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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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Understanding the Holodomor and why Russia says nothing

A descendant of Holodomor victims takes the rest of us to school as to whether or not Russia needs to shoulder the blame.

Seraphim Hanisch

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One of the charges that nationalist Ukrainians often lodge against their Russian neighbors is that the Russian government has never acknowledged or formally apologized to Ukraine for the “Holodomor” that took place in Ukraine in 1932-1933. This was a man-made famine that killed an estimated seven to 10 million Ukrainians , though higher estimates claim 12.5 million and lower ones now claim 3.3 million.

No matter what the total was, it amounts to a lot of people that starved to death. The charge that modern-day Russia ought to apologize for this event is usually met with silence, which further enrages those Ukrainians that believe that this issue must be resolved by the Russian acknowledgement of responsibility for it. Indeed, the prime charge of these Ukrainians is that the Russians committed a genocide against the Ukrainian people. This is a claim Russia denies.

To the outside observer who does not know this history of Russia and Ukraine’s relationship, and who does not know or understand the characteristics of the Soviet Union, this charge seems as simple and laid out as that of the Native Americans or the blacks demanding some sort of recompense or restitution for the damages inflicted on these societies through conquest and / or slavery. But we discovered someone who had family connections involved in the Holodomor, and who offers her own perspective, which is instructive in why perhaps the Russian Federation does not say anything about this situation.

Scene in Kharkiv with dead from the famine 1932-33 lying along the street.

The speaker is Anna Vinogradova, a Russian Israeli-American, who answered the question through Quora of “Why doesn’t Russia recognize the Holodomor as a genocide?” She openly admits that she speaks only for herself, but her answer is still instructive. We offer it here, with some corrections for the sake of smooth and understandable English:

I can’t speak for Russia and what it does and doesn’t recognize. I can speak for myself.

I am a great-granddaughter of a “Kulak” (кулак), or well-to-do peasant, who lived close to the Russia/Ukraine border.

The word “кулак” means “fist” in Russian, and it wasn’t a good thing for a person to be called by this label. A кулак was an exploiter of peasants and a class enemy of the new state of workers and poor peasants. In other words, while under Communism, to be called a кулак was to bring a death sentence upon yourself.

At some point, every rural class enemy, every peasant who wasn’t a member of a collective farm was eliminated one way or another.

Because Ukraine has very fertile land and the Ukrainian style of agriculture often favors individual farms as opposed to villages, there is no question that many, many Ukrainian peasants were considered class enemies like my great grandfather, and eliminated in class warfare.

I have no doubt that class warfare included starvation, among other things.

The catch? My great grandfather was an ethnic Russian living in Russia. What nationality were the communists who persecuted and eventually shot him? They were of every nationality there was (in the Soviet Union), and they were led by a Ukrainian, who was taking orders from a Georgian.

Now, tell me, why I, a descendant of an unjustly killed Russian peasant, need to apologize to the descendants of the Ukrainians who killed him on the orders of a Georgian?

What about the Russian, Kazakh golodomor (Russian rendering of the same famine)? What about the butchers, who came from all ethnicities? Can someone explain why it’s only okay to talk about Ukrainian victims and Russian persecutors? Why do we need to rewrite history decades later to convert that brutal class war into an ethnic war that it wasn’t?

Ethnic warfare did not start in Russia until after WWII, when some ethnicities were accused of collaboration with the Nazis and brutal group punishments were implemented. It was all based on class up to that time.

The communists of those years were fanatically internationalist. “Working people of all countries, unite!” was their slogan and they were fanatical about it.

As for the crimes of Communism, Russia has been healing this wound for decades, and Russia’s government has made its anticommunist position very clear.

This testimony is most instructive. First, it points out information that the charge of the Holodomor as “genocide!” neatly leaves out. In identifying the internationalist aspects of the Soviet Union, Ukraine further was not a country identified as somehow worthy of genocidal actions. Such a thought makes no sense, especially given the great importance of Ukraine as the “breadbasket” of the Soviet Union, which it was.

