December 10, 2009
New Statesman

Iraq: The Crime of the Century

John Pilger

. . . Giving evidence before the arms-to-Iraq enquiry, [Mark] Higson was the only British official commended by Lord Justice Scott for telling the truth. The price he paid was the loss of his health and marriage and constant surveillance by spooks. He ended up living on benefits in a Birmingham bedsitter where he suffered a seizure, struck his head and died alone. Whistleblowers are often heroes; he was one.

He came to mind when I saw a picture in the paper of another Foreign Office official, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, who was Tony Blair's ambassador to the United Nations in the build-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. More than anyone, it was Sir Jeremy who tried every trick to find a UN cover for the bloodbath to come. Indeed, this was his boast to the Chilcot enquiry on 27 November, where he described the invasion as "legal but of questionable legitimacy". How clever. In the picture he wore a smirk.

Under international law, "questionable legitimacy" does not exist. An attack on a sovereign state is a crime. This was made clear by Britain's chief law officer, Attorney General Peter Goldsmith, before his arm was twisted, and by the Foreign Office's own legal advisers and subsequently by the secretary-general of the United Nations. The invasion is the crime of the 21st century. During 17 years of assault on a defenceless civilian population, veiled with weasel monikers like "sanctions" and "no fly zones" and "building democracy", more people have died in Iraq than during the peak years of the slave trade. . . .


The Iraq War Logs

The Judgment of the international Military Tribunal: "To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole."

Enver Masud, "A Clash Between Justice and Greed, Not Islam and the West," The Wisdom Fund, September 2, 2002

Breaking the Silence: Truth and Lies in the War on Terror (2003)

Neil Mackay, "Former Bush Aide: US Plotted Iraq Invasion Long Before 9/11," Sunday Herald, January 11, 2004

Ewen MacAskill and Julian Borger, "Iraq war was illegal and breached UN charter, says Annan,", September 15, 2004

Enver Masud, "Iraq War: 'Supreme International Crime'," The Wisdom Fund, June 29, 2005

George Friedman, "America's Secret War," Stratfor, October 11, 2005

Enver Masud, "Iraq: Divide and Rule, 'Ethnic Cleansing Works'," The Wisdom Fund, October 10, 2006

NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Europe

["About 10 days after 9/11, I went through the Pentagon, and I saw Secretary Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz. I went downstairs just to say hello to some of the people on the Joint Staff who used to work for me, and one of the generals called me in. . . . He says, "We've made the decision we're going to war with Iraq." This was on or about the 20th of September. . . .

So I came back to see him a few weeks later, and by that time we were bombing in Afghanistan. I said, "Are we still going to war with Iraq?" And he said, "Oh, it's worse than that." . . . "This is a memo that describes how we're going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran."--Gen. Wesley Clark, "'Seven Countries in Five Years',", March 2, 2007]

"935 Lies (and Counting): Study Documents Bush Admin's False Statements Preceding Iraq War,", January 24, 2008

[The 45-minute claim was a key feature of the dossier about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction that was released by Tony Blair in September 2002. Blair published the information to bolster public support for war.--Andrew Sparrow, "45-minute WMD claim 'came from an Iraqi taxi driver'," Guardian, December 8, 2009]

[Iraq is on course to overtake Iran as the holder of the world's second-largest proven oil reserves, solidifying its position as the energy industry's new frontier in the scramble to secure fresh resources.--Carola Hoyos, "Iraq set to be second in oil league table," Financial Times, December 11, 2009]

[The responsibility for launching the war must be judged against the knowledge that the allies had when they actually started it. The UK should have recognised that no smoking gun had been found at any time, and that in the months before the invasion evidence of WMD was beginning to unravel. As we have heard recently: out of 19 Iraqi sites suspected by the UK and suggested to the UN monitoring, verification and inspection commission for inspection (Unmovic) -- 10 were actually inspected, and while "interesting", none turned up any WMD. This warning that sources were not reliable seems to have been ignored. Intelligence organisations seem to have been 100% convinced of the existence of WMD but to have had 0% knowledge where they were. Worse still: the uranium contract between Iraq and Niger that George Bush had given prominence in his 2002 state of the union message was found by the International Atomic Energy Agency to be a forgery.--Hans Blix, "Blair sold Iraq on WMD, but only regime change adds up," Guardian, December 14, 2009]

