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Criminals at Large: The Iraq War Twenty Years On

The arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court for Russian President Vladimir Putin came at an opportune moment. It was, if nothing else, a feeble distraction over the misdeeds and crimes of other leaders current and former. Russia, not being an ICC member country, does not acknowledge that court’s jurisdiction. Nor, for that matter, does the United States, despite the evident chortling from US President Joe Biden.

Twenty years on, former US President George W. Bush, former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, and Australia’s own John Howard, the troika most to blame for not just the criminal invasion of a foreign country but the regional and global cataclysm consequential to it, remain at large. Since then, Bush has taken to painting; Blair and Howard have preferred to sell gobbets of alleged wisdom on the lecture circuit.

The 2003 invasion of Iraq by the US-led Coalition of the Willing was a model exercise of maligning the very international system of rules Washington, London and Canberra speak of when condemning their latest assortment of international villains. It recalled those sombre words of the International Military Tribunal, delivered at the Nuremberg war crimes trials in 1946: “War is essentially an evil thing. Its consequences are not confined to the belligerent states alone but affect the whole world. To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

The invasion of Iraq defied the UN Security Council as the sole arbiter on whether the use of force would be necessary to combat a genuine threat to international peace and security. It breached the UN Charter. It encouraged instances of horrendous mendacity (those stubbornly spectral weapons of mass destruction) and the inflation of threats supposedly posed by the regime of Saddam Hussein.

This included the unforgettable British contribution about Saddam’s alleged ability to launch chemical and biological weapons in 45 minutes. As Blair declared to MPs in September 2002: “It [the intelligence service] concludes that Iraq has chemical and biological weapons, that Saddam has continued to produce them, that he has existing and active military plans for the use of chemical and biological weapons, which could be activated within 45 minutes.”

Putin, not one to suffer amnesia on this point, also noted this fact in his speech made announcing Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Iraq, he noted, had been invaded “without any legal grounds.” Lies, he said, were witnessed “at the highest state level and voiced from the high UN rostrum. As a result, we see a tremendous loss of human life, damage, destruction, and a colossal upsurge of terrorism.”

In the immediate aftermath of the invasion, the infrastructure of the country was ruined, its army and public service disbanded, leaving rich pools of disaffected recruits for the insurgency that followed. The country, torn between Shia, Sunni and Kurd and governed by an occupation force of colossal ineptitude, suffered an effective collapse, leaving a vacuum exploited by jihadis and, in time, Islamic State.

Since the invasion, a number of civil society efforts have been undertaken against the dubious triumvirate of evangelist warmongers. The Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal, convened over four days in November 2011, invoked universal jurisdiction in finding Bush, Blair and their accomplices guilty of the act of aggression.

Despite its unmistakable political flavour – the original body had been unilaterally established by former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad – its reasoning was sound enough. The invasion of Iraq could not “be justified under any reasonable interpretation of international law” and threatened “to return us to a world in which the law of the jungle prevails over the rule of law, with potentially disastrous consequences for the human rights not only of the Iraqis but of the people throughout the region and the world.”

The Sydney-based SEARCH Foundation also resolved to submit a complaint to the ICC in 2012, hoping that the body would conduct an investigation and issue a warrant for Howard’s arrest. In September 2013, a complaint was filed by Peter Murphy, Secretary of the Foundation, alleging, among a range of offences, the commission of acts of aggression, breaches of international humanitarian law and human rights, and crimes against peace. The effort failed, leaving Howard irritatingly free.

In two decades, the United States still finds itself embroiled in Iraq, with 2,500 troops stationed in a capacity that is unlikely to stop anytime too soon. That said, the parallels with Afghanistan are already being drawn. In 2022, the outgoing head of US Central Command, Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, trotted out his dream about what would happen. “You want to get to the state where nations, and security elements in those nations, can deal with a violent extremist threat without direct support from us.”

Ironically enough, such violent extremist threats had more than a little help in their creation from Washington’s own disastrous intervention. Eventually, the Iraqis would simply have to accept “to take a larger share of all the enabling that we’re doing now.”

