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Turborama Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 01:07 PM
Original message
Straw privately warned Blair that Iraq invasion was legally dubious
Edited on Sun Jan-17-10 01:12 PM by Turborama
Source: The Guardian

Jack Straw privately warned Tony Blair that an invasion of Iraq was legally dubious, questioned what such action would achieve, and challenged US claims about the threat from Saddam Hussein, it was revealed today. Straw, foreign secretary at the time, gave what now seems prophetic advice in a letter marked "secret and personal", 10 days before Blair met George Bush at the US president's ranch in Crawford, Texas, in April 2002. That was nearly a year before the invasion.

In his letter, about which he is expected to be questioned when he testifies at the Chilcot inquiry this week, Straw warned Blair, then prime minister: "The rewards from your visit to Crawford will be few there is at present no majority inside the PLP (parliamentary Labour party) for any military action against Iraq."

Straw warned of two legal "elephant traps". He said, "regime change per se is no justification for military action", and "the weight of legal advice here is that a fresh (UN) mandate may well be required". Despite the warnings, a previously leaked briefing paper for a meeting of the war cabinet in July 2002 states: "When the prime minister discussed Iraq with President Bush at Crawford in April he said that the UK would support military action to bring about regime change."

=snip=

Straw also told Blair before the Crawford meeting that Iraq posed no greater threat to the UK than it had done previously and questioned whether it posed as great a threat as Iran or North Korea. He added that there was "no credible evidence" linking Iraq al-Qaida and that the "threat from Iraq has not worsened as a result of 11 September".

Straw continued: "If 11 September had not happened, it is doubtful that the US would now be considering military action against Iraq."

Read more: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/jan/17/straw-blair-ir...



Straw goes before the inquiry on Thursday. The inquiry is streamed live here: http://www.iraqinquiry.org.uk /

Timetable: http://www.iraqinquiry.org.uk/hearings/timetable.aspx

---- --- ----

The Full Letter

SECRET AND PERSONAL
PM/02/019
PRIME MINISTER

CRAWFORD/IRAQ

1. The rewards from your visit to Crawford will be few. The risks are high, both for you and for the Government. I judge that there is at present no majority inside the PLP for any military action against Iraq, (alongside a greater readiness in the PLP to surface their concerns). Colleagues know that Saddam and the Iraqi regime are bad. Making that case is easy. But we have a long way to go to convince them as to:

(a) the scale of the threat from Iraq and why this has got worse recently:

RELATED LINKS
Revealed: Straws warning to Blair on Iraq
(b) what distinguishes the Iraqi threat from that of eg Iran and North Korea so as to justify military action;

(c) the justification for any military action in terms of international law:

and (d) whether the consequence of military action really would be a compliant, law-abiding replacement government.

2. The whole exercise is made much more difficult to handle as long as conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is so acute.

THE SCALE OF THE THREAT

3. The Iraqi regime plainly poses a most serious threat to its neighbours, and therefore to international security. However, in the documents so far presented it has been hard to glean whether the threat from Iraq is so significantly differently from that of Iran and North Korea as to justify military action (see below).

WHAT IS WORSE NOW?

4. If 11 September had not happened, it is doubtful that the US would now be considering military action against Iraq. In addition, there has been no credible evidence to link Iraq with UBL and Al Qaida. Objectively, the threat from Iraq has not worsened as a result of 11 September. What has however changed is the tolerance of the international community (especially that of the US), the world having witnessed on September 11 just what determined evil people can these days perpetuate.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN IRAQ, IRAN AND NORTH KOREA

5. By linking these countries together in this axis of evil speech, President Bush implied an identity between them not only in terms of their threat, but also in terms of the action necessary to deal with the threat, but also in terms of the action necessary to deal with the threat. A lot of work will now need to be to de-link the three, and to show why military action against Iraq is so much more justified than against Iran and North Korea. The heart of this case that Iraq poses a unique and present danger rests on the facts that it:

* invaded a neighbour;

* has used WMD and would use them again;

* is in breach of nine UNSCRs.

THE POSITION IN INTERNATIONAL LAW

6. That Iraq is in flagrant breach of international legal obligations imposed on it by the UNSC provides us with the core of a strategy, and one which is based on international law. Indeed, if the argument is to be won, the whole case against Iraq and in favour (if necessary) of military action, needs to be narrated with reference to the international rule of law.

7. We also have better to sequence the explanation of what we are doing and why. Specifically, we need to concentrate in the early stages on:

* making operational the sanctions regime foreshadowed by UNSCR 1382;

* demanding the readmission of weapons inspectors, but this time to operate in a free and unfettered way (a similar formula to that which Cheney used at your joint press conference, as I recall).

