Dannatt "Trust has been biggest casualty of Iraq affair"

Discussion in 'Current Affairs' started by soleil, Jan 31, 2010.

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  1. Well said General.

    It comes back to that word, trust – the commodity on which modern war by volunteer soldiers depends. The abiding memory of this week was from the Chilcot Inquiry. It was not Tony Blair's bravura performance but the reaction by the public gallery to Elizabeth Wilmshurst's more humble testimony – she personified integrity, and the people applauded. The people of this country innately know what is right and what is wrong – please do not place the Armed Forces of this country in this kind of position again. In risking our lives, we must believe that the cause is just and place our trust in our Government's integrity. Anything else spells disaster and is not the British way of warfare.

  2. Almost another "focus" drift but well recovered.
  3. Am I the only person who feels that the limited success of drawn out counterinsurgency campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq should make it less likely that we will engage in them in the near future not more?

    Surely it is for precisely this reason that alternative means of projecting force from a distance should be invested in... our aircraft carriers General? The rest of our Astutes?
  4. "....and place our trust in our Government's integrity."

    If one adds just the saga of the MP's fraudulent expense claims (all shades & continuing) to this 'Trust' debate it is blindingly obvious that it will be a long time before 'trust and goverment integrity' will sit comfortably within the same sentence of our English language.

    Any regime change will give us not an entirely clean slate, just one that is well smudged.

    Meanwhile? Grit one's teeth, obey the last order and remain cautiously optimistic that such matters may improve in the fullness of time?
  5. Much as I've admired some of the General's words in recent times, he represents the senior levels of the military who should have fallen on their swords rather than accept what they knew to be illegal instructions to go to war.

    It's easy to snipe at senior civil servants for not queering their pension pitches, while practising exactly the same duplicity in seeing out your Service time.
  6. Sorry but this is incorrect. Mike Boyce (CDS) refused to commit the armed forces until and unless he was given an assurance that the war WAS legal. That is the whole point behind Lord Goldsmiths advice given to the Cabinet which allowed the war to go ahead.
  7. Hate to point out the obvious but the Attorney General saying that the Iraq invasion was legal doesn't make it so. Boyce, by his own admission was pro-regime change but was looking for top-cover from Goldsmith.

    Boyce was just another one who considered offering his resignation but didn't.

    Not a lot different to Ms Short's position.

    The only two people in this entire sorry saga who showed any moral backbone were Robin Cook and Elizabeth Wilmshurst.

  8. My understanding of the Admiral's position echoes Bergen's. I know that he asked for confirmation of the war's legality, but that doesn't mean that once the toadying AG had U-turned "on advice" that CDS should not have stuck to his guns.

    I don't want any of these b'stards to apologise for taking us to war, because talk is cheap - I just want an admission that they were wrong.
  9. But who else are you going to ask about legality, other than the Attorney General? I sympathise with the then CDS on this one - not sure you can "stick to your guns" about legality when the most senior legal mind in the country says that legality is assured.

    Whether or not Goldsmith was correct is another issue.
  10. Interstingly Bergs I remember vividly having a conversation with Ms Short shortly after Labour won the election in 1997. I can't totally remember how the conversation went but it was something like "We must not get conplacent and make the same mistakes as the Conservative Government!!

    How wrong she was eh!!
  11. This article explains the dilemma that Boyce found himself in.

    I have little sympathy for his predicament because he knew that he was being bullshitted and went along with it. He must have known that the British Government's own international lawyers at the FO considered that an invasion of Iraq without a second UN Resolution was fundamentally illegal.


  12. Goldsmith has said that he did not believe an invasion of Iraq was lawful.Until that is he went to see the septics who convinced him otherwise.I don't know if he has been asked to explain what changed his mind.He has denied having any pressure applied but he would say that wouldn't he.
  13. I have yet to see a forensic time-line established by the Chilcotians. If there had been then the Bliar would not have brushed them aside so easily.

    In 2003 with British troops poised to invade:-

    March 10th Boyce finally decided to ask for a clear legal opinion on the legality of committing to invade.

