Bush, Iraq and the UN

It seems we are destined for war because Iraq is thumbing it’s nose at the UN. Yet Bush says that if he doesn’t get the resolution he wants, he will go to war anyway.

Excuse me but…isn’t that the same thing Iraq is doing??

Technically no, because we are not violating any UN resolutions. But I do see your point that Bush will defy the UN to attack Iraq because Iraq is defying the UN.:smiley:

Frostillicus, right, we would only be violating the UN charter - that we helped write.

But don’t worry,

[Ackroyd=Elwood Blues]We’re on a mission from God.[/Ackroyd]

There is no UN resolution prohiting the US from going to war against Iraq, for the sake of our own security.

The UN charter prohibits the US from going to war against Iraq, and it’s not for our security. Iraq doesn’t pose an immediate threat to the US.

Where do you get the idea that the US or UK would be violating the UN Charter? The current resolutions regarding the situation between Iraq and Kuwait already permit the use of force.

The preamble to Security Counsel Resolution 1441 specifically references resolution 678.

“Recalling that its resolution 678 (1990) authorized Member States to use all necessary means to uphold and implement its resolution 660 (1990) of 2 August 1990 and all relevant resolutions subsequent to resolution 660 (1990) and to restore international peace and security in the area,”
UNSCR 1441 is a relevant resolution subsequent to resolution 660 both by title and explicitly within the body of 1441. Therefore, there would be no defiance of UN resolutions or of the UN charter in bringing an action against Iraq. If you prefer, you could substitue any of the relevant resolutions in place of 1441. Iraq is in violation of all of them.

Perhaps a more interesting topic would be France’s decision to sell spare military parts to Iraq in violation of UNSCR 661.

There is a certain delicious irony in the situation (assuming the Security Council doesn’t vote the US “party line” on the upcoming invasion.

Bush, military commander-in-chief of a country with a proven record of using Weapons of Mass Destruction, going to war against Iraq in defiance of the UN because Iraq might have weapons of mass destruction and is defying the UN.

In some of the news-sites I visit (bbc online and some of the British papers, where debate on the upcoming war is more open than say CNN or debka or the NY post), there is serious discussion as to whether Messrs Bush and Blair will be committing war-crimes if they go to war against Iraq without the sanction of the UN. So I’d argue that it is not as simple as some of the posters here would have you believe. There are also reports that US marines have been cutting holes in a UN security fence between Kuwait and Iraq, operating in an area proscribed to all but UN peacekeepers. Fancy that.

Personally, while I am moderately to the right of center in my military opinions, I do think that the Bush family are the moral descendants of William Marcy Tweed (“Boss Tweed” of Tammany Hall fame) and are bringing dishonor on the office of President, the constitution of the United States and many of the principles on which this country was founded.

I sat through a speech which Bush-the-Elder gave many years ago (when he was DIRCIA and touring an un-named British military establishment) and even very briefly met the man. I was struck (as I recall) by his disdain for the civilian side of government, and his absolute contempt for Congress (may have been a Democratic congress at the time, I was still living in Europe, so had not quite figured out the subtlties of US polictics). Nothing I heard of him during either the Reagan years or the Bush years convinced me that he had changed in any great way. Now I see the same political faces in Bush-the-Younger’s cabinet, and I’m wondering how much influence “dear old Dad” is having on the conduct of the campaign.

But in a couple of weeks, we’ll know for sure.

Let us recall the words of the U.S. Ambassador to the UN, John Negroponte, upon the approval of 1441:

"As we have said on numerous occasions to Council members, this Resolution contains no “hidden triggers” and no “automaticity” with respect to the use of force. If there is a further Iraqi breach, reported to the Council by UNMOVIC, the IAEA, or a member state, the matter will return to the Council for discussions as required in paragraph 12. " (11/8/02)

How can 1441 authorize force when the chief proponent of the resolution said, ‘on numerous occasions,’ that it does not authorize force?

