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After Chilcot Report: let US Iraq war resisters stay

By: 
Brian Champ

July 13, 2016

The Chilcot Report, released on July 6 after seven years and various delays, vindicated many of the arguments the anti-war movement made in the lead up to the Iraq invasion: that Saddam Hussein did not pose an urgent threat to British interests, that there was no credible evidence of WMD in Iraq prior to the invasion and that peaceful alternatives had been scuttled in a premature rush to war. 

While denying that Blair agreed to join the invasion as early as the start of 2002, the report also includes contradictory documents detailing high-level government discussions about the Iraq invasion as early as November 2001.  

Illegal Iraq war

As the report was being released, protesters demonstrated outside, demanding that Bush and Blair should face a court for their crimes. While falling short of calling Blair a war-criminal, Chilcot clearly questioned the judgment of the Blair government caught up in the rush to war.  Blair attempted to appear agonized and apologetic after the release of the report, insisting that "what I cannot do is say we took the wrong decision." In a sense, the Chilcot report gave Blair this way out by equivocating on the question of whether or not the war was illegal or not and declaring that the inquiry had no jurisdiction to decide this question. But it did conclude that "the circumstances in which it was decided that there was a legal basis for UK military action were far from satisfactory".

Blair hopes by appearing contrite he can avoid ending up in the dock in the international court in the Hague facing war criminal charges. Those who protested against this invasion, which was the precursor to all the turmoil currently unfolding in the region, hope that these two war criminals face charges for the horror they unleashed.

Because, despite Chilcot waffling on its illegality, the fact that the invasion went ahead without the approval of the UN security council violated the Geneva Convention and was therefore in violation of international law. In the Fall of 2002 and the Spring of 2003, this was one of the major debates in the anti-war movement: whether or not to oppose the war if the UN approved.  Socialist.ca stood with many people in opposing the war regardless of whether it had UN sanction or not—we were clear that it was an imperialist scramble for greater control of oil.

War resisters

But Bush and Blair's inability to obtain this UN rubber stamp for the invasion in 2003 has had major implications for the anti-war movement in Canada, particularly in the War Resisters Support Campaign. It was the strength of the anti-war movement on the streets of Canada in the early months of 2003, combined with the fact that the security council did not approve the invasion, that prompted then PM Jean Chrétien to announce that Canada would not participate. And because Canada had not joined in, US soldiers who also felt that they were being asked to fight an illegal war began trickling across that border. They followed in the footsteps of Vietnam era war resisters. 

Thirteen years after this illegal invasion, Bush and Blair are free to live it up with the rest of the 1%, but US war resister Rodney Watson remains inside Vancouver's First United Church where he sought sanctuary seven years ago. Other war resisters have been deported back to the US where they have faced persecution and lengthy jail terms.  

Everyone who opposed the Iraq war in 2003, and kept our government from joining the illegal invasion, should take time now to support the war resisters who after all share this humanity with the majority of people across Canada.

The WRSC is demanding that the Trudeau government stop the deportation of US war resisters, stop pursuing war resister cases started by the Harper government in court, rescind the prejudicial Citizenship and Immigration Canada Operational Bulletin 202 and finally let U.S. war resisters stay in Canada. 

To support the war resisters visit resisters.ca.

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