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Friday, 23 May 2014

ICC & British war crimes: The trial of Tony Blair?

Several years ago, a British television channel ran a film entitled The Trial of Tony Blair.

Not only was it pretty funny, with the former British prime minister freely sharing with all and sundry the innumerable times he ‘felt the hand of destiny’ on his shoulder, but the film’s main premise of a Tony Blair about to get shipped off to The Hague to face trial over the Second Iraq War was deeply satisfying on an emotional level.

At the time, it seemed like a piece of wishful thinking with solid production values, but recent news from the International Criminal Court gives reason to believe that Tony Blair isn’t out of the woods yet.

Allegations that British troops abused and tortured detainees during the Second Iraq War have surfaced time and again over the past decade, in no small part due to the work of Public Interests Lawyers (PIL) in Birmingham and the Berlin-based European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR).

The ever-increasing evidence accumulated by these two organizations and others like them has understandably led to some consternation about how the British armed forces acquitted themselves in Iraq. Unfortunately, all this concern has so far been dealt with ‘the British way’, which means a spate of drawn out, expensive public inquiries where everyone in general and no one in particular gets blamed for whatever happened.

 In serious cases, the politician of the day (nearly invariably a different one than the one responsible for the events under inspection) “regrets” the actions of his predecessor, just as someday his successor will inevitably “regret” whatever shady behavior he himself is currently up to. Apparently, this manner of settling highly controversial points of public policy somehow does the trick for British people.


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