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September 21, 2007

Liverpool vs. U.S. Foreign Policy: Lies, Damned Lies and Iraq - Peter Kilfoyle

Posted by Lee P. Ruddin

Lies, Damned Lies and Iraq: An in-depth investigation into the case for war and how it was misrepresented
by Peter Kilfoyle
Petersfield: Harriman House, 2007
Hardback, £16.99

You're a Liverpudlian neoconservative…
This is more a statement of stupefaction and antipathy - rather than a question of inquisitiveness - aimed at me when talking politics. I fully comprehend such antipathy; indeed, many people find it disquieting that I do not object to association with a word that carries so many overtones of iniquity and imperialism, but I do object to people referring to me as a Liverpudlian. Notwithstanding the deep cultural affiliation between Liverpool and America, where it comes to politics, Scousers and Yanks are most definitely an Atlantic Ocean (and Irish Sea) apart.

Only when a large swathe of unapprised, placard-waving, neo-Marxist, terrorist-sympathisers colonised Condoleezza Rice's historic trip to Liverpool (March/April 2006) did one begin to comprehend the city's visceral hatred of all things American, foreign policy speaking. Yet, were these simply the evil machinations of the Stop the War Coalition or is there some frailty built into the Liverpool psyche that cannot take the strain of U.S. foreign policy? This is certainly an argument for another day.

In the footsteps of former Prime Ministers William Gladstone (always cautious as to precedents set up for the U.S.) and Harold Wilson (who resisted all pressures from the Johnson administration to send even a token force to Vietnam), peace-activist John Lennon (whose antiwar activism clashed with the Nixon administration, most recently documented in "The U.S. vs. John Lennon"), Peter Kilfoyle, current Labour Member of Parliament, flies the Liverpudlian anti-American foreign policy flag with the recent release of his book.

Much-anticipated documentation relating to the case for war in Iraq is released in the September. On publication, comment was generally critical of the text for tameness and for the seeming lack of any genuinely new evidence. The investigative dossier seems to consist of little more than rhetoric and rehashed allegations that have already been challenged. Plagiarism and over-use of sources are just two criticisms that make this a "dodgy dossier".

This is not 2002 - or 2003 with the release of the second dossier, but 2007; the author is not Tony Blair and HMG, but Peter Kilfoyle; and, ultimately, this is not

Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction: The Assessment of the British Government
- or, Iraq: Its Infrastructure of Concealment, Deception and Intimidation, but Lies, Damned Lies and Iraq: An in-depth investigation into the case for war and how it was misrepresented.

The book is a frustrating read because it promises much - not least an investigation apropos the legality of the intervention in Iraq - on which it ultimately fails to deliver. The j'accuse statements run thick and fast, with the book emerging as a combination of parliamentary reader and journalistic polemic, reading rather like a prosecutor reeling off an endless series of misdoings.

Kilfoyle, too busy with his prosecutorial charge-sheet, offers the minutest of commentary to accompany his Hansard insertions (aside from two of the 19 pages comprising the prologue, just one page of the next 301 is quote-free).

In his defence, Kilfoyle is no lawyer. Yet Niall Ferguson, no lawyer himself - rather the bestselling historian and author of Colossus - scholarly articulates the legal case:

Open-ended "containment" - which was effectively what the French government argued for in 2003 - would, on balance, have been a worse policy. Policing Iraq from the air while periodically firing missiles at suspect installations was costing money without solving the problem posed by Saddam. Keeping U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia indefinitely was not an option. Sanctions may have disarmed Saddam but they were also depriving ordinary Iraqis… In short, the policy of regime change was right; arguably, the principal defect of American policy toward Iraq was that the task had been left undone for twelve years. Those who fret about the doctrine of pre-emption enunciated in President Bush's National Security Strategy should bear in mind that the overthrow of Saddam was as much post-emption as pre-emption, since Saddam had done nearly all the mischief of which he was capable some time before March 2003.
Kilfoyle's retort to Ferguson would read something along the lines of:
Such arguments fitted Blair's nebulous notion that our collective psychology should have changed after 9/11, as did that of the United States. Not only did such an argument fit with his presumptions, but it appealed to his lawyerly instinct for building a case. Sadly for him, such a case was built on sand. Happily for us, international law has not been changed to accommodate the narrowness of Bush and Blair.
Talk for yourself Kilfoyle. Let us dissect the legal case for war.

