Why was the Iraq invasion allowed?

This is a question that I’ve pondered for a while now. I still believe that the Iraq war was justified for a variety of reasons, regardless of the reasons Pres. Bush used.

But for the purpose of this debate, let’s assume that the invasion was not justified (at least at that time), and therefore could be considered illegal in the eyes of the UN.

Why was the invasion allowed*?

As far as I remember, Turkey was the only country to actively work against the war by not allowing the US to cross its soil.

I’m sure most would remember France as being the most vocal detractor of the war. However, I feel their behaviour made it easier for the war to progress. Since they insisted on veto-ing any resolution put before the UN there was no opportunity for debate.

The majority of ME/NA countries denounced the war, yet nothing was done.

The UN denounced the war, but no action was taken.

So my questions for debate are:

  1. Why? Why did the UN allow it? Why did the ME countries allow it? Why did Saddam appear to do nothing?
  2. Are there any actual measures in place to prevent a country from repeating these actions in the near future? Especially any of the 5 veto powers?

*One point of clarification: I use the term allow to coincide with the legal term estoppel. From what I know of contract law, by not reacting to this invasion the UN as in effect granted permission for the Coalition to invade any subsequent country.

We’re the US. We’ve got the weapons, we’ve got the money, we’ve even got the UN building. What can they do to us?

Simply put, the rest of The World™ didn’t feel strongly enough about it to shoot themselves in the dick over it. What could they do? Embargo the US comes to mind. But what would that mean to THEM? It would be pretty painful all around, but more painful to The World™ than to the US. Sanctions? Same. Sure, they COULD have done such things…but that would have meant taking a stand for those ideals things, actually putting some teeth into the UN. Wasn’t ever going to happen.

At the time, The Worlds™ case for the US not going into Iraq was as weak as the US’s case for going in (I can already feel the howls of outrage). The World™ (including the US) had screwed around, hemmed and hawed, and had its thumb up its collective ass over Iraq for a decade (those that weren’t exploiting the situation of Food for Oil that is…THEY at least were doing something). In retrospect of course, its a different ball game and we all know (now) that Iraq wasn’t a threat to the US, didn’t have masses of WMD laying about ready to be used, etc etc. I wish that, instead of some fantasy scenerio of The World™ standing up for whats right and just (snort), that the US would have been fucking smart enough to not go into Iraq on our own. Something I lay squarely at the feet of ole GW…

Let the flames commense.


What choice had they? US’s UNSC veto precludes any real resolution for action.

What choice had they?

Because you didn’t look hard enough?

The UN charter could be used to prevent non-veto countries from doing so. Other than that, no.

I don’t know about that. It doesn’t seem sensible, but on at least one occasion, legal matters haven’t seemed sensible to me. So the relative sensibleness is somewhat moot.
I’m not sure if the UN Charter would fall under the guidelines for contract law.

The fact still remains that veto or not, there were NO motions put before either the general assembly or the security council. From my limited knowledge of the UN, dozens of motions are put forth condeming Israel that the US vetos. So why wasn’t one brought against the US, for the US to veto. My point here is that it would have changed the tone of the argument. It would no longer be “the US going in without UN approval.” It would then be, “The US vetoing a UN resolution and then going in.” In my mind that latter carries considerably more weight.

I personally don’t know what the ME/NA countries could have done, but my ponit here is that anything would have been more than their nothing.

The idea behind estoppel is that you cannot allow an initial action, and then disallow it on a subsequent time. If you missed a morgage payment and the bank did nothing, it would be harder for them to penalize you on a subsequent event.

So in this situation, the US invaded a country and the UN did nothing. Hence, if the US invaded Syria it becomes harder for the UN to say something.

It wouldn’t have needed a US veto. IIRC, only 3 members of the UNSC would have voted against the Iraq invasion. A resolution condemning the US would have been DOA.

Totally wrong. There has been several thread on this very issue at this time. France (Chirac actually) never made such a statement but a sentence in one of his speechs, taken out of context, has been used for propaganda purpose. The text of the speech, AFAIK, has been posted here, and linked to, in french and english. He was very clearly refering to the last US proposal before the US decided to renounce to present the resolution to the security council (since the proposal wouldn’t have been voted by the majority of the SC members, which was G. W. Bush goal), and stated that this proposition would be vetoed no matter what (the “no matter what” refering to whether or not other countries seating at the SC would vote for it ), and explained why
But the propaganda about Chirac stating that any resolution would be vetoed apparently had been swallowed whole by many american citizens.

Here’s a link I picked in one of theses old threads to an article about Chirac’s speech :

The resolution was giving one week or so to Irak to comply to demands that experts agreed couldn’t materially be met in so short a time.

