Archive for the ‘Sierra Leone’ Category

The “whack-doodles” who want Tony Blair Sacked, Harangued, Hagued, Hanged…

June 27, 2014

27th June, 2014

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It must be almost seven years since I started pointing out to #twitternumptyland‘s misfits that Tony Blair is not and never has been the “Middle East Peace Envoy”. He is the Representative of the Quartet’s Envoys.

UN announcement, 27th June 2007:

To this end, Mr. Blair, who also stepped down as Prime Minister today, has been named Representative, a position in which he will “bring continuity and intensity of focus to the work of the Quartet in support of the Palestinians, within the broader framework of the Quartet’s efforts to promote an end to the conflict in conformity with the Roadmap.”

His duties will include mobilizing international assistance to the Palestinians and working closely with donors and others, as well as helping to identify and securing support in addressing the Palestinian state’s institutional governance needs.

In his new role, Mr. Blair – who be supported in his efforts by a small expert team based in Jerusalem – will also develop plans to promote Palestinian economic development and will communicate with other countries in support of agreed Quartet objectives.

He will “spend significant time in the region working with the parties and others to help create viable and lasting government institutions representing all Palestinians, a robust economy, and a climate of law and order for the Palestinian people,” the Quartet said.

For those who don’t recall or care that was the same day Mr Blair ceased to be Prime Minister. Seven years on much of the British media (and those on twitter who don’t research fully) still refer to him as “the Middle East peace envoy”. I suggest the stickiness of that misnomer has more to do with wishing him to fail and thus being in a position to say such failure was because he was ill-suited to “peace-making” in the first place.

I realise that being the Representative of the Quartet’s Envoys compared with being the Quartet’s envoy is a fine distinction for some. Of the order of comparison that being an accused prisoner is similar to being an accused prisoner’s legal representative. No?

In fact the constant muddling of these roles is central if you are ever tempted to RT or just copy automaton-like a “Sack Blair” or “Blair to the Hague” tweet.

Before I continue to irritate, I have to thank Mark Lott for the “whack-doodles” title. It applies neatly to such as Noam Chomsky, George Galloway, Ken Livingstone, George Monbiot, Clare Short, Tom Watson and Russell Brand.

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Even ‘The Brains’ Have Lost It

“Whack-doodles” also applies to people with quite a few brain cells, such as Stephen Fry, Sir Richard Dalton and former diplomat Oliver Miles.

Oliver Miles, if little else, sets the record straight in his video pour encourager les autres. A pity they didn’t change the title of the video too, as Mr Blair is an ineligible candidate for carting off to The Hague (for reasons kindly expanded on by Miles at the end of the video.)

Worth remembering: On 22 November 2009, Miles published an article in the Independent on Sunday, in which he partly questioned the appointment of two British historians to the Iraq inquiry panel because of their Jewish background and previous support for Israel. Oliver Miles has further form on criticising Blair and British foreign policy (2004 letter)

Of course we all realise that all of this Sack Blair business is going nowhere and is of no consequence. The haters are playing a game. They play like spoilt brats, in denial over anything Tony Blair does, did, didn’t do, might have done, could have done or should have done. Good or bad, they deny him any coherence of thought or integrity of strategic purpose. They suffer from a disease. Like a patient in an asylum they accuse the nurse of having their sickness.

So if Blair is not “bad” (via the unutterably bad George Galloway), he is “mad” (according to the slightly bonkers Boris Johnson); or at least “sad” (according to David Owen, the disappointed never was leader of the Labour party). And to add insult to injury, the former PM is now rich, which is the worst thing EVER for some of the left righteous.

Forget anything Blair ever did that was of any value for mankind. Forget that boys in Kosovo are named after him after he saved Kosovars from ethnic cleansing by Milosevic. Forget Sierra Leoneans love him after he stopped Liberia’s Charles Taylor’s limb-choppers (Taylor was sentenced to 50 years). Forget that Iraqi Kurds look up to him as a hero for removing Saddam. Forget the minimum wage, the peace settlement in Northern Ireland, devolution for Scotland & Wales,  equal rights. Blair did something the whack-doodles disagree with, so he is clearly material for their life-consuming revulsion.

Sacked, Harangued, Hagued and even Hanged

  • The call to “sack Blair” (disregarding the impossibility of sacking anyone from a job they don’t hold) I get.
  • The determination to pursue him to the end of his days I utterly detest, but it is par for the course for such as Monbiot and Galloway. So I get that too.
  • The invocation of an appearance at The Hague is no more than an eye-catching dream for haters. Thus I get that too.
  • But every time I see a violence-hating peace-lover say “hang Blair” I am repulsed. I see that far too often online and I blame those who say “he will never answer for his crimes”. If that’s the case, what to do, hmm? Incitement is a crime and such as Monbiot & Galloway should be up in court for it.  Jonathan Meades – whose “historical novel” would be The Trial and Execution of Tony Blair – normalises the unthinkable.

These recent articles are worth a read if you don’t think Blair should be Sacked, Harangued, Hagued or Hanged

Lord Campbell-Savours – Back-stabbing of Blair is vomit-inducing

“The idea that most of us supported intervention on the single justification of WMD is nonsense. Our concerns went far wider”

Robbie Travers – Intervening in Iraq was still the right thing to do

“Let’s be quite clear for the various Saddam nostalgists, fetishists, apologists and amorists: Saddam was far from just the leader of a totalitarian state, he was a genocidal megalomaniac who threatened to destabilise the security of the entire Middle East and was holding the world to ransom.”

John O’Sullivan – No, Tony Blair and the West Aren’t To Blame For Violence in the Muslim World

“But Blair is such a polarizing figure that whatever he says, half of the country will assert the opposite. In addition there is in Britain, as in much of the Western world, a masochistic appetite for self-blame and self-condemnation. For these two reasons it strikes many people as outrageous for Blair to claim that he is not responsible for Boko Haram’s kidnapping of schoolgirls or the murders of prisoners committed by ISIS.”

What Does Tony Blair Think He’s Up To? Utterly Disgraceful!

May 31, 2012

All blog posts 2012 + Original, from 2006 to 2012

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31st May 2012

I have more to write on Tony Blair’s evidence session at the Leveson Inquiry on Monday (see previous – Excuse Me. We’re Missing The Mood Music ) but honestly I just couldn’t ignore THIS for one moment longer. (Slaps on best Nick Cohen Disgusted Face!)

Faiths Act in Sierra Leone reaches 100,000 homes

The Tony Blair Faith Foundation’s groundbreaking interfaith programme to tackle malaria in Sierra Leone has reached 100,000 homes and over 600 thousand individuals. Sierra Leone has only 102 medics but a huge network of churches and mosques. The Foundation’s programme, Faiths Act in Sierra Leone, is utilising these networks to disseminate key preventative health messages on malaria and the results have abundantly surpassed expectations.

