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Helen Clark on Iraq

Written By: - Date published: 11:37 am, July 7th, 2016 - 41 comments
Categories: iraq, john key, labour, national, same old national, uk politics, war - Tags: , ,

Helen Clark Labour

The Chilcot report has rightfully castigated Tony Blair for his role in the Iraqi war. He ought to hand in his labour party membership.  Prosecution for war crimes should not be ruled out.  Going to war on a pretext and ignoring the warnings of impending doom is not something that a responsible leader does.

The weapons of mass destruction excuse was a well polished lie designed to justify a military incursion that was otherwise against International Law.  The Chilcot report contains a whole load of told you so delivered 13 years after the event.

Hopefully the insurgency being railed from within the Parliamentary Labour Party against Jeremy Corbyn will now be quelled. His principled position opposing the war against the leadership of his party has now been shown to be correct.

By contrast Tony Blair will go down in history as the person promising to follow George Bush, whatever.  The person who wrecked a country with dubious legal authority.  The person who went a head with an invasion even though the predictions of increased terrorism and the birth of ISIS was predicted.

This made me reflect on the actions of Helen Clark and the fifth Labour Government.

When the invasion was announced she said this in Parliament (h/t Tautoko Mangō Mata):

The Government deeply regrets the breakdown of the diplomatic process over the Iraq crisis. The New Zealand Government, like most Governments, has been a strong supporter of that process running its course. Like most countries, our strong preference was for the disarmament of Iraq to occur peacefully, through a strong and intrusive weapons inspection process …

Our Government is determined that this difference of opinion, substantial as it is, will not damage longstanding friendships that we value. We fully understand the frustration, the impatience, and the outrage felt by the United States, Britain, and Australia at Iraq’s slowness to comply and its resistance to complying with UN resolutions. But notwithstanding that, our Government does not believe that the diplomatic process, backed by inspections and leading to disarmament, has run its course.

New Zealand’s position on this crisis has at all times been based on our strong support for multilateralism and the rule of law, and for upholding the authority of the Security Council. It is a principled position, it has integrity, and we believe it is well understood by our friends. It is a matter of profound regret to us that some of our closest friends have chosen to stand outside the Security Council at this point, for a new and dangerous precedent is being set. It may be possible to justify one’s friends taking such action, but where then is our moral authority when other nations use the precedent that is now being set? These are troubled times for the United Nations. It has worked hard, as has the Security Council, to address the issue. In the end, consensus could not be reached. For the majority of nations on the council, the threshold for the use of force had not been reached. Our Government supports and endorses that judgment.

Given that this went against the views of the political leadership of the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia it was a brave position for Labour to take.

Labour subsequently sent engineers to Iraq to take part in the rebuild.  Two rotations of 61 engineers were sent to Basra to perform engineering and humanitarian tasks.

There was a suggestion that this decision was made to placate the Americans and for trade reasons but this claim was angrily denied.  Helen Clark said this:

I am absolutely incensed at the suggestion that some Defence Ministry personnel seem to have made to various diplomats that there was any connection between my support for sending engineers to do humanitarian work in Iraq with the interests of Fonterra, I mean this is simply preposterous.”

Of course you should compare this to National’s response at the time.  Rob has already posted the video containing John Key’s earlier get some guts comments.

For those who say that New Zealand Labour is no different to National the simple response is remember National.

41 comments on “Helen Clark on Iraq”

  1. Greg 1

    Its with some irony that Keys deployment of troops to Camp Taji is with some irony since it has never been successfully defended.
    Yet Keys fiction creator writers claim is somehow safe behind the lines,
    invoking some sense of security when reality its in the front lines.

    Lets hope it doesnt turn out to be a defeat.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Dien_Bien_Phu

    Iraq’s current military action is clearly against a rear guard.

    Concerning Helen Clark’s deployment of 60ish Engineers to Iraq
    I would be happy to see whatever they built, there must be some pictures.

  2. dukeofurl 2

    “Prosecution for war crimes should not be ruled out”

    Yes it should
    – even the ICC Prosecutors have ruled it out, for the simple reason they have no jurisdiction for crimes of aggression and Blair did not directly participate in war crimes in Iraq itself.
    “Since then, the crime of aggression has been defined in the ICC’s governing statute. However, this provision has not yet been brought into effect and will not be applied retrospectively. So there is no prospect of anyone facing charges of aggression arising from the Iraq war.” Guardian

    • Bill 2.1

      Yup. Gets off the hook. Unless some retrospective law in brought into being. Salmond is making noises along those lines ,so the bastard can be had up in the Scottish court system.

      Don’t know if his suggestion has legs, but I like the thought.