[In testimony to the Chilcot Inquiry, spymaster Sir John Sawers and Sir Nigel Sheinwald, Britain's ambassador in Washington, both admitted they now agonise over whether the UK should have joined the invasion.--Tim Shipman, "Now Blair's key Iraq war aides desert him: Spy chief and top envoy tell inquiry of their doubts," Daily Mail, December 17, 2009]

[The London Times on December 14 summed up the case against Blair in a headline: "Intoxicated by Power, Blair Tricked Us Into War." Two days later the British First Post declared: "War Crime Case Against Tony Blair Now Rock-solid."--Paul Craig Roberts, "Have Americans Traded Freedom For Security?,", December 26, 2009]

Gilbert Kreijger, "Iraq invasion had no legal mandate, says Dutch panel," Independent, January 13, 2010

Gordon Rayner and Andrew Porter, "Iraq Inquiry: Lord Goldsmith 'materially' changed legal advice in days before war," Telegraph, January 13, 2010

"Straw's leaked letter to Blair on Iraq: 'Regime change per se is no justification for military action'," Guardian, January 18, 2010

David Pilditch, "TONY BLAIR 'WARNED BY 27 LAWYERS IRAQ WAR WAS ILLEGAL',", January 27, 2010

Philippe Naughton, "Tony Blair admits Saddam threat was overstated," Times Online, January 29, 2010

Glenn Greenwald, "Remember the illegal destruction of Iraq? Britain formally investigates whether their actions were criminal, while we look away ever more steadfastly,", January 29, 2010

Glen Owen, "Professor to launch 'Nuremberg' war crimes prosecution against Blair," Daily Mail, January 30, 2010

"Short says cabinet misled on war legality," BBC News, February 2, 2010

Jason Groves, "Blair's fight to keep his oil cash secret: Former PM's deals are revealed as his earnings since 2007 reach 20million," Daily Mail, March 19, 2010

[ . . . hazardous material from US bases is being dumped locally rather than sent back to America, in clear breach of Pentagon rules.--Oliver August, "America leaves Iraq a toxic legacy of dumped hazardous materials," Sunday Times, June 14, 2010]

[Carne Ross claimed that Britain and the United States privately did not believe that Iraq's weapons programmes posed a "substantial threat" before launching the 2003 invasion.--Nigel Morris, "WMD claims were lies says former envoy," Independent, July 12, 2010]

"Iraq war 'triggered UK bomb plots'," Aljazeera, July 20, 2010

Nicholas Watt, "Nick Clegg's 'illegal' Iraq war gaffe prompts legal warning," Guardian, July 21, 2010

"Menzies Campbell: Iraq was always wrong. Now we have proof," Independent, July 25, 2010

[Blair conspired in and executed an unprovoked war of aggression against a defenseless country, which the Nuremberg judges in 1946 described as the "paramount war crime." This has caused, according to scholarly studies, the deaths of more than a million people, a figure that exceeds the Fordham University estimate of deaths in the Rwandan genocide.--John Pilger, "Tony Blair Must Be Prosecuted,", August 5, 2010]

Lauren Booth, "An Al Quds Day Letter to Tony Blair,", September 5, 2010

Michael O'Brien, "US Leaving Iraq in Worse Shape Than Saddam,", September 9, 2010

VIDEO: "UK Investigates Iraq War - US is Silent," TheRealNews, September 13, 2010

[Had Hans Blix, the then UN chief weapons inspector, been given the additional three months he requested, your plans could have been thwarted. You and George W Bush feared this. If you had respected international law, you would not, following Operation Desert Fox in December 1998, have allowed your forces to launch attacks from two no-fly zones.--"Hans von Sponeck: A UN Man's Open Letter to Tony Blair,", October 1, 2010]