Tony Blair, Founder and Patron of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation said: “Integrating faith communities into national malaria plans in Sierra Leone has been incredibly effective. The 100, 000 homes reached in just six months by faith leaders and their networks tells its own story. The great strength of churches and mosques are not so much their bricks and mortar – though their hospitals and dispensaries play a vital role in many areas – but their communities, networks and leaders. Faith leaders work through compassion and a theological responsibility to do good, and are able to pass on simple but vital health messages to their communities.”

The programme in Sierra Leone is creating a pyramid training structure – a small number of faith leaders are trained in malaria prevention; these vital health messages are then passed onto congregants who carry out household to household visits delivering simple, practical advice throughout the country.

The depth and value of the contribution of faith communities to health in Africa has been so far difficult to measure due to a lack of data. The Tony Blair Faith Foundation is working to help change this. Each aspect of the work in Sierra Leone is evaluated. Every week the number of households who have been taught about malaria prevention is recorded. More importantly, the number who are now are using bed-nets properly, or making timely visits to clinics where children show symptoms of malaria, is also recorded.

Banke Adetayo, Faiths Act Fellow, helping lead the programme on the ground recently said, “As we celebrate reaching this key milestone I have been reflecting on two things: the deep commitment of faith communities in Sierra Leone to work together to rid their society of this devastating disease and the realisation that despite the success of the programme so far we need to continue our work and strive even higher if we are to achieve the UN’s target of zero deaths from malaria by 2015.”

In tandem, the Foundation is also working to highlight the effectiveness of faith communities in health messaging. In collaboration with the Berkeley Center at Georgetown University, Washington DC, the Foundation has recently published “Global Health and Africa” – a report on faith communities’ work in the healthcare world.  It details what we know about how much faith communities contribute to health care, what we don’t know and what we ought to know. Research is also underway to find out just how effective religious leaders are at giving health messages in their communities.

Latest statistics from Faiths Act in Sierra Leone

  • Number of MFAs trained to date: 234
  • Number of MFCs trained to date: 6,320
  • Number of first household visits: 118,142 (with an average of 5-6 people per household). This means the project has reached over 600,000 people all over Sierra Leone, just through household visits alone.
  • Number of second household visits: 99,427
  • Estimated number of people who have been reached through community activities 203,043 (does not include additional people reached through radio and TV.)

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Pt 2 – ICC trials. Britain stopped murderous “war criminals” in Balkans & Sierra Leone

May 22, 2012

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23rd May 2012

This post follows on from here – ICC trials. Britain stopped “war crimes” in Balkans & Sierra Leone. Why no press mention of OUR role?

MEANWHILE AT THE HAGUE

Ratko Mladic

On 16th May at the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia, former Bosnian Serb army chief Mladic

The Bosnian Serb army commander Ratko Mladic is on trial in The Hague 20 years after the start of the conflict. He is charged with 11 counts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, including the massacre of almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica in 1995.

Charles Taylor

Again at The Hague Former Liberian President Charles Taylor has already been found guilty at the Special Court for Sierra Leone of 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, and conscripting child soldiers.  After a trial of several years which started in Sierra Leone and was moved for Taylor’s security reasons to The Hague, judges at the U.N.-backed court said his aid was essential in helping rebels across the border in Sierra Leone continue their bloody rampage during the West African nation’s decade-long civil war, which ended in 2002 with more than 50,000 dead.

That would be this Sierra Leone.

And yet some braincell-challenged twerps tweeps still see Tony Blair as being just as culpable of chargeable war crimes as Taylor and (the as yet unconvicted) Mladic, the forerunner of this kind of Kosovo ethnic cleansing. After Srebrenica we can’t say we hadn’t been forewarned.

BOSNIA FAILURE

It is true, and some might suggest it is shameful, that John Major’s Conservative government was not moved to intervene as Mladic killed tens of thousands on Europe’s doorstep. Not that John Major was the only European or international leader to ignore Bosnia.  They all did. Once in office Tony Blair made it clear he was no John Major. He even persuaded President Bill Clinton how best to deal with Yugoslavian President Slobodan Miloševic and his cronies over Kosovo atrocities.

Clearly my responsibilities and moral rectitude compass is out of kilter with the norm. What we SHOULD be doing is applauding John Major for er… doing nothing.

COLLECTIVE EMBARRASSMENT

The excuse by some for seldom if ever praising Blair is that Iraq was the wrong decision for the wrong reasons, perhaps even lies. Therefore it follows, goes this ‘thinking’, that Blair was always wrong and always a liar. Even when he was right and clearly not lying. That utterly wrong-headed excuse has no traction as to whether we should thank Tony Blair for what he and his government did in a European country and in an African country at the turn of the century.

The only things that should embarrass us about our approach to Blair’s foreign policy is our own lack of common sense, our short political memory, our lack of support for oppressed peoples and with regard to Blair himself – our sense of fairness, even courtesy.

LOVED BY THE POLITICIANS (mostly), HATED BY THE BIASED

In fact real practising politicians do not hate Tony Blair as do many so-called columnists and their little commenters at such as the Daily Mail, Guardian and  Independent. The Conservatives were more gung-ho for the Iraq invasion than were some in Labour and it was only through their support that he had parliamentary permission to go to war. To the present Tory part of the frontbench he is still “The Master”. The Chancellor, George Osborne is said to enjoy listening to Blair recite his audio version of his memoirs “A Journey”.  And we all know where David Cameron gets his hand gestures from.

What of the other half of the coalition? The Liberal Democrats have long been against the Iraq war. That position is the reason I am never likely to vote for them again. But they are not all so lacking in international political nous.  Alex Carlile worked under Blair & then Brown from 2005 to 2011 as the independent reviewer of British anti-terrorist laws. And former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown was recommended by Blair as High Representative for Bosnia & Herzegovina, a position he took up in May 2002.  Ashdown had been a long-time advocate of international intervention in that region.

On 14 March 2002 former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown testified as a witness for the prosecution at the trial of Slobodan Miloševic at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Milosevic was found dead in his prison cell at the Hague in March 2006. He had faced charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged central role in the wars in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo during the 1990s.  He’d also faced genocide charges over the 1992-95 Bosnia war, in which 100,000 people died.

See Ratko Mladic trial postponed, and Charles Taylor trial background.

OBDURATE MEDIA

Our media is being deliberately obdurate in its determination to elevate its Blair hatred to impenetrable heights, or rather to depressing depths.