      • dukeofurl 2.1.1

        Bought up in the Scottish law system?
        Anything like that would be reserved to Westminster anyway. As you have said its really only something people like the sound of.

        • Bill 2.1.1.1

          Scottish criminal law isn’t reserved ffs. It’s completely separate.

          Blair sent Scottish troops to Iraq, therefore (presumably) can be held accountable under Scottish law.

          The only questions would be whether such a law would be passed and then whether it would be applied retrospectively.

          • Colonial Viper 2.1.1.1.1

            Just get Scotland to formally and independently recognise the Geneva Convention as the first step.

            • Bill 2.1.1.1.1.1

              ??? I dare say the Geneva Convention is recognised in Scottish Law already. I mean that in terms of that convention taking legal precedence in regards to any pre-existing law on the statute books.

              But whatever…

              • Colonial Viper

                If it is recognised in Scottish law already, all good, move to issue an arrest warrant for Blair on that basis.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.2

      even the ICC Prosecutors have ruled it out, for the simple reason they have no jurisdiction for crimes of aggression and Blair did not directly participate in war crimes in Iraq itself.

      Interesting considering that War Crimes were pretty much set down either after the First World War and/or the Second and that the UK has signed up to the ICC.

      Jurisdiction and admissibility

      The primary crimes are listed in article 5 of the Statute and defined in later articles: genocide (defined in article 6), crimes against humanity (defined in article 7), war crimes (defined in article 8), and crimes of aggression (defined in article 8 bis) (which is not yet within the jurisdiction of the Court; see below)

      Which would indicate that the ICC does have jurisdiction. Invasion is a War Crime.

      • McFlock 2.2.1

        Invasion is a War Crime.

        Not according to your link, it’s not: it’s a crime of aggression, and not currently under ICC jurisdiction.

        • Sanctuary 2.2.1.1

          It is a war crime. It is clear from Chilcot that Tony Blair committed a crime against international law under principle VI (a)(i) and (ii) of the Nuremburg principles:

          “…The crimes hereinafter set out are punishable as crimes under international law:
          (a) Crimes against peace:
          (i) Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances;
          (ii) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i). …”

          And he is clearly liable for prosecution under principles I, II & III.

          Principle I
          “Any person who commits an act which constitutes a crime under international law is responsible therefore and liable to punishment.”

          Principle II
          “The fact that internal law does not impose a penalty for an act which constitutes a crime under international law does not relieve the person who committed the act from responsibility under international law.”

          Principle III
          “The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime under international law acted as Head of State or responsible government official does not relieve him from responsibility under international law.”

          The British and US governments may not arrest him, but if I were him I would be very careful where I travelled in the future, since a lot of countries will.

          • McFlock 2.2.1.1.1

            Spanish judges seem to be good for that 🙂

            But the point is whether the ICC has jurisdiction over Blair’s going to war. According to DTB’s link, the ICC has a set criteria and definition of “war crime” that it has jurisdiction over. This is not the same as the Nuremberg principles, even if the term “war crime” is also used.

        • Draco T Bastard 2.2.1.2

          What I found interesting in the statement is that the ICC seems to have changed the definition from the previously accepted definition which stated, quite baldly, that prosecuting an aggressive war against another nation was itself a war crime because it contained all other war crimes.

          War Crimes: International Criminal Court 2002

          Unlawful wanton destruction
          Using poison weapons

          Both of those would apply. Wanton destruction because there was no reason for the war in the first place and using poison weapons because depleted uranium happens to be poisonous.

          So, as far as I’m concerned, what Blair/Bush did was most definitely a war crime and they and their hangers on need to be prosecuted for it.

          • McFlock 2.2.1.2.1

            Well the wriggle room is in the word “wanton” and in the fact that DU’s poisonous characteristic is not its functional purpose. Lead is also poisonous, but that’s not why it’s in bullets. Destruction isn’t wanton if it’s targeted.

            I agree, in my opinion also they went to war in Iraq with such obsession and fabrication that it was criminal. However, our opinions aren’t what dictate the jurisdiction of the ICC: it’s the opinions of its component states that count.

  3. dukeofurl 3

    “Labour subsequently sent engineers to Iraq to take part in the rebuild. Two rotations of 61 engineers were sent to Basra to perform engineering and humanitarian tasks.”

    See UN Security Council resolution 1483 allowing for humanitarian assistance and reconstruction.
    http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Documents/1483.pdf

  4. Steve Withers 4

    Canada and France and Germany (and most other developed nations) also stood aside and advised the invasion was ill-judged. Italy…..well…they got Berlusconi-ed into it. Nothing better than a populist conservative for best ensuring innocent people suffer and die.

