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War is Legal When We Say So, by Saints Clegg and Miliband

John Rentoul

emnc 300x208 War is Legal When We Say So, by Saints Clegg and MilibandNick Clegg has set out his latest piece of semantic hypocrisy (last one here). According to a Liberal Democrat news release, he was asked:

You opposed the intervention in Iraq. There was evidence of the use of chemical weapons by Saddam. You opposed intervention against him. Why are you, as a party, now supporting intervention against President Assad?

NC: I was opposed, the Liberal Democrats were staunchly opposed, to the open-ended military intervention in Iraq for all the reasons that we know. But we know this is quite different to that boots on the ground intervention in that country. This is about taking proportionate, legal and carefully circumscribed steps to ensure that everybody understands, the world round, that we will not stand idly by when chemical weapons are used in complete breach of international law.

Quite different. Completely.

The main difference being that St Clegg of Nicholas is now in government, having to take hard decisions about complicated situations abroad, and realises that chirruping “illegal war” at the despatch box no longer cuts it.

Depending on your definition of “illegal”, military intervention in Syria is less “legal” than that in Iraq, which was at least in (ambiguous) furtherance of United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Same goes for St Miliband of Ed, the one who opposed the Iraq war. At least he never called it illegal. But now he says:

The use of chemical weapons on innocent civilians is abhorrent and cannot be ignored.

When I saw the Prime Minister this afternoon I said to him the Labour Party would consider supporting international action but only on the basis that it was legal, that it was specifically limited to deterring the future use of chemical weapons and that any action contemplated had clear and achievable military goals.

We will be scrutinising any action contemplated on that basis.

Give me a bit of straight talking any time (non-pay-wall version of Tony Blair’s article in this morning’s Times).

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  • Pacificweather

    Extract from12th Quarterly UNMOVIC report 7th March 2013.

    Inspections in Iraq resumed on 27 November 2002. In matters relating to process, notably prompt access to sites, we have faced relatively few difficulties and certainly much less than those that were faced by UNSCOM in the period 1991 to 1998. This may well be due to the strong outside pressure.

    Some practical matters, which were not settled by the talks, Dr. ElBaradei and I had with the Iraqi side in Vienna prior to inspections or in resolution 1441 (2002), have been resolved at meetings, which we have had in Baghdad. Initial difficulties raised by the Iraqi side about helicopters and aerial surveillance planes operating in the no-fly zones were overcome. This is not to say that the operation of inspections is free from frictions, but at this juncture we are able to perform professional no-notice inspections all over Iraq and to increase aerial surveillance.

  • JohnJustice

    Thanks for this Pacificweather. Clearly shows that there was not FULL and IMMEDIATE compliance with UN resolution 1441. SOME progress in PARTICULAR areas does not meet these terms. I see you have not mentioned the areas in which Blix considered more progress needed to be made.

  • Pacificweather

    Cutting and pasting the whole report is not appropriate for a post. The strongest statement Blix made was to say, although he was getting full co-operation, November to March is hardly immediate. But other countries have never complied with UN resolutions and no non forceful (sanctions) action is taken.

    When to beat the schoolboy who dawdles, how hard and what with. There is force as we saw in Libya and force as we saw in Iraq. The UN should decide what level is appropriate not individual states. Look what happened in Korea when the United States decided to cross the ceasefire line. Thousands killed and they were pushed back where they started. That was the cost of exceeding their mandate.


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