It is already guilty of failing to notice that Tony Blair was right on our Responsibility to Protect as mentioned here.

The apparent side-stepping even deliberate ignoring of actions of which we as Brits should be immensely proud is only the next step on its “Let’s Get the Real Criminal” game.

Meanwhile, recently, Tony Blair spoke to Stanford Graduate Business Students regarding Africa governance issues and was applauded loudly, stigmata marks or not.

(See African Governance Initiative and for full video see here )

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ICC trials. Britain stopped “war crimes” in Balkans & Sierra Leone. Why no press mention of OUR role?

May 19, 2012

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20th May 2012

The simple and  depressing answer to the question posed in my headline…

… because Tony Blair was involved in the stopping of such “war crimes”

Stigmata may not be visible, nor a mark of the way Mr Blair would wish to emulate Jesus.  But he has been stigmatised.

STIGMA

Despite, arguably, somewhat slanted American-made portrayals of heroes & anti-heroes as in Blood Diamond our own dear British media and certainly our spin-loving entertainment industry has a blind spot when it comes to thanking Tony Blair for anything. Even – perhaps especially – when he inarguably deserves our unbounded praise.

I am sure this state of affairs would be a worthy topic for psychoanalysis of the mind & mindset of the mass media. Here I am not so ambitious. I only wish to make the disconcerting observation.

Someone tweeted me the other day that there seems to be a (media) stigma attached to our former prime minister. True, some do seem to have ‘crucified’ him while washing their hands and bemoaning “I am innocent of this man’s blood”

One day, hopefully in the not-too-distant future, historians will look back on this period of press-inspired Blair hatred and wonder how on earth seemingly balanced people were so comprehensively taken in by the Fourth Estate and its agenda.

MEANWHILE AT THE HAGUE –

Ratko Mladic & Charles Taylor

(to be continued in next post…)

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Responsibility to Protect (RtoP)? As in UN Charter since 2005. Syria anyone?

May 16, 2012

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16th May 2012

I mentioned the Responsibility to Protect a few days ago but got distracted. Next morning we heard that twin suicide car-bomb attacks had killed at least 55 people and wounded 372 in Damascus.

But we live in interesting times. Since then twitterwonderland has lol-ed into Leveson hysteria at David Cameron’s hitherto mis-comprehension of the meaning of “LOL” according to the now charged with criminality Rebekah Brooks. France has a new left-wing President who brought with his instant visit to Merkel’s Germany some bad news and inclement weather. Greece is still on its in/out EU game and Ed Miliband is  talking to Tony Blair & even Peter Mandelson who is talking to Ed Balls. Elsewhere, Bosnian Serb army commander Ratko Mladic is on trial in The Hague 20 years after the start of the conflict, charged with 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including the massacre of more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica in 1995.  And Charles Taylor at his own Hague trial says he sympathises with victims of the civil war in Sierra Leone he helped foment. That would be THIS Sierra Leone. and yet some braincell-challenged little tweeps still see Tony Blair as just as evil as Taylor, yes and even Mladic. Mladic of THIS kind of Kosovo ethnic cleansing.

WOW! Isn’t life grand?

So where was I?

Oh yes, Syria and the Right/Responsibility to Protect.

As Kofi Annan’s UN monitors come under attack and the rest of the world looks away at all its other problems why do we not care a little more about the ongoing carnage in Syria? After all, don’t we have a right, even a responsibility to protect?

SYRIA

DOES THE WORLD HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY, EVEN A RIGHT TO PROTECT?

UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon, UN report January 2009. That was more than 3 years ago. (See pdf file)

Syrian opposition activists’ handout picture of Juret al-Shayah district in Homs, were regime forces have reportedly shelled rebel-held neighbourhoods since the truce took effect. Photograph: -/AFP/Getty Images

“When a State nevertheless was “manifestly failing” to protect its population from the four specified crimes and violations, they confirmed that the international community was prepared to take collective action in a “timely and decisive manner” through the Security Council and in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.” Source

In the light, or rather darkness of the unfolding situation in Syria, some may wonder  –

WHY does the UN fail to ACT decisively in Syria?

Surely the R2P (RtoP) gives the UN the right AND responsibility to act in defence of the Syrian people being massacred? Sadly, yes and no, though not necessarily in that order. A little like so-called International Law, it depends.

The responsibility to protect (RtoP or R2P) is a United Nations initiative established in 2005. It consists of an emerging norm or set of principles, based on the idea that sovereignty is not a privilege, but a responsibility. RtoP focuses on preventing and halting four crimes: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing, which it places under the generic umbrella term of Mass Atrocity Crimes.

The Responsibility to Protect has three “pillars”.

  1. A state has a responsibility to protect its population from mass atrocities.
  2. The international community has a responsibility to assist the state if it is unable to protect its population on its own.
  3. If the state fails to protect its citizens from mass atrocities and peaceful measures have failed, the international community has the responsibility to intervene through coercive measures such as economic sanctions. Military intervention is considered the last resort.

So, did you get that? If pillar 1 is missing, as in Syria, pillar 2 and then 3 are written into the UN Charter including the “last resort”. But –

In the international community RtoP is a norm, not a law. RtoP provides a framework for using tools that already exist, i.e. mediation, early warning mechanisms, economic sanctioning, and chapter VII powers, to prevent mass atrocities. Civil society organizations, States, regional organizations, and international institutions all have a role to play in the R2P process. The authority to employ the last resort and intervene militarily rests solely with United Nations Security Council and the General Assembly.

KOFI ANNAN and “History”

The world watches and waits in despair as Kofi Annan struggles to balance the fact that the UN does NOT practise what it preaches. It is like the drunkard who says in moments of sober lucidity “I’ll never touch the stuff again”, until the next time. The UN, which is meant to DO good, as well as sound good, is limited by its own shortcomings as well as by many of its membership.

History

Following the genocide in Rwanda and the international community’s failure to intervene, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan asked the question – “when does the international community intervene for the sake of protecting populations?” In 2000, the UN explicitly declared its reaction to Rwanda a “failure”. Then Kofi Annan said of the event – “The international community failed Rwanda and that must leave us always with a sense of bitter regret.”.

The Canadian government established the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) in September 2000. In February 2001, at the third round table meeting of the ICISS in London, Gareth Evans, Mohamed Sahnoun and Michael Ignatieff suggested the phrase “responsibility to protect” as a way to avoid the “right to intervene” or “obligation to intervene” doctrines and yet keep a degree of duty to act to resolve humanitarian crises.

