Crime and punishment regarding Iraq

Ten years after the US-led invasion of Iraq, it is being widely acknowledged that this was an illegal war, based on fabricated intelligence and with regime change foremost in mind. Moreover, it was fought without proper planning for the post-Saddam era, and at a cost of dozens of thousands of lives and hundreds of billions if not trillions of dollars, leaving a mess in Iraq and beyond. This much is being admitted publicly even by protagonists in this drama, like the then Deputy Prime Minister of the UK John Prescott.

The natural next step in any law-abiding society with a reasonably long statute of limitations would be to assign responsibilities, investigate and prosecute those responsible for all this loss of life and treasure. The means might differ from one country to the other, with options including parliamentary or judicial commissions of inquiry or plain public prosecutor investigations. But one would expect something along these lines to happen both in the US and the UK.

Those directly involved in the fateful decisions will of course continue to pretend that they have nothing to account for. And if the docile attitude that the press and other opinion makers adopted in 2003 continues they will get away with it. But the Emperor is naked and people have started to whisper it; it will hopefully soon become an uproar. It would be grossly unjust and corrupted otherwise. A regular citizen is prosecuted if s/he kills one person or destroys one house. But as leader one has immunity if one causes the death of thousands and plunders his/her own and another country’s assets and resources…

Of course, there can be mitigating circumstances and mistakes made in good faith. But that is for the judicial process to decide. Those who made the wrong decisions have to explain themselves, in public. And they have to accept the consequences of their actions, as they wanted to make others pay for their wrong deeds. When that happens in earnest, and only then, may the professed moral superiority of the West be proven in practice.

Georgios Kostakos

The Hague, 19 March 2013

 

About Georgios Kostakos

Georgios Kostakos is Executive Director of the Foundation for Global Governance and Sustainability (FOGGS) and an independent consultant on global challenges and sustainability, governance and UN affairs based in Brussels, Belgium. He holds an MA and a PhD in International Relations from the University of Kent at Canterbury (UK), and a Mechanical Engineering degree from the National Technical University of Athens, Greece. He served on the secretariat of the UN Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Global Sustainability (GSP) as Senior Adviser and Acting Deputy Executive Secretary, and on many other positions at UN Headquarters in New York, UN field missions, the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP) and the University of Athens. He is passionate about Europe and the World, and strives for human well-being in peace, prosperity and justice.
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