Absolutely not. It’s when it became obvious that the UNSC wouldn’t vote in favor of the US resolution that the US government withdrew it. The american administration’s hope was precisely that though permanent members would veto it, it would nevertheless got the majority of the votes in the SC, giving some legitimacy to the US stance. Roughly, they would have been able to say “Look : the majority of the UNSC was backing us, and if it weren’t for a couple of pesky permanent members, the resolution would have been approved”. I suppose you remember there has been some intense arm-twisting of the temporary members of the UNSC going one during the last weeks before the war.

This is not a liberation.

This is not Bush unilateralism.

This is another abuse of US military for obscure purposes of some international design.

This is continuation of Kosovo.

Think of Kosovo, only bigger, with boots on the ground.

UN is in on it. France, Germany and Russia are in on it. May be even China.

Opposition by France and Germany was smoke and mirrors. The simple truth was that US kept pressuring Saddam to disarm and he was complying. There was no cause for the invasion. Diversion had to be created. Chirac and Shroeder made a big stink. Public was quickly disoriented. Soon it was not clear whom US was going to fight: Iraq or France. Iraqis were trying to attract attention to themselves to little avail. Saddam was never given half a chance; his fate was sealed in 1991.

The signal for invasion was not issued by Bush, but by Chirac. When Chirac said they will veto UN resolution “no matter what”, it was a cue for Bush to say that US is going to invade “no matter what”.

Why the charade? Because they figured out early on that the war was going to be extremely unpopular, especially in Europe. They didn’t want to deal with a change of governments in France and Germany after the invasion. Look what is happening in Spain now. They didn’t want the same happening in France and Germany. Being against the war on the surface, Chirac and Shroeder can stay in power and assist US in Afghanistan and other parts of the world.

There was no UN opposition. Bush went to UN to ask for help and UN bureucrats were in Iraq immediately after Baghdad fell. They were chased out of Iraq soon afterward by Iraqi resistance. UN mission was the second target of large scale bombing after the occupation. The reason UN is hesitant to come back is because old Saddam men might attack it again, because they have better understanding who they are fighting than Western public.

Go ahead, call me a conspiracy freak.

One has got to look at politics as well as international law.

Putting on my snooty hat for a second, it is plainly obvious that the US did not live up to its international obligations before starting the war. I suppose some could argue that taking out Saddam was more important than appealing to the stuffy ol’ UN debating society, I suppose, but the UN Charter is crystal clear on when force can be used, and we didn’t follow it.

Now, other countries can take the high road, make comments in passing about the US failing to build consensus on Iraq, but offer to turn a new page to deal with the huge problem that has been created. Germany has certainly opted for this course.

Or a country can fight tooth and nail in a political forum to foster some hope that a military marching towards Baghdad will yield to the guys with the striped pants.

Let’s say France tabled a UN resolution to condemn the US invasion. It would lose. Having failed, what is gained? Well, there was an attempt at making a principled statement … a statement that LOST. This could be viewed as a precident that the P-5 can, in fact, do any goddamn thing they want in violation of the UN Charter and nothing will happen. We all acknowledge that this is the logical consequence of events, but it is another thing entirely for the UNSC to prove that hypothesis. It’s a huge political loss.

The OP raises a decent point about the US invasion as eroding international law. I’m afraid that most of that damage has been done long ago. There have been hundreds of wars not authorized that the UN has failed to take effective action against. This is simply nothing new. One excellent scholar, Michael Glennon, has argued (in my words) that the customs of nations going to war have trumped the idealism of the United Nations, and that war has won over laws. He has an excellent point.

Huh? IIRC, France would have voted “no”, Russia probably would have voted “no” (maybe abstain) and China would have abstained. Perhaps there was one other country that would have voted “no” (some small African nation IIRC). Which other members would have voted “no”?

Although it can be a nice little rhetorical flourish, pre-emptively making a charge against oneself doesn’t actually rebut the charge.

The problem with this Conspiracy Theory–as with Conspiracy Theories in general–is that it’s non-falsifiable. One could imagine evidence to support it being brought forth (tapes or other records of secret meetings or diplomatic protocols between the U.S., the French, the Russians, and so on). If any such evidence were produced, it’s relevance and likely truthfulness could be evaluated. But what evidence can be used to argue against it? The French and the Russians didn’t offer support for the Iraq war, and in fact they offered public opposition to it. If that’s not prima facie evidence that, well, they didn’t support the war, then what the heck would be? The way such theories are structured, nothing can be used as evidence against them, because all apparent evidence against them is just evidence of how successful They are at covering up their nefarious schemes.

Therefore, this “logic” can be used to “prove” ANYthing:

*"The whole war was actually a plot by Saddam–the wily fox! He knew he wasn’t really popular with the Arab masses anymore; but now he’s a martyr to the evil decadent Western imperialists. After his Western puppets stage his heroic ‘escape’ from American captivity, he’ll be seen as the new Saladin, the whole Arab world will swoon, and after Pan-Arab Empire true World Domination will follow on a combination of control of the world’s oil supply and nuclear weapons provided by his co-conspirator Kim Jong-Il.

