No-one should ever be amazed at the grotesque pretexts dreamed up by Tony Blair to justify the unjustifiable.

Blair suggested to the Chilcot inquiry that he had disregarded attorney general Lord Goldsmith's initial legal advice on the planned invasion of Iraq because it was "provisional."

However, the then prime minister didn't simply ignore the advice given. He stood it on its head.

Blair stood up in Parliament giving a position diametrically opposed to what Goldsmith had told him. He justifies that now by saying that he was convinced that the attorney general would come round to his view once he knew the full facts.

Both Blair and Goldsmith are at fault for their refusal to take international law seriously.

Blair was hell-bent on backing George W Bush's invasion plan, irrespective of international law, while Goldsmith allowed himself to be browbeaten into changing his advice and is only now blowing the gaff on Blair's criminal behaviour.

The attorney general ought to have stood by his original judgement, in which case Blair would have been in a cleft stick.Failure to do so allowed the prime minister to send thousands of British troops to fight in Iraq and to be part of an operation that led to the unnecessary deaths of a million Iraqis of all descriptions.

Blair oozed insincerity today as he finally claimed to "regret deeply and profoundly the loss of life" of all those who have perished in Iraq, which smacked of a PR exercise in response to criticism of his previous "no regrets" performance.

Having originally said that he wouldn't apologise for removing Saddam Hussein, he followed that up by recognising that regime change had always been on Bush's agenda."Regime change was their policy, so regime change was part of the discussion. If it became the only way of dealing with this issue, we were going to be up for that," he said.

But both he and Goldsmith knew that regime change is illegal under international law, unless justified by a specific UN security council resolution or by self-defence.Rhetoric about Saddam's crimes against his own people, his invasions of neighbouring countries or pursuit of weapons of mass destruction is irrelevant.

Individual countries do not have the right under international law to substitute themselves for the UN and to construct invasion coalitions.Blair knew that well, which is why he saw the need for a second UN security council decision, recognising that resolution 1441 did not expressly provide for military action.

The former prime minister's reference to the effect of 1441 in paving the way for the return of weapons inspectors in November 2002 passes by the inconvenient fact that, after Saddam allowed them back into Iraq, the US and Britain forced their withdrawal.

Blair and Bush knew before their military build-up began that Saddam no longer had WMD. Previous stocks had been destroyed and programmes discontinued.They had hoped that Saddam would obstruct or provoke the inspectors, providing a pretext for war.

When that didn't happen, they told the inspectors to leave, fearing that their confirmation that Iraq was WMD-free would hamper invasion plans.Blair cannot hide the reality that he was committed to war from Bush's first call for support. His dirty deeds and the families of his victims, British and Iraqi, cry out for him to stand trial for war crimes.

Morning Star Online



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