Robert Booth, "WikiLeaks cable reveals secret pledge to protect US at Iraq inquiry," Guardian, November 30, 2010

[One document, previously leaked, notes that Blair told Bush at a meeting in Washington on 31 January 2003, less than two months before the invasion, that "he was solidly with the president". That was his response after Bush said military action would be taken with or without a new UN resolution and the day after Goldsmith warned Blair that an invasion of Iraq would be unlawful without a fresh UN resolution. Goldsmith subsquently changed his mind.--Richard Norton-Taylor, "Whitehall chief blocks release of Blair's notes to Bush on Iraq," Guardian, January 18, 2011]

Richard Norton-Taylor, "Iraq dossier drawn up to make case for war - intelligence officer," Guardian, May 12, 2011

Dennis Jett, "Ignoring the past doesn't erase our responsibility for it," McClatchy Newspapers, August 11, 2011


"American Patriots: Muslims Didn't Do 9/11," The Wisdom Fund, September 11, 2011

Andy McSmith, "Tony Blair and George Bush's phone conversation a week before Iraq invasion 'must be released'," Independent, May 21, 2012

[The offence is known by two names in international law: the crime of aggression and a crime against peace. It is defined by the Nuremberg principles as the "planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression". This means a war fought for a purpose other than self-defence: in other words outwith articles 33 and 51 of the UN Charter.--George Monbiot, "We're One Crucial Step Closer to Seeing Tony Blair at The Hague," Guardian, September 3, 2012]

Phil Donahue fired for opposing the invasion of Iraq, Jim Donahue, January 14, 2013

[Hitherto unseen evidence given to the Chilcot Inquiry by British intelligence has revealed that former prime minister Tony Blair was told that Iraq had, at most, only a trivial amount of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and that Libya was in this respect a far greater threat.--Jonathan Owen, "Tony Blair and Iraq: The damning evidence," Independent, April 7, 2013]

James R. Holmes, "Chemical Weapons are NOT WMDs,", August 31, 2013

Craig Murray, former UK ambassador, reveals truth about war on Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, September 17, 2014

James Cusick, "Exclusive: US blocks publication of Chilcot's report on how Britain went to war with Iraq,", November 14, 2013

Glen Owen and William Lowther, "Smoking gun emails reveal Blair's 'deal in blood' with George Bush over Iraq war was forged a YEAR before the invasion had even started,", October 17, 2015

"Hillary Clinton's emails reveal evidence that George W. Bush committed treason,", October 18, 2015

Peter Oborne, "We Don't Need to Wait for Chilcot, Blair Lied to Us About Iraq. Here's the Evidence,", October 28, 2015

'This Ship is Sinking' Says Former Bush Official, TeleSUR, December 11, 2015

Sean Adl-Tabatabai, "Declassified CIA Document Reveals Iraq War Had Zero Justification,", March 28, 2016

Robert Mendick, "Outrage as war crimes prosecutors say Tony Blair will not be investigated over Chilcot's Iraq war report -- but British soldiers could be,", July 2, 2016

Andy McSmith, "Chilcot report: Blair didn't tell truth about WMDs, the deal with Bush or the warnings of fallout - how Britain went to war in Iraq,", July 6, 2016

"Wiesel's legacy tainted by his push for Iraq invasion,", July 7, 2016

"Summary: Sir John Chilcot's Iraq War Inquiry Report,", July 8, 2016

  • UK went to war "before peaceful options for disarmament exhausted" - military action was "not last resort"
  • 2003 invasion was based on "flawed intelligence and assessments" that went unchallenged
  • Threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction were "presented with certainty that was not justified"
  • Ex-PM Tony Blair says decision for action made "in good faith" and he will take "full responsibility for any mistakes"
  • Families of Britons killed during Iraq War say conflict was "a fiasco" and do not rule out legal action
  • David Cameron giving Commons statement - says sacrifice of those who died will never be forgotten
  • Iraq Inquiry says invasion 'not last resort'

