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The Case Against Tony Blair

The Chilcot Inquiry Report confirms that there are grounds to put Tony Blair on trial.

Alexander Mercouris

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It took 7 years and £10 million to do but the Chilcot Inquiry produced the Smoking Gun. 

This is the memo Blair sent to Bush on 28th July 2002.  Its first words – “I will be with you, whatever” – are now famous.  They provide the final nail in the coffin of Blair’s reputation.

The memo deserves to be set out in full:

“I will be with you, whatever.  But this is the moment to assess bluntly the difficulties.  The planning on this and the strategy are the toughest test yet.  This is not Kosovo.  This is not Afghanistan.  It is not even the Gulf War.

The military part of this is hazardous but I will concentrate mainly on the political context for success. 

Getting rid of Saddam is the right thing to do.  He is a potential threat.  He could be contained.  But containment, as we found with Al Qaeda, is always risky.  His departure would free up the region.  And his regime is probably, with the possible exception of North Korea, the most brutal and inhumane in the world.

The first question is: in removing him, do you want/need a coalition?  The US could do it alone, with UK support.  The danger is, as ever with these things, unintended consequences.  Suppose it got militarily tricky.  Suppose Iraq suffered unexpected civilian casualties.  Suppose the Arab street finally erupted, e.g. in ( ).  Suppose Saddam felt sufficiently politically strong, if militarily weak in conventional terms, to let off WMD.  Suppose that, without any coalition, the Iraqis feel ambivalent about invaded and real Iraqis, not Saddam’s special guard, decide to offer resistance.  Suppose, at least, that any difficulties, without any coalition, are magnified and seized upon by a hostile international opinion.  If we win quickly, everyone will be our friend.  If we don’t and they haven’t been bound in beforehand, recriminations will start fast.

None of these things might happen.  But they might, singly or in combination”.

Despite what Blair is now saying it is impossible or at the least extremely difficult to read the memo without seeing in it clear confirmation of a cast-iron commitment on Blair’s part to join Bush in a war against Iraq.

The memo is however much more than just this.  It is proof – or at the very least extremely strong evidence – that the intention throughout was simply regime change ie. the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and his regime, which however brutal and tyrannical they might have been were at the time the memo was written the legal, internationally recognised government of Iraq. 

Saddam Hussein’s presumed possession of WMD does not appear in the memo as the reason for the war.  On the contrary after reading the memo it is difficult to avoid the impression that the whole campaign about WMD was what it surely was: an exercise in smoke and mirrors, a device to mobilise international opinion behind the war so as to insure Bush and Blair against negative consequences.  That is what the memo appears to say, and it is difficult to read the memo in any other way.

Blair says the Chilcot Inquiry has confirmed he acted in good faith.  This memo all but proves the contrary.  When Blair was saying – as he did at the time repeatedly – that the issue was purely Saddam Hussein’s disarmament and not regime change he was not telling the truth.

We now therefore have concrete evidence of what everyone always suspected: that Bush and Blair conspired together to launch a war against a country whose purpose was to overthrow its government.

 The memo incidentally also confirms that there was no immediate threat from Iraq at the time the war was planned. The memo expressly says the threat from Iraq at the time was only a “potential” one.  That removes the defence that the war was launched preemptively to prevent an act of aggression by Iraq.  It is established law that for that defence to apply the threat has to be an immediate one, not a potential one.  The memo shows that there was no immediate threat to the US or Britain from Saddam Hussein or Iraq when the war was launched and that Blair – and Bush – did not think that there was.

There is another key point which came out of the Chilcot Inquiry Report, though it is a very technical one.

Blair obtained from Britain’s Attorney General legal advice that the war would be legal if Iraq was in very serious breach of previous UN Security Council Resolutions. 

That advice – as the Attorney General admitted at the time – was contentious, with most lawyers (including the legal team at the Foreign Office) disagreeing with it.  The key point however is that for Blair to rely on the advice Iraq had to be in very serious breach of previous UN Security Council Resolutions.  Blair said it was, and made the legal case for war on that basis.  However both then and now he has failed to explain how Iraq was in such serious breach of the previous UN Security Council Resolutions as to justify the war.  After 7 years of exhaustive investigation Chilcot could not get a clear answer to that question.  Given what the 28th July 2002 memo appears to say – that Bush and Blair planned the war to carry out regime change – it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the reason Chilcot could not get an answer is because there is none.  Simply put, it looks like Blair said Iraq was in very serious breach of the previous UN Security Council Resolutions not because he really believed it but because doing so got him out of a legal hole and gave him a legal argument for a war he had already decided to wage for completely different reasons.