    March 15th Goldsmith produced a few lines for Boyce that sanctioned British actions but the real opinion that he gave to Bliar expressing reservations was not made public [or presumably given to Boyce]

    March 18th Elizabeth Wilmshurst senior international lawyer with the Foreign Office resigned and publicly stated that the invasion without a second UN Resolution would be illegal.

    20th March - we began an illegal invasion.

    Happy Trails

  14. Lawyers change their minds, they draft and redraft legal opinions all the time. Goldsmith may have changed his mind quite legitimately, however it suits the conspiracy theorists to claim this was not the case - the truth is we will never know.

    It also suits them to value the legal opinion of ONE foreign office lawyer over the Attorney General and other noted legal figures internationally. You are just as guilty of being selective with evidence and information as those you accuse. It is very tiresome!
  15. lonestar, one lawyer may have resigned, but she was not the only one to express concerns over the legality of the war

    But Goldsmith changed his stance, and Straw completely ignored the FO legal team
  16. The two most senior lawyers in the Foreign Office both of whom were familiar with International Law and particularly UN Resolution 1441 reached a clear decision that an invasion of Iraq without a second UN Resolution would be illegal. The entire Foreign Office legal team agreed with this position.

    This was conveyed to Goldsmith by Sir Michael Wood the Foreign Office Chief Legal Advisor before the invasion began.

    An international panel of jurists on the Davids Commission have also concluded that the invasion was illegal and breached International Law.

    Sir Jeremy Greenstock former UN Ambassador said that the invasion would be "of questionable legality".

    Lord Bingham the former Lord Chief Justice and a judge who even Jack Straw admits is the finest jurist of his generation has called the invasion 'Absolutely illegal" and has quoted Lord Alexander QC, Professor Phillippe Sands QC and Professor Vaughan Lowe QC who not only agree with his opinion but who have labelled Goldsmith's advice to Bliar, Boyce et al as 'Fatuous".

    Benjamin Ferencz a US Lawyer and Chief Prosecutor for the Einsatzgruppen Nuremberg Trials has called the invasion illegal and even Richard Perle, one of Bush's tame neocons admits it.

    Shortly before the war Goldsmith wrote to Hoon:-

    As you are aware, the Law Officers' opinion has not been sought on the legality of possible action and I have not therefore offered any views on the legal position. The clarity of your statement and the apparently authoritative way it was produced puts me however in a difficult position. I see considerable difficulties in being satisfied that military action would be justified on the basis of self defence. In particular I am not aware of the existence of material indicating the existence of an imminent threat from Iraq of the sort which would justify military action without support of a Security Council ... authorisation.

    I could go on but it's becoming.......err...what's the word...oh yes!... tiresome.

  17. I think the 600,000 Iraqis killed are the biggest casualties of the war, but I suppose it depends on your point of view.
  18. Not wanting to burst bubbles, but we'll simply never know.

    - The conspiracy theorists will continue to say it was illegal and everyone knew about it but went ahead anyway.
    - The Socialist Workers (dressed up as the Stop the War coalition, which seems to have hoodwinked everyone). will continue to spew their learned opinion and weep crocodile tears about lives lost (mainly concerned about the Iraqis, but occasionally mention Service personnel when Help for Heroes is on the front pages).
    - The Government will continue to fund various inquiries, costing a fortune and achieving, erm, nothing much.
    - Noone will ever be brought to account for any decision made.

    I'm not a believer in trying to rewrite history - whether right or wrong Saddam was removed from power and Iraq is now where it is. No number of inquiries will change that.
  19. Surely the point is that Mike Boyce wasnt after any sort of moral justification for the war, he was making sure that members of the armed forces could not be prosecuted for war crimes by taking part in an illegal invasion. If he is given an assurance by the countries top legal adviser that the war is legal, then prosecution in the UK by the CPS becomes impossible and CDS is happy to send in the boys (and girls). And of course subsequently noone has been prosecuted just for taking part in the invasion - so Mike Boyce's pre-invasion seeking of legal opinion from the AG has proved a sound safeguard.

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