The Spectator

Letters | 6 February 2010

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When war is a crime

Sir: Andrew Gilligan’s trenchant indictment of Blair (‘How can we punish Blair?’, 30 January) includes the mitigating claim that: ‘For all the cries that he is a “war criminal”, the Nuremberg Principles make clear that war crimes relate largely to atrocities committed in the course of combat or aggression. The act of war is not itself a war crime.’

This is incorrect. Count One of the Indictment at Nuremberg, read out on 20 November 1945, includes these words: ‘The common plan or conspiracy embraced the commission of Crimes against Peace in that the defendants planned, prepared, initiated and waged wars of aggression, which were also wars in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances.’ Anyone who reads the proceedings of the War Crimes Tribunal will find that planning and waging aggressive war was regarded as one of the major crimes, if not the major crime, for which the Nazi leaders were indicted. Virtually all their other crimes followed from this.

Nikolai Tolstoy
Berkshire



Sir: If a Chilcot inquiry had been held in 1918, I wonder what those legal luminaries would have made of the ‘legality’ for Britain’s entry into the first world war? Or, even more to the point, in 1936 — supposing that ‘warmonger’ Churchill had intervened when Hitler went into the Rhineland — thereby averting the second world war?

Blair remains guilty simply of lying. But, much as one might like to see him sent off in orange denims to the Hague, no subsequent PM would ever dare lift his finger — even if the EU invaded the Channel Islands to enforce ‘regime change’ on Britain’s crook bankers.

Alistair Horne
Henley-on-Thames


Major’s record


Sir: The rehabilitation of John Major (‘Time for a Major re-think’, 30 January) is long overdue.

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