In fairness, Negroponte did go on to say that “this resolution does not constrain any member state from acting to defend itself against the threat posed by Iraq…”

That’s fine. Article 51 of the Charter says that countries may undertake self-defense “if an armed attack occurs” against a country, until such time as the Security Council may take action on the situation.

After 17 resolutions in the Security Council how can an organization be relevent if it doesn’t start enforcing those resolutions? If it weren’t for the fact that it is happening, it would be considered a farce by everyone except the mentally impaired. :frowning:

Ravenman, thanks for the quote, I have not seen that. I would like to see it in context, so if you have a link, I would appreciate it. Without seeing the entire context, I have a few initial thoughts.

First of all, if you recall prior to September, before Bush was considering taking the matter before the UN, the US position was, and still is, that there is authority under UNSCR 678 to use force. If they are not authorized under 678 to use force under the current circumstances, I would like to see the argument for that, because I just don’t see it atm.

Second, “this Resolution contains no “hidden triggers” and no “automaticity” with respect to the use of force” does not say that force is not authorized. It says that there is no event that automatically means force would be used. At least that is how I read it. Of course, the context may prove my interpretation wrong.

Third, as you noted, the US has always maintained a right of self defense, and at least in the post 9/11 world, has maintained its right of action to defend itself without having to wait to be attacked. I think that this is a dangerous proposition unless used VERY carefully, if for no other reason than other countries will model what we do. If we claim the attack on Iraq is anticipatory self-defense, then you have to worry about other countries attacking the US or whoever claiming the same thing.

Fourth, if you really want to be technical, Iraqi attacks on US and UK planes in the no-fly zone are probably sufficient excuse to get past Article 51.

In my opinion, the “serious” discussion regarding Bush and Blair being charged with war crimes does not withstand scrutiny. The “coalition of the willing” involves more countries than were involved in the Gulf War in 1991, so you would have to charge the leaders of over half of the countries in Europe, for starters.

The war crimes issue also ignores the functioning of the UN. The Stockholm International Peace Institute reports that since 1945 there have been 26 international wars causing an estimated 3.5 million casualties. Of those 26 wars, only three were “authorized” by the UNSC. The most recent of those was the war in Afganistan.

That would leave a whole lot of people to arrest.

What did the maitre d’ say when he saw a blind woman, an antiwar activist, a traitor and a faux lesbian come into his restaurant?

“Table for one, Miss?”

What’s an antiwar activist’s favorite character in the Harry Potter series?

Neville, of course.
How many Frenchmen does it take to defeat a dictator?

Yeah, right.

According to this article, some Iraqis think that the war has already started, so they wanted to get right to the surrendering part of the war:

I liked the title Portal of Evil gave this news item: “Iraqis Already Trying to Surrender, Brits Hell Bent On Killing Them Later”

Not really. It helps that Saddam’s thumbing his nose at the UN, but its not the real point.

The real irony is that France and Germany have been trying to destroy the UN to achieve their goals, while Bush (a US conservative and contemptuous of the UN) may be the one to save it and turn it into something good.


These are not the same thing. E.g.,IN 1962, JFK instituted an embargo of Cuba (which is an act of war) to prevent Cuba from receiving nuclear-armed missiles from the USSR. JFK’s action was certainly motivated by the security of the US, even though Cuba did not pose an immediate threat to us.

For december:

Article 24 inc 1: In order to ensure prompt and effective action by the United Nations,its Members confer on the Security Council primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, and agree that in carrying out its duties under this responsibility the Security Council acts on their behalf.

Article 45: In order to enable the United Nations to take urgent military measures, Members shall hold immediately available national air-force contingents for combined international enforcement action. The strength and degree of readiness of these contingents and plans for their combined action shall be determined within the limits laid down in the special agreement or agreements referred to in Article 43, by the Security Council with the assistance of the Military Staff Committee.

The only way a country can go to war without sanction of the Security council is:
Article 51: Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.

