00:36 | Posted by liminal | Edit Post
This is just a heads-up post about the legality of bombing raids on Iraq in 2002. Thing is, they weren't legal in any stretch of the term. I didn't really have the chance to put much up about it, but I think we'll need to look at this in more detail in the near future. It's Downing Street Memos related and passed-up in the current storm over the memos in the US because it shows American and British culpability. Don't have much time now to comment, but I'll put some links to a few stories. From this story.
A spike in British and U.S. 2002 bombing raids on Iraq, reportedly designed to goad Saddam Hussein into retaliating, was illegal under international law, according to British Foreign Office legal advice leaked to the UK’s Sunday Times. The advice indicated that the goal of the bombing was to provoke Hussein, thus providing a pretext for war.Then there's this.
British Ministry of Defense records show that the spike began in May 2002.
These "spikes of activity" were aimed at provoking Saddam into action that might justify war. Other documents confirm that Blair had agreed to back regime change in the spring of 2002, that he was warned it was illegal and that ministers were told to "create the conditions" that would make it legal. Other gems include the admission that the threat from Saddam and WMD had not increased and that US attempts to link Baghdad to al-Qaida were "frankly unconvincing".Indeed. And Michael Smith (the reporter that first broke the Downing Street Memos on the scene), expounds upon this in a recent story.
American media coverage of the Downing Street memo has largely focused on the assertion by Sir Richard Dearlove, head of British foreign intelligence, that war was seen as inevitable in Washington, where "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."
But another part of the memo is arguably more important. It quotes British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon as saying that "the U.S. had already begun 'spikes of activity' to put pressure on the regime." This we now realize was Plan B.
Put simply, U.S. aircraft patrolling the southern no-fly zone were dropping a lot more bombs in the hope of provoking a reaction that would give the allies an excuse to carry out a full-scale bombing campaign, an air war, the first stage of the conflict.
British government figures for the number of bombs dropped on southern Iraq in 2002 show that although virtually none were used in March and April, an average of 10 tons a month were dropped between May and August.
But these initial "spikes of activity" didn't have the desired effect. The Iraqis didn't retaliate. They didn't provide the excuse Bush and Blair needed. So at the end of August, the allies dramatically intensified the bombing into what was effectively the initial air war.
The number of bombs dropped on southern Iraq by allied aircraft shot up to 54.6 tons in September alone, with the increased rates continuing into 2003.
In other words, Bush and Blair began their war not in March 2003, as everyone believed, but at the end of August 2002, six weeks before Congress approved military action against Iraq.
The way in which the intelligence was "fixed" to justify war is old news.
The real news is the shady April 2002 deal to go to war, the cynical use of the U.N. to provide an excuse, and the secret, illegal air war without the backing of Congress.
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