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March 29, 2005

Steyn on the Consequences of International Law

Mark Steyn takes on international law in his commentary on the UK's Telegraph today, as it relates to the war in Iraq and how the allies have handled it.
A year or so back, you'll recall, the Pentagon declared the axis of weasels - France, Germany, Russia - ineligible for Iraqi reconstruction contracts, and an outraged Gerhard Schršder protested that this act was illegal under international law. President Bush took it in his stride. "International law?" he giggled. "I better call my lawyer. He didn't bring that up to me."
However, according to Steyn, it seems that British PM Tony Blair seems to be a bit more worried about international law, and opinion, than President Bush is.
For purposes of comparison, George W Bush, widely regarded as the inarticulate schlub of the transatlantic partnership, couldn't have put it plainer. "I made up my mind that Saddam needs to go," he told Trevor McDonald in early 2002. The British government, on the other hand, continued to emphasise publicly that it was not committed to regime change right up to the start of the war. They didn't go quite as far as the Canadian prime minister, who was still insisting he was opposed to regime change even after the regime had been changed. Say what you like about that, but it's more intellectually honest than the Blair-Straw line, which was officially that the invasion was really just a slightly more aggressive inspections team and there's no reason why Saddam couldn't carry on a business-as-usual fully operational dictatorship with the country crawling with foreign troops. Whether or not this was a "lie", it was certainly absurd and an insult to the citizenry. When it came to overthrowing Saddam, Bush was disarmingly honest while Blair stuck to the narrow legalistic technicality of disarming at great cost to his honesty.
Blair has been an important ally in the war in Iraq and other issues in the Middle East. However, had he been less worried about international law (about which new US ambassador to the UN John Bolton said, "It is a big mistake for us to grant any validity to international law"), perhaps the ball could have gotten rolling much sooner as Steyn says, and we'd be out of Iraq that much sooner.

Steyn sums things up thusly:

Bush and John Howard are under no illusions about this postmodern concept of sovereignty. Tony Blair is.

International law? "I better call my lawyer." Better not to. The civilised world can't depend on the legal niceties of an ersatz global jurisdiction. If the Iraq war turns out to have been "illegal", that's just another bonus.


And that's a bonus I can live with!

(Note: if you want to read the entire article on the Telegraph, you have to register with the site...however, registration is free.)

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