WMD: John Yoo succinctly professes that:

What is important from the perspective of international law is not whether Iraq had WMD in the end. What matters is whether, at the time of the invasion, it appeared reasonably necessary to defend against Iraq's threat to U.S national security and international security.
Pre-emption: Possession of WMD can pose a very real existential threat. As a corollary, relying on the conventional distinction - when the threat is anything but conventional - between imminent and latent threats makes little sense. In truth, a nation must have the right to afford itself with some degree of security without having to overcome the sometimes unachievable chore of verifying that an attack is coming in weeks or days.

Regime change: There was no legal basis, lawyers asserted, for using force to bring about regime change. This argument appears to slight the case of World War II, which imposed regime change in Germany, Italy and Japan. Moreover, the theory that it is legally permissible in exceptional circumstances to use force to effect a change of regime dates back centuries and can be found in the writings of some of the most respected writers on the subject. Francis de Vitoria, for example, writing in his 1532 treatise On the Law of War, acknowledged:

It is undeniable that there may sometimes arise sufficiently and lawful causes for effecting a change of prince especially when security and peace cannot otherwise be had
.Vitoria clearly viewed the use of force to effect a regime change in these circumstances as defensive rather than offensive in character.

Humanitarian intervention: Anthony D'Amato argues human rights demand intervention against tyranny. In reality, intervention from outside is not only legally justified but also morally required. Humanitarian intervention does not necessarily involve a threat to the "territorial integrity" or "political independence" of a state, nor is it "inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations".

Case closed Kilfoyle.

Lee P. Ruddin is currently an occasional student at SOAS. Ruddin holds an LL.B (Liverpool John Moores); an MRes in International Security and Global Governance (Birkbeck); and a PgCert in History: Imperialism and Culture (Sheffield Hallam).

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I’m not totally convinced by this article. In my experience, the anti-war activists “objectively” promoted the case for war. Because whenever one of them accused the Bush administration of lying, yours truly would think “He would, wouldn't he?”, as Marilyn Rice-Davies said of Lord Astor.

Moreover, at the time, a certain David Frum wrote very persuasively in the Telegraph, stating among other things that George W. was not motivated by his father’s incomplete success in the Second Gulf War (the first, by my reckoning, was the previous Iran-Iraq war – Iranians do count, even if their president's politics are Chávista.) Now, today, I read that the origin of the term “Axis of Evil” again lies with David Frum, but that Syria, rather than Iraq, was the troublemaker. I will never again trust anything that man says.

In mathematics, a sphere is merely the surface, while a ball is the solid object. Increasingly I have come to see the Bush administration as a sphere of righteousness covering a ball of iniquity. This administration has “objectively” caused the name of Christianity to stink among the nations. Looking beneath the insubstantial crust, we find an outer mantle of Rumsfeldian militarism, then an inner mantle of Cheneyite mercantilism. But beneath it all we find a Karl Rovian core.

Now I do not judge any man’s soul. But the diabolical effect of this administration prompts me to remember that the common name of our British Rove Beetle is the Devil’s Coach Horse.

Posted by: Robert H. Olley at September 21, 2007 07:53 PM

Quite clearly Saddam Hussein had to go. The leftist anti-war lobby will never stop using this war as a stick to beat the current US Administration and it will be interesting to see what will happen if the Democratic Party manage to win the next Presidential election, because it is unlikely that they will be able withdraw substantially from Iraq: the war against militant Islamic lunacy has to be waged there, in Afghanistan, and on the borders of Israel rather than on our own doorsteps. Pseudo moral outrage and cod 'international' legalistic arguments are puerile. Saddam was threatening the fragile flow of our economic interests in the Near East and defying the floppy and corrupt UN, thereby exposing its weakness and, unless the US had responded, its weakness too. Bush refuses to back down, neither should he. Blair was right (about the only major decision he made in office that was right) even though he and GWB contrived to issue forth some dodgy justifications to divert the peaceniks - when in fact the bald truth was sufficient to justify imposing the West's will on Stalinist Saddam to avert even worse potential problems than the actual liberation has caused. The real culprits in the difficulties arising from the Iraq liberation are the backsliding European nations many of them in corrupt cahoots with Saddam and profting from the snactions scams) who have failed to prosecute the effort with resources and moral support. The Western press has, in the main, been egregious. And of the course the 'enemy within' the UK (including the scouse idiot and windbag Peter Gilfoyle) and the Democratic Party in the US who are still reeling from two defeats in a row and would gang-rape their grandmothers if they thought it would help them back in power, never mind stab their own troops in the back as they face the foe. Traitors all!

Posted by: Frank Pulley at September 22, 2007 01:17 PM
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