8. I know there are those who say that an attack on Iraq would be justified whether or not weapons inspectors were readmitted. But I believe that a demand for the unfettered readmission of weapons inspectors in essential, in terms of public explanation, and in terms of legal sanction for any subsequent military action.

9. Legally there are two potential elephant traps:

(i) regime change per se is no justification for military action; it could form part of the method of any strategy, but not a goal. Of course, we may want credibly to assert that regime change is an essential part of the strategy by which we have to achieve our ends that of the elimination of Iraqs WMD capacity; but the latter has to be the goal;

(ii) on whether any military action would require a fresh UNSC mandate (Desert Fox did not). The US are likely to oppose any idea of a fresh mandate. On the other side, the weight of legal advice here is that a fresh mandate may well be required. There is no doubt that a new UNSCR would transform the climate in the PLP. Whilst that (a new mandate) is very unlikely, given the USs position, a draft resolution against military action with 13 in favour (or handsitting) and two vetoes against could play very badly here.

THE CONSEQUENCES OF ANY MILITARY ACTION

10. A legal justification is a necessary but far from sufficient pre-condition for military action. We have also to answer the big question what will this action achieve? There seems to be a larger hole in this than on anything. Most of the assessments from the US have assumed regime change as a means of eliminating Iraqs WMD threat. But none has satisfactorily answered how that regime change is to be secured, and how there can be any certainty that the replacement regime will be better.

11. Iraq has had no history of democracy so no-one has this habit or experience.

(JACK STRAW)
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
25 March 2002
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BunkerHill24 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 01:23 PM
Response to Original message
1. If he disagreed who should of resigned then but he continued on
and supported the invasion. Mr. Straw is an opportunist and lacks character.
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Solly Mack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 01:54 PM
Response to Original message
2. K&R


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bleever Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 02:10 PM
Response to Original message
3. K&R.
Premeditated international crimes.
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colorado_ufo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 03:36 PM
Response to Original message
4. One prophetic and summary sentence:
"11. Iraq has had no history of democracy so no-one has this habit or experience."
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Rosa Luxemburg Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 04:36 PM
Response to Original message
5. Straw died on a mountain of a 'heart attack'
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LeftishBrit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-18-10 09:12 AM
Response to Reply #5
11. No, he is very much alive and the current Justice Secretary. You may be thinking of Robin Cook.
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demoleft Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 05:04 PM
Response to Original message
6. it's unbelievable how blair is still given political credit in europe. like powell...
...i want to see him retired to private life and forget him.
really a tragic misunderstanding for many european progressives with good faith in a new course.
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sabra Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-18-10 02:00 AM
Response to Original message
7. (Jack) Straw told Blair of Iraq legal problems
Source: UK Independent

Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, secretly warned Tony Blair that there were major legal obstacles to invading Iraq, it has been revealed.

In a private letter to the former Prime Minister, Mr Straw also said that Britain needed to give serious thought to what would happen after Saddam Hussein was removed, as daily conditions for ordinary Iraqis may not improve.

The correspondence, which was sent a year before the 2003 invasion, appears to show that military action was on the Government's agenda long before troops entered Iraq. It is expected to form a central part of Mr Straw's evidence to the Iraq inquiry when he appears before Sir John Chilcot's team this week.

Outlining the legal "elephant traps" facing any invasion, Mr Straw warned Mr Blair that "regime change per se is no justification for military action" and "the weight of legal advice here is that a fresh (UN) mandate may well be required". No such resolution giving the go-head for an invasion was secured.

The inquiry is set for its most riveting week yet, as three key figures appear to give evidence. Today it will hear from Jonathan Powell, Mr Blair's head of staff, who is expected to be asked about his involvement in the notorious September 2002 dossier setting out the case for war in Iraq. Former Defence Secretary, Geoff Hoon, will appear tomorrow, while Mr Straw will give evidence on Thursday.

Read more: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/straw-tol...
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naaman fletcher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-18-10 02:00 AM
Response to Reply #7
8. Jack Straw from Wichita? Didn't he cut his buddy down?
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kas125 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-18-10 02:00 AM
Response to Reply #8
9. That's what I think of every time I see his name, too!
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LeftishBrit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-18-10 09:13 AM
Response to Reply #8
12. I wish this Jack Straw HAD cut his buddy Blair down!
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Roland99 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-18-10 08:38 AM
Response to Original message
10. Wouldn't matter if audio/video of Bush/Blair planning an attack "no matter the evidence"
The Obama admin isn't going to do one damn thing about it.


Not one damn thing.

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