Tony's Lively 'Limp Squid'
Tony Blair is a liar. Or maybe not. Before the invasion of Iraq, his attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, was of the legal opinion that such an act would violate international and British domestic law. Or, perhaps he wasn't. Goldsmith feared that Britain's complicity in the invasion of Iraq would put British soliders at risk of being prosecuted for war crimes -- or possibly he didn't. The British Public has lost faith in Blair's honesty, or maybe it hasn't. Blair is George Bush's poodle, but he denies it. Goldsmith's pre-war legal opinion shows that Blair misled his cabinet, Parliament, and all Britain. Or maybe it's only a "
limp damp squid."
That's this week's story from across the Atlantic, as reported in both the U.K. (' Iraq War Legal Advice Published') and the U.S. ('Disclosure of Legal Opinion on War Could Hurt Blair at Polls') media. I can understand why most British media would be careful to report all views about the story of Goldsmith's pre-war legal opinion. After all, there is an election coming up over there and it might be of interest for U.K. voters to know whether the incumbent prime minister is a liar or merely a lapdog.
Less understandable is why the U.S. mainstream press hasn't picked through Lord Goldsmith's memorandum for what it has to say about the direction our own political leaders are taking the United States and how much that threatens to isolate us from the rest of the world.
Now that Goldsmith's "secret" March 7, 2003 legal memorandum has been published in full, despite our dullard press we can see for ourselves that the 'limp squid' has some very lively tentacles. Several revealing statements can be found in it that deserve to be brought to the attention of all Americans. Among them are three observations about what has come to be called the Bush Doctrine:
"I am aware that the USA has been arguing for recognition of a broad doctrine of a right to use force to pre-empt danger in the future. If this means more than a right to respond proportionately to an imminent attack (and I understand that the doctrine is intended to carry that connotation) this is not a doctrine which, in my opinion, exists or is recognised in international law. [emphasis added]It should not surprise us to read that the Bush administration had 'been arguing for... a right to use force to pre-empt danger... ." But what Goldsmith authoritatively describes as the intended U.S. meaning is "more than a right to respond proportionately" to the danger of an attack. As John Pike insightfully put it just a few months after Goldsmith penned his memo, "What people are not grasping here is that after Iraq they have got a long list of countries to blow up."
Pike is perhaps the most knowledgeable and accurate reporter/analyst on U.S. defense policy there is. Thanks to Lord Goldsmith's memorandum, we now have it on the high authority of the chief lawyer for our strongest ally that the so-called Bush doctrine "is not a doctrine which, in my opinion, exists or is recognised in international law."
Where is the White House reporter who will put the question to Bush which Goldsmith's memorandum begs to be asked? Who will ask this: "The Attorney General of the United Kingdom wrote in a legal brief for Tony Blair that it is now U.S. policy to use more force than necessary in a preemptive strike. In the opinion of Attorney General Goldsmith, this in violation of international law. How do you justify U.S. disregard for international law?"
One of the administration's less convincing claims for the legality of invading Iraq is that Security Council Resolution 687, adopted as part of the 1991 Kuwait cease-fire, supplied "a sufficient justification in international law for the use of force against Iraq" in 2003. Resolution 687 required Iraq to disarm itself of weapons of mass destruction. As Goldsmith observes, the Bush administration took the position that the resolution could be "revived" at any time if Iraq did not completely dispose of all WMDs. "However," the Goldsmith memorandum goes on to say --
"the UK has consistently taken the view ... that, as the cease-fire conditions were set by the Security Council in resolution 687, it is for the Council to assess whether any such breach of those obligations has occurred. The US have a rather different view: they maintain that the fact of whether Iraq is in breach is a matter of objective fact which may therefore be assessed by individual Member States. I am not aware of any other state which supports this view."[emphasis added]Again, it seems, our strongest ally recognizes that the Bush administration has re-made the U.S. into a world outlaw, claiming powers as a U.N. Member that no other country, including Great Britain, recognizes as lawful.
Indeed, how else could it be? The principle that any (or even every) U.N. Member state can decide on its own to inuagurate a war to enforce a Security Council resolution is a prescription for diasaster.
Attorney General Goldsmith states flatly, "regime change cannot be the objective of military action. This should be borne in mind in considering the list of military targets and in making public statements about any campaign."
There is nothing new in any of this, of course, for those who have been paying attention. But too many folk haven't. And too much of our press coverage hasn't given them a chance, preferring instead to feed us a steady diet of jingoistic clap-trap, unreal 'reality shows,' titillating Michael Jackson trial excerpts, and other distractions.