High Court Hearing on Legality of Iraq Invasion 10


Today is the last day of the hearing by the Law Lords brought by Military Families Against the War (MFAW). Beverly Clarke and Rose Gentle have argued that ministers breached their duty to Britain’s armed forces by failing to ensure that the invasion was lawful. They are demanding a public enquiry is established to look into how the war was initiated.

In particular, the women are challenging a Court of Appeal ruling that said the Government was not obliged to order an independent inquiry under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects the “right to life”.

Over the last two days the law lords have been considering the mothers’ argument that servicemen and women have the right not to have their lives jeopardised in illegal conflicts.

Rose Gentle writes: “Blair and his cronies must be held to account. I want Justice for my son Gordon and all the other soldiers and civilians whose lives were lost due to this illegal and immoral war.”


10 thoughts on “High Court Hearing on Legality of Iraq Invasion

  • Sabretache

    I really do wish them the best of luck but I'll be gob-smacked if they succeed. The Law Lords are quintessentially establishment – fully integrated members of the Washington Consensus Global Power Elite. Since the whole Iraqi imbroglio (and its allied foreign policy orthodoxy) is part-and-parcel of the fundamental agenda of that Elite, I seriously doubt they will ever be party to an effective public scrutiny of its legality.

  • hatfield girl

    The New Labour decade has been a lesson in the lack of accountability of the Executive to anyone or anything recognizable as democratic or Labour.

    That they are not Labour is shown in the massive growth in inequality; symptomatic of the casualisation of employment, the extension of means testing accompanied by low wages, and tax favouritism for the rich.

    That the regime is not democratic is clear in the aggressive wars of primitive accumulation, despite enormous demonstration of opposition by the people, that have been accompanied by the exposure of troops to gross levels of under equipment, poor military planning, and individual responsibility for the illegal acts of murder and destruction they have carried out under political directives without justification in morality or law.

    The law lords are the last bastion of a dying constitution, and the last defence of individual soldiers against the accusations of illegal acts in an illegal war, which eventually they will face unless the law lords nail the regime that bears the responsibility for so many deaths and ruined lives.

    If they fail us all now, the lights go out.

  • macshealbhaich

    Since the Military Tribunals at Nuremburg rejected the soldier's time-honoured defence of obeying the orders of his superior officer and established the Nuremburg Principles, the only protection that the military has had is the assurance that the government will not commit him or her to an illegal war.

    The Geneva Conventions Act 1957 was incorporated into the Armed Forces Act and requires a serviceman or woman to refuse to obey an "unlawful command" (or face the criminal consequences) – such as the stupid comment by the CO 1 Royal Irish to "show no mercy". However in an illegal war there are NO lawful commands.

    The fact that Anthony Charles Linton Blair lied repeatedly to commit Her Majesty's Forces to two illegal wars of aggression on behalf of foreign powers not subject to the Crown is to my mind an act of High Treason. Yet I doubt somehow that he or his government will pay the price in this life.

    Which makes one think that HMG owes a retroactive pardon to those German and Japanese military who were executed as a consequence of the International War Crimes Tribunals.

  • writeon

    I doubt that it's possible within the confines of our 'bourgeois democracy' to bring those responsible for the illegal and criminal attack on Iraq to justice. I believe one can argue that what's happened in Iraq could be defined as genocide. Now the problem is that we in the West cannot be guilty of genocide, that's something other people do, not us!

    If we were to accept that our democratically elected leaders are war criminals and guilty of genocide then the argument that we live in democratic society would be undermined. Can one have a democratic society, with respect for human rights and at the same time commit genocide?

    One can of course look to history and see that it's perfectly possible, in fact there has always been a vast difference between the character of domestic rule and the standards employed externally. 'Liberal' and home and 'Fascist' abroad!

    But of course this makes us appear colosally hypocritically. This is the essence of western imperialism, colosal hypocracy. From the very beginning we justified our agression and invasions of the rest of the world, not in purely mercantile terms, we were just robbers out to grab all we could, we weren't criminals armed to the teeth, we were also coming with our Bible and Christianity and the promise of saving souls.