The calamity of Iraq is also a salutary warning to countries willing to join any US-led effort, or rely on the good grace of Washington’s power. To be an enemy of the United States might be dangerous, but as Henry Kissinger reminds us, to be a friend might prove fatal.


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  1. Phil Pryor

    That suppurating walking weeping wound Jack Howard, has never said anything memorable, intelligent, original, useful, informative, accurate, honest. l might have mentioned that long ago, for having shared some classes with him and seeing him “function” as a peculiar stirrer and selffocussed laughable personal problem, it seems a nightmare in reflection that this hollow brown log played a part in past mischief, the Iraq horror and shame among many. Totally inadequate even as a suburban lawyer, thus totally ill equipped to tell even one other human what to do and why, Howard fell for imperial shitty info, USA sourced, used perennially to flame up imperious ambition and righteous indignation at foreigners, coloureds, differents, others and lessers. The USA is friend to nobody, because the undercurrents of its outlook are fuelled by xenophobia, barbarianisms, murderous drives, acquisitional grabs, double crossing. It has a history drawn from its composition, scraps and sweepings of pushy and restless people, righteous and triumphal, those long ago who would not be disciplined or obedient,whether to kings, lords, squires, priests, popes, prelates, laws or customs. Even now, too many USA people think they know it all, can do what they effing well like and that everyone else is and was wrong. USA instincts suggest that a future with the continuation of Marxist, communist, islamist, foreign, non-white, non-submissive elements is intolerable, and USA intolerance is “the best.” We are tied to a dunny can of delirium, facing a cesspit of cloacal chordeeish chaos.

  2. Phil Pryor

    Yes. sad, disappointing. Jack is a non person, a dummy front for advisors, directors, influence, perverted policy, righteousness, and pose and notice.

  3. Roswell

    For what it’s worth I like the new font.

  4. New England Cocky

    Uhm ….. Binoy, you overlooked the pre-invasion history of Iraq and CIA operations to install Saddam Hussein (SH) as Iraqi dictator. The CIA protection of SH as he rose from guttersnipe to CIA assassin to dictator of Iraq. The ongoing CIA support that provided anti-personnel gases to subdue the Kurds and Marsh Arabs with deadly effect for about 5,000 victims.

    The replacement of SH occurred because SH complained to the US Embassy in Iraq that a neighbouring Arabian ”country” was over-pumping oil from a jointly owned oilfield. Suddenly the flavour of the decade became the pariah of the petroleum industry.

    The only building protected during the assault on Baghdad was the Oil Ministry where all the maps of the oilfields were held.

    The consequence of the Iraq invasion was that the US multinational oil corporations obtained access to the enormous proven and potential oilfields in Iraq while the US was having supply difficulties from local sources.

  5. mugsey

    For the cataracted yours truly your black font is a miracle.

  6. Williambtm

    In agreement with Phil Pryor once again, the illegal invasion of Iraq had the complicity of J.W Howard, former traitorous Australian Prime Minister, this happens to be unequivocal fact.
    Another fact of many other Howard traitorous acts & treacheries during the time was this war criminal slaughterer during his time in office.

    Accordingly my research into the Port Arthur Massacre over Tasmania has ben proven as a false fake event. I had spoken with an onsite witness since
    that evil event, this person had been brought up from Hobart to my residence in Rosebery Tasmania to relate his knowledge of what had occurred.

    The most convincing of all was a book titled Official Terror on Tasmania. Authored by Mr Keith Noble an expat now living in Austria, also, I had
    arranged for s copy to be posted to Tasmania’s Police Commissioner (by Keith Noble) Mr. Darren Hine, so that he knew & I knew the facts of this
    false flag event.

    This example was only I of the acts of treachery by that unpatriotic treacherous Prime Minister.

    Author’s note I have revealed many more treacherous events that Howard engaged in during his time at the helm of our nation.

    I had also uncovered the traitorous John Howard & his many other treacherous undertakings in Australia & elsewhere.