Since the war there has been much talk of bringing Blair to trial for war crimes.  Up to now that has been impossible because the sort of evidence a court needs in order to find someone guilty on such a charge simply wasn’t there.  Blair was always in a position to argue that he made a genuine mistake and acted at all times in good faith, however unconvincing that might be to most people

The evidence is there now.  We have a document – the 28th July 2002 memo – which on the face of it confirms Blair plotted with Bush to launch a war to carry out regime change in another country, and and that the reason he gave for launching the war – to disarm Saddam Hussein’s WMD – was simply a device to win international support for a war which was planned for a completely different purpose.  We also have prima facie evidence that Blair intentionally manipulated and/or misrepresented the legal advice he was given in order to give the impression that the war was legal.

Aggression – the supreme international crime – is poorly defined in law.  It is clear that merely launching an armed attack on another country is not enough.  However invading a country without proper cause and without authorisation from the UN Security Council simply in order to overthrow its government does appear to fit the definition of aggression.  If it does not do so then it is hard to see what aggression is.  As it happens we know that the lawyers at the Foreign Office were advising at the time that the war Bush and Blair were planning against Iraq was aggression.

The political and procedural obstacles in bringing Blair to trial for the crime of aggression are immense.  The International Criminal Court says it has no jurisdiction and the resistance from the British political class to doing such a thing in Britain would be huge.  The basis for bringing such a case however is there and the possibility can no longer be completely excluded.  Already there are lawyers discussing how to do it, with suggestions that if Blair cannot be tried for the crime of aggression – which would probably require approval by parliament or at least by the government, and the setting up of a special court – he can be prosecuted in the normal way before the ordinary British courts on the same facts for lesser but still very serious offences such as misconduct of his public office.  Whether that happens remains to be seen, but the basis for it – and the demand for it – is there.

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Is this man the puppet master of Ukraine’s new president or an overhyped bogeyman?

Smiling to himself, Kolomoisky would be within his rights to think that he has never had it so good.

RT

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Via RT…


It doesn’t actually matter if Ukrainian-Israeli billionaire Igor Kolomoisky is the real power behind Volodymyr Zelensky – the president elect has to get rid of the oligarch if he is to make a break with the country’s corrupt past.

The plots, deceits and conflicts of interest in Ukrainian politics are so transparent and hyperbolic, that to say that novice politician Zelensky was a protégé of his long-time employer was not something that required months of local investigative journalism – it was just out there.

Zelensky’s comedy troupe has been on Kolomoisky’s top-rated channel for the past eight years, and his media asset spent every possible resource promoting the contender against incumbent Petro Poroshenko, a personal enemy of the tycoon, who hasn’t even risked entering Ukraine in the past months.

Similarly, the millions and the nous needed to run a presidential campaign in a country of nearly 50 million people had to come from somewhere, and Kolomoisky’s lieutenants were said to be in all key posts. The two issued half-hearted denials that one was a frontman for the other, insisting that they were business partners with a cordial working relationship, but voters had to take their word for it.

Now that the supposed scheme has paid off with Zelensky’s spectacular victory in Sunday’s run-off, Ukrainian voters are asking: what does Kolomoisky want now, and will he be allowed to run the show?

‘One-of-a-kind chancer’

Born in 1963, in a family of two Jewish engineers, Kolomoisky is the type of businessman that was once the staple of the post-Soviet public sphere, but represents a dying breed.

That is, he is not an entrepreneur in the established Western sense at all – he did not go from a Soviet bloc apartment to Lake Geneva villas by inventing a new product, or even setting up an efficient business structure in an existing field.

Rather he is an opportunist who got wealthy by skilfully reading trends as the Soviet economy opened up – selling Western-made computers in the late 1980s – and later when independent Ukraine transitioned to a market economy and Kolomoisky managed to get his hands on a large amount of privatisation vouchers that put many of the juiciest local metals and energy concerns into his hands, which he then modernised.

What he possesses is a chutzpah and unscrupulousness that is rare even among his peers. Vladimir Putin once called him a “one-of-a-kind chancer” who managed to “swindle [Chelsea owner] Roman Abramovich himself.” In the perma-chaos of Ukrainian law and politics, where all moves are always on the table, his tactical acumen has got him ahead.

