Posts Tagged ‘Condoleezza Rice’

Archbishop Desmond Tutu calls for prosecution of Blair and Bush for Iraq invasion; Torture investigations end in U.S.

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

South African Archbishop Tutu Withdraws from Conference, Suggests Blair and Bush should be Prosecuted for Invasion of Iraq

Former Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the renowned anti-apartheid leader and recipient of the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize, has written an op-ed piece in The Observer explaining why he withdrew from attending the Discovery Invest Leadership Summit in Johannesburg last week, a conference attended by Tony Blair.

“As the date drew nearer, I felt an increasingly profound sense of discomfort about attending a summit on “leadership” with Mr Blair. I extend my humblest and sincerest apologies to Discovery, the summit organisers, the speakers and delegates for the lateness of my decision not to attend.”

–Desmond Tutu, “Why I had no choice but to spurn Tony Blair; “I couldn’t sit with someeone who justified the invasion of Iraq with a lie,” The Observer, September 1, 2012 (opinion).

See also Tony Helm (Political Editor) “Tony Blair should face trial over Iraq war, says Desmond TutuAnti-apartheid hero attacks former prime minister over ‘double standards on war crimes'”, The Guardian, September 1, 2012.

In his op-ed piece, Archbishop Tutu wrote:

The immorality of the United States and Great Britain’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003, premised on the lie that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, has destabilised and polarised the world to a greater extent than any other conflict in history.

Instead of recognising that the world we lived in, with increasingly sophisticated communications, transportations and weapons systems necessitated sophisticated leadership that would bring the global family together, the then-leaders of the US and UK fabricated the grounds to behave like playground bullies and drive us further apart. They have driven us to the edge of a precipice where we now stand – with the spectre of Syria and Iran before us.

Explaining that he had called Condolezza Rice on the eve of the invasion asking for more time for the U.N. weapons insprectors to complete their tasks, and that she had responded that there wasn’t enough time, the former Archbiship of Cape Town asked, “If leaders may lie, then who should tell the truth?”

The 1984 Nobel Peace Prize laureate continued:

The cost of the decision to rid Iraq of its by-all-accounts despotic and murderous leader has been staggering, beginning in Iraq itself. Last year, an average of 6.5 people died there each day in suicide attacks and vehicle bombs, according to the Iraqi Body Count project. More than 110,000 Iraqis have died in the conflict since 2003 and millions have been displaced. By the end of last year, nearly 4,500 American soldiers had been killed and more than 32,000 wounded.

On these grounds alone, in a consistent world, those responsible for this suffering and loss of life should be treading the same path as some of their African and Asian peers who have been made to answer for their actions in the Hague.

Returning to the theme of why he had withdrawn from the conference, Archbishop Tutu argued,

Leadership and morality are indivisible. Good leaders are the custodians of morality. The question is not whether Saddam Hussein was good or bad or how many of his people he massacred. The point is that Mr Bush and Mr Blair should not have allowed themselves to stoop to his immoral level.

If it is acceptable for leaders to take drastic action on the basis of a lie, without an acknowledgement or an apology when they are found out, what should we teach our children?

My appeal to Mr Blair is not to talk about leadership, but to demonstrate it….

U.S. Attorney Gerneral Announces End of Last Torture Investigations

Ironically, just days earlier, on August 30, 2012, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the last torture investigations had been concluded, and that the last few individuals under investigation would not be prosecuted.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced Thursday that no one would be prosecuted for the deaths of a prisoner in Afghanistan in 2002 and another in Iraq in 2003, eliminating the last possibility that any criminal charges will be brought as a result of the brutal interrogations carried out by the C.I.A.

–Scott Shane, ” No Charges Filed on Harsh Tactics Used by the C.I.A., New York Times, August 30, 2012.

See also

“Justice Department Ends Investigation on Alleged Use of Torture by CIA,” PBS Newshour, August 31, 2012.

