Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11 and the Bush administration tried to
make a connection so attacking Iraq was seen to be a response to 9-11.
This was clearly not true and what was the accountability for the President
who lied us into an illegal unnecessary pre-emptive war of choice?
You re-elected him. You believed the lie or illegal war is OK, or both?
Hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians have died for invalid reasons.
Why do they hate us? Could it be our foreign policies which include
pre-emptive illegal wars?
A Fig Leaf Of Legality (has disappeared)
May 02, 2005
John Prados is a senior fellow with the National Security Archive in
Washington, DC. He is author of Hoodwinked: The Documents That Reveal How
Bush Sold Us a War (The New Press).
It has been rumored that the brief, antiseptic legal opinion-citing that a
legal basis for the Iraq war did exist-that British Prime Minister Tony
Blair received from his attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, did not actually
reflect the advice of the top British government lawyer. That turns out to
Last week, when portions of Lord Goldsmith's original opinion began to leak,
the prime minister's office rushed to release the original document.
Goldsmith's advice, rendered in a baker's dozen of pages of closely reasoned
text on March 7, 2003, diverges significantly from his previously released
single-page approval for war. But its greatest significance is that the
Goldsmith opinion puts before the public legal reasoning that undermines the
justification in international law Bush used to wage an aggressive war
against Iraq . That, in turn, negates Bush's Congressional authorization to
Lord Goldsmith's opinion strips the legal arguments down to their core and
shows how flawed they were. These can be addressed in five areas, and a few
further points on legality this side of the Atlantic will complete the
Foremost is the matter of the U.N. Security Council action (Resolution 1441)
passed on Nov. 8, 2002. Debate has long raged over whether 1441-by itself or
in combination with earlier Security Council resolutions enacted during and
after the Gulf War-authorized a resort to force against Iraq . Lord Goldsmith
supplies an exhaustive analysis of the operative paragraphs of Resolution
1441 that shows how it required further U.N. action to approve force.
Preparing to draft his opinion, Goldsmith reveals, the Bush administration
treated him to an extensive elaboration of its view, based on selective
quotation and the negotiating history of 1441, that no further Security
Council action was necessary. But the negotiating history can be read in
different ways and the resolution's provisions clearly required further U.N.
deliberations. As Lord Goldsmith put it, "any other construction reduces the
role of the Council discussion...to a procedural formality." This for a war
with President Bush insisted had the purpose of strengthening the United
The second core issue is what the British government's official lawyer terms
the "revival argument." This embodies what Americans heard so many times
when Bush, Cheney and other leaders referred to authorities arising from 13
years of U.N. resolutions. Did later action, specifically Resolution
1441, "revive" the authority for force contained in Resolution 678 (1990)
under which the first Bush administration and a coalition of allies fought
Saddam Hussein in the Gulf War? All the relevant resolutions, Lord Goldsmith
notes, brought the United Nations charter into play by invoking "threats to
international peace and security." But it remained up to the Security
Council to decide that such a threat existed. Resolution 1441 made the
revival argument stronger, but it clearly suspended judgment on the
existence of a threat by affording Iraq an opportunity to accede to U.N.
weapons inspections. This again made necessary a final determination by the
Third, there is the issue of "material breach" of Iraqi obligations under
the U.N. resolutions. The U.N. weapons inspectors were moving into and out
of Iraq , looking where they pleased, and it was up to them to report evasion
or breach to the Council. This puts in high relief the pressures exerted on
Hans Blix by Condoleezza Rice and other U.S. officials to induce the weapons
inspectors to tell the Council that Iraq had failed to comply. In addition,
Goldsmith notes, the United States took the position that the fact of
whether Iraq had failed to comply was "a matter of objective fact" that
could be assessed by nations independently of the United Nations. Goldsmith
notes drily, "I am not aware of any other state which supports this view."
Once again, the necessity for the Security Council to make a determination
of material breach (which it never did)-and to prescribe whatever response
it deemed necessary-was required to give effect to the resolution.
Then there is the matter of George Bush's assertion of a right to
pre-emptive self-defense. Lord Goldsmith observes that the threat of armed
attack must be actual or imminent, that the use of force must be the sole
available means of averting attack, and that the response must be
proportional. The United States claimed a broad right to use force to
pre-empt danger in the future. Goldsmith concludes, "This is not a doctrine
which, in my opinion, exists or is recognized in international law."
Finally, there is the broad principle of proportionality. Force used against
Iraq in service of the U.N. resolutions "must have as its objective the
enforcement of the terms of the [Gulf War] cease-fire [i.e., Resolution
687]," needed to be limited to achieving that objective, and had to be
proportional to "securing compliance with Iraq 's disarmament obligations."
In other words, Goldsmith explicitly noted, "regime change cannot be the
objective of military action."
George Bush sought a congressional resolution authorizing force and secured
it on Oct. 10, 2002. That resolution explicitly restricted the use of force
to compelling adherence with "relevant United Nations Security Council
resolutions," and continuing threats from Iraq . This was not a blanket
declaration of war. The resolution's contingent authority evaporates if its
conditions are not met.
We now know that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction and very
little in the way of programs to develop them. That is why the weapons
inspectors, quite rightly, were not going to report a material breach-the
inspectors could find no evidence of weapons. Iraq was in compliance with
the Gulf War resolutions and had not invaded anyone-hence no threat to
international peace and security. Washington 's assertion otherwise remained
crucial to cover an aggressive war with a fig leaf of legality. That fig
leaf has now disappeared.
