This Invasion Will Be Illegal

Julian Borger et al., writing 3/12/03 in The Guardian, on the illegality of US/British intervention in Iraq without an enabling Security Council resolution:

Going to war without a new UN resolution backing military action would be illegal despite claims to the contrary made by Britain and the US. This is the near-unanimous view of international lawyers, and was supported this week by the UN secretary general. "If the US and others were to go outside the security council and take unilateral action they would not be in conformity with the [UN] charter," Kofi Annan said.

Some international lawyers say war is justified - with or without any further resolution - because Saddam has not honoured the UN-backed ceasefire terms after the 1991 Gulf war.

However, the widespread view in Whitehall is that a new, strongly-worded UN resolution was needed before a war could be regarded as being backed by international law.

This view is believed to be shared by Lord Goldsmith, the attorney general, who yesterday had a meeting with Mr Blair and Mr Hoon.

Mr Blair may be hoping that he can persuade MPs that a draft resolution backed by a majority on the security council would amount to a "yes" vote, irrespective of any veto by one or more of the permanent members. While this might strengthen the prime minister's position politically, and even morally, it will make no difference to the legality or legitimacy of a war.

Legally, any claim by Mr Blair that a French veto would be "unreasonable" is irrelevant. And with a veto there will be no new resolution.

Resolution 1441, by which ministers have laid so much store, speaks only of "serious consequences" if Saddam Hussein does not disarm. The phrase falls far short of an instruction to UN member states to use "all necessary means" - the traditional UN term for armed intervention.

Expect Forged Weapons Evidence

Alexander Cockburn speculates about how "evidence" of prohibited weapons may be prepared for consumption after the invasion begins (3/12/03):

Does anyone seriously believe that in the event of U.S. invasion, "discovery" of Saddam's Weapons of Mass Destruction won't be long delayed? The stakes are simply too high. It won't take much: a blueprint or two, a few canisters noisily identified as chemical or biological agents, a "facility" for production of nuclear munitions.

Already there are vague, unconfirmed stories of preliminary manufacture of the necessary smoking guns that can be deployed by undercover teams as U.S. troops advance and then dramatically disclosed to the hungry press. For those who entertain doubts about the likelihood of the United States or its ally Britain manufacturing necessary "evidence," consider the recent explicit charge of forgery leveled by Mohammed ElBaradei, the chief UN inspector looking for evidence of nuclear capability in Iraq.

Brown Resignation Letter

Diplomat John H. Brown's 3/10/03 letter of resignation to Colin Powell (Common Dreams, 3/12/03):

I am joining my colleague John Brady Kiesling in submitting my resignation from the Foreign Service (effective immediately) because I cannot in good conscience support President Bush's war plans against Iraq. . . .

Throughout the globe the United States is becoming associated with the unjustified use of force. The president's disregard for views in other nations, borne out by his neglect of public diplomacy, is giving birth to an anti-American century.

I joined the Foreign Service because I love our country. Respectfully, Mr. Secretary, I am now bringing this calling to a close, with a heavy heart but for the same reason that I embraced it.


Maureen Dowd in the New York Times, 3/9/03:

It still confuses many Americans that, in a world full of vicious slimeballs, we're about to bomb one that didn't attack us on 9/11 (like Osama); that isn't intercepting our planes (like North Korea); that isn't financing Al Qaeda (like Saudi Arabia); that isn't home to Osama and his lieutenants (like Pakistan); that isn't a host body for terrorists (like Iran, Lebanon and Syria).

UN “Uniting for Peace” Resolution

UN Resolution 377, AKA the "Uniting for Peace" resolution, resolves:

that if the Security Council, because of lack of unanimity of the permanent members, fails to exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security in any case where there appears to be a threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression, the General Assembly shall consider the matter immediately with a view to making appropriate recommendations to Members for collective measures, including in the case of a breach of the peace or act of aggression the use of armed force when necessary, to maintain or restore international peace and security. If not in session at the time, the General Assembly may meet in emergency special session within twenty-four hours of the request therefor. Such emergency special session shall be called if requested by the Security Council on the vote of any seven members, or by a majority of the Members of the United Nations . . .

Resolution 377 was adopted in November 1950 with U.S. sponsorship and near-unanimous support. It was first invoked in 1956, by the United States, in response to the British and French invasion of Egypt during the Suez crisis; and again, later that year, when the Soviet Union intervened in Hungary. An article written about three weeks ago by Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights) and Jules Lobel (University of Pittsburgh School of Law) is beginning to spread about the Web. (See also material at the Center for Constitutional Rights.) I suspect there will be more discussion of Resolution 377 now that the United States and Britain are calling for Iraq to complete disarmament (by what measure?) before a March 17 deadline -- a deadline that would surely be vetoed by France, Russia, and China in the Security Council.

Heading Off to War

David Corn, online March 7 for The Nation:

At the moment, what Bush has to say matters little. He has no new evidence to reveal. He has no better case to make. He's got what he's got. Moreover, there's no jury or judge he has to convince. It's his decision, and it appears it has already been rendered. The only answer to this threat (real or potential) is a disarmed Saddam. The only disarmed Saddam is a dethroned Saddam. That requires war. What happens in the UN over the next days seems to have no bearing on what will transpire in Iraq. The question is merely whether Bush has to run a red-light on his way to Baghdad. His foot is already heavy on the gas. Emboldened by his own half-truths and lies, he is heading off to war.

A Citizen in the Kingdom of Fear

Adam Bulger interviews Hunter S. Thompson, "early March 2003," at

[HST] I talk about this all the time to a lot of people: Are you more optimistic about the next ten years than about the last, when you started?

[AB] Who, me?

[HST] Yeah.

[AB] No! I . . . man, to rip you off, I'm full of fear and loathing. I am a citizen in the Kingdom of Fear. I'm scared every waking moment man.

[HST] Well, uh, Jesus, that's horrible! That's a kind of, uh, prevailing sentiment.

[AB] Yeah.

[HST] And you know, you look at fear and people, a population that's uh, just riddled with fear and confusion and, uh, loathing, goddamn. Never did it occur to me when I came up with those words that I would be using them to describe the state of the nation 30 years later or whatever.