Naturally, everyone will publically deny all this."*

(By the way, I’m no supporter of the war. I just think Conspiracy Theories are silly.)

Leaving aside the African nations, Syria, Germany and Chile were all going to be no votes.

Pakistan also indicated it would abstain so all in all there was zero prospect of the second resolution being successful, which is why it was withdrawn and all the propaganda about a french veto begun.

BTW, I support the war. I just have that unreasonable desire to know what exactly I am supporting.

Just to clarify, I’m a Canadian, and based on the Canadian news (along with a mix of CNN, BBC, and Aljazeera) leading up to the war I was under the impression that Chirac was going to veto no matter what.

I find it really interesting (but not surprising) that clairobscur in France would hear the opposite. As an outsider I consider it propoganda on both sides of the pond.

Now back to the OP, if you are against the war, your country is against the war, and you see it as illegal, why wasn’t something done. If France, Germany, and Russia, were actually against the war, why not do something. I don’t exactly what they could have done, since I lack formal education in International Affaris. What I do know is that any of them could have put forward a resolution to the UN and the fact remains that they did not.

We would have to ressurect some threads from this time, when the issue has been debatted in great details. You’re only mentionning the permanent members of the security council, which let me suspect that you don’t remember very well which country took which stance (and I don’t, either), but it seems to me it was expected as 2/3 no, and 1/3 yes, with many guesses. In a thread I checked in order to find the article I linked above, someone was mentionning 10 “no” and 5 “yes” expected. But I wouldn’t know on what basis, and didn’t really pay attention.

Germany, for one, would have voted no. China never stated how it was going to do, but was indeed expected to abstain, IIRC. I don’t remember Mexico’s stance. Some countries never stated how they were going to vote. I don’t even remember which countries were seating at the UNSC at this time.

Except if some posters remember clearly which countries held what stances, we would need some reasonnably objective article from this moments or to dig a little in the SD archives.

I checked quickly, and luckily the first link I found was right on topic. Unfortunately, it was in french. I’m lnevertheless liking to it : here

Brief translation :
Position of the 15 members of the security council :

The february 24 resolution proposal […summary of the resolution content…] can only be expected to receive with certainty the support of its thre co-authors (United States, Great-Britain and Spain). In order to be adopted byt the SC, a resolution must gather a minimum of 9 votes and [must not be vetoed ] […]

-Supporting this resolution considered as being a green light for war :

–PERMANENT MEMBERS : The United States -which indicated that they didn’t need a new resolution- and Great-Britain.

–Non-PERMANENT MEMBERS : Spain . Bulgaria was generally considered as supporting this resolution but Sofia’s authorities have stated they still didn’t have made a decision.
-Suporting extended inspections :
–PERMANENT MEMBERS : France, Russia and China

–NON-PERMANENT MEMBERS : Angola, Cameroon, Chile, Guinea, Mexico and Pakistan have declared, to various extents, to support extended inspections, war having to be considered only as a last recourse option, but it’s believed that they could give in Washington’s pressures. Germany and Syria (only arab member of the SC) are opposed to the war. Chile asked the other members of the SC to find a compromise and to agree between themselves before asking for a vote.
So, that would make 3 countries clearly supporting the resolution, 5 clearly opposed to it, 1 supporting but weaseling, 6 opposed but weaseling, and 1 who would rather not be involved in the issue.

– MEMBRES PERMANENTS : La France, la Russie et la Chine

For the record, I remember an article I read at this time. A high-ranking civil-servant from Guinea was stating something like that : “The Americans came first and basically told us that given their influence in the World Bank, our new loans approval could be dependant on our vote. Then came the French who reminded us that they had lobbyed for EU grants for Guinea and that they were giving us a significant military aid, and basically told us that both could be dependant on our vote. What are we supposed to do?”
I guess this kind of comment help understanding why several members of the SC weren’t really delighted at the idea of having to cast a vote.

If you consider it propaganda on both side, why don’t you just read ** the speech ** itself??? I bothered posting a link to an abstract of it, and the article clearly states the president’s stance was refering to ** the current resolution **, so where’s the “propaganda”?
This “opposed no matter what” thing had been debunked half a dozen times on this very board after Chirac’s speech. If despite a clear statement in the article, you still don’t believe it, then just search for the whole speech. It’s short. There’s nothing in it which refers to anything else than the UK-US resolution. Chirac made a speech to expose and explain his choice about this resolution. Skepticism is one thing, but here, all the evidences are handy. In the speech. The question is merely : “did he say that or not?” You just have to read the text to know what he said and what he didn’t say. It’s a ** factual ** question which has a ** factual ** answer.
Sometimes I feel tired…