In December 2001, the ICISS released its report, The Responsibility to Protect. The report presented the idea that sovereignty is a responsibility and that the international community had the responsibility to prevent mass atrocities. Economic, political, and social measures were to be used along with diplomatic engagement. Military intervention, as mentioned before, was presented as a last resort. R2P included efforts to rebuild by bringing security and justice to the victim population and by finding the root cause of the mass atrocities.

The African Union pioneered the concept that the international community has a responsibility to intervene in crisis situations if the State is failing to protect its population. In the founding charter in 2005 African nations declared that the “protection of human and peoples rights” would be a principal objective of the AU and that the Union had the right “to intervene in a Member State pursuant to a decision of the Assembly in respect of grave circumstances, namely war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.” The AU also adopted the Ezulwini Consensus in 2005, which welcomed RtoP as a tool for the prevention of mass atrocities.

Forgive me if I am sceptical here, but it seems to me that mention might have been made of Tony Blair’s Doctrine of the International Community (1999) and of the Iraq intervention. In the latter case the roles such as George Bush and Tony Blair and others played in incidentally embarrassing the UN over its colossal failure to intervene in Iraq for 12 years. If an earlier intervention had been made it might have cut short Saddam’s 30 years slaughter of his own people.

The United Nations mandate

At the 2005 World Summit Member States included RtoP in the Outcome Document agreeing to Paragraphs 138 and 139. These paragraphs gave final language to the scope of RtoP. It applies to the four mass atrocities crimes only. It also identifies to whom the R2P protocol applies, i.e. nations first, regional and international communities second.

Paragraphs 138 and 139 state:

138. Each individual State has the responsibility to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. This responsibility entails the prevention of such crimes, including their incitement, through appropriate and necessary means. We accept that responsibility and will act in accordance with it. The international community should, as appropriate, encourage and help States to exercise this responsibility and support the United Nations in establishing an early warning capability.

139. The international community, through the United Nations, also has the responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, in accordance with Chapters VI and VIII of the Charter, to help protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. In this context, we are prepared to take collective action, in a timely and decisive manner, through the Security Council, in accordance with the Charter, including Chapter VII, on a case-by-case basis and in cooperation with relevant regional organizations as appropriate, should peaceful means be inadequate and national authorities manifestly fail to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. We stress the need for the General Assembly to continue consideration of the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and its implications, bearing in mind the principles of the Charter and international law. We also intend to commit ourselves, as necessary and appropriate, to helping States build capacity to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and to assisting those which are under stress before crises and conflicts break out.

2005 World Summit Outcome Document.

In April 2006, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) reaffirmed the provisions of paragraphs 138 and 139 in resolution (S/RES/1674). This formalized their support for the Responsibility to Protect. The next major advancement in RtoP came in January 2009, when UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released a report called Implementing the Responsibility to Protect. His report led to a debate in the General Assembly in July 2009 and the first time since 2005 that the General Assembly had come together to discuss the responsibility to protect. Ninety-four member states spoke. Most supported the R2P principle although some important concerns were voiced. They discussed how to implement RtoP in crisis situations around the world. The debate highlighted the need for regional organizations like the African Union to play a strong role in implementing RtoP; the need for stronger early warning mechanisms in the United Nations; and the need to clarify the roles UN bodies would play in implementing RtoP.

One outcome of the debate was the first RtoP resolution adopted by the General Assembly. The Resolution (A/RES/63/308) showed that the international community had not forgotten about the importance of the responsibility to protect and it committed to further address the issues involved.

In Practice

Threshold for military interventions

According to the International Commission for Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) Report in 2001 (which was not adopted by national governments), any form of a military intervention initiated under the premise of responsibility to protect must fulfill the following six criteria in order to be justified as an extraordinary measure of intervention:

  1. Just Cause
  2. Right Intention
  3. Final Resort
  4. Legitimate Authority
  5. Proportional Means
  6. Reasonable Prospect

Instances

Events that have involved mass atrocities since the Cold war:

Criticism

RtoP and National Sovereignty

One of the main concerns surrounding RtoP is that it infringes upon national sovereignty. This concern is rebutted by the Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in the report Implementing the Responsibility to Protect. According to the first pillar of RtoP, the state has the responsibility to protect its populations from mass atrocities and ethnic cleansing, and according to the second pillar the international community has the responsibility to help States fulfill their responsibility. Advocates of RtoP claim that only occasions where the international community will intervene on a State without its consent is when the state is either allowing mass atrocities to occur, or is committing them, in which case the State is no longer upholding its responsibilities as a sovereign. In this sense RtoP can be understood as reinforcing sovereignty. However it is not clear who makes this decision on behalf of ‘international community’. Because of this in practical terms, RtoP is perceived as a tool of western countries to justify violations of sovereignty of other countries especially in developing world, using international institutions The West controls.

Libya, 2011

On March 19, 2011, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) approved resolution 1973 which reiterated the responsibility of the Libyan authorities to protect the Libyan population. The UNSC resolution reaffirmed “that parties to armed conflicts bear the primary responsibility to take all feasible steps to ensure the protection of civilians…” It demanded “an immediate ceasefire in Libya, including an end to the current attacks against civilians, which it said might constitute ‘crimes against humanity’… It imposed a ban on all flights in the country’s airspace, a no-fly zone, and tightened sanctions on the Qadhafi regime and its supporters.” The resolution passed with 10 in favor, 0 against and 5 abstains. Two of the five permanent members of the council abstained, China and Russia. The subsequent military action by NATO resulted in mixed opinions. Detractors of the intervention believe that problems in Libya are best resolved amongst Libyans.

RtoP Scope

The scope of RtoP is often questioned. The concern is whether RtoP should apply to more than the four crimes: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing. For example, should RtoP be used to protect civilians in peril following natural disasters? In general, the consensus is that the scope of RtoP should remain narrow and well-defined. At the General Assembly debate on RtoP in July 2009, several Member States reaffirmed the original scope of RtoP and said that broadening the applicability of RtoP could diminish its effectiveness.

In other words it was agreed to fail to agree.

Use of Military Intervention

The question of military intervention under the third pillar of RtoP remains controversial. Several states have argued that RtoP should not allow the international community to intervene militarily on States, because to do so is an infringement upon sovereignty. Others argue that this a necessary facet of RtoP, and is necessary as a last resort to stop mass atrocities. A related argument surrounds the question as to whether more specific criteria should be developed to determine when the Security Council should authorize military intervention.

Selectivity in the Security Council

Another concern surrounding RtoP is that the Security Council in the UN, when deciding to which crises RtoP applies, have been selective and biased. A veto from one of the five permanent members brings bias to the process. As an example, the UNSC did not vote to intervene in Chechnya because Russia opposed such action. This has been acknowledged as an issue of major concern, and has hindered the implementation of RtoP. Some of those involved advocate that the UNSC permanent members agree not to use their veto when proven mass atrocities are taking place.

