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Truth out on wars

Written By: - Date published: 7:04 am, July 27th, 2010 - 12 comments
Categories: afghanistan, iraq, john key, uk politics, us politics, war - Tags: ,

British Deputy PM and leader of the Lib Dems, Nick Clegg, caused a bit of a sensation last week. Answering a question in Parliament, while standing in for the PM, he told the truth about Britain’s involvement in the Iraq war. The Guardian reports:

Nick Clegg’s ‘illegal’ Iraq war gaffe prompts legal warning

Coalition in confusion as deputy prime minister pronounces invasion ‘illegal’ at dispatch box

Nick Clegg was tonight forced to clarify his position on the Iraq war after he stood up at the dispatch box of the House of Commons and pronounced the invasion illegal.

The deputy prime minister insisted he was speaking in a personal capacity, as a leading international lawyer warned that the statement by a government minister in such a formal setting could increase the chances of charges against Britain in international courts. Philippe Sands, professor of law at University College London, said: “A public statement by a government minister in parliament as to the legal situation would be a statement that an international court would be interested in, in forming a view as to whether or not the war was lawful.”

… Clegg threw the government’s position concerning the legality of the Iraq war into confusion when, at the end of heated exchanges with Jack Straw, foreign secretary at the time of the war, Clegg said: “We may have to wait for his memoirs, but perhaps one day he will account for his role in the most disastrous decision of all: the illegal invasion of Iraq.” Clegg’s remarks could be legally significant because he was standing at the government dispatch box in the Commons.

In other breaking news yesterday, Wikileaks (so recently in the news for video footage of video of US troops gunning down Iraqis) has scored it’s biggest coup ever, releasing a huge cache of US military files. There are claims that these files contain evidence of war crimes. The Guardian again:

Afghanistan war logs: Massive leak of secret files exposes truth of occupation

• Hundreds of civilians killed by coalition troops
• Covert unit hunts leaders for ‘kill or capture’
• Steep rise in Taliban bomb attacks on Nato
• Read the Guardian’s full war logs investigation

A huge cache of secret US military files today provides a devastating portrait of the failing war in Afghanistan, revealing how coalition forces have killed hundreds of civilians in unreported incidents, Taliban attacks have soared and Nato commanders fear neighbouring Pakistan and Iran are fuelling the insurgency.

The disclosures come from more than 90,000 records of incidents and intelligence reports about the conflict obtained by the whistleblowers’ website Wikileaks in one of the biggest leaks in US military history. The files, which were made available to the Guardian, the New York Times and the German weekly Der Spiegel, give a blow-by-blow account of the fighting over the last six years, which has so far cost the lives of more than 320 British and more than 1,000 US troops.

Their publication comes amid mounting concern that Barack Obama’s “surge” strategy is failing and as coalition troops hunt for two US naval personnel captured by the Taliban south of Kabul on Friday.

So, now the truth is out there. Not a good week for warmongers.

PS – Wasn’t one of our own prominent politicians quite keen on joining both of these wars? Help me out here – who was that again?…


12 comments on “Truth out on wars”

  1. Pascal's bookie 1

    Interesting thoughts on the journalistic angle from Jay Rosen…


    5. And just as government doesn’t know what to make of Wikileaks (“we’re gonna hunt you down/hey, you didn’t contact us!’) the traditional press isn’t used to this, either. As Glenn Thrush noted on Politico.com:

    The WikiLeaks report presented a unique dilemma to the three papers given advance copies of the 92,000 reports included in the Afghan war logs — the New York Times, Germany’s Der Speigel and the UK’s Guardian.
    The editors couldn’t verify the source of the reports — as they would have done if their own staffers had obtained them — and they couldn’t stop WikiLeaks from posting it, whether they wrote about it or not.

    So they were basically left with proving veracity through official sources and picking through the pile for the bits that seemed to be the most truthful.

    Notice how effective this combination is. The information is released in two forms: vetted and narrated to gain old media cred, and released online in full text, Internet-style, which corrects for any timidity or blind spot the editors at Der Spiegel, The Times or the Guardian may show.

    6. From an editor’s note: “At the request of the White House, The Times also urged WikiLeaks to withhold any harmful material from its Web site.’ There’s the new balance of power, right there. In the revised picture we find the state, which holds the secrets but is powerless to prevent their release; the stateless news organization, deciding how to release them; and the national newspaper in the middle, negotiating the terms of legitimacy between these two actors.

    Plenty more at link.

  2. Gooner 2

    PS Wasn’t one of our own prominent politicians quite keen on joining both of these wars? Help me out here who was that again?

    Well it’s a disgrace Helen Clark sent our SAS troops into Afghanistan.

    • zimmer 2.1

      No Gooner, Labour fights good wars, National fights illegal wars. It turned illegal around 8/11/08.

    • r0b 2.2

      After the invasion Clark sent about 120 reconstruction engineers and about 50 SAS to help with peace keeping and reconstruction in Afghanistan. I personally think that she was wrong to send the SAS.

      But it’s a million miles from that deployment to having Kiwi combat troops participate in the illegal invasions of both Iraq and Afghanistan – which is what armchair general Johnny was demanding – spittle flying – during his rant to the house. History has shown his demands to be the ranting of a fool.

  3. Gooner 3

    There’s a “good” war?

  4. Helen Clark sent troops at the request of the UN. John Key sent troops at the request of the US.

  5. Gooner 5

    UN = good.

    US = bad.

    • r0b 5.1

      Why do you hate the US Gooner? It’s really –

      International peacekeeping = good

      Unilateral wars of aggression = bad.

      • Anne 5.1.1

        Gooner and his mates here wouldn’t know the difference r0b.

        Has Key been asked about the wikileaks leaks? I hope Labour and the Greens get stuck into him at question time today.

        • Pascal's bookie

          There’s not a lot in there about Kiwi’s, but they could use some of the revelations as a reason to ask about why he seems to have changed his mind about us being there, given his recent musings that we shan’t be there for much longer.

          Something’s changed, we deserve to know what that is. The stated reasons he had to redeploy the SAS (Osama is in Pakistan! Bali!1 Pulling our weight!!!) are no more nonsensical now than they were then.

  6. prism 6

    It seems a crunch time for analysis of the entry into and outcomes of war – the previous head of MI5 who is knowledgable and pragmatic has interesting things to say about Iraq. There are sad revelations and repetitions for ordinary westerners and the Iraqi people.

    Link saying that Brit involvement in Iraq war helped radicalise British youth towards terrorism against Britain.
    Link giving further background and perspective.

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