The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Thursday, November 20, 2003

Richard Perle emerges to admit: Iraq war was illegal!

What with one thing and another - one might speculate on conflict of interest inquiry, Hersh libel non-case, Hollinger - he seems to have been lying doggo.

But on the very day (yesterday) that I was lamenting the lack of a decent Rummygram, unknown to me, Perle was launching the Mother of all Rummygrams: the old attack-dog cocked his leg and used us all as a lamp-post.

According to the Guardian today, he told a conference organised by the Institute of Contemporary Arts,
I think in this case international law stood in the way of doing the right thing.
international law ... would have required us to leave Saddam Hussein alone
French intransigence meant there had been "no practical mechanism consistent with the rules of the UN for dealing with Saddam Hussein".

Of course, Perle has a strictly freelance role as member (no longer Chairman, of course - conflict of interest oblige) of the Defense Policy Board, and therefore possesses (from USG's perspective) the invaluable gift of (more or less) plausible deniability when it comes to flying USG kites.

The legality issue was, after all, a wuss-out for milquetoast Saint Tony's benefit; the hideously embarrassing UN Security Council sessions for poor old Colin Powell (not, I suspect, that the key USG people minded much about that!) and the ridiculous contortions of the purported legal justification for the war were unbecoming a hyperpower coming into its inheritance. For Bush to be able gently but decisively to junk the entire lot with a Rummy grin and a twinkle in the eye would be a satisfaction to place in the balance with the current troubles in the conquered territory.

Perle's ICA admission, however striking a break with previous statements from both USG and HMG, does imply the recognition of the existence of the legal constraint, even though it was flouted in this case. There is some way to go to achieve the ultimate solution for USG: a new law entirely - even if recognised only by USG itself! - justifying any USG intervention that happens to be made: a common-law right in international law for pre-emptive war for regime change.

It so happens that the previous US president accorded a State Visit to the UK was that prince of international sanctimony [1], Woodrow Wilson (approvingly namechecked in the speech). Though his policy in this area is more reminiscent of that other great leader of the Party of Treason, New Jersey's Frank Hague, whose catchphrase was: I am the law....

  1. And perfecter of segregation in Federal offices - why should a condoner of affirmative action be so keen to laud so evidently odious a specimen?

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