Posts Tagged ‘The Hague’

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.”

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 to The Hague for the ‘mess/disaster/folly’ that is Baghdad today!

July 26, 2010
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    27th July 2010

    And be quick about it, before it gets even worse better

    Iraq, land of opportunity – says Jeffrey Archer (yes, him) at The Times

    Baghdad today."Land of opportunity" Pic: Getty

    I wonder if this appears anywhere else but the Times – as Rentoul reminds us here – behind a paywall? I shouldn’t think so.  Most of our press and half of our present government are still dreaming of getting Blair to The Hague for the “disaster” that is Iraq.

    Would you Adam and Eve it, Clegg? Ming?

    Anyone ever think to ask the locals what they think?

    OK, I will. Any Iraqis out there? Especially Baghdad locals? Please let us know what YOU think. (No loaded questions from me, note.)

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    Rentoul:

    There is an excellent article in The Times today (pay wall) about the revival of Iraq. “Reconstruction is visible right across the country,” its says.

    Today [Baghdad] is a boom town, rather than a bomb site. If I were a young man, looking to make my fortune, I would be off to Iraq like a shot. Plenty of other young men are there already — Russians, French, Germans, Swedes, Chinese of course, even Turks and Lebanese. As one local politician remarked, when the Lebanese arrive you know there is money to be made.

    Pity the article is by Jeffrey Archer. (I didn’t realise that he is 70, though.)

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    A recent comment from an Albanian, Mr Leonard Dedej from Tirana – “It takes big leaders to make the hardest turns in peoples life…mr Blair is a big leader and a great man for millions of people in Balkans!!!for stopping a savage war!about Iraq I believe that the press wherever it is has not the right to judge on this issue because it simply is to small to judge!!history will judge mr Blair!as long as it is an ongoing war no one can blame mr Blair,after all he started something for a big reason..the press its often wrong because it fights for audience!!!”




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    Former PM to face War Crimes trial at The Hague. And tomorrow?

    July 21, 2010
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    21st July 2010

    UPDATE: UN DECISION – KOSOVAN INDEPENDENCE IS LEGAL

    WAR CRIMES TRIAL FOR FORMER PM & COLLEAGUES

    Don’t get excited littlies. It’s not one of our former prime ministers (and colleagues.) Not Blair/Straw/Goldsmith. Not Blair/Campbell/HM Queen Elizabeth.  Not Blair/Brown/Cameron. Not … oh, use your imagination, as usual.

    At an appeal against earlier judgements at the UN’s International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia a judgement has been handed down partially qaushing the acquitals of the former prime minister and two others. The three men have been retained in custody.

    ICTY – report: ‘Haradinaj, Balaj, and Brahimaj Appeal Judgement

    Left to right: Former Kosovan PM Ramush Haradinaj, Idriz Balaj, Lahi Brahimaj

    Excerpt: ‘The Appeals Chamber today partially quashed the acquittals of Ramush Haradinaj, a former commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in the Dukagjin area of Kosovo; Idriz Balaj, a former member of the KLA and commander of a special unit known as the Black Eagles, and Lahi Brahimaj, who served as deputy commander of the KLA Dukagjin Operative Staff. The Appeals Chamber ordered a partial re-trial of the case.’

    What is this about? Are UN courts permitted to keep trying until they get the verdict required?

    Regardless, and personally I don’t know enough about this case to cast an opinion, this decision to re-try a former Kosovan prime minister may yet have repercussions for the future of the Balkans and the EU.  Not to mention NATO and the UN.

    Reading the full Judgement Summary it is clear stated by the judge who wrote this account that he disagrees with the majority of his colleagues in several areas.

    SO DOES THIS RE-TRIAL MATTER?

    In my humble opinion very much so. But perhaps only if NATO’s war to free Kosovans from ethnically-cleansing Serbians matters. And the upside-down world means that even in wartime situations, so-called war crimes/human rights are king, are they not?

    When it comes to helping innocent peoples, the free world’s leaders are paralysed. They are unable to help innocents while we in our highly idealised, naively idealistic and half-blind way are being held hostage to doctrines which the free world’s enemies use and abuse against us and against freedom.

    IT DOESN’T MATTER TO OUR BROADCASTERS

    On a day when I scoured the BBC & Sky News televised reports and saw nothing at all about this news from Kosovo, we also need to ask WHY are we being so badly served by our broadcasters. Just WHO is running and limiting the news we receive?

    Aside: ‘I don’t know what fellow-Brits think but since the digitalised TV system has taken over the whole thing has deteriorated hugely. Once we could see the Ceefax/Teletext pages instantly and easily. Now, unless you’re subscribed to Sky, you have to hunt for at least two hand controls, fiddle about finding the right button, taking a hopeful stab at several, trying to get to, for instance, international news. Personally I don’t care to watch a slow-moving, seldom updated scroll telling me about a certain Mr Raoul Moat, the oil leak in the USA or how soon we’re getting out of Afghanistan.

    SERIOUS QUESTIONS – NOT LEAST OVER THE TIMING OF THIS DECISION

    Coming just the day before the UN court issues its long-awaited ruling on Kosovo’s Independence, this retrial of the former Kosovan Prime Minister raises some serious issues.

    Especially with THIS happening tomorrow – UN Court to issue “advisory ruling” on Thursday afternoon

    Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in February 2008

    Excerpt:

    ‘Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in February 2008 and so far, 69 countries recognise Kosovo as a state, including the United States and 22 out of 27 EU countries.

