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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The calls are growing louder

General Sir Michael Rose was adjutant general of the British army and commander of the UN protection force in Bosnia. He now calls for the impeachment of Tony Blair over the Iraq invasion:

"Wars are won when the people, government and army work together for a common cause in which they genuinely believe. Whereas the people may be initially uncertain about military intervention, politicians will often be the strongest advocates - blinded by the imperatives of their political views. It will invariably be military commanders who are most cautious about using force - for they understand better than most the consequences of engaging in war.

"Although in a true democracy they must remain subordinate to their political masters, they have a clear responsibility to point out when political strategies are flawed or inadequately resourced. Since they might also have to ask their soldiers to sacrifice their lives, they must be assured that a war is just, legal and the last resort available. Yet three years ago this country was somehow led by the prime minister into war in Iraq where few, if any, of these requirements were met."

Something is stirring in the body politic across the Western world. Australian Federal Opposition leader Kim Beazley has finally acknowledged the need to withdraw troops from Iraq because they are causing more troubles than they are solving. He avoided many of the key issues, however, but it's a healthy start.


Blogger boredinHK said...

There are a couple of problems with his call.

-the Parliament voted to go to war, it wasn't a course of action decided on by Tony Blair. He is responsible for convincing the members to vote a certain way but all who voted to take this course of action are responsible.

-there isn't a mechanism to impeach the Prime Minister.At least not a clearcut one.
( it fell by the wayside despite attempts by Welsh and Scottish nationalists to revive it during the general election last May, it was the first such bid to impeach a prime minister in 198 years).

“[I]t is the undoubted right of the Commons, in Parliament assembled, to impeach before the Lords in Parliament, any peer or commoner for treason or any other crime or misdemeanor; and...the refusal of the Lords to proceed in Parliament upon such impeachment is a denial of justice, and a violation of the constitution of Parliaments” (Hoffer and Hull 1984, 5).

In addition, there was as yet no clear consensus on the scope of the impeachment power. As mentioned, the Commons believed it their right to impeach any peer or commoner for any crime or misdemeanor. And indeed, the charges leading to impeachment were diverse. Most impeachments (and all impeachments in the eighteenth century) were brought for alleged “high crimes and misdemeanors,” a phrase which originated in the impeachment of the King’s Chancellor, Michael de le Pole, Earl of Suffolk in 1386. It is clear however that, although various legal definitions existed in English common law for the various terms in the phrase, its application was not nearly so precise in impeachment proceedings. For de le Pole, “‘high crimes and misdemeanors’” consisted of “‘advising the King to grant liberties and privileges to certain persons to the hindrance of the due execution of the laws,’” “‘procuring offices for persons who were unfit, and unworthy of them,’” and “‘squandering away the public treasure.’” For Chief Justice Scroggs in 1680, it consisted of “‘browbeating witnesses and commenting on their credibility,’” and of “‘cursing and drinking to excess,’” thereby bringing “‘the highest scandal on the publick justice of the kingdom.’” And one of Warren Hastings’s “high crimes and misdemeanors” was his failure to conduct himself “‘on the most distinguished principles of good faith, equity, moderation, and mildness’” (Staff of the Impeachment Inquiry 1974). While in many cases, “high crimes and misdemeanors” consisted of common-law offenses, it was clearly not exclusively so.

Since Parliament arrogated to itself the right to impeach, it needed no systematic justification for its exercise. There was some effort in impeachment trials to research precedents in prior impeachments, but precedents consisted of no more than the sum total of Parliamentary impeachment proceedings. In the end, “every ruling on impeachment was legal because the root of public law was the pronouncement of Parliament” (Hoffer and Hull 1984, 9).

Because of these debates which continued in England for centuries, it is difficult to determine with certainty any exact definition for British impeachment. One British scholar has summed up the convoluted nature of English impeachment in this way:

[L]inked up with the age-old criminal procedure of the common law, the parliamentary impeachment could cast a decent veil of legality over the political realities...and could pose before the world in the reassuring robes of justice (Plucknett 1983, 153).

More practically the voting public can express their displeasure at the next election.
The Blair government was returned at the last election after many of these shortcomings and failures were extensively discussed in the MSM.

-The BBC World service described the general as someone with a chequered past .He was criticised , (possibly by Blair ?) for not addressing the attacks by serbian forces on the muslims in Bosnia with sufficient care and concern for their welfare.
Perhaps he wouldn't take action on behalf of anyone except the royal family ?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006 9:44:00 pm  
Blogger CB said...

Is it your position that ADF members in Iraq are causing more harm than good? Using Beazley as the example of people against the Iraq deployment is gutless and shows a distinct lack of character.

If you hold the view that Australian troops are the cause of violence in the region of Iraq where Australia, Japan and the UK is based, then say so. Quoting political figures just shows you are too weak to have your own opinion.

Thursday, January 12, 2006 8:55:00 am  
Blogger Ian Westmore said...

-The BBC World service described the general as someone with a chequered past

Perhaps so, but the then UK Chief of the Defence Staff, Admiral Sir Michael Boyce and their army commander, General Mike Jackson had grave reservations about the legality of invading Iraq that were only stilled when A-G Goldsmith gave them a legal opinion that was almost 360 degrees different from the opinion he'd previously given the Cabinet.

Boyce held up the invasion for nearly 5 days, and Jackson famously made a comment about hoping he didn't end up in the cell next to Milosevic (Jackson was formerly NATO CO in the Balkans).

There is strong prima facie evidence for charging Blair (and Bush) with Conspiracy to commit crimes against peace, Planning, initiating and waging a war of aggression, War Crimes (illegal acts against Iraqi soldiers/POWs) and Crimes against humanity (the Iraqi civilian population).

Our own leaders would appear to have a case to answer on at least 'Planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression'! A charge on the Conspiracy count would depend on how much they really knew about the WMDs etc.

Thursday, January 12, 2006 5:01:00 pm  
Blogger boredinHK said...

I think the problem with impeachment is that it will follow party numbers - as such unless many Labour MPs agree to impeach Blair, it isn't going to happen.
As I understand it they would need a majority in the Commons .
If a majority supported the action and if it was supported by the Conservatives it could then be attacked as a "political action dressed up as justice."

Thursday, January 12, 2006 8:50:00 pm  
Blogger neoleftychick said...

Also, it was the entire US Congress that authorised the US and let's not forget all the other nations that joined the Coalition of the Willing.

Friday, January 13, 2006 11:15:00 am  
Blogger Ian Westmore said...

let's not forget all the other nations that joined the Coalition of the Willing

The handful of others only came after much arm twisting when the initial hail of bullets ceased and Mad King George I proclaimed "Mission accomplished" Such touching faith in his veracity was truly heart warming. Stupid, but heart warming.

Most of them are/were only in it because they were being paid directly, or had been promised access to oil and/or reconstruction loot. Even Howard was motivated as much by getting a trade agreement as martial fervour. The smart ones took the cash, the rest of us have been royally screwed by George I!!

Friday, January 13, 2006 2:22:00 pm  
Blogger neoleftychick said...

ian westmore

You have just brilliantly summarised the UN General Assembly over the past 30 years. ;)

Friday, January 13, 2006 2:54:00 pm  

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