  7. Canguro

    Williambtm, I think you’re going out on a very long limb there, wrt the Port Arthur massacre prospective false flag stitchup of Martin Bryant. I hope you can back up your somewhat wildly conspiratorial thesis, otherwise you stand the chance of being relegated to the tin-foil hat brigade.

    In the sense of a purely pedantic grammatical unpacking, your statement that ‘Accordingly my research into the Port Arthur Massacre over Tasmania has ben [sic] proven as a false fake event’ indicates that what you claim to be your ‘research’ is in fact a set of falsities. It’s very easy, lazy in fact, to run with the lowest common denominator in the context of endeavouring to verify the veracity of a narrative. Populism doesn’t help. The 9/11 narrative of the Arabs being responsible for the destruction of the Twin Towers in New York is a prime example of fooling the masses with a false story. It appears you might have swallowed something similar in regards to Bryant’s murderous rampage.

    Otherwise, looking forward to irrefutable evidence of your claim.

  8. Michael Taylor

    Thanks for that, mugsey. I appreciate the feedback.

  9. Terence Mills

    I see that Victoria will legislate to ban the so called Nazi salute : that is raising ones arm – left or right, male or female or non-binary – above the horizontal with or without a clenched fist or fingers extended.


  10. Roswell

    Slightly off topic … only slightly … but I assume everyone is watching the reruns of the X-Files on SBS.

    Carry on.

  11. Roswell

    Shame on you. Drop what you’re doing and watch the X-Files.

  12. Canguro

    Speaking of criminals at large, the wind down to this week offers opportunities for some Schadenfreude for those who like a bit of Weichkäse on their Morgen geröstetes Brot.

    Boris Johnson, the clown prince of British politics, shortly faces the Privileges Committee who will interrogate him on the extent to which he deliberately lied to the parliament in regards to what is being called Partygate – that series of booze-fests conducted within No.10 Downing Street during the height of the Covid lockdown when the whole country was under strict orders to maintain social distancing… but not for Boris & his party pals, as, apparently, he believes, as he has throughout his entire life, that the rules & laws that act as buffers against the island community’s worst instincts have never applied to him. Depending on one’s point of view, for some worst case scenario, for others justice at last seen to triumph, the man some refer to as The Criminal faces suspension and more, as this determination of the committee may well signal the end of this boorish charlatan’s political career.

    And on the other side of the Atlantic, that other political clown, Trump, also a serial liar, faces the distinct possibility of arrest and arraignment for his paying of hush money to the former sex worker Stormy Daniels, a woman who had the misfortune of seeing him disrobed and naked as a new-born in all his lewd ugliness. A something better not thought about, as he no doubt also believed, shovelling a not insignificant amount of money in her direction in an effort to buy her silence.

    The cheese in toast will indeed be a treat to be savoured.

  13. New England Cocky

    @ Williambtm: Uhm ….. there was nothing of a ”false fake event” about the Port Arthur Massacre. I listened to OUR ABC report on this matter from the time the killer stepped from his vehicle saying,” Time to swat some WASPS”.

    ”WASP” is an American term for ”White Anglo-Saxon Protestant”, suggesting that an American influence may have been present before the event.

    The late Keith Pitt, former Australian Army professional Armourer, tested the hypothesis that there was more than one shooter. With his about 30 years Army experience, he was unable to shoot from the hip with the alleged accuracy attributed to the killer.

    There was no subsequent Coroner’s Inquiry ….. allegedly to prevent families having lost loved ones having to suffer further heartache. Or, was it to protect the story that the killer was a sole gunman??

    To my knowledge, nobody has yet successfully explained how a semi-automatic rifle surrendered in Victoria government gun amnesty ended up in Tasmania at Port Arthur. Who had access to the surrendered weapons? Certainly, after the rifle had discharged, all gun amnesties had equipment present that could be observed destroying surrendered weapons.

    I should disclose the loss of a good friend at this Port Arthur Massacre.

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