    John Howard in Australia whored the lives of Aussie soldiers for a free trade deal his mates could make money from. That is about as low as one can go. National would have gone there, had they been in power. Memories of that time are why I can never vote for them. They would literally sell your life to make some money….

    • Draco T Bastard 4.1

      National would have gone there, had they been in power. Memories of that time are why I can never vote for them. They would literally sell your life to make some money….

      QFT

      They’re quite free with other peoples lives so that they and their rich mates can make higher profits.

      • mosa 4.1.1

        They would literally sell your life to make some money…
        Well said Draco.
        I am convinced that had Brash won in 2005 he would have kept his word to the american senators that 1 we would send troops to Iraq and 2 that the nuclear free legislation would be gone by lunchtime at the earliest opportunity.
        Helen was wise too stay out of what has been an utter disaster and the flimsy excuse too invade and occupy a country for its oil reserves and create a war with islam on the back of the WTC attack that the americans let happen and assisted in the towers destruction and the murder of 3000 of its innocent civilians who were killed at their place of work and the rescue staff trying too save them.
        And Bush had the nerve to call Iran and others the axis of evil !!!!

        • tc 4.1.1.1

          What do you expect from a nation that allegedly knew Japan was going to attack pearl harbour, as they’d broken their code, but did nothing to prepare the base for it.

          Out of all courses of action they chose to dispatch the aircraft carriers and other essential items of the fleet to sea as there’s nothing like some dead citizens to motivate a nation.

          WW2 showed Uncle Sam a few tricks he’s been using ever since.

          • Colonial Viper 4.1.1.1.1

            The US GOV was deliberately crippling Japan with energy and resource sanctions for months before that. And they knew that might be enough to give the pro-war lobby in Japan the upper hand.

  5. Save NZ 5

    At least Helen Clark had some principles and was honest.

    We call all look back with fondness, for the days when Granny Herald was full of vitriol against energy saving lightbulbs and paintings for charity. Now under the ‘brighter future’ we have unemployed farm workers being crushed to death and premature babies living in tents, billions in dollars in debt and selling our soul for magic beans and membership to a dubious club on the wrong side of history.

    Good luck to Helen in her UN bid.

    • Chooky 5.1

      “At least Helen Clark had some principles and was honest”….yes but I wonder if the present Labour Party under Andrew Little would have taken such a principled stand?…somehow I doubt it…

      • Incognito 5.1.1

        We’ll never know the answer to your question but we do know that AL and NZLP want to bring home the New Zealand troops from Iraq.

      • Rodel 5.1.2

        Listening to Andrew Little today I believe he would have taken the same decisions that Helen took. He and she have more integrity, honesty and intellect than the entire disorganized body of reprobates who are currently running our country.

      • mosa 5.1.3

        Chooky i would rather give Little the benefit of the doubt than let this current mongrel spend the next 18 months and possibly longer bullshitting and doing backroom deals to keep things from New Zealanders and not acting in the countries interest.
        Little is staying leader and that wont change now so if we all want to get this rabble out , we have to get Little in !!

  6. Ahu Te Ua 6

    Helen who ?

  7. Chooky 7

    It was Helen Clark’s finest moment…when she stood up to the warmongering bully boys….for this she deserves to be the next head of the United nations imo

    • leftie 7.1

      +1Chooky

    • ahu 7.2

      Pity her positive start was savaged by Racist shallow electioneering, namely Fore Shore and Sea Bed Act. That vile play drove a wedge between Maori and rest that set a dangerous anti Maori sentiment. Suck it up Lofty, one persons wit is another’s shit.

    • mosa 7.3

      Thats Better Chooky Helen stood up to our own bully boys and stared then down !!

  8. Sabine 8

    it was a good time to be a kiwi, being on the right side of history and knowing it. And yes this lady has ovaries made of brass. I miss her deeply. Her and Jeanette Fitzsimmons.

    • leftie 8.1

      +1 Sabine

    • mosa 8.2

      Helen was an intelligent socialist and her enemies tried every trick in the book to undermine her and the Labour government when it became clear that they could be in office and command the centre and keep winning elections.
      She got treated pretty badly at one tv debate with Brash in 2005 when as she came in the National party people abused her “You ugly lesbian bitch was yelled out amongst other nasty comments according to Brian Edwards who was present for the debate.
      She was above all that and she went on and she wiped the floor with Brash despite the appalling abuse and convinced kiwis that she deserved a third term.
      I look forward to her memoirs which will be one hell of a read but i will have to wait as she will be busy as the next Secretary General of the UN.
      A great brave kiwi icon, Good luck Helen.

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