Tony Blair’s 1999  “Doctrine of The International Community” was a valiant attempt, if ahead of its time, to put into words why the international community must learn to work and act together.

WHERE ARE WE?

Because the “international community” (a misnomer if ever there was one) has not yet learned how to work and act together in the face of such refuseniks as Russia and China, we are where we are today. Frankly nowhere. This is not helped when international law as it is written and as it is adhered to and practised are not always the same thing.

I am on record as not supporting intervention in Syria. This is not because I wish to leave Syrians to be massacred by their own president – Assad.  It is simply that until the international community (including the Arab world, Russia & China) gets itself organised as an entity I am not up to the lifetime job of arguing the reasons that western interventionists are right and are NOT “war criminals” for trying to stop such atrocities.

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Tony Blair – Sierra Leone – Charles Taylor. Where’s the Guardian’s Alex Renton’s follow-up?

April 30, 2012

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30th April 2012

Pre -addendum (if there’s such a thing: Hat tip to my tweeting friend Citizen Sane, even if the Guardian editorial url he sent me was the day after the one I used ;0).  His link was an index pointing to Thursday’s editorial. Mine was direct. As the good citizen says – “They always put opinion pieces & leaders online the night before. But this was printed in Friday’s physical edition.” Pedants united.

WE WON THE WAR

This is a follow-on to my previous post “As Charles Taylor is convicted, Tony Blair says he is proud of Britain’s role in Sierra Leone”

There I called out our broadcasters BBC & SkyNews  for their great forgetfulness.  It’s arguable that this was not the time in their reports of the Taylor conviction to refer to the month-long Operation Palliser (May/June 2001).  Or to its precursor the September 2010 rescue mission Operation Barras. Clearly, given the omission to even hint at these they were not about to praise Tony Blair or even General David Richards for actually ending Sierra Leone’s 11 year civil war.

Rule Number 1 for our media: Never praise any action which hints at interventionism if Tony Blair’s name is attached.

It’s on a different scale but this approach is like the British press discussing the Nuremberg trials without mentioning Winston Churchill’s WW2 victory. (Btw, you might be interested in what Churchill thought should be done with Nazis, post-war. (Jump here, just so you know)

Today it’s the Guardian’s turn for a touch of my what’s-it-all-aboutery.

This was Alex Renton at The Guardian/Observer, April 2010

“Sierra Leone: one place where Tony Blair remains an unquestioned hero” Sub-heading: “A decade after its civil war, Sierra Leone is still desperately poor but is grateful for Britain’s intervention and the foreign investment gradually rebuilding the nation.”

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Compare that with the Guardian “Editorial” of  last Thursday, 26th April 2012 as the former Liberian President Charles Taylor was convicted:

“Charles Taylor: long march of international justice – Sub-heading “There is still a long way to go before the goal of ending impunity for crimes against humanity has been reached”

Hardly the sub-heading one might expect if one was mainly writing about the verdict on Taylor and/or the reasons for that verdict.  Both heading and sub-heading clearly insufficient if one hardly mentions the crimes of Taylor and/or who or what put a stop to them. Or am I being …

PARANOID?

Forgive me if I don my suspicious, alternative-agenda querying hat. Someone at twitter suggested I was being paranoid the other day. Well, as they say ‘just because you’re paranoid it doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you’.

True, the editorial at The Guardian did mention other African leaders and it did not hint at western leaders to be tried per se (only their generals!) Excerpt:

“Like Liberia or Sierra Leone, the justice system is dysfunctional (in cases of this importance) in Russia too, but it is a safe bet that no Russian leader will ever appear before an international court of justice for war crimes committed in Chechnya. The same is true of China and Tibet, or US or British generals for war crimes committed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Might, or a seat on the UN security council, still appears to be right. If the arm of international law is long, it is also selective. So the charge that the international courts are largely confined to Africa, sticks. If impunity is to end, jurisdiction has to be universal.”

INTERVENTIONISM BY ANY OTHER NAME

Peddling the same old same old moral equivalence the Guardian managed in its recent editorial to feed the germ of anti-west action particularly when it is “interventionism”. To the average Guardianisto intervention is never for any other reason than west-serving power, cosying up to big global business, subjugation of the masses, neo-colonialism; it is clearly never altruistic and most definitely NOT EVER to spread liberal democracy.

Putting aside paranoia for a moment, you may observe, if you are observant, that in this whole Guardian “editorial” there was no mention of our former Prime Minister or of Britain’s actions in Sierra Leone in 2000/1 .  That omission despite the fact that it is generally accepted and understood that only after the Blair government & its armed forces managed to stop the limb-chopping rebels did the war come to an end. Few doubt that without Blair agreeing to General David Richards belief that he could extend his ‘rescue Brits mission’ to defeating the rebels and saving Sierra Leoneans, those Charles Taylor-funded rebels would have gone on to kill and maim many thousands more. Compare our press telling of this tale to that of the USA where they make movies such as “Blood Diamonds” and even claim credit when it isn’t truly theirs.

I have to assume that Alex Renton wasn’t around when they needed this “editorial”.

HISTORICAL GUARDIAN BIAS AGAINST INTERVENTIONISM & TONY BLAIR

As we know the Guardian has form on vilifying Tony Blair, even when he gets intervention unquestionably right. For instance in November 2001 “Blair’s good guys in Sierra Leone”,  subtitled – “British intervention has yet to transform a failed war on terror”

The reason for that article? In the aftermath of 9/11 and with the Afghanistan war barely a month old, the Guardian needed to provide any reason it could to show why the Afghanistan operation was a bad idea and of course to try to stop further interventions. So it shamefully poured cold water on the renowned success of Blair’s Sierra Leone intervention.

In this 2001 article David Keen says –

“But hailing the British intervention [Sierra Leone] as a success is extremely premature. Even before September 11, the commitment of British troops was being scaled down amid growing commitments in Macedonia. Britain’s portrayal of the conflict as a struggle between good and evil has served as an excuse for continuing corruption and the neglect of rural grievances. Most worrying, many of those who perpetrated some of the worst abuses against civilians, including junta leaders such as Johnny Paul Koroma, have now been absorbed into the army, which has been re-equipped by the British. Such moral ambiguities put one in mind of the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan.

September 11, we are told, demands a new kind of war against a highly elusive enemy. But terror and elusive enemies were not invented on that day. Around the world, proliferating weapons and deep-seated anger are fuelling conflicts that cannot be adequately understood, or combated, as the struggle between two teams, let alone between good and evil. Ultimately, whether in Africa’s neglected conflicts or in the higher-profile attacks of September 11, the only defence will be to defuse the underlying anger.”