Note december, that the only provission is an armed attack. I posted the attributions of the UNSC to show you that the only that authotizes military attacks is that organism. Then Bush can’t argue that resolution 1441 authorizes him to do that. It is that organism that has to send a clear message of 1) Existance of violation 2) authorazation to use force.


This is an interesting interpretation, but I doubt it holds water. The problem being that technically, a cease-fire agreement is in place. This agreement in turn is explicitly “contracted” between the state of Iraq, on the one hand, and the UN Security Council, on the other. Authorization of force therefore rests exclusively in the hands of the SC, and not in the hands of individual member states, I am given to understand.

By referring to 678, the SC is signaling to Iraq that it is still bound by that resolution, and the subsequent cease-fire agreement, and that the UN is legally authorized to use force, should it choose to do so. But this no more gives the US the right to strike Iraq unilaterally than it does China, or Russia, or France.*

Is this something that France is doing currently?

There are those who have a rather black-and-white understanding of these resolutions. But at the same time one has to ask oneself, for example, how serious an infraction must be before the use of military force is justifiable. If the UN prohibits Iraq from developing missiles that can travel more the 150 km, and Iraq has a missile that can travel 150.01 km, should we bomb Baghdad? Clearly, intelligent people can have a variety of interpretations regarding that question. The current US position has what I believe to be an unreasonably low threshold: we seem willing to go to war over a blade of grass, as it were. In fact, it appears to me that the administration decided to go to war first, and has been looking for a legitimating excuse for that decision ever since.

On the other hand, there are those who argue that the European threshold is unreasonably high: that almost no action taken by the Iraqi government would be seen by France or Germany as a legitimating pretext for military intervention. That might also be true, especially given the dirty history of relations between the Chirac and Hussein.

Finally, to trot out the tired old nag: there are numerous SC resolutions against Israel, which that state has steadfastly defied for decades – yet no one thinks we should bomb Tel Aviv. Which leads certain cynics to conclude that maybe – just maybe – the arguments about Hussein’s intransigence in relation to SC resolutions is something of a red herring. But I’m sure you’ve heard this line of reasoning hundreds of times before here at the SDMB, so I won’t bore you with a repetition.
sernitynow (revisited):

See my response to you above.

*Very true, and very worrisome. In addition, we have the problem that in some cases, almost any excuse may be trotted out as justification for a “preemptive strike.” In other words, the right to strike other nations the US deems to be a risk to its security or “interests” is, basically, an argument for imperialism on a global scale. After all, in this day and age, a handful of men with armed with box cutters are a massive security risk. Ultimately, insecurity is a fundamental aspect of living in the world. You might as well declare war on mortality.

*Not according to Kofi Annan, who has stated that Iraq is within it rights to defend its airspace from US and British incursions. What sort of double-think does it require to twist US aggression in foreign airspace into an excuse to defend oneself from attack?

Quote out of context, much? Your arguments are pointless non-starters. You know fully well the ** quelquechose** is referring to Charter restrictions regarding the use of military force in international relations, except in the event of territorial self-defense.

If you wish to debate this issue, please stop playing semantics.

Mr. Svinlesha, congratulations on your four hundreth post. I appreciate well-reasoned and logical approach you took. But of course, reasoning and logic have never prevented me from taking an opposing view. :wink:

The cease fire to which you refer is indeed an “agreement,” the terms of which are spelled out in UNSCR 687. The overwhelming, and indisputable evidence is that Iraq has not complied with the terms of the agreement. Therefore, whether there is a legal obligation to uphold the ceasefire is a debatable question, which in the political arena is tantamount to authority to disregard the ceasefire.

This is a good point, but the question becomes who decides where the authority lies? If the US or UK, as members of the security council, interpret the current situation to be that there is no ceasefire, the only way to say they are wrong is to have another Resolution to say so. Of course, the US or UK would veto that resolution, so we are back to square one. (This is based on my understanding as to how all of this works. If I am wrong, hopefully someone better informed will enlighten me.)