“ACLU Comment on Closure of Justice Department’s CIA Torture Investigation,”, August 30, 2012.

The Trenchant Observer, previous articles on torture (find using the SEARCH box in the upper right-hand corner of the home page).

As a result of Holder’s decision, domestic investigations into the Bush torture policy and those responsible for torture as it is defined in the U.N. Convention Against Torture have now concluded, opening the way for other countries to apprehend and try U.S. officials responsible for torture when they are found within their jurisdiction.

The outrageous irony here is that Holder has concluded that not even these lower-level officials can be prosecuted due to the lack of sufficient “admissible evidence” to secure a conviction. In the United States justice system, evidence obtained through the use of torture is not admissible, and evidence relating to the administration of such torture may not be admissible because it is “classified”. If this phalanx of legal defenses is not sufficient to bar prosecution, the government can always invoke the relatively new state secrets doctrine in order to secure the dismissal of the case.

So, this U.S. administration is not going to prosecute those responsible for the Bush torture policy or for carrying it out. As the Attorney General previously announced, the Justice Department excluded from its investigations all cases where the acts using so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” (i.e., torture under the terms of the U.N. Convention on Torture) were carried out pursuant to legal guidance by the Department of Justice.

Until reversed, these decisions stand for the acceptance by the United States of the “due obedience” defense to international crimes.

This defense was explicitly rejected at Nuremberg, in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and in numerous prosecutions against those responsible for international crimes in a number of countries and before a number of international tribunals.

It is a shameful policy for the United States to uphold.

Now, over the coming years and decades, it will fall upon the initiative of other countries which are parties to the U.N. Convention Against Torture to bring to justice those responsible for the torture policy of the Bush years.

Bush administration officials involved in those policies and their execution desiring to avoid accountability under international law would be well-advised to carefully consider their foreign travel plans in the future.

The Trenchant Observer

Obama’s Foreign Policy Quagmires and Successes

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

As 2011 begins, it is useful to consider where the U.S. and the world are in terms of developing and implementing foreign policies that address the very serious problems that we face. We shall consider only a few areas here, but readers are encouraged to add their own analyses.

The New START Treaty

On December 22, 2010, the Washington Post reported,

The Senate ratified the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, known as New START, by a vote of 71 to 26, easily clearing the threshold of two-thirds of senators present as required by the Constitution for treaty ratification.

For the Washington Post, a margin of five votes amounted to “easily clearing” the requirement of Senate ratification of treaties by a two-thirds margin.

Peter Baker of the New York Times was more circumspect, reporting that

The treaty had the support of the nation’s uniformed military leaders and of a host of Republican national security veterans, including former President George H. W. Bush and five former secretaries of state, Henry A. Kissinger, George P. Shultz, James A. Baker III, Colin L. Powell and Condoleezza Rice. But many of the party’s potential 2012 presidential candidates, like Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and John Thune, came out against it, as did the two top Republican leaders in the Senate, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Mr. Kyl, the lead Republican negotiator.

Still, he noted, ratification of the New START Treaty amounted to “what is probably the most tangible foreign policy achievement of Mr. Obama’s two years in office.”

It is an important achievement in an area in which there have been few.

The margin of victory, however, laid bare the opposition in the leadership of the Republican party to any major international agreements, even those that are manifestly in the nation’s interest (e.g., by allowing verification to resume). What is remarkable, moreover, is not so much that the treaty was ratified as how close it came to defeat.


On other fronts, the fact that a grand-coalition government has finally been formed in Iraq gives cause for hope, though the final observation of Thomas Ricks in his book, The Gamble, still rings true.

The heart of the Iraq matter still lies before us. [U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan] Crocker maintained in both interviews with him in Baqdad in 2008, and he likely is correct. “What the world ultimately thinks about us and what we think about ourselves,” he said, “I think is going to be determined much more by what happens from now on than what’s happened up to now.”

“In other words,” Ricks concluded, “the events for which the Iraq war will be remembered probably have not yet happened.”

