After 12 years from the end of the Gulf War in 1991, the United States and Britain kept up a low-level conflict with Iraq and declared that their goal was to end the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, and insisted that Iraq be disarmed of mass destruction weapons. In early 2002, the Bush administration announced that it considered Iraq to be part of an “axis of evil.” Though United Nations arms inspections made increasing progress after their return in November and a large Security Council majority insisted that the inspections continue, United States invaded Iraq in alliance with Britain on March 20, 2003.
The introduction to the United Nations Charter – the law shared by many nations in the world – states: “We the peoples of the United Nations, determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, and to ensure, by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest, have resolved to combine our efforts to accomplish these aims.” The first article of the Charter says that the purpose of the United Nations is to “maintain international peace and security” and to suppress “acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace”. However, when the United States and its British allies declared their own war against Iraq in March 2003, and forcing invasion into another country like Iraq without United Nations mandate; United States and Britain were violating international legality, and going against what United Nations basic principles, and behaving as aggressors themselves (Lawless War 2003).
International Law has been violated. United States and Britain, the two founders of United Nations Organization, acted in a manner which violates political values. Million of protestors around the world, including within the United States and Britain themselves, spoke against this war and expressed their feelings for its immorality. United States, being the most powerful country in the world, should be setting an example for others by acting according to proper ethics, to be patient with the process of law, and displaying utter respect for the opinion of majority such as members of United Nations; however, U.S.A. and U.K. took the opposite actions toward what is considered moral and just by the whole planet.
The Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists, a consultative body within the UN, warned against attacking Iraq without a United Nations mandate, referring to an “outright illegal invasion of Iraq, which amounts to a war of aggression”. It said there was no possible juridical basis for such an intervention. In the absence of authorization from the Security Council, no state may have recourse to force against another state except in legitimate defense, in response to an armed attack (Lawless War 2003).
The US has invoked legitimate defense to justify its attack on Iraq, but for domestic public consumption – trying to link the September 11, 2001, (the downfall of World Trade Centre in New York) attacks to the Baghdad regime – a case that was never proven – and not for the Security Council. The view of the Security Council on the Iraq’s war with United States was that Iraq was not an immediate threat of the kind that would justify an immediate war. Moreover the legitimate defense argument presupposes the existence of a prior armed aggression, which Iraq has not committed. And legitimate preventive defense is not admitted under international law (Lawless War 2003).
President George Bush Jr. has also stated to justify his invasion of Iraq by the need for regime change, and to remove Saddam Hussein from Iraq. However, it is not enough under the UN Charter to justify a unilateral recourse to force. Moreover, as to the US claim that it is installing democracy in Iraq, this has no status as a legal justification for aggression (Lawless War 2003).
Considering the war to be an unlawful act, United States and Britain could have taken lawful measures in order to bring freedom to Iraqi people. First of all, the Security Council of United Nations was progressing forward with the weapons inspections of Iraq, and Saddam Hussein was cooperating with the UN. Though the inspections displayed that Iraq did not have any mass destruction weapons, the Council agreed all together to proceed with the inspections without any violence or force involved in the process. If United States and Britain respected this option, the war on Iraq could have been avoided all together and save a country from becoming a pond of destruction and thousands and thousands of casualties would have been avoided.
Aside from weapons inspection, United States and Britain had another option of perhaps waiting for United Nations to issue a resolution to go ahead and use force against Iraq. In the times when a state would not cooperate with the United Nations or become a threat to the world peace and its wellbeing, United Nations would have to take drastic actions and use force against a country like Iraq in order to disarm dictators like Saddam Hussein to keep him from causing harm to others or even his own country. However, that decision would be a decision made by the Security Council, not by United States and Britain alone.
It is believed by many that United States and Britain acted in a manner that would serve their nations with rewards and prosperity in the near future such as enjoying the huge revenues earned from the oil industry in Iraq. United States’ invasion in Iraq was able to get rid of Saddam Hussein, and U.S.A. and U.K. are hoping to reconstruct the country, however, they are trying very hard to gain control of the oil industry in Iraq which accounts for trillions of dollars in profits (Global Policy, Iraq Crisis 2003). Aside from being concerned with the motive behind United States actions, they have not been able to provide a justifiable explanation for attacking Iraq. Bush’s administration have said that Saddam Hussein is considered a terrorist and a danger to United States and the world, and it is their right to protect themselves from such a harmful individual in the act of self defense. However, they have no proof that Saddam Hussein was being a threat to United States in current times; thus, United States had another option to provide sufficient evidence to prove Saddam Hussein as a threat to United States before taking the law into their own hands and declaring an unlawful war. Without proof, it appears to be that United States acted out in aggression and perhaps seeking revenge for past conflicts between Iraq and United States, while also to enjoy the huge revenues from the oil industry in Iraq.
Finally, another option that was available instead of declaration of war for United States was to perhaps appeal to United Nations to organize a monitored election in Iraq and introduce democracy system to Iraqi people. Organizing a monitored election in Iraq would allow Iraqis to express their opinion about their leader, Saddam Hussein, and whether they want him as the head of their government any longer or not. This option would result in a non violent approach for Iraqis to achieve freedom and gain control over the way their country is governed without any intervention from other nations. However, if the current Iraqi government (Saddam Hussein) went against elections and perhaps used coercive measures in order to stay elected, United Nations would have to make the decision to whether use force back and protect the interest of Iraqi people. This decision would be made by the Security Council as the whole, not United States and Britain alone, which would make a war against Iraq lawful instead of unlawful.