Excellent research, thank you. I think the author of the article is a bit misleading in saying that Annan said there was not a violation of UNSCR 1441. His actual quote, according to the article was “Let me say that I don’t think that the Council will say this is in contravention of the resolution of the Security Council.” The problem is that at least one member of the Security Council disagrees. Who has the authority to tell the US it is wrong? (Or France, Russia, China or the UK?) Annan can’t speak for the council, but the council speaks through resolutions, which can be vetoed by the permanent member whose interpretation is at issue. Ultimately, these things need to be decided by diplomacy, and international law does not really solve anything. The “no-fly zones” are part of the UN framework, so I don’t think it is right to say this is a matter of US or UK aggression. The principal purpose, IIRC was to prevent Saddam from using the chemical weapons (that he claimed not to have, but used anyway) on the Kurdish rebels.

Apparently So.

" The U.S. government should investigate reports that France allowed Iraq to obtain military equipment in violation of U.N. sanctions, a senior Republican senator said yesterday.

 "There is no need for France to sell equipment to Saddam Hussein," said Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska. "It is international treason. ... It is in violation of a U.N. resolution, and there should be no question — no question — about French officials. They should come forward quickly to deal with the story."
 Mr. Stevens made the remarks in a Senate floor speech about a report in yesterday's editions of The Washington Times.

 U.S. officials told The Times that American intelligence had detected a French company selling aircraft and helicopter parts to Iraq for its French-made Mirage jets and Gazelle attack helicopters. **The sales have been carried out since at least January.**"

And just to add fuel to the fire, Germany may have done this, as well. From the same article:

“Mr. Stevens, who also heads the defense appropriations subcommittee, said Germany, in addition to France, may have supplied military goods to Iraq.”


We’re obviously coming at this from different directions. If the UN is to be considered relevant, as President Bush often declares his preference, one cannot do so by figuring out ways to “get past” the UN Charter, or UN resolutions for that matter. I don’t understand how someone can read the totality of the UN Charter and come to some other conclusion than that a country cannot take military action against another unless (a) it is authorized by the Security Council or (b) it is in response to an actual, not a future, threat, and under such a case the matter should immidiately be referred to the Security Council.

In my view, if we wish to proceed with a sense of legitimacy to our military actions, there is a process that we must go through, and that process includes both the Congress and the United Nations. One down, one to go.

But the current situation seems to be that we will proceed with an attack, and some motions are being made to find a loophole in the Charter or UN resolutions that would justify that action. I fail to see how those attempts stand up to scrutiny.

Whether or not one supports a war, it occurs to me that the Korean War was an analagous situation: it was a war that was not explicitly declared/authorized by Congress, and thus was contrary to the expectations of those who drafted the Constitution. This coming war with Iraq will not be explicitly authorized by the UN, and thus will be contrary to the intentions of those who drafted the UN Charter, among them many legends of American statesmanship.

The point isn’t that the missiles go just a little too far, but that he was supposed to declare that he had them, according to 1441. Today, they have discovered that the are drones and scatter bombs that have been discovered. All these things and all the others that it is claimed Saddam has were supposed to be declared and then destroyed. The inspectors weren’t sent there to play hide and seek, but to account for everything Saddam reported he had. Saying that Saddam is not in serious violation is sticking one’s head in the sand (pun intended).

Actually, I claim that the way the French, Germans and probably a few others are acting has to do with issues not necessarily related to Iraq. I am glad to see that you know about “Shah Iraq”.

I have mixed emotions about Israel, but still feel the same about the U.N. If it isn’t going to enforce what it says everyone should empty their desks and go home. Any resolution that told Israel not to build settlements on the West Bank should have been enforced, with no hesitation. Israel, the Palestinians, and the whole world would be better off if they had. I know from nothing about the other resolutions, but would be willing to consider enforcing them, especially since I assume their existence means that we (the U.S.) did not oppose them enough to cast a veto.

[ul]:wink: [sup]Can we give them a couple of weeks to straighten up before bombing Tel Aviv?[/sup][/ul]