Kolomoisky’s lifeblood is connections and power rather than any pure profit on the balance sheet, though no one actually knows how that would read, as the Privat Group he part-owns is reported to own over 100 businesses in dozens of Ukrainian spheres through a complex network of offshore companies and obscure intermediaries (“There is no Privat Group, it is a media confection,” the oligarch himself says, straight-faced.)

Unsurprisingly, he has been dabbling in politics for decades, particularly following the first Orange Revolution in 2004. Though the vehicles for his support have not been noted for a particular ideological consistency – in reportedly backing Viktor Yushchenko, then Yulia Tymoshenko, he was merely putting his millions on what he thought would be a winning horse.

Grasp exceeds reach

But at some point in the post-Maidan euphoria, Kolomoisky’s narcissism got the better of him, and he accepted a post as the governor of his home region of Dnepropetrovsk, in 2014.

The qualities that might have made him a tolerable rogue on TV, began to grate in a more official role. From his penchant for using the political arena to settle his business disputes, to creating his own paramilitary force by sponsoring anti-Russian battalions out of his own pocket, to his somewhat charmless habit of grilling and threatening to put in prison those less powerful than him in fits of pique (“You wait for me out here like a wife for a cheating husband,” begins a viral expletive-strewn rant against an overwhelmed Radio Free Europe reporter).

There is a temptation here for a comparison with a Donald Trump given a developing country to play with, but for all of the shenanigans, his ideological views have always been relatively straightforward. Despite his Russia-loathing patriotism, not even his fans know what Kolomoisky stands for.

The oligarch fell out with fellow billionaire Poroshenko in early 2015, following a battle over the control of a large oil transport company between the state and the governor. The following year, his Privat Bank, which at one point handled one in four financial transactions in the country was nationalized, though the government said that Kolomoisky had turned it into a mere shell by giving $5 billion of its savings to Privat Group companies.

Other significant assets were seized, the government took to London to launch a case against his international companies, and though never banished, Kolomoisky himself decided it would be safer if he spent as long as necessary jetting between his adopted homes in Switzerland and Tel Aviv, with the occasional trip to London for the foreseeable future.

But the adventurer falls – and rises again. The London case has been dropped due to lack of jurisdiction, and only last week a ruling came shockingly overturning the three-year-old nationalization of Privat Bank.

Smiling to himself, Kolomoisky would be within his rights to think that he has never had it so good.

Own man

Zelensky must disabuse him of that notion.

It doesn’t matter that they are friends. Or what handshake agreements they made beforehand. Or that he travelled to Geneva and Tel-Aviv 13 times in the past two years. Or what kompromat Kolomoisky may or may not have on him. It doesn’t matter that his head of security is the man who, for years, guarded the oligarch, and that he may quite genuinely fear for his own safety (it’s not like nothing bad has ever happened to Ukrainian presidents).

Volodymyr Zelensky is now the leader of a large country, with the backing of 13.5 million voters. It is to them that he promised a break with past bribery, graft and cronyism. Even by tolerating one man – and one who makes Poroshenko look wholesome – next to him, he discredits all of that. He will have the support of the people if he pits himself against the puppet master – no one would have elected Kolomoisky in his stead.

Whether the oligarch is told to stay away, whether Ukraine enables the financial fraud investigation into him that has been opened by the FBI, or if he is just treated to the letter of the law, all will be good enough. This is the first and main test, and millions who were prepared to accept the legal fiction of the independent candidate two months ago, will now want to see reality to match. Zelensky’s TV president protagonist in Servant of the People – also broadcast by Kolomoisky’s channel, obviously, would never have compromised like that.

What hinges on this is not just the fate of Zelensky’s presidency, but the chance for Ukraine to restore battered faith in its democracy shaken by a succession of compromised failures at the helm.

Igor Ogorodnev

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Roger Waters – The People’s Champion for Freedom

In February 2019, Waters showed his support for the Venezuelan Maduro government and continues to be totally against US regime change plans there.

Richard Galustian

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Submitted by Richard Galustian 

Roger Waters is one of Britain’s most successful and talented musicians and composers but more importantly is an outstanding champion for freedom in the world, beyond compare to any other artist turned political activist.

By way of background, he co-founded the rock band Pink Floyd in 1965.

A landmark turning point of his political activism occurred in 1990, when Waters staged probably the largest rock concert in history, ‘The Wall – Live in Berlin’, with an attendance of nearly half a million people.

In more recent years Waters famously narrated the 2016 documentary ‘The Occupation of the American Mind: Israel’s Public Relations War in the United States’ about the insidious influence of Zionist Israel to shape American public opinion.

