News from A Parallel Dimension

29 01 2010

“Crimes under international law by their very nature often require the direct or indirect participation of a number of individuals at least some of whom are in positions of governmental authority or military command”

The Courtroom echoes to the sound of excited chatter. Cameras and news-crews jostle for space among the legal teams and their respective documentation. In the dock the two defendants sit quietly, awaiting the arrival of those who will pass judgement. A hush descends as the Judges enter and the Prosecutor stands to address the defendants.

In a clear, confident voice he instructs them to stand and reads the list of charges against former President George Bush and former Prime Minster Tony Blair. They are accused of war crimes against the state of Iraq, of being responsible for deaths of many thousands of Iraqi civilians and of direct contribution to the continuing civil war which has raged since the forced removal of the Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussain.

They will plead not guilty.

It is obvious that at this moment in time the above scenario is merely a fictional one. Neither of the individuals mentioned have been charged with any crime against humanity and whilst world attention has shifted to Afghanistan, the situation in Iraq continues to claim lives.

Tony Blair has, however, appeared in front of the Iraq Enquiry in London and high on the list of questions were issues relating to the WMDs  and whether international leaders have the right to decide who should be in power in other sovereign states.

For Bush and Blair, the existence of  Saddam Hussein in Iraq could no longer be tolerated.

Blair maintains that  Saddam was a “monster and I believe he threatened not just the region but the world.”

He also said that ” it was better to deal with this threat, to remove him from office and I do genuinely believe the world is a safer place as a result.”

He told the inquiry if Saddam had not been removed “today we would have a situation where Iraq was competing with Iran” both in terms of nuclear capability and “in respect of support of terrorist groups. “The decision I took – and frankly would take again – was if there was any possibility that he could develop weapons of mass destruction we should stop him”.

That clears it up perfectly, Saddam was a POTENTIAL threat, who MAY have developed WMDs at some point in the FUTURE.

So the Iraq War is entirely justified. And the world is now a safer place, the Iraqi people are much better off and we can sleep safely in our beds knowing that our elected leaders are taking decisions with our best interests at heart.

If you believe that, then you probably also still think that Paris Hilton serves some useful purpose.

Questions must be asked, however, of who assumes responsibility for acts carried out during war?

At what point do the actions of an individual or group of individuals become directly attributable to a human catastrophe?

Are the leaders of States immune from prosecution or are the individuals they command the ones who should be those to face trial?

Under International Law, will the guilty ever stand trial?

Bush and Blair will (in all probability) not face trial, especially in a world where other states and individuals are carrying out crimes that are more obvious breaches of Ius Cogens.

The fact remains that under the umbrella of Western democracy, politicians can make decisions safe in the knowledge that it is unlikely that they will be brought to task for their actions.

The final word goes to Kofi Annan (former Sec General of the UN) who hoped that ““the innocents of distant wars and conflicts know that they, too, may sleep under the cover of justice; that they, too, have rights, and that those who violate those rights will be punished.”

When leaders decide to act, the innocents are the last thing on their mind.

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