    Not a lot has changed over the centuries. If one listens to the lastest speeches of Foreign Secretary David Miliband, he is basically saying the same thing that imperialists have always said only this time we are invading to bring 'freedom' 'democracy' and 'human rights' and 'civil society'. We are coming to help the needly, to bring light into their darkness and save their souls! But at the same time we're very selective about where we choose to intervene. These countries almost exclusively have something we need, some vital raw material. So we aim to help others at the same time as we help ourselves.

  • hatfield girl

    Right now, do we care what has happened over the centuries, or what David Miliband has to say? Yes all this is so, but what matters is that the Law Lords have the Prime Minister and thus the Executive, up before them to respond to:

    Are you answerable to us, if not as the Parliament, then as the Law.

    Regardless of all the rest, all that is needed is the answer, 'Yes, you are answerable'.

    Then we can go on to what was done and dealing with those who did it.

  • writeon

    Hatfield Girl,

    The simplistic answer is that our political leaders are not, in a practical sense, 'answerable' anymore, not to anyone. They can literally get away with murder.

    I blieve the era of 'bourgeois' democracy is passing and we are moving towards something else; a totalitarian form of government, call it 'fancy pants facism'!

    I wish David Miliband's views weren't important, unfortunately they are. He is outlining the future course of Britain's foreign policy, and it points towards more, not less war. History is important too. History can function as our collective memory. If the same arguments have been used over and over again, and these arguments were lies then; then we can assume they are lies now. It's a learning process. When the ruling elite tells us to forget and move on, they are encouraging us to develope collective amnesia.

    I'd like to see Blair, Hoon and Staw all in the dock, side by side, only under the rules of our present system it won't happen. For if they are guilty of war crimes, which I believe they clearly are, then the entire structure of our state is also guilty, and this realisation has profound implications.

  • hatfield girl

    Writeon,

    Our political leaders, as you refer to them (but they are not my leaders, they are an authoritarian junta, imposed by democratic means that have now been closed down), might have met their match in this.

    The Lords of Appeal in Ordinary are no push over when they act together, as they are doing here. There is fury at the way Woolf betayed his trust and his colleagues and permitted their ousting from Parliament.

    Until their judgement is given, whether there remains accountability of the Executive is unknown. At a guess, there will be some try at calling the Executive to account; at this point there will be constitutional mayhem with the Executive determined to retain its absolute rule.

    It is the circumstances in which British soldiers were sent to war that will have to be delivered up to the court, if a stand is taken by the law lords; the arraignment and trial of the Executive's war criminals is a later step.

  • writeon

    Hatfield Girl,

    I sincerely hope you are right. Personally I'd like to see Blair given the same kind of public trial that Charles the First got. In public, in Westminster Hall, on charges of high treason. I keep wondering about the morality of public execution though. He didn't seem too concerned at Saddam's sad exit.

    I'm sure he'd like the opportunity to make a moving speech full of pathos and emotion. I'm sure the idea of real martyrdom appeals to him, at least in theory. When one gets down to it I'm sure he prefrers the martyrdom of others, and others spilling their blood in his wars. At heart I think Blair is a coward and a knave.

  • Mike

    Damn, wouldn't it be fine? A frosty morning, breath fogging the air, walking out from Westminster onto the platform, shirt collar opened, a coin to the headsman, then the swish, the *chunk*, the cry of 'Behold the head of the traitor!'

    Sweet indeed. And then off to the pub for a pint. Or two.

  • Rwendland

    Craig, on a different but related matter, do you have a view on if the UNSC extending the mandate for the multi-national forces in Iraq is going against the provisions of the Iraqi Constitution, by by-passing the Iraqi Parliament on this matter, who must ratify all international treaties and agreements? In May the Iraqi Parliament passed a resolution stating that any United Nations renewal that doesn't come back to the parliament is illegal and unconstitutional, but this has been ignored.

    See Harry Barnes' blog (Harry checked this out with Brendan O'Leary, who thought this analysis correct):
    http://threescoreyearsandten.blogspot.com/2008/02

    There seems no news coverage on this, which seems an important matter related to the legality of UK troops being in Iraq.

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