[Iraqi government representatives told Zaiwalla that they were prepared to do a deal with the US government, and that "everything was on the table" - including the resignation of Hussein--Will Heilpern, "Letters to Tony Blair: Saddam Hussein's lawyer wrote these letters as part of a plan for the Iraqi leader to step down before war was declared - but Blair ignored them,", July 9, 2016]

[The planned invasion of Iraq was not about nuclear weapons or democracy, as Bush claimed. Two powerful factions in Washington were beating the war drums: ardently pro-Israel neoconservatives who yearned to see an enemy of Israel destroyed, and a cabal of conservative oil men and imperialists around Vice President Dick Cheney who sought to grab Iraq's huge oil reserves at a time they believed oil was running out. They engineered the Iraq War, as blatant and illegal an aggression as Hitler's invasion of Poland in 1939.--Eric Margolis, "Send our war criminals to the Hague court,", July 9, 2016]

[Iraq War didn't begin on March 20, 2003 as everybody thought, it began ten months earlier on May 20, 2002 when the allies started the secret air war. It was definitely illegal because it started six months before the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1441 . . .

Planning for the illegal air war began shortly after Tony Blair attended a summit with George Bush at the U.S. President's ranch in Crawford, Texas on April 6 and 7, 2002.--Michael Smith, "The Secret US-UK Airwar Against Iraq,", July 26, 2016]

Philippe Sands, "The Report of the Iraq Inquiry by John Chilcot,", July 28, 2016

Ray McGovern, "9/11 Fifteen Years Later - What Have We Learned?" September 11, 2016 (at 23 min)

["We never thought about using weapons of mass destruction. It was not discussed. Use chemical weapons against the world? Is there anyone with full faculties who would do this? Who would use these weapons when they had not been used against us?"--Will Worley, "US 'got it so wrong' on Saddam Hussein, says CIA interrogator of the Iraq dictator,", December 19, 2016]

Owen Bowcott, "Tony Blair should be prosecuted over Iraq war, high court hears,", July 5, 2017

[The UK chose to join the invasion before peaceful options had been exhausted * Blair deliberately exaggerated the threat posed by Saddam Hussein * Blair promised George Bush: 'I will be with you, whatever' * There was no imminent threat from Saddam--"Chilcot report: key points from the Iraq inquiry,", July 6, 2017]

[High court rules that there is no crime of aggression in English law under which former PM could be charged--Owen Bowcott, "Tony Blair prosecution over Iraq war blocked by judges,", July 31, 2017]

"A Brief History of U.S. Intervention in Iraq Over the Past Half Century," The Intercept, April 9, 2018

Nick Pemberton, "One Dead McCain, 2.5 Million Dead Iraqis,", August 27, 2018

Jeremy Kuzmarov, "Biden's Key Role in the Crime of the Century: The 2003 U.S. Invasion of Iraq,", January 19, 2021

Li Jingjing, "Ex-Marine exposes U.S. govt's secret political interference in Asia,", November 29, 2021

Why Iraq is Dying, RealLifeLore, December 2021

[Since 2003, Iraq is required to send all its oil revenues to a single US bank account. Washington is now weaponizing Baghdad's own dollars against Iraq, by devaluing its currency and hindering payments.--Zaher Mousa, "The US holds Iraq hostage with the dollar,", January 22, 2023]

[Regime change, not disarmament, was always the driving factor behind U.S. policy towards Saddam Hussein's Iraq.--Scott Ritter, "IRAQ 20 YEARS: Scott Ritter -- Disarmament, the Fundamental Lie,", March 19, 2023]

How To Start A War And Get Away With It, AJ+, March 17, 2023

WMD Inspector: Bush should have faced war crimes court over Iraq invasion, MSNBC, March 17, 2023

I Sold The Iraq War And Regret It, AJ+ March 23, 2023

[Benjamin Ferencz repeatedly said George W. Bush and his administration should be tried for the Iraq War.--Jon Schwarz, " OBITUARIES FOR NUREMBERG PROSECUTOR ERASE HIS BELIEFS ABOUT THE U.S.,", April 13, 2023]

John Pilger, How Propaganda Hides the True Face of War, July 12, 2023

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