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[casi] Blair, The War Criminal - Tam Dayell

Blair, the war criminal
Tam Dalyell
Thursday March 27, 2003
The Guardian,3604,922541,00.html
My constituency Labour party has just voted to recommend that Tony Blair reconsider his position as 
party leader because he gave British backing to a war against Iraq without clearly expressed 
support from the UN.

I agree with this motion. I also believe that since Mr Blair is going ahead with his support for a 
US attack without unambiguous UN authorisation, he should be branded as a war criminal and sent to 
The Hague.

I have served in the House of Commons as a Labour member for 41 years, and I would never have 
dreamed of saying this about any one of my previous leaders. But Blair is a man who has disdain for 
both the House of Commons and international law.

This is a grave thing to say about my leader. But it is far less serious than the results of a war 
that could set western Christendom against Islam.

The overwhelming majority of international lawyers, including several who advise the government 
(such as Rabinder Singh, a partner in Cherie Booth's Matrix Chambers), have concluded that military 
action in Iraq without proper UN security council authorisation is illegal under international law. 
The Foreign Office's deputy legal adviser, Elizabeth Wilmhurst, resigned on precisely this point 
after 30 years' service. This puts the prime minister and those who will be fighting in his and 
President Bush's name in a vulnerable legal position. Already lawyers are getting phone calls from 
anxious members of the armed forces.

Blair accuses opponents of war of "appeasement" - in spite of the fact that, in many cases, their 
active opposition to Saddam's dictatorship well predates his. (I signed the 1987 early day motion 
against arms exports to Iraq. Blair and Gordon Brown didn't.) If anyone is the "appeaser" it is 
Blair, in his support for the US government's pre-emptive attack on Saddam.

I am not anti-American. I was a member of the executive of the British-American parliamentary 
group. I share at one remove four times over a grandmother with Harry S Truman, and I hope to 
attend the celebrations in Missouri in May to mark the anniversary of his birthday.

But many in this country think the fundamentalists now running the White House are using Blair's 
support as a fig leaf against their critics. It is useful for these people to say to their 
opponents: "But a British Labour prime minister supports us."

If Britain had made it clear months ago that we would not be party to a US attack on Iraq, US 
public opinion itself might have stopped this war.

Many in the Labour party believe Blair has misunderstood the pressing danger. It comes not from 
Iraq, but from terrorism. If there is a link between al-Qaida and Saddam Hussein, it is this: Osama 
bin Laden hates Saddam Hussein. On at least two occasions Bin Laden's organisation has tried to 
assassinate Saddam. The effect of this war, however, could well be to bring the pair together. This 
is a war that will strengthen terrorism.

I don't think that Blair really understands the horrors of modern-day warfare. In 1994 I visited 
Baghdad (all expenses paid by me) and saw the carbonated limbs of women and children who had been 
impregnated against a wall by the heat of just one cruise missile. In the current war, hundreds of 
cruise missiles have been launched just to soften up the enemy.

We are told that the US intends to use incapacitating bio-chemical and depleted-uranium weapons. We 
are receiving information that the it intends to use war in Iraq as an opportunity to test out a 
range of weapons: cluster aviation bombs with self-guided munitions and pulse bombs being examples.

The UN was created in response to the indiscriminate horror of modern warfare in the 1940s. The 
UN's charter describes its role as saving "future generations from the scourge of war". Surely that 
means that all those who claim to uphold the UN charter should pursue peaceful solutions to their 

The draft work plans of the UN weapons inspectorate make clear that the inspectors believed they 
could have made real progress down their non-violent path to disarmament. The Labour party will not 
tolerate a leader who takes the country into an avoidable war.

As Napoleon and Hitler found with the snow at the gates of Moscow, so Blair and Bush might find 
that the biggest weapon of mass destruction they encounter, before the gates of Baghdad, is the 
sun. They might be wise to pull out troops now, before they are cooked in the sands of the desert 
while laying seige to the city. They may lose political face; but the careers of Bush and Blair are 
of little consequence compared to environmental mayhem and military agony.

 Tam Dalyell is Labour MP for Linlithgow and Father of the House of Commons. A longer version of 
this article appears in Red Pepper magazine.

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