly month in the country since the height of the sectarian war in 2007.

But Blair’s capacity for hypocrisy and sanctimonious self-delusion can still shock when it is as blatant as this comment recently in The Observer (a newspaper that seems particularly enthusiastic about helping Blair’s attempts at political rehabilitation):

I am a strong supporter of democracy. But democratic government doesn’t on its own mean effective government. Today, efficacy is the challenge. When governments don’t deliver, people protest This is a sort of free democratic spirit that operates outside the convention of democracy that elections decide the government.

No occasion here for Blair to remember how he ignored the largest political protest in British history, when — on 15 February 2003 — two million filled London’s streets to oppose his drive to war against Iraq.

And Blair is quite open about the objectives of that war. In the BBC series on the tenth anniversary of the Iraq invasion, he stated baldly, “We decided we were going to remake the Middle East”. This was in effect an admission of participating in an international war crime — regime change interventions being illegal — but the BBC let it pass without comment. As Matt Carr wrote, “The BBC let Blair & Co say whatever they wanted without challenging them and never asked a single penetrating question, never offered any real alternatives to what they were saying.”

These days, it is the prospect for war against Syria and Iran that really has Blair’s mouth watering. “Personally,” he says, “I think we should at least consider and consider actively a no-fly zone in Syria.”

As for Iran, he adds, “We can’t afford a nuclear-armed Iran.”

The fact that there is no evidence that Iran has any intention of developing nuclear weapons is of no significance to Blair. Nor does his promotion of more war consider that western military intervention could be even more catastrophic in its regional implications than the Bush-Blair Iraq war.

And of course, no mention by Blair, under his quite ludicrous title of Middle East peace envoy, that there is one country in the Middle East that already has nuclear weapons and which — unlike Iran — refuses to sign the international nuclear non-proliferation treaty. Unsurprisingly, Israel is — like Blair — chomping at the bit to go to war with Iran.

However much the Observer, the BBC and the rest of the corporate media continues to indulge Blair, he will never escape the stain of his Iraq war crimes. In the words of comedian Mark Steele:

Everywhere Blair goes, the chaos of the war he created follows him. During his latest interview for the BBC, he answered a question about Iraq by saying angrily: “Look, we’ve been through this before.” And he’ll have to go through it again, every day forever.

There are people the world over who are not prepared to wait for history to pass judgement on Blair, and who want to see him held to account now for his monumental crimes, which left one million dead, created over four million refugees and devastated the whole of Iraq.

If you get close enough to Tony Blair to attempt a peaceful citizen’s arrest, you will qualify for the reward which has already been paid a number of times. For details, see http://www.arrestblair.org/

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Blair’s crime ~ arrestblair.org

Tony Blair on tour
Mock-up of the former PM at Iraq’s oilfields by kennard phillipps, reproduced with thanks.

The Iraq war, which started in 2003, has caused the deaths of between 100,000 and one million people, depending on whose estimate you believe. Two men were ultimately responsible for the decision to start it: George W Bush and Tony Blair.

Bush and Blair claim that they were provoked into starting the war by the imminent threat Iraq presented to world peace. They further maintain that the war was legal. A series of leaked documents shows not only that these contentions are untrue, but that Bush and Blair knew they were untrue.

The Downing Street memo, a record of a meeting in July 2002, reveals that Sir Richard Dearlove, director of the UK’s foreign intelligence service MI6, told Blair that in Washington “Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.”

The foreign secretary (Jack Straw) then told Mr Blair that “the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran.” He suggested that “we should work up a plan” to produce “legal justification for the use of force.” The Attorney-General told the prime minister that there were only “three possible legal bases” for launching a war: “self-defence, humanitarian intervention, or UNSC [Security Council] authorisation. The first and second could not be the base in this case.” Bush and Blair failed to obtain Security Council authorisation.

In other words the memo reveals that Blair knew that the decision to attack Iraq had already been made; that it preceded the justification, which was being retrofitted to an act of aggression; that the only legal reasons for an attack didn’t apply, and that the war couldn’t be launched without UN authorisation.

The legal status of Bush’s decision had already been explained to Mr Blair. In March 2002, as another leaked memo shows, Jack Straw had reminded him of the conditions required to launch a legal war: “i) There must be an armed attack upon a State or such an attack must be imminent; ii) The use of force must be necessary and other means to reverse/avert the attack must be unavailable; iii) The acts in self-defence must be proportionate and strictly confined to the object of stopping the attack.”

Straw explained that the development or possession of weapons of mass destruction “does not in itself amount to an armed attack; what would be needed would be clear evidence of an imminent attack.”

A third memo, from the Cabinet Office, explained that “there is no greater threat now than in recent years that Saddam will use WMD … A legal justification for invasion would be needed. Subject to Law Officers’ advice, none currently exists.”

The Charter of the United Nations spells out the conditions that must apply if a war is to have legal justification, as follows:

Article 33

1. The parties to any dispute, the continuance of which is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security, shall, first of all, seek a solution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice.
2. The Security Council shall, when it deems necessary, call upon the parties to settle their dispute by such means.

Article 51

Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.

None of these conditions were met by the governments of the United States or the United Kingdom. They did not seek peaceful means of resolving the dispute. In fact before the war began, Saddam Hussein sought to settle the dispute by diplomatic means, and offered to give Bush and Blair almost everything they wanted. But they refused to discuss any peaceful resolution with him, then lied to their people about the possibilities for diplomacy. At one point, when the Iraqi government offered to let the UN weapons inspectors back in to complete their task, the US State Department  announced that it would go into thwart mode to prevent this from happening.

No armed attack had taken place against a Member of the United Nations, and the UK and US did not need to mount a war of self-defence.

Without legal justification, the war with Iraq was an act of mass murder, committed by those who launched it. Tony Blair and George W Bush should be facing trial for commissioning the supreme international crime.

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