Thursday, February 24, 2005

Legality of the Iraq war

The Guardian carries again today more on the legal case for the invasion of Iraq and specifically the role No. 10 had in it. Like Norman Geras, UN-based legalism was not the decisive issue for me when choosing whether to support the war but as he points out, in a situation where legal opinion was divided, the argument that says "unless you agree with our side about what's legal, it must be illegal" is dubious to say the least.

Also dubious was the way in which the UN argument was picked up by some critics of the war, as they were/are clearly being disingenuous. In my mind, there are two front-runners in the "most hypocritical position" prize in relation to this issue - and I can't quite decide who should win.

A strong contender would be the Stop the War Coalition, which in Scotland had its position articulated by, among others, Tommy Sheridan of the SSP - the Scottish left's answer to Kilroy-Silk's impressive sun-tanning achievements. With eyes shining with the burnish that only comes from moral certainty, Mr. Sheridan appeared on Scottish TV news several times condemning the war on the grounds of its illegality.

So, if a second resolution had been forthcoming, he would have supported it?

Er, no - the time before that, Mr. Sheridan took to the streets with the usual suspects to demand that the Taliban should be spared - despite the fact that this action had been blessed by the hallowed Security Council.

However, the UN bit notwithstanding, at least he's consistent when it comes to military action: the rule is, it's always bad if the US and/or the British government are involved - and even when they aren't, it's our fault anyway.

The position of the Liberal Democrats is more difficult to follow. Charlie Kennedy said voters should use the European elections as a referendum on the government's handling of Iraq. The Lib Dems - Charlie explained - should be the beneficiaries here because of their "principled opposition to the war".

The principle being, you might think, that the Security Council hadn't given its blessing?

But no - neither did the Kosovo campaign, and they backed that. They then tried to capitalise on Iraq after Abu Ghraib - conveniently forgetting that Afghanistan hasn't been exactly a blemish-free occupation.

Perhaps we can look forward to the self-righteous Menzies Campbell perform a self-criticism for backing the overthrow of the Taliban - after he explains what was the principle on which the Liberal Democrats opposed the invasion of Iraq?

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