Tony Blair is promoting the idea that “the right to sovereignty brings associated responsibilities to protect citizens”, and that, “Where a population is suffering serious harm, as a result of internal war, insurgency, repression or state failure, and the state in question is unwilling or unable to halt or avert it, the principle of non‐intervention yields to the international responsibility to protect.”
On the face of it this looks as a “good idea”, but does Tony Blair understand its full implications?
Today the people of Iraq are suffering serious harm as a result of attack and occupation by rogue states. These states attacked Iraq under the false pretense of “destroying its weapons of mass destruction”, and now the country is plunged into chaos, which is causing to its people “serious harm”.
Should the rogue states which caused this harm to the Iraqi people be attacked and their regimes changed?
In Palestine another people have been suffering serious harm for over 50 years. They had been driven out of their houses, and now they are subjected to further attacks, seizures of property, destruction of houses and killings. The state who has been engaged in these oppressive acts is clearly a “rogue state”, and so are the states who support it.
Should these states be attacked and their regime changed, as per Tony Blair's suggestions?
Yes, Tony Blair is right — the principle of “sovereignty” should not mean licence to commit crimes against person and property by nation states. No government should be above the law. But, this can be achieved in practice only by creation of institutions of supra‐national government and development of impartial and objective international law, which would be applicable in equal measure to all nation states.
Without such supra‐national law, Tony Blair's suggestions amount to government by name‐calling. Call any state a “rogue”, and you can attack it and install a regime of your own choice. But, this is not governance, this is “politics”. And politics leads to international anarchy similar to the American “War on Terror”, which is now causing suffering to the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and Chechnya, and claiming the lives of Israeli, British, Russian and American soldiers.
So, if Tony Blair really wants to put an end to crimes by governments, he should abandon “governance by name‐calling” and start working towards establishment of objective and impartial supra‐national law.