    Serbia went to the UN’s top court because it wants to challenge the legality of the declaration. The ICJ has been asked to give a non-binding opinion.

    Since it was founded in 1946, the ICJ has handed down 25 advisory opinions as part of its mission to settle international legal disputes.’

    Background to this –

    HARADINAJ’S PREVIOUS TRIAL, MARCH 2007

    From New York Times: April 8th 2007 – ‘Kosovo War-Crimes Trial Splits West and Prosecutors’

    PRISTINA, Kosovo — Ramush Haradinaj, a stocky ethnic Albanian former guerrilla commander and, briefly, Kosovo’s prime minister, is either one of the most impressive leaders to emerge in the Balkans in recent years or a vicious war criminal. Or perhaps both.

    A poster of Ramush Haradinaj, a former Kosovo prime minister, displayed near his home village. Pic: Filip Horvat for The New York Times.

    The case has created a stark divide between prosecutors at the tribunal and in Kosovo and diplomats from the United Nations and Western governments. Mr. Haradinaj was a crucial partner in Western efforts to bring peace to the province, so much so that they tried to prevent the case from going to trial, according to a former head of the United Nations mission in Kosovo and the court’s chief prosecutor.

    Once he was indicted, the mission supported his provisional release, which has lasted almost two years; he is the only indicted person that the court, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, has released in order to return to active politics.

    “He moved this process forward in a way that nobody else has,” said Soren Jessen-Petersen, who was the head of the mission in Kosovo at the time of Mr. Haradinaj’s indictment, in March 2005, just four months after he became prime minister.

    Prosecutors in Kosovo and The Hague say the United Nations and Western governments bent over backward to prevent his prosecution.

    The tribunal’s top prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, has referred to the trial in The Hague as “a prosecution that some did not want to see brought, and that few supported by their cooperation at both the international and local level.”

    In Kosovo, the former guerrilla commander is seen as one of the most charismatic leaders to emerge from the fighting, from 1997 to 1999. While the Serbian government vilified him as a terrorist, senior United Nations officials said he was instrumental in promoting reconciliation.

    “He clearly understood that Serbs could and should be part of the society,” said Mr. Jessen-Petersen, who led the mission in Kosovo from June 2004 to June 2006. “And he had the credentials. Because of his background nobody could accuse him of betraying Kosovo.”

    […]

    The indictment contains details that are among the most gruesome brought before the tribunal: of prisoners being seized by men under Mr. Haradinaj’s command, bound in barbed wire and dragged behind vehicles, and of women raped repeatedly.

    Mr. Haradinaj’s supporters say that there is no evidence linking him directly to the crimes and suggest that the court charged him simply to appear evenhanded.

    And there’s this –

    March 6th, 2007: Chief Prosecutor Carlo Del Ponto on the “warlord” Haradinaj

    THE HAGUE, March 5 (AP) — The chief prosecutor of the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal on Monday called Kosovo’s former prime minister a warlord and a mobster in uniform who helped commit “ugly, cruel and violent crimes.” Speaking at the start of his trial here, she also said that prosecution witnesses often were terrified to appear in court.

    The prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, was speaking at the trial of former Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj and two Kosovo Liberation Army fighters, Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj. The three face 37 counts of atrocities against Serbs and their suspected supporters in Kosovo in 1998.

    “These men, this warlord with his lieutenant and his jailer, have blood on their hands,” Ms. Del Ponte told a three-judge panel.

    Who is Carla Del Ponte?

    This Swiss-born pursuer of truth would seem to be a thorn in the side of NATO. Not only NATO, presumably. Like many so-called truth seekers I am sure she takes great pride in that. I am sure she also takes great pride in the fact that in February 2008 SWITZERLAND recognised Kosovo. (See Swiss Government citation.)

    _______________

    WHICH COUNTRIES RECOGNISE KOSOVO?

    This, from Barnaby Phillips – The Europe Blog – (at Aljazeera), might be worth keeping an eye on. Yes, well, I did mention that there are some things our British broadcasters and printed press won’t touch and others they labour well beyond their sell-by date. Having said that his starting line in his article is at the very least misleading:

    “What do Mauritania, Swaziland, Somalia, Djibouti and Vanuatu have in common? Not a lot, but they are they are the only countries that have recognised Kosovo as a sovereign state this year.”

    DID YOU GET THE IMPRESSION THAT THERE WERE FEW WHO BACKED KOSOVO?

    Well, yes, again. It is an Al Jazeera-hosted blog. Nowhere for you to get online in the FREE west, Mr Phillips? Too FREE? Not enough cash for your thoughts here?

    From February 2008 through to May 2010 there have actually been 69 countries recognising Kosovo’s independence. That’s 69 out of 192 UN members, including 22 EU member states.  The UK’s formal recognition, February 2008, is here.

    All of this just a week or so after Tony Blair’s hero’s welcome in Pristina, on which I reported here.

    BBC report and further background reading on Kosovo



    Sign the Ban Blair-Baiting petition here
    A recent comment from an Albanian, Mr Leonard Dedej from Tirana – “It takes big leaders to make the hardest turns in peoples life…mr Blair is a big leader and a great man for millions of people in Balkans!!!for stopping a savage war!about Iraq I believe that the press wherever it is has not the right to judge on this issue because it simply is to small to judge!!history will judge mr Blair!as long as it is an ongoing war no one can blame mr Blair,after all he started something for a big reason..the press its often wrong because it fights for audience!!!”




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