The BBC reports that British Prime Minister Tony Blair is about to be charged as a war criminal by the Greek Bar Association before the International Criminal Court. Dimitris Paxinos, president of the lawyers’ association told the BBC that Mr. Blair will be charged with “crimes against humanity and war crimes.”
President George Bush escapes being charged as the U.S. is not a signatory to the ICC.
The Greeks claim the U.S.-U.K. invasion of Iraq violates the United Nations Charter, the Geneva Convention, the Hague Convention and the International Criminal Court’s statute.
Mr. Paxinos, who was elected by a conservative majority, says he is confident the evidence compiled by the bar association is strong.
Until recently, charges against a head of state could be laughed away. Unfortunately for Tony Blair, he created the precedent for extraditing heads of state. The Blair government arrested Chile’s Augusto Pinochet and ruled that Gen. Pinochet could be extradited to Spain on specious charges brought by a Spanish prosecutor.
Arrested in October 1998 while in London for back surgery, the 82-year-old Gen. Pinochet was held in England under house arrest while the majesty of British law decided his fate. The stress on Gen. Pinochet of the drawn-out proceedings resulted in two strokes. His health destroyed, an 84-year-old Gen. Pinochet was released by Blair’s home secretary, Jack Straw, in March 2000 and was allowed to return to Chile.
Gen. Pinochet was a victim of Soviet propaganda. He was head of the Chilean army in 1973 when it was forced by popular demand and appeal from the elected legislature to overthrow Salvador Allende, who was turning Chile into a Soviet client state.
Gen. Pinochet had to combat Marxist terrorists during the 1970s and 1980s, using the equivalent of the U.S. Patriot Act and military detention a la the U.S. camp at Guantanamo Bay. With far fewer resources, Gen. Pinochet successfully put down a far greater terrorist threat than the one currently faced by the U.S.
During these years, Gen. Pinochet revived Chile’s broken economy and restored the country’s legal and political systems. He succeeded, because he turned the government over to civilian ministers with graduate educations from the University of Chicago and Harvard. He authorized a group of leading citizens to create a new constitution that would restore democracy and representative government and used referenda to legitimize the new political system. Gen. Pinochet kept to the time schedule he had established and stepped down as president of Chile in 1990, just as he said he would.
Gen. Pinochet was demonized by the international political left, and his health and retirement were destroyed as a consequence.
Gen. Pinochet did not fight terrorism by invading foreign countries. The total number of terrorists killed by the Chilean military is a fraction of the recent Iraqi civilian casualties at the hands of U.S. and U.K. forces. Gen. Pinochet never dropped bombs on civilians or sent missiles into residential neighborhoods.
At the time Gen. Pinochet was arrested by Mr. Blair’s government as a sop to the political left, the International Criminal Court did not exist. Cornell University Professor Jeremy Rabkin demonstrated there was no international law giving Spain jurisdiction over Chile or giving Spanish magistrate, Baltasar Garzon, jurisdiction over Gen. Pinochet. Mr. Garzon hoped to create such a law by asserting it, and Mr. Blair foolishly went along.
In 1998, it did not occur to Mr. Blair that five years later he would be roped into invading Iraq on trumped-up charges that it was a hotbed of al Qaeda terrorists equipped with weapons of mass destruction.
Now Mr. Blair finds himself with a nasty bit of aggression on his record and as many as 10,000 civilian casualties. That puts him in league with Slobodan Milosovic, who at least was fighting terrorist separatists within his own borders.
It is fairly certain the Blair government is not going to hand over Mr. Blair to the Greeks or to the ICC. If it did, Mr. Bush would send in the special forces to rescue him. But if the ICC issues a warrant, Mr. Blair won’t be able to go to Greece or to any country that might hand him over to the ICC.
Indeed, once Mr. Blair achieves his goal of dissolving Great Britain into the European Union, there will be no sovereign British government to protect him. He could be picked up at will by EU police and handed over to the ICC.
With the U.S. becoming a multicultural Tower of Babel, who is to know that Mr. Bush, too, in his old age won’t be handed over by a Hispanic president, who has no concern for vanquished Anglo-American hegemony or agreements between vanished cultures and nations.
Paul Craig Roberts is a columnist for The Washington Times and is nationally syndicated.