On November 22, the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal based in Malaysia indicted former US President George Bush and former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair for war crimes, in connection with the 2003 invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq.
This is the latest in a number of initiatives that have sought to pin responsibility for the horrific slaughter, torture, pillaging and other atrocities committed as part of the invasion and occupation of Iraq by the coalition of forces led by Anglo-American imperialism. According to the unanimous judgment delivered by the Malaysian war crimes tribunal consisting of several eminent judges and jurists, “More than 1.4 million Iraqis have been killed (and continue to die) as a direct and indirect consequence of the war waged by both accused against Iraq.” In October, protesters in Canada demanded that George Bush be indicted for war crimes. The Iranian parliament had also begun proceedings some time back to charge Bush and other top US officials with war crimes for their actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Within the United States and Britain also, several campaigns on similar lines have been gaining support in recent times.
The Kuala Lumpur War Crimes tribunal has examined each of the excuses given by Bush and Blair to justify their invasion of Iraq – including the excuse that Iraq was allegedly harbouring “weapons of mass destruction”, or that their countries had a “responsibility to protect” people in danger because of Saddam Hussein – and found each one of them to be untrue and untenable.
The final verdict of the tribunal is a powerful indictment of Bush and Blair, and an affirmation of the need to protect world peace and the sovereignty of states from illegal and unjustifiable aggression by powerful states that brazenly violate international laws and conventions. It holds that “The essence of legality is the principled, predictable, and consistent application of a single standard for the strong and the weak alike. Selective manipulation of international law by powerful states undermines its legitimacy.”
The verdict concludes:
“The 2003 invasion of Iraq was an unlawful act of aggression and an international crime. It cannot be justified under any reasonable interpretation of international law. It violates the outer limits of laws regulating the use of force. It amounts to mass murder. Unlawful use of force in Iraq threatens to return us to a world in which the law of the jungle prevails over the rule of law, with potentially disastrous consequences for the human rights not only of the Iraqis but of people throughout the region and the world.
The future of the UN and of the international law of war is also at stake. The unauthorized military action in Iraq undermines the system of collective security embedded in the UN Charter in order to protect humanity from a recurrence of the carnage of World War II. The two accused took the law into their own hands. They acted with deceit and with falsehood. They acted in flagrant violation of international law of war and peace. In the absence of any convincing evidence, defence assertions lack credibility. They appear to be fig leaves for hiding naked economic and political ambitions. We therefore find that the charge against the two accused is proved beyond reasonable doubt. The two accused are, therefore, found guilty as charged and the two accused are accordingly convicted on the charge.”
The tribunal has demanded that the International Criminal Court in the Hague frame charges against Bush and Blair as war criminals.
The judgment of the Malaysian war crimes tribunal is an important and timely initiative. Ever since US imperialism dropped 2 atom bombs on Japan in 1945, and in each of its subsequent acts of aggression -- it has got away with blatant aggression and violation of all international laws and conventions, relying purely on its military and political clout. At the same time, it has not hesitated to brand various leaders around the world as war criminals and despots, and to use this to justify its intervention in the affairs of other countries. Initiatives like the Malaysian tribunal and that of the Iranian parliament, as well as others, help to expose the cold-blooded hypocrisy and naked face of the aggression of US imperialism and its partners in crime.