Regime change is illegal: end of debate
By Alasdair Palmer
'I would never do anything against the advice of the Attorney General," the
Prime Minister has repeatedly insisted. Yet he did do something against the
Attorney General's advice. He helped the Americans invade Iraq and replace
its Ba'athist regime.
Lord Goldsmith's confidential advice to the Prime Minister on the legality
of invading Iraq without a second UN resolution, revealed for the first time
last week, was equivocal about almost everything. It was clear about one
point and one point only: "Regime change," insisted the Attorney General,
"cannot be the object of military action." Any invasion which had that goal
would be unambiguously illegal under international law.
As everyone knows now, and knew perfectly well then, the whole point of the
invasion of Iraq was regime change. President Bush said so with Tony Blair
standing by his side. At the joint press conference the two leaders gave at
George Bush's ranch in Crawford , Texas , on April 6, 2002, he helpfully
summed up the purpose of the military action against Iraq in a single
sentence: "We support regime change." For George Bush, no further
elaboration was necessary.
Despite Mr Blair's statement that "If I had not taken the action I did,
Saddam would still be in power," it was not he, but President Bush who
removed Saddam. Tony Blair was an accessory to the American invasion - but
British forces were so small a part of it that they were not critical to its
success. As President Bush emphasised, the Americans were prepared to go it
alone without Tony Blair and Britain 's armed forces. Two weeks before the
invasion started, he offered to do precisely that, as he saw the enormous
political difficulties the Prime Minister faced in getting Parliamentary
approval for the war. Tony Blair rejected the offer. "I said I'm with you
and I mean it," he insisted.
Last week, most of the discussion of the Attorney General's advice centred
on whether it was "arguable" that the invasion would be legal without a
second UN resolution explicitly authorising it. Yet when compared with the
glaring illegality of an invasion whose explicit purpose was regime change,
this is a non-issue. The Prime Minister knew it, the Attorney General knew
it, the Cabinet knew it, and so did anyone who bothered to think about it.
What, then, was Tony Blair doing when he stated: "What is important is that
whatever action we take is done in accordance with international law"?
President Bush never wavered in his conviction that regime change was the
main purpose of the invasion. He was not interested in a second resolution
from the UN - he was not really interested in the question of whether
America 's action was in accordance with "international law". It was the
Prime Minister who persuaded him to try to get a second resolution from the
Security Council explicitly authorising war. President Bush made the effort
as a favour to Tony Blair, despite the very evident scepticism of Messers
Cheney and Rumsfeld.
Their scepticism was understandable. Returning to the UN was a gesture whose
only point was to keep up a charade for the benefit of the Labour
backbenchers. Tony Blair knew that if he were honest with them he would fail
to get them to vote for the war. The pretence, however, did not fool the
members of the Security Council, which never came close to approving that
second resolution. They shared the Attorney General's original view that an
invasion whose purpose was regime change could not be legal under
Mr Blair's attempt to claim that the aim of the invasion was really only to
disarm Saddam - if it happened to topple him from power, that was an
unexpected side-effect - was pathetically unpersuasive. Tony Blair was like
a man who offers as his defence to a charge of being an accessory to murder
that, although he had joined a group of men whose ring-leader had expressly
stated as they set out together that their joint purpose was to bludgeon a
rival to death, he had gone along only because he wanted to disarm the guy:
bludgeoning him to death was simply a means to that quite separate goal.
The repeated insistence of the Prime Minister, the Attorney General and,
indeed, the whole Cabinet, that the invasion of Iraq was compatible with
international law seems simply to have been a pose to try to fool people who
genuinely wanted the invasion to be legal - but were too stupid to see for
themselves that it wasn't.
Of course, a number of the people in that category include the Labour MPs
who voted for it after hearing the Prime Minister and the Attorney General
assure them that it was in line with what international law required. Many
of those MPs are now very angry at their own stupidity. They have deflected
their anger on to the Prime Minister and the Attorney General for not
sharing the confidential advice that was released last week.
This is simply a further demonstration of their own idiocy, for there was
nothing in that confidential advice that was not obvious at the time of the
Commons vote. It was extremely easy to work out that the invasion was
incompatible with international law. If that law has a guiding principle, it
is that the invasion of one country by another in order to replace its ruler
is a flagrant violation of state sovereignty.
The Prime Minister's actions show that he has never regarded "conformity
with international law" as critically important. He has, in the past, been
quite willing to get involved in military expeditions that did not have
explicit UN approval - the test for their acceptability under international
law. The toppling of the regime in Sierra Leone, the bombing of Kosovo and
the bombing of Saddam in Operation Desert Fox in 1998 are all examples, and
ones of which he insists he is proud.
Clare Short and Robin Cook, two ministers who resigned over the illegality
of the Iraq invasion in 2003, were enthusiasts for the equally illegal
Desert Fox in 1998. But in that case, a Democrat - good old Bill Cinton -
was in the White House. In 2003, its occupant was a Republican. To get over
Labour MPs' qualms about associating themselves with George W. Bush, Tony
Blair had to pretend that international law licensed America 's military
I do not believe that the Prime Minister cynically exploited his MPs'
stupidity by his pretence: the first person he fooled by his sophistry was
himself. A self-deluding sophist is not an ideal character to have as the
leader of our country: it is what we will get if we re-elect Tony Blair and
Labour next week.
Support our troops
UK: Firestorm over Illegal War on Iraq Grows
Iraq war was illegal and breached UN charter,
says Kofi Annan
September 16, 2004
Draft U.S. paper allows commanders to seek preemptive nuke strikes