Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Impeachment: The British Edition

[[D I S P U T E S]] * Regardless of polls showing that 50 percent of Americans believe George W. Bush should be impeached if he lied about the reasons for taking the United States to war against Iraq, and despite hints from Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) and others that Dubya could be impeached for having authorized domestic spying, I remain doubtful that removing Bush from office is possible. It doesn’t matter how persistently he “disassembles” on matters of national and international import, or whether Congress converts to Democratic control after the 2006 midterm elections. I suspect the prez will remain a pain in our asses right up until the day he finally has to turn the Oval Office keys over to his successor. The best we might hope for in the meantime is to neuter Bush’s legislative influence and starve him of funds he needs to carry out his ideological agenda without congressional supervision.

However, my skepticism about elected officials stepping up to relieve their nation of a poor leader is evidently not shared by Sir Michael Rose, former adjutant general of the British army and commander of the U.N. protection force in Bosnia, who’s pushing to see the impeachment of Bush’s warmongering cohort, Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Writing today in The Guardian, Sir Michael opines:

[A] clear justification for the war in Iraq was never sufficiently made by Tony Blair--for the intelligence he presented was always embarrassingly patchy and inconsistent. What is more, his unequivocal statement to the House of Commons that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction that could be used within 45 minutes was made without being properly validated--for it was decided in Washington and London to launch the invasion of Iraq early, on the basis of the flimsy evidence available. This was done without asking the UN weapons inspectors, who were actually on the ground in Iraq, to investigate this allegation. Ultimately, as the inspectors suspected and as we now all know, it turned out that there were no such weapons. Britain had been led into war on false pretences. It was a war that was to unleash untold suffering on the Iraqi people and cause grave damage to the west’s prospects in the wider war against global terror.

Nevertheless, today the prime minister seeks to persuade the world that the war was justifiable because Saddam Hussein was toppled and there now exists in Iraq a slender hope of democracy. The Iraqi elections are a creditable achievement by the coalition forces. But it must be remembered that a general election was previously held in Iraq in 1956, and within two years the country had fallen under military rule. Without adequate security and the necessary democratic institutions in place, there are absolutely no long-term guarantees that democracy will endure.

Before the invasion, regime change was never cited as a reason for going to war. Indeed, Mr Blair insisted that regime change was not, nor ever could be, a reason for going to war. Had such a justification been fully debated in parliament, it is exceedingly unlikely that the necessary political support would have been forthcoming. It was the apparent need to defend ourselves against a dire threat--so vividly described by Mr Blair in the Commons--that finally won the political argument.

During the build-up to war and since, most of the electorate of this country have consistently opposed the decision to invade. People have seen their political wishes ignored for reasons now proved false. But there has been no attempt in parliament to call Mr Blair personally to account for what has transpired to be a blunder of enormous strategic significance. It should come as no surprise therefore that so many of this country’s voters have turned their backs on a democratic system they feel has so little credibility and is so unresponsive.

One obvious way of re-engaging these disaffected voters would be for parliament to accept that it wrongly supported the war--but only because it believed what Mr Blair told them. Now it is clear that parliament was misled by Mr Blair, either wittingly or unwittingly, parliament should also call on him for a full explanation as to why he went to war. ...

Mr Blair is an able barrister who should relish the opportunity to put his side of the case. No one can undo the decision to go to war. But the impeachment of Mr Blair is now something I believe must happen if we are to rekindle interest in the democratic process.
When Blair was first elected as prime minister in 1997, with President Bill Clinton’s enthusiastic support, it certainly seemed that he would bring greater prosperity and sanity to Great Britain, after its almost two decades of Conservative Party rule. It’s a shame to see how low he’s been brought, thanks to his endorsement of Bush’s Iraq war.

1 comment:

guile said...

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