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. . . .


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

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

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

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

[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

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]

[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

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

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