Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair recently stated that air strikes and drones should be used once again on Iraq to stem recent gains by extremists in that country. Mr. Blair is oblivious of the responsibility he shares with former U.S. president George W. Bush on account of one of the most serious breaches of international law in recent times.
The prosecution of Mr. Blair and Mr. Bush, along the lines of similar trials conducted in Argentina, Chile and Peru, is the only fitting response to such careless remarks.
A reminder of Iraq’s tragic events is in order: George W. Bush and his advisers were planning a premeditated attack on Iraq to secure “regime change” even before he took power in January 2001. Such a plan is described in detailed in the document “Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategies, Forces and Resources For A New Century,” written in 2000 by the neoconservative think tank Project for the New American Century.
In January of 2003, a group of U.S law professors warned President Bush that he and senior officials of his government could be prosecuted for war crimes if military intervention were to violate international humanitarian law. Similar warnings were given to British Prime Minister Tony Blair and to Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien by the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights. The prosecution case finds strong support in both treaty-law and customary international law, as reflected in the U.N. Charter and the Nuremberg Principles.
The U.N. Charter, a treaty ratified by the U.S. in 1945 by the U.S. and its main coalition allies, is widely considered the foundation of modern international law. Article 2(4) of the U.N. Charter bans the use of force in no uncertain terms, except when justified under very specific and well-defined conditions: “All members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.”