BECAUSE WE’RE BRITISH, CHAPS

Why will Charles Taylor likely be jailed in Britain some are asking. Answer: because we’re British, don’t you know! And we do the right thing, as we jolly well ought since clearly Johnny Foreigner can’t be expected to. This last sentence is in fact my intentional snipe at our submission on the ongoing Abu Qatada case. Even normal human beings, like Blairites for instance, seem to have little doubt that we Brits must always and invariably do as the EHCR overrules ur – sorry – directs us,  regardless of how stupid & gullible we look.

My good friend John Rentoul said here“We’re British, which means Abu Qatada should stay” Why? Because, it seems – “We have more respect here for ‘innocent until proved guilty’… British law is more respectful of the principle of innocent until proved guilty – with guilt not proven until appeals are exhausted. There is something to be said for that.”

Well maybe. But as John Rentoul and I know ‘innocent until proven guilty’ only applies to anyone whose name is not Tony Blair. THAT pre-judgement by so-called  ‘public opinion’ is the very reason I have my doubts about the “because we’re British” argument.

But just as I want Abu Qatada out,  I’m all for keeping Charles Taylor locked up here in Britain. That way he is not likely to find himself missing a limb like the innocent Sierra Leonean child below. And it may remind us why he was convicted in the first place. Not to mention why we should thank Tony Blair. All three reasons – because we’re British.

CHURCHILL’S WISH FOR RE NAZIS “RESPONSIBLE” (source)

During the Moscow Conference in November 1943, representatives vowed that there would be punishment of the major war criminals. At the Yalta Conference (also known as the Crimea Conference), in February 1945, representatives of Great Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union maintained that it was their purpose to destroy German militarism and Nazism and to insure that Germany would never again be able to disturb the peace of the world. Yet there was no definitive action taken as to how this would be implemented.

How Should those Responsible be Punished?
There were varying responses from world leaders:

  • Sir Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of Great Britain during the war, felt strongly that the top Nazis should be immediately executed with no trials. He feared that a long drawn out judicial process might only bring attention and possible sympathy for the Nazi leadership.
  • Joseph Stalin preferred show trials such as those conducted during the Great Purge of the 1930s.
  • President Franklin Roosevelt Initially, Roosevelt was inclined to follow Churchill’s ideas of summary justice but he eventually agreed with key advisers in his administration that emphasized the need for a judicial process and outlined how such a proceeding could be organized in an International Military Tribunal. Roosevelt and his successor, Harry S. Truman, insisted that the rule of law be observed with trials that provided for counsel for the defense as well as ample opportunity for the prosecution to present the evidence. [source]

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RELATED

  • Independent – William Hague welcomes Taylor ruling
  • Day of reckoning – Judges at the Special Court for Sierra Leone said Taylor played a crucial role in allowing the rebels to continue a bloody rampage during that west African nation’s 11-year civil war, which ended in 2002 with more than 50,000 dead
  • In Dec 2010 The Guardian published Tony Blair’s article on why poverty matters, with reference to Sierra Leone
  • Following the Charles Taylor verdict Tony Blair reflects on how far Sierra Leone has come

EARLIER POSTS ON SIERRA LEONE

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As Charles Taylor is convicted, Tony Blair says he is proud of Britain’s role in Sierra Leone

April 27, 2012

All blog posts 2012 + Original posts list: from 2006 to 2012

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27th April 2012

Tony Blair ‘proud’ of UK role in Sierra Leone

I was away much of the day yesterday but I caught some of the BBC24 news and SkyNews on the verdict on former Liberian President Charles Taylor. I was dismayed that – unless I missed it – there was no mention of Tony Blair’s much-lauded and even more appreciated intervention in Sierra Leone. The almost accidental intervention which, more than anything else, led to the ending of that rebel-led war.

I have to say that BBCNews & SkyNews seldom fails to disappoint. They never let public expectations of fair, balanced, comprehensive reporting get out of synch with their own agendas.

However, thank you to Mark Austin at ITVNews.  He interviewed Mr Blair. Entire report follows, including transcript of his interview.

Tony Blair has told ITV News that he is proud of Britain’s intervention in Sierra Leone and that he sees it as one factor in helping the country to get back on its feet.

Speaking ahead of today’s momentous verdict on Charles Taylor, he said that the trial process will help the people of Sierra Leone to “draw a line under their past”.

He told ITV News’ Mark Austin that he has vivid memories of seeing child amputees on his visits to Sierra Leone, and he said there was a “very powerful humanitarian reason” for British aid going to the country.

Commando Marines board a Seaking aircraft to be airlifted into Freetown, Sierra Leone, May 2000 Credit: REUTERS/Stringer .

He also said he still believes that the decision to send British forces to intervene in the civil war was the right decisions, because Sierra Leone’s fledgling democracy was at risk from “a group of murderous thugs and gangsters”.

Initially, 1,000 British soldiers were sent in May 2000 to help with the evacuation of foreign nationals, but their role evolved into providing logistical support for the UN forces and training to the Government forces.

UK troops also assisted in capturing the rebel leader, Foday Sankoh, and helped to form a military strategy which eventually forced the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) to retreat from Freetown.

It was done brilliantly by the British armed forces and really within a pretty short space of time, a relatively small force was able to subdue the rebels and produce some order and everything that has flown for Sierra Leone since then has come from that intervention.

[Click to go to ITV report to see short interview clip]

Read the full transcript of the interview below:

  • How important do you think the trial process has been for Sierra Leone?

It is really important for Sierra Leone to have had the trial process because what people have got to understand is they engaged in this attempt to damage democracy and kill and harm people. In the course of that then, there is going to be a comeback, there’s going to be a moment of accountability. So I think it is very important for people in Sierra Leone, even though primarily they are focused on their future and all the challenges they have, to draw a line under their past.

  • Originally the plan was to get British citizens and foreigners out – an evacuation. At what stage did it become a more robust intervention?

We could see a country for whom in days gone by we’d been responsible which was a democracy that was just starting to get on its feet. Basically going to be taken over by a group of gangsters who were going to exploit its resources, kill a large number of its people. So my military belief that they at the time they could do the operation and I was willing for them to do it, that if they felt we could do it that we should do it. And it was done brilliantly by the British armed forces and really within a pretty short space of time, a relatively small force was able to subdue the rebels and produce some order and everything that has flown for Sierra Leone since then has come from that intervention.

A chinook takes off as British soldiers wait on a van near the UN headquarters on the outskirts of Freetown, Sierra Leone, May 2000 Credit: REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
  • What sort of progress has Sierra Leone made in the 10 years or so since peace broke out?