Secondly, it shows a very western-style of “divide to conquer” with a conveniently incendiary single-word propaganda tool that is no doubt able to excite any Ukrainian who may be neutral to slightly disaffected about Russia, and then after that, all Ukrainians are now victims of the mighty evil overlords in Moscow.

How convenient is this when the evil overlords in Kyiv don’t want their citizens to know what they are doing?

We saw this on Saturday – taken to a very high peak when President Petro Poroshenko announced the new leading “Hierarch” of the “Ukrainian National Church” and said not one single word about Christ, but only:

“This day will go down in history as the day of the creation of an autocephalous Orthodox church in Ukraine… This is the day of the creation of the church as an independent structure… What is this church? It is a church without Putin. It is a church without Kirill, without prayer for the Russian authorities and the Russian army.”

But as long as Russia is made the “problem”, millions of scandalized Ukrainians will not care what this new Church actually does or teaches, which means it is likely to teach just about anything.

Russia had its own Holodomor. The history of the event shows that this was a result of several factors – imposed socialist economics on a deeply individualized form of agrarian capitalism (bad for morale and worse for food production), really inane centralized planning of cropland use, and a governmental structure that really did not exist to serve the governed, but to impose an ideology on people who really were not all that interested in it.

Personal blame might well lay with Stalin, a Georgian, but the biggest source of the famine lay in the structures imposed under communism as a way of economic strategy. This is not Russia’s fault. It is the economic model that failed.

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Mueller Finally Releases Heavily Redacted Key Flynn Memo On Eve Of Sentencing

Alex Christoforou

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Via Zerohedge


Having initially snubbed Judge Emmet Sullivan’s order to release the original 302 report from the Michael Flynn interrogation in January 2017, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has finally produced the heavily redacted document, just hours before sentencing is due to be handed down.

The memo  – in full below – details then-national security adviser Michael Flynn’s interview with FBI agents Peter Strzok and Joe Pientka, and shows Flynn was repeatedly asked about his contacts with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and in each instance, Flynn denied (or did not recall) any such conversations.

The agents had transcripts of Flynn’s phone calls to Russian Ambassador Kislyak, thus showing Flynn to be lying.

Flynn pleaded guilty guilty last December to lying to the FBI agents about those conversations with Kislyak.

The redactions in the document seem oddly placed but otherwise, there is nothing remarkable about the content…

Aside from perhaps Flynn’s incredulity at the media attention…

Flynn is set to be sentenced in that federal court on Tuesday.

Of course, as Christina Laila notes, the real crime is that Flynn was unmasked during his phone calls to Kislyak and his calls were illegally leaked by a senior Obama official to the Washington Post.

*  *  *

Full document below…

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Don’t Laugh : It’s Giving Putin What He Wants

The fact of the matter is that humorous lampooning of western establishment Russia narratives writes itself.

Caitlin Johnstone

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Authored by Caitlin Johnstone:


The BBC has published an article titled “How Putin’s Russia turned humour into a weapon” about the Kremlin’s latest addition to its horrifying deadly hybrid warfare arsenal: comedy.

The article is authored by Olga Robinson, whom the BBC, unhindered by any trace of self-awareness, has titled “Senior Journalist (Disinformation)”. Robinson demonstrates the qualifications and acumen which earned her that title by warning the BBC’s audience that the Kremlin has been using humor to dismiss and ridicule accusations that have been leveled against it by western governments, a “form of trolling” that she reports is designed to “deliberately lower the level of discussion”.

“Russia’s move towards using humour to influence its campaigns is a relatively recent phenomenon,” Robinson explains, without speculating as to why Russians might have suddenly begun laughing at their western accusers. She gives no consideration to the possibility that the tightly knit alliance of western nations who suddenly began hysterically shrieking about Russia two years ago have simply gotten much more ridiculous and easier to make fun of during that time.

Couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the emergence of a demented media environment wherein everything around the world from French protests to American culture wars to British discontent with the European Union gets blamed on Russia without any facts or evidence. Wherein BBC reporters now correct guests and caution them against voicing skepticism of anti-Russia narratives because the UK is in “an information war” with that nation. Wherein the same cable news Russiagate pundit can claim that both Rex Tillerson’s hiring and his later firing were the result of a Russian conspiracy to benefit the Kremlin. Wherein mainstream outlets can circulate blatantly false information about Julian Assange and unnamed “Russians” and then blame the falseness of that reporting on Russian disinformation. Wherein Pokemon Go, cutesy Facebook memes and $4,700 in Google ads are sincerely cited as methods by which Hillary Clinton’s $1.2 billion presidential campaign was outdone. Wherein conspiracy theories that Putin has infiltrated the highest levels of the US government have been blaring on mainstream headline news for two years with absolutely nothing to show for it to this day.

Nope, the only possibility is that the Kremlin suddenly figured out that humor is a thing.

The fact of the matter is that humorous lampooning of western establishment Russia narratives writes itself. The hypocrisy is so cartoonish, the emotions are so breathlessly over-the-top, the stories so riddled with plot holes and the agendas underlying them so glaringly obvious that they translate very easily into laughs. I myself recently authored a satire piece that a lot of people loved and which got picked up by numerous alternative media outlets, and all I did was write down all the various escalations this administration has made against Russia as though they were commands being given to Trump by Putin. It was extremely easy to write, and it was pretty damn funny if I do say so myself. And it didn’t take any Kremlin rubles or dezinformatsiya from St Petersburg to figure out how to write it.

“Ben Nimmo, an Atlantic Council researcher on Russian disinformation, told the BBC that attempts to create funny memes were part of the strategy as ‘disinformation for the information age’,” the article warns. Nimmo, ironically, is himself intimately involved with the British domestic disinformation firm Integrity Initiative, whose shady government-sponsored psyops against the Labour Party have sparked a national scandal that is likely far from reaching peak intensity.

“Most comedy programmes on Russian state television these days are anodyne affairs which either do not touch on political topics, or direct humour at the Kremlin’s perceived enemies abroad,” Robinson writes, which I found funny since I’d just recently read an excellent essay by Michael Tracey titled “Why has late night swapped laughs for lusting after Mueller?”

“If the late night ‘comedy’ of the Trump era has something resembling a ‘message,’ it’s that large segments of the nation’s liberal TV viewership are nervously tracking every Russia development with a passion that cannot be conducive to mental health – or for that matter, political efficacy,” Tracey writes, documenting numerous examples of the ways late night comedy now has audiences cheering for a US intelligence insider and Bush appointee instead of challenging power-serving media orthodoxies as programs like The Daily Show once did.

If you wanted the opposite of “anodyne affairs”, it would be comedians ridiculing the way all the establishment talking heads are manipulating their audiences into supporting the US intelligence community and FBI insiders. It would be excoriating the media environment in which unfathomably powerful world-dominating government agencies are subject to less scrutiny and criticism than a man trapped in an embassy who published inconvenient facts about those agencies. It certainly wouldn’t be the cast of Saturday Night Live singing “All I Want for Christmas Is You” to a framed portrait if Robert Mueller wearing a Santa hat. It doesn’t get much more anodyne than that.

Russia makes fun of western establishment narratives about it because those narratives are so incredibly easy to make fun of that they are essentially asking for it, and the nerdy way empire loyalists are suddenly crying victim about it is itself more comedy. When Guardian writer Carole Cadwalladr began insinuating that RT covering standard newsworthy people like Julian Assange and Nigel Farage was a conspiracy to “boost” those people for the advancement of Russian agendas instead of a news outlet doing the thing that news reporting is, RT rightly made fun of her for it. Cadwalladr reacted to RT’s mockery with a claim that she was a victim of “attacks”, instead of the recipient of perfectly justified ridicule for circulating an intensely moronic conspiracy theory.

Ah well. People are nuts and we’re hurtling toward a direct confrontation with a nuclear superpower. Sometimes there’s nothing else to do but laugh. As Wavy Gravy said, “Keep your sense of humor, my friend; if you don’t have a sense of humor it just isn’t funny anymore.”

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