Fake Faith and Epic Crimes
[Tony Blair - War Criminal]
by John Pilger
April 2, 2009
These are extraordinary times. With the
United States and Britain on the verge of bankruptcy and committing
to an endless colonial war, pressure is building for their crimes
to be prosecuted at a tribunal similar to that which tried the
Nazis at Nuremberg. This defined rapacious invasion as "the
supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes
in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the
whole." International law would be mere farce, said the chief
US chief prosecutor at Nuremberg, Supreme Court justice Robert
Jackson, "if, in future, we do not apply its principles to
That is now happening. Spain, Germany,
Belgium, France and Britain have long had "universal jurisdiction"
statutes, which allow their national courts to pursue and prosecute
prima facie war criminals. What has changed is an unspoken rule
never to use international law against "ourselves,"
or "our" allies or clients. In 1998, Spain, supported
by France, Switzerland and Belgium, indicted the Chilean dictator
Augusto Pinochet, client and executioner of the West, and sought
his extradition from Britain, where he happened to be at the time.
Had he been sent for trial he almost certainly would have implicated
at least one British prime minister and two US presidents in crimes
against humanity. Home Secretary Jack Straw let him escape back
The Pinochet case was the ignition. On
19 January last, the George Washington University law professor
Jonathan Turley compared the status of George W. Bush with that
of Pinochet. "Outside [the United States] there is not the
ambiguity about what to do about a war crime," he said. "So
if you try to travel, most people abroad are going to view you
not as 'former President George Bush' [but] as a current war criminal."
For this reason, Bush's former defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld,
who demanded an invasion of Iraq in 2001 and personally approved
torture techniques in Iraq and at Guantanamo Bay, no longer travels.
Rumsfeld has twice been indicted for war crimes in Germany. On
26 January, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Nowak,
said, "We have clear evidence that Mr. Rumsfeld knew what
he was doing but nevertheless he ordered torture."
The Spanish high court is currently investigating
a former Israeli defence minister and six other top Israeli officials
for their role in the killing of civilians, mostly children, in
Gaza. Henry Kissinger, who was largely responsible for bombing
to death 600,000 peasants in Cambodia in 1969-73, is wanted for
questioning in France, Chile and Argentina. Yet, on 8 February,
as if demonstrating the continuity of American power, President
Barack Obama's national security adviser, James Jones, said, "I
take my daily orders from Dr. Kissinger."
Like them, Tony Blair may soon be a fugitive.
The International Criminal Court, to which Britain is a signatory,
has received a record number of petitions related to Blair's wars.
Spain's celebrated Judge Baltasar Garzon, who indicted Pinochet
and the leaders of the Argentinian military junta, has called
for George W. Bush, Blair and former Spanish prime minister Jose
Maria Aznar to be prosecuted for the invasion of Iraq - "one
of the most sordid and unjustifiable episodes in recent human
history: a devastating attack on the rule of law" that had
left the UN "in tatters." He said, "There is enough
of an argument in 650,000 deaths for this investigation to start
This is not to say Blair is about to be
collared and marched to The Hague, where Serbs and Sudanese dictators
are far more likely to face a political court set up by the West.
However, an international agenda is forming and a process has
begun which is as much about legitimacy as the letter of the law,
and a reminder from history that the powerful lose wars and empires
when legitimacy evaporates. This can happen quickly, as in the
fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of apartheid South Africa
- the latter a spectre for apartheid Israel.
Today, the unreported "good news"
is that a worldwide movement is challenging the once sacrosanct
notion that imperial politicians can destroy countless lives in
the cause of an ancient piracy, often at remove in distance and
culture, and retain their respectability and immunity from justice.
In his masterly Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde R.L. Stevenson
writes in the character of Jekyll: "Men have before hired
bravos to transact their crimes, while their own person and reputation
sat under shelter I could thus plod in the public eye with a
load of genial respectability, and, in a moment, like a schoolboy,
strip off these lendings and spring headlong into the sea of liberty.
But for me, in my impenetrable mantle, the safety was complete."
Blair, too, is safe - but for how long?
