EDITOR’S NOTE: This article appears in the March 22, 2004, issue of National Review.
A few months ago, you’ll recall, the Pentagon declared the axis of weasels ineligible for Iraqi reconstruction contracts. An affronted Gerhard Schroeder replied that this act was illegal under international law. President Bush took it in his stride. “International law?” he said. “I better call my lawyer. He didn’t bring that up to me.”
Lovely line. I thought of Bush’s response during another fevered weekend in the increasingly surreal atmosphere of post-war Britain. The Crisis of the Day was an allegation by Clare Short–she’s the disaffected ex-cabinet minister who revealed that MI6 bugged Kofi Annan’s office–that Blair had “leant on” the attorney-general, Lord Goldsmith, to provide an opinion that Britain’s going to war with Iraq would be “legal.” Lord Goldsmith apparently had “profound doubts” about the legality of the action. All over the news bulletins and op-ed pages, the controversy raged. Baroness Kennedy, Queen’s Counsel (that’s British for Mark Geragos in a fancy wig), said that, under pressure from Blair, Goldsmith had turned to one of “only two lawyers who would have argued for the legality.”
Big deal. I care about this as much as I care about whether some old guy touched Naomi Wolf’s thigh in 1977 or 1953 or whenever it was. In both cases, so what? The only difference is that my statute of limitations runs out on Saddam’s thigh even faster than on Naomi’s. I mean, even if Ms. Short and Lady Kennedy and all the rest are correct, what’s the old butcher going to do about it? Sue to get his country back? Plus punitive damages?
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