Sierra Leone has made enormous progress, I mean look, if you are there you are still looking at poverty, the need for jobs, the development issues which are colossal. All of those challenges are there but remember this was a country that as in a way expressed by the film Blood Diamond was a by-word for civil war, anarchy and misery. It is now on its feet, able to hold and have proper democratic elections. It actually now has gone up the league in terms of big reductions in child mortality and maternal mortality. You’ve got the basis for the infrastructure now happening in the country and the future of Sierra Leone is potentially very bright today. So the challenges are manifest but I would be optimistic not pessimistic about the future.

  • Thousands of people were killed during the civil war, many children were mutilated. Do you regret not getting involved earlier?

I think we got involved realistically as soon as we could because it had to be apparent that everything else had failed otherwise it would be very hard to justify it. I will never forget going to Sierra Leone shortly after the intervention took place and seeing many of the children and the citizens with their right arms cut off where the rebels, the gangster group had essentially in order to deter them from voting because people used to raise their right arm to say they want the right to vote and they would cut it off in order to say you’re not having it. And when you see something as gruesome and graphic as that you realise how important it is in these circumstance that somebody somewhere was prepared to go and stand-by them.

A British soldier on guard at Lungi Airport in Sierra Leone Credit: MoD
  • Britain has spent probably hundreds of millions of pounds on Sierra Leone in terms of aid. Do you think it is right that a country like Sierra Leone gets that kind of aid?

These are things that we should do because there is humanitarian justification and for example the fact that the UK along with other development partners and with the government now functioning there has cut child mortality roughly in half. I mean that is thousands of lives every year saved. I think that is a very powerful humanitarian reason for it. I also happen to think that the 21st century is going to see an Africa on the move and this is a great investment for us, for our future. These are all countries in this part of Africa who will be great partners for us, will provide us and help us with jobs for our economy and the future.

  • Sierra Leone is still a country of 70% poverty. One in four children don’t even reach the age of five. It is still real a mess.

It is one of the poorest countries in the world. Actually the figure is no longer one in 4, it is more like 1 in 7 or 1 in 8. That is massively too high but shows what can be done and that was partly done with help from British aid. Also, their economy has moved, infrastructure has been built. The lights are on in Freetown for first time in many years. Things are happening. They are always going to happen too slowly. Sierra Leone today is a country with a future. Whereas if you go back 10 or 15 years or so the future looked bleak or non existent.

  • Are you proud of the intervention?

I think Britain as a whole can be immensely proud of what it has done for Sierra Leone and what it is doing. It is not often you get a situation in which the clarity is so obvious. Either you intervened or this country’s democracy was given over to a murderous group of thugs and gangsters. The intervention was successful, The country has been struggling, it is still struggling but it is on its feet and is able to move forward which is a great thing.

  • You are very popular there, probably more so than here. Do you enjoy that popularity?

It is always nice to be popular somewhere. Frankly, I think this was something I remember at the time was in one sense a very difficult decision to make in another was was other was an instantaneous decision. We could help, we did help we should regret helping people in these circumstances. I think it is not so much me being popular. Britain who used to me known on the continent as a colonial ruler, it is a mixed legacy in many ways for obvious reasons. Now I think people do see us as a partner. By the way that in the end will be a very good thing for us too.

  • Do you think what happened in Kosovo and Sierra Leone emboldened you to move over to Iraq and Afghanistan or were they different things?

They were very different. Except in this sense, Iraq and Afghanistan were very different interventions in very different circumstances but one thing is the same in all of them which is that you had people living under the most brutal oppression and circumstances of deprivation really and I don’t think we should ever feel bad about liberating people from that situation. The circumstances in Iraq and Afghanistan are just so much bigger and there are so many other factors but in Kosovo and Sierra Leone I think we did demonstrate how if you do intervene you can give people a much better future. And if you don’t by the way as we learned in the early 90s in the Balkans when we didn’t then that is also a decision with consequences in which many people die.

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Related

From AGI –  Following the Charles Taylor verdict Tony Blair reflects on how far Sierra Leone has come

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Is it a breach of international law to assist rebels in Libya?

April 21, 2011

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Or –

21st April 2011


Article first published as Is it a Breach of International Law to Assist Rebels in Libya? on Blogcritics.


‘As the International Court of Justice has made clear on more than one occasion, the principle of non-intervention prohibits a state “to intervene, directly or indirectly, with or without armed force, in support of an internal opposition in another state”.

The merits or otherwise of the rebels’ cause is immaterial: whether they are fighting to depose a brutal tyrant or a model democratic regime, no state may legally assist them.’ (source Legality Blurred, The Australian)

So, even without regard to Cameron’s latest plan of sending, whisper – it just a few top military advisors to help train the rebels, something that yesterday France seemed not to agree with it sounds clear enough, doesn’t it? It’s simply illegal to help rebels. Besides, it will not be helpful for the cause of peace according to Abdul Ati al-Obeidi Libya’s foreign minister.  Meanwhile, in support of Britain, or not to be outdone, France has since said it too is sending its military advisers to Libya. And now Italy says it will send less than ten military liaison officers into Libya.

No military advisers from the USA. But even for bombing from on high in “protection” of Libyan citizens, it’s hard not to conclude that Obama, Cameron, Sarkozy and the rest of the coalition of the willing may be guilty of breaking international laws.

Or are they?

Well, yes and no.

It is a breach if any outside country or force intervenes in a civil war.  The NATO/UN argument is that there is NOT a civil war in Libya; there is a popular uprising against a dictatorial government which has brutally retaliated against its people.

The big fuss as the coalition of the willing sought UNSC (“legal”) approval regarding Libya was limited to establishing a “no-fly zone” and “protecting the population”. The biggest fuss was on flummoxing the opposition by showing that it was all “legal.”  Legal hangups or not, the main concern should be and should always have been victory. Victory is far from guaranteed.

It might be worth a glance at two earlier conflicts which recently engaged the British government. Both of them victorious, neither unquestionably “legal”.

SIERRA LEONE – CIVIL WAR?

Libya is not Sierra Leone where the Blair’s government intervened against brutal rebels (in a civil war) and thus ended the bloodshed after 11 years of the world, the UN and the rest leaving them alone. Even though the military action had no UN mandate to intervene militarily, that intervention is seldom described as “illegal”. Yet it clearly was illegal if outsiders are not permitted to intervene in a civil war.  A short history:  Tony Blair sent troops in to rescue British citizens from rebel attacks in 2000. He was then persuaded by his military chief on the ground that the rebels could be defeated as a useful side-effect of the rescue.  Blair agreed to this course of action. A few months later – end of story.

