Mark Steyn on Tony Blair in the dock. Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Tony Blair is being questioned (at least he was last week when I watched some of it), at length, about the 'legality' of the Iraq War. I've watched some of the questioning on BBC America (a.k.a the Gordon Ramsey Channel. He's on every other program, it seems), and it seems rather...trifling and petty. It's almost as if the point of the exercise is to get Blair on record as having said something, and then a week later ask him the same question, get a slightly different answer, and then jump up and scream "Aha, me Old Beauty, you are fuckin' nicked!" (Ten points to anyone who can identify that pop-culture reference).
Now, I'm no lawyer, but I can recall that in this country, the legal wrangling over whether the President had the power to dispatch troops without the authority of Congress was debated exhaustively, just as it had been ever since the Vietnam War (Anti-War democrats in those days were legendary dead-equine-beaters). There was all sorts of talk about the War Powers Act, about the prerogatives of the U.N. and the sanctity of it's charter and resolutions. The debate on the run-up to the invasion of Iraq was thrashed out on American television screens for several months before it actually took place. Had Saddam Hussein actually taken advantage of the time given to him, he might have actually turned the Invasion into something serious. Instead, we got to watch US Troops dash for Baghdad after campin gin the desert for a week due ot duststorms. Congress was all but demanding that American military and political leaders lay out their core strategy for the world to see. It's not as if anything was hidden, or anything untoward had to be done here in the U.S. to justify an unjustifiable war.
The War was legal and just, based on the best information available to GWB and his people at the time. For all of their posturing, no democrat in his right mind was going to deny the President of the United States the power to invade Iraq when;
a. The country had been attacked on September 11th, and there was evidence (later, legitimately brought into question) of Iraqi involvement with, or connection to, Al'Qaeda
b. There were only 17 U.N. Resolutions, all a result of the 1991 Gulf War, that the Iraqis had violated, ignored or otherwise flagrantly disregarded that had to be enforced, and which were undertaken in the expectation that when the U.N. called for enforcement, it would be the United States and Great Britain who would do it.
c. Democrats who had vehemently argued against Bush Sr. in Gulf War I, a near-cake walk in historical terms, who barely survived the subsequent re-election fight, were not going to sit on the sidelines for this one -- they were all-in.
Nothing was left to chance; Blair, Bush, Rice, Powell, went to the United Nations and laid out their evidence in support of the invasion and the enforcement of the sanctions and resolutions that had been the result of Gulf War I (that some of their 'intelligence' about Iraqi WMD and connections to Al'Qaeda later turned out to be wrong, was a surprise that would not be discovered until the invaders managed to get a hold on Iraqi political and military leaders, their archives and reports, and many scientists, engineers and administrators who could be questioned). There was nothing hidden, and the U.N. legally sanctioned the invasion.
There were reasons to invade Iraq, if only to enforce existing International Law, even before September 11th;
1. Anyone remember Hans Blix and his nuclear inspectors who weren't allowed to inspect anything, but who somehow still managed to give the Iraqis a clean bill of health on their nuclear programs? Iraq was supposed to comply with the resolutiont hat required it to open all of it's archives and facilities to Blix's team; instead, they often barred them from entering facilities, trucked contraband out the back door while delaying the UN Teams at the front door, destroyed or invented data to confound and confuse Blix and his folks, threatened some inspectors, bribed others, and ultimately kicked Blix out of the country.
2. Anyone remember Scott Ritter, former weapons-inspector charged with investigating the Iraqi WMD regime -- and unrepentant pedophile -- who went from Saddam's worst nightmare to his greatest defender in about a week, even receiving money from Saddam for some mysterious 'documentary film' (maybe kiddie porn)? Ritter and people like him were supposed to be up to speed on the state of Iraqi WMD's, and their compliance with the resolutions that these programs be open to international scrutiny and the weapons destroyed under international observation. In the aftermath of Gulf War II, Iraqi WMDs (mostly nerve and chemical agents, shells, bomb casings and warheads) were being found, buried or hidden, all over Iraq. It's now obvious that the Iraqis were not complying with the resolutions.
3. Anyone remember the Oil for Food scandal that saw Saddam Hussein and politically-connected foreigners split oil revenues that were supposed to buy the Iraqi people food and medicine? Wasn't former Secretary General Kofi Annan's son involved in the illegal program, walking away with millions in possibly ill-gotten gains? Anyone remember how many billions were stolen from the Iraqi people, and not only by their own government -- but by an international community that stole with the left hand, while attacking the United States with the right for it's cruelty in enforcing the sanctions, which they insisted prevented Iraqi children from eating and getting immunizations, in the first place? Half-a-trillion dollars sound familiar?
4. Anyone remember the No-Fly Zones, and the persecution and attempted genocide of the Kurds, our all-but-forgotten allies in Gulf War I? How about the Marsh Arabs? Anyone recall just what sort of suffering and human rights abuses these people were under when Willy Jeff was in office? They were conveniently forgotten in some political circles when it came to authorizing a war that was increasingly portrayed (on the Left) as the Son's Revenge on behalf of the Father, or putting Money in Dick Cheney's Pockets.
5. I guess everyone managed to forget the illegal trade in dual-use technology that was taking place between an Iraq under sanctions and individual states, like France, Germany, Russia and China, all of whom did whatever they could to prevent the U.N. from enforcing it's own sanctions or resolutions? Duplicitous governments weren't about to let anything like international law and U.N. Sanctions to interfere with the important business of commerce, even if Saddam Hussein was a verifiable lunatic with a history of irrational and unpredictable violence.
I mean, if you were a prosecuting attorney who had to justify a trial, and you had evidence like this (even the circumstantial stuff) your case would probably be a slam dunk (weren't those the words George Tenet -- the former CIA director who had all the bad information collected on his watch -- actually used in reference to the casus belli?). Was the war legal? Was it justified? You bet it was! In fact, there was probably so much attention paid to the legal details in that War that it might even have cost some soldiers their lives and limbs. Paying greater attention to the Rules of Law than to the Rules of War, cost us some people, I'm convinced.
Tony Blair has nothing to answer for, and the people who have dragged him before this dog and pony show should find some better hobbies. This is serving no useful purpose at all.