–Thomas E. Ricks, The Gamble: David Petraeus and the American Adventure in Iraq, 2006-2008 (New York: Penguinn, 2009), p. 325.

Nonetheless, the formation of a grand coalition government in Iraq, with strong U.S. encouragement, amounts to a significant success, at least for the moment.


With respect to Iran, U.S. policymakers might find satisfaction in the fact that they and others were able, through careful and sustained diplomacy, to develop a consensus within the U.N. Security Council that resulted in the imposition of new and tougher sanctions against Iran. Still, Iran continues its uranium enrichment program, which many believe is aimed at developing a nuclear weapons capability, or weapon, at the earliest possible date. To be sure, the introduction of the Stuxnet worm into computers involved in Iran’s nuclear program may have slowed the clock down, relieving immediate pressures for military action. On the other hand, there is a great need for public discussion and negotiation of new international legal norms and treaties limiting the use of cyber-warfare, of which the Stuxnet worm may be an early example.


Elsewhere, the landscape is considerably bleaker. Afghanistan is caught in an endless war in which allied forces continue to sacrifice lives and treasure, making progress in military terms, but with little if any evidence of progress on the governance front. There is a good deal of reporting that suggests that the situation vis-à-vis the Taliban, in the country as a whole, is deteriorating.

More ominously, the untimely death of Richard Holbrooke may have eliminated a strong voice from the civilian side of Obama’s policy-making team. Recent reports that the military are making plans to engage the Taliban and other insurgent groups more actively within the territory of Pakistan suggest that a narrow, military view of the struggle in Afghanistan and Pakistan remains ascendant in the White House.

–See Mark Mazzetti and Dexter Filkins, “U.S. Military Seeks to Expand Raids in Pakistan,” New York Times, December 20, 2010.

The much-touted (and promised) December review of the degree to which progress had been made in Afghanistan following the “surge” of 2010, seems not to have occurred in any meaningful sense of the term. The results of the “review”–“stay the course”–were telegraphed well in advance of its formal conclusion.

Obama appears caught in a dilemma with no easy solution. While he succeeded in taking Afghanistan off the table in the 2010 congressional elections, and may succeed in doing so through the 2012 presidential elections as well, there is no viable strategy for improving governance in sight. A significant government collapse–perhaps on the order of the Hue Offensive in South Vietnam in 1968, could cost him the election in 2012.

Yet if he presses the fight against the Taliban and others too far in Pakistan, he may accelerate a destabilization of the government there which leads to a military coup. It is hard to see how Pakistan could be governable or a military government more effective in taking military action against the Taliban under such a scenario, while the risks and dangers of such instability in a nuclear weapons state are manifest.

North Korea

Meanwhile, on the Korean Peninsula, extremely dangerous confrontations involving the use of force occurred in 2010, while North Korea continued its pursuit of nuclear weapons in the context of a looming succession struggle.

Asia, Africa, and Latin America

Elsewhere, in Asia, Africa and Latin America, a number of foreign policy events occurred that were highly significant. We shall offer our observations on some of them in future articles.

Economic Issues

Economic issues, of course, were at the center of some of the most important foreign policy events of 2010, but these lie beyond the scope of the present article. Europe came to the rescue of Greece and Ireland, in particular, and made clear that it would defend the euro and where necessary provide support to euro-zone countries whose financial systems came into crisis. In the United States, a sluggish recovery was underway, but employment remained extremely weak. With further stimulus efforts foreclosed by political divisions, the Federal Reserve Bank decided to start printing money under a program known as Quantitative Easing II or “QE II”. Wall Street has largely recovered, as has the auto industry as a result of a federal rescue package.

November, 2010 Elections

Voters were not impressed, and returned a Republican majority to the House of Representatives, while reducing the Democratic majority in the Senate by five notes–the precise margin of victory in the ratification vote on the New START Treaty.

The Trenchant Observer

Comments are invited.