He and his collaborators face a new determination on the part
of tenacious non-government bodies that are amassing "an
impressive documentary record as to criminal charges," according
to international law authority Richard Falk, who cites the World
Tribunal on Iraq, held in Istanbul in 2005, which heard evidence
from 54 witnesses and published rigorous indictments against Blair,
Bush and others. Currently, the Brussels War Crimes Tribunal and
the newly established Blair War Crimes Foundation are building
a case for Blair's prosecution under the Nuremberg Principle and
the 1949 Geneva Convention. In a separate indictment, former Judge
of the New Zealand Supreme Court E.W. Thomas wrote: "My pre-disposition
was to believe that Mr. Blair was deluded, but sincere in his
belief. After considerable reading and much reflection, however,
my final conclusion is that Mr. Blair deliberately and repeatedly
misled Cabinet, the British Labour Party and the people in a number
of respects. It is not possible to hold that he was simply deluded
but sincere: a victim of his own self-deception. His deception
Protected by the fake sinecure of Middle
East Envoy for the Quartet (the US, EU, UN and Russia), Blair
operates largely from a small fortress in the American Colony
Hotel in Jerusalem, where he is an apologist for the US in the
Middle East and Israel, a difficult task following the bloodbath
in Gaza. To assist his mortgages, he recently received an Israeli
"peace prize" worth a million dollars. He, too, is careful
where he travels; and it is instructive to watch how he now uses
the media. Having concentrated his post-Downing Street apologetics
on a BBC series of obsequious interviews with David Aaronovitch,
Blair has all but slipped from view in Britain, where polls have
long revealed a remarkable loathing for a former prime minister
- a sentiment now shared by those in the liberal media elite whose
previous promotion of his "project" and crimes is an
embarrassment and preferably forgotten.
On 8 February, Andrew Rawnsley, the Observer's
former leading Blair fan, declared that "this shameful period
will not be so smoothly and simply buried." He demanded,
"Did Blair never ask what was going on?" This is an
excellent question made relevant with a slight word change: "Did
the Andrew Rawnsleys never ask what was going on?" In 2001,
Rawnsley alerted his readers to Iraq's "contribution to international
terrorism" and Saddam Hussein's "frightening appetite
to possess weapons of mass destruction." Both assertions
were false and echoed official Anglo-American propaganda. In 2003,
when the destruction of Iraq was launched, Rawnsley described
it as a "point of principle" for Blair who, he later
wrote, was "fated to be right." He lamented, "Yes,
too many people died in the war. Too many people always die in
war. War is nasty and brutish, but at least this conflict was
mercifully short." In the subsequent six years at least a
million people have been killed. According to the Red Cross, Iraq
is now a country of widows and orphans. Yes, war is nasty and
brutish, but never for the Blairs and the Rawnsleys.
Far from the carping turncoats at home,
Blair has lately found a safe media harbour - in Australia, the
original murdochracy. His interviewers exude an unction reminiscent
of the promoters of the "mystical" Blair in the Guardian
of than a decade ago, though they also bring to mind Geoffrey
Dawson, editor of The Times during the 1930s, who wrote
of his infamous groveling to the Nazis: "I spend my nights
taking out anything which will hurt their susceptibilities and
dropping in little things which are intended to sooth them."
With his words as a citation, the finalists
for the Geoffrey Dawson Prize for Journalism (Antipodes) are announced.
On 8 February, in an interview on the Australian Broadcasting
Corporation, Geraldine Doogue described Blair as "a man who
brought religion into power and is now bringing power to religion."
She asked him: "What would the perception be that faith would
bring towards a greater stability [sic]?" A bemused and clearly
delighted Blair was allowed to waffle about "values."
Doogue said to him that "it was the bifurcation about right
and wrong that what I thought the British found really hard"
[sic], to which Blair replied that "in relation to Iraq I
tried every other option [to invasion] there was." It was
his classic lie, which passed unchallenged.
However, the clear winner of the Geoffrey
Dawson Prize is Ginny Dougary of the Sydney Morning Herald
and the Times. Dougary recently accompanied Blair on what
she described as his "James Bondish-ish Gulfstream"
where she was privy to his "bionic energy levels." She
wrote, "I ask him the childlike question: does he want to
save the world?" Blair replied, well, more or less, aw shucks,
yes. The murderous assault on Gaza, which was under way during
the interview, was mentioned in passing. "That is war, I'm
afraid," said Blair, "and war is horrible." No
counter came that Gaza was not a war but a massacre by any measure.
As for the Palestinians, noted Dougary, it was Blair's task to
"prepare them for statehood." The Palestinians will
be surprised to hear that. But enough gravitas; her man "has
the glow of the newly-in-love: in love with the world and, for
the most part, the feeling is reciprocated." The evidence
she offered for this absurdity was that "women from both
sides of politics have confessed to me to having the hots for
These are extraordinary times. Blair,
a perpetrator of the epic crime of the 21st century, shares a
"prayer breakfast" with President Obama, the yes-we-can-man
now launching more war. "We pray," said Blair, "that
in acting we do God's work and follow God's will." To decent
people, such pronouncements about Blair's "faith" represent
a contortion of morality and intellect that is a profananation
on the basic teachings of Christianity. Those who aided and abetted
his great crime and now wish the rest of us to forget their part
- or, like Alistair Campbell, his "communications director,"
offer their bloody notoriety for the vicarious pleasure of some
- might read the first indictment proposed by the Blair War Crimes
Foundation: "Deceit and conspiracy for war, and providing
false news to incite passions for war, causing in the order of
one million deaths, 4 million refugees, countless maiming and
These are indeed extraordinary times.
International War Crimes