Wikipedia excerpt: “by May 2000 the rebels were advancing upon Freetown once again.[8] The British intervened to save the flailing UN mission and the weak government of President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah. With help from a renewed UN mandate and Guinean air support, the British Operation Palliser finally defeated the RUF. On 18 January 2002, President Kabbah declared the Sierra Leone Civil War officially over.”

Although there had been 8 UN resolutions in 2000, 3 in 2001 and  4 in 2002, none of these permitted military intervention.

KOSOVO – CIVIL WAR?

The NATO action in Kosovo lasted less than three months in 1999, after a year or more of fighting between factions in the former Yugoslavia. As with Sierra Leone the United Nations was a foot dragger in this “civil war”, preferring to let NATO take the initiative – and the stick. Apart from the civil war element the reasons for UN inaction (umpteen resolutions – none to intervene until AFTER the NATO success) – were, as they are today, to do with the ever-so-high-minded resistance to action by such as Russia and China. This intervention was six years before the General Assembly amendment which gave outside states/bodies the responsibility to protect.  So Kosovo action too should have been illegal. Oddly enough we seldom hear how “legal/illegal” that intervention was.  Perhaps because the victors there were the interventionists, more particularly THAT  interventionist – Tony Blair.

Are legalities written in stone? Again, that intervention was successful, and so we seldom hear complaints about its legality or otherwise.

Excerpt, Wikipedia Reaction to the war in Kosovo

‘Perhaps more importantly NATO did not have the backing of the United Nations Security Council. NATO argued that their defiance of the Security Council was justified based on the claims of an “international humanitarian emergency”. Criticism was also drawn by the fact that the NATO charter specifies that NATO is an organization created for defense of its members, but in this case it was used to attack a non-NATO country which was not directly threatening any NATO member. NATO claimed that instability in the Balkans was a direct threat to the security interests of NATO members, and military action was therefore justified by the NATO charter; however, the only NATO member country to which the instability was a direct threat was Greece, which opposed the bombing.’

RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT

Due to – guess what? – the essence of Tony Blair’s Doctrine of the International Community, Chicago 1999 (Number 10 website) having been added in 2005 to the UN’s Charter we now have a responsibility to protect

September 2005 – full text of High-level Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly by the General Assembly of the United Nations at its fifty-ninth session – 2005 World Summit Outcome, adopted in full here. The General Assembly Adopts the following 2005 World Summit Outcome –

Paragraphs 138-139 of the World Summit Outcome Document

Heads of state and government agreed to the following text on the Responsibility to Protect in the Outcome Document of the High-level Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly in September 2005

138. Each individual State has the responsibility to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. This responsibility entails the prevention of such crimes, including their incitement, through appropriate and necessary means. We accept that responsibility and will act in accordance with it. The international community should, as appropriate, encourage and help States to exercise this responsibility and support the United Nations in establishing an early warning capability.

139. The international community, through the United Nations, also has the responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, in accordance with Chapters VI and VIII of the Charter, to help protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. In this context, we are prepared to take collective action, in a timely and decisive manner, through the Security Council, in accordance with the Charter, including Chapter VII, on a case-by-case basis and in cooperation with relevant regional organizations as appropriate, should peaceful means be inadequate and national authorities manifestly fail to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. We stress the need for the General Assembly to continue consideration of the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and its implications, bearing in mind the principles of the Charter and international law. We also intend to commit ourselves, as necessary and appropriate, to helping States build capacity to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and to assisting those which are under stress before crises and conflicts break out.

140. We fully support the mission of the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide.

So, is David Cameron the new interventionist, despite promising that he and his party would have a whole different approach to foreign affairs?  It certainly looks that way.

March 2nd this year, at Number 10’s morning press briefing:

Asked if the Government accepted Tony Blair’s ‘doctrine’ of humanitarian interventionism that was used to justify the military action in Kosovo, the PMS said that he thought that was a point about international law. Asked if the Prime Minister had consulted the Attorney General, the PMS said that we were doing some planning for various scenarios; we were working the phones and working with international partners to bring pressure on that regime. We were not consulting lawyers.

On whether the UK Government should be so involved in the situation, the PMS said that we thought it was right to be concerned about the situation in Libya and it was right that the international community should come together to put pressure on the regime.

If you were ever taken in by the myth that Tony Blair and his people spoke doublespeak or avoided answering the questions, you have being disabused of that by Cameron’s spokesman’s meanderings: evasion and no reasonable reply to the comparison with Kosovo; no admission that they were consulting lawyers, when they clearly were – still are, no doubt; evasion and no direct answer to the question as to whether his government should be “so involved” in the Libya situation.

BITING OFF MORE THAN IS CHEWABLE?

Legality/illegality arguments aside, I do not see those charges as anything like as important as do some, mainly because the UN itself stands charged with failing to protect. It is hardly an exemplar of principle over the big idea of “Uniting” Nations.

Mr Cameron’s intervention in Libya would be more likely to succeed and to cover  him in glory if the rest of the international community were truly signed up to Blair’s doctrine. Unfortunately, for various reasons, the rest of the world is not. And America is no longer willing or able to play the world’s policeman.

A few days ago I drafted a post on my doubts about this intervention in Libya. Before I’m accused of hindsight knowledge, I should get it online.

Meanwhile, this site reports that two acclaimed photojournalists have been killed in Misratah, Libya.  And Sky News reports that only the British photojournalist Tim Hetherington has died. Chris Hondros, a multiple award-winning photographer is reported to be in intensive care. Two other journalists were injured in the same incident.

[Update: It seems the first report above on the journalists was correct. Both died yesterday in Misratah. R.I.P.]

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Blair Doctrine of Humanitarian/Liberal Interventionism


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Recent comments:

I am staggered by all the hate directed towards our former Prime Minister. I believe that Tony Blair made the Iraq decision in good faith and is most certainly NOT a war criminal. If anyone should be tried at the Hague it should be those in the media for totally misrepresenting the information and facts. The media are to blame for fuelling this hatred as it is purely driven by them. (UK)

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The greatest and most successful leader the Labour Party has ever had with the courage to fight the Islamist terrorists who really would like to kill us all, and you never hear a good word about him. The herd of independent minds, commentators, activists etc who have never had to make a difficult decision in their lives drown out all debate with their inane chants of war crimes and blood on his hands. Defend him at every chance. I just wish more people would do it. (Glasgow, UK)
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Blair was the greatest Labour Prime Minister. It is a disgrace that the party has turned away from his legacy. Shame on Ed Miliband and his so-called ‘new generation’.