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The First Thing We Do, Let’s Disbar all the Lawyers

Henry Porter, writing in the Guardian is very angry that not everybody agrees with him.

The subject? Iraq of course: more specifically the decision by Tony Blair to offer Britain’s assistance to an international coalition tasked with the removal of  a warmonger, torturer and active enemy of Arab democracy. The journalist was against the dictator’s toppling because he believed it was in breach of the rule of law. Despite Porter’s view, the removal of Saddam went ahead anyway.

Why? The problem was with the lawyers he explains. On the one hand there are people like Elizabeth Wilmshurst and Sir Michael Wood who agree with the majority of Guardian journalists that the Iraq war was “illegal”. On the other hand there are other lawyers like Tony Blair, Jack Straw, and the Lords Falconer and Goldsmith who didn’t agree with this interpretation and believed the lack of a second UN resolution was not a legal deal breaker as far as military action was concerned.

What might you expect a journalist posting at a website proudly entitled Liberty Central to conclude from the existence of such a long running political and legal disagreement ? That there might be  legitimate arguments on both sides of the debate? That the lack of a successful prosecution of Tony Blair might bolster his defence that he had not in fact broken any law? That different points of view are essential to the rule of law and the operation of a democracy, even.

Not a bit of it:

My own belief is that Blair, Straw and Falconer should be disbarred from their professional organisations. There may be a case for Lord Goldsmith’s disbarment as well. Though I am not sure how this could be satisfactorily achieved

 Have things really come to this state among the more desperate anti-war partisans? Sadly, yes.

The fact that a lawyer might come to a conclusion uncommon among Guardian journalists is not a sign of professional misconduct and it is absurdly arrogant  to assume it is. And a call for the disbarring of those who reached a difficult decision in good faith is nothing but ill-considered groupthink and one of the most stunningly illiberal things I’ve read for a very long time. What a shame it appeared in a so-called liberal newspaper.