Waters has been an outspoken critic of America’s Neocons and particularly Donald Trump and his policies.

In 2017, Waters condemned Trump’s plan to build a wall separating the United States and Mexico, saying that his band’s iconic famous song, ‘The Wall’ is as he put it “very relevant now with Mr. Trump and all of this talk of building walls and creating as much enmity as possible between races and religions.”

In February 2019, Waters showed his support for the Venezuelan Maduro government and continues to be totally against US regime change plans there, or any place else for that matter.

Here below is a must see recent Roger Waters interview, via satellite from New York, where he speaks brilliantly, succinctly and honestly, unlike no other celebrity, about FREEDOM and the related issues of the day.

The only other artist turned activist, but purely for human rights reasons, as she is apolitical, is the incredible Carla Ortiz.

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ISIS Says Behind Sri Lanka Bombings; Was ‘Retaliation’ For New Zealand Mosque Massacre

ISIS’s claim couldn’t be confirmed and the group has been  known to make “opportunistic” claims in the past, according to WaPo. 

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Via Zerohedge…


Shortly after the death toll from Sunday’s Easter bombings in Sri Lanka climbed above the 300 mark, ISIS validated the Sri Lankan government’s suspicions that a domestic jihadi organization had help from an international terror network while planning the bombings were validated when ISIS took credit for the attacks.

The claim was made via a report from ISIS’s Amaq news agency. Though the group has lost almost all of the territory that was once part of its transnational caliphate, ISIS now boasts cells across the Muslim world, including in North Africa and elsewhere. Before ISIS took credit for the attack, a Sri Lankan official revealed that Sunday’s attacks were intended as retaliation for the killing of 50 Muslims during last month’s mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand.

However, the Sri Lankan government didn’t offer any evidence for that claim, or the claim that Sunday’s attacks were planned by two Islamic groups (though that now appears to have been substantiated by ISIS’s claim of responsibility). The group is believed to have worked with the National Tawheed Jamaath, according to the NYT.

“The preliminary investigations have revealed that what happened in Sri Lanka was in retaliation for the attack against Muslims in Christchurch,” State Minister of Defense Ruwan Wijewardene told the Parliament.

Meanwhile, the number of suspects arrested in connection with the attacks had increased to 40 from 24 as of Tuesday. The government had declared a national emergency that allowed it sweeping powers to interrogate and detain suspects.

On Monday, the FBI pledged to send agents to Sri Lanka and provide laboratory support for the investigation.

As the death toll in Sri Lanka climbs, the attack is cementing its position as the deadliest terror attack in the region.

  • 321 (as of now): Sri Lanka bombings, 2019
  • 257 Mumbai attacks, 1993
  • 189 Mumbai train blasts, 2006 166 Mumbai attacks, 2008
  • 151 APS/Peshawar school attack, 2014
  • 149 Mastung/Balochistan election rally attack, 2018

Meanwhile, funeral services for some of the bombing victims began on Tuesday.

Even before ISIS took credit for the attack, analysts told the Washington Post that its unprecedented violence suggested that a well-financed international organization was likely involved.

The bombings on Sunday, however, came with little precedent. Sri Lanka may have endured a ghastly civil war and suicide bombings in the past – some credit the Tamil Tigers with pioneering the tactic – but nothing of this scale. Analysts were stunned by the apparent level of coordination behind the strikes, which occurred around the same time on both sides of the country, and suggested the attacks carried the hallmarks of a more international plot.

“Sri Lanka has never seen this sort of attack – coordinated, multiple, high-casualty – ever before, even with the Tamil Tigers during the course of a brutal civil war,” Alan Keenan, a Sri Lanka expert at the International Crisis Group, told the Financial Times. “I’m not really convinced this is a Sri Lankan thing. I think the dynamics are global, not driven by some indigenous debate. It seems to me to be a different kind of ballgame.”

Hinting at possible ISIS involvement, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during a Monday press conference that “radical Islamic terror” remained a threat even after ISIS’s defeats in Syria.

Of course, ISIS’s claim couldn’t be confirmed and the group has been  known to make “opportunistic” claims in the past, according to WaPo. The extremist group said the attacks were targeting Christians and “coalition countries” and were carried out by fighters from its organization.

Speculation that the government had advanced warning of the attacks, but failed to act amid a power struggle between the country’s president and prime minister, unnerved citizens and contributed to a brewing backlash. Following the bombings, schools and mass had been canceled until at least Monday, with masses called off “until further notice.”

 

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