Home > World Events > Who’s lying about Resolution 1441?

Who’s lying about Resolution 1441?

April 26th, 2006

Among the articles of faith on the pro-war right, few have been had more megabytes of text spilled over them than the claim that the war on Iraq was authorised by UN resolution 1441. So, it’s surprising to see Mark Steyn denying this claim in the course of an attempt to score points off me, cheered on by Tim Blair and JF Beck. Steyn says

I don’t believe I was ever aware that Aussie prof John Quiggin had launched a competition to demonstrate I was a congenital liar, but apparently he did back in 2002, indignantly objecting to my “lie” that Australia, Spain, Italy and co were “on board” for an America-led Iraq invasion without UN authorisation. Yup, he certainly nailed me on that one.

I’ll note first that Steyn scores yet more points for my claim of congenital dishonesty with the “and co”, which, in the original, read “Qatar and Turkey”. Like most of the other countries on Steyn’s list, Turkey had made no public commitment to invade Iraq at the time Steyn was writing. Unlike most of the others, Turkey held a parliamentary vote, which led to a decision not to invade.

But the real issue is that of UN authorisation. As I noted at the time, Australia’s public position was exactly the same as that of Britain, the country where Steyn’s piece was published but one that curiously failed to make his list. That’s because, as Steyn concedes here (July 2003), Blair was publicly opposed to going to war without a UN resolution, and it wouldn’t have done for Steyn to say that it was all a sham. As he says

In the end, Britain officially went to war on a technicality, and … that technicality – Saddam’s technical non-compliance with Resolution 1441 – still holds.

Of course, as we now know, it was all a sham. Bush was going to war regardless, and Blair was privately committed to following him, despite his public pronouncements at the time which, I have to admit, I believed. But without the figleaf of the UN, and the bogus interpretation of Resolution 1441, it’s doubtful he could have conned enough Labour MPs into supporting him.

Howard similarly made a string of statements to the effect that there would be no invasion as long as Saddam complied with Resolution 1441. I don’t have any details on Berlusconi, Aznar and others, but I’d be surprised if the same wasn’t true of them too.

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  1. shiobhan
    April 26th, 2006 at 15:53 | #1

    Yes – a sham – but as usual australian’s (and the world) have short memories unless it hits their hip pockets. First australian lad dying in the illegal war in Iraq – and “lest we forget” whilst forgetting that these crooks got us further in bed with the US with propaganda.

    If i ever hear “honest jonny howard” again – I’ll spew… (metaphorically of course)

    As for 1441 – when they knew that they weren’t going to get the resolution – I mean Colin Powells Lego set of mobile WMD trucks was not going to fool anyone that didn’t want to be persuaded, the propaganda changed and all the anti “old Europe” “”Anti-Americans” came out – meanwhile with the bombing – warmongers were in ecstasy.

    I was living in London at the time and people still held tight to the hope that Blair would hold the american idiot in check. Slowly it became obvious that Blair was hip deep in the propaganda.

  2. avaroo
    April 26th, 2006 at 16:00 | #2

    You seem to be taking a bit of a beating over on Tim Blair. I felt downright sorry for you, although I guess it probably doesn’t bother you. Still having a student say such things can’t have been nice. And may not have been smart on his part as you can probably figure out who it is from his initials.

    On the matter of UNSC 1441. I think people of good will can debate whether or not UNSC 1441 authorized action in Iraq. My personal view, and I’m no more pro-war than you are pro-appeasement, is that it did. In fact, any UN member had long before been authorized to enforce UN resolutions in a previous UNSC resolution (687? 678?, never can recall and can’t be bothered with yet another look up) which authorized any UN member to enforce that and all subsequent UNSC resolutions to restore peace to the area.

    As to whether or not Blair, or anyone, wanted a 17th UNSC resolutions rather than settling for a mere 16, what difference does it make? Surely the next “Saddam”, whoever he is, isn’t going to get 17 chances and 12 years to make good on what we all should have enforced the very first time Saddam breached a resolution. And I don’t think that Blair’s committment to the action in Iraq is based on anything different than Bush’s is, the belief that no one is safe while monsters like Saddam have militaries at their disposal, a history of invading neighbors, a penchant for killing political enemies, women and childre, and clear bad intentions. Can there be much argument that he was and had all of those?

    As to who was and is in the coalition, what is the beef? I think we know who did what, who didn’t do anything and why those who didn’t do anything, did what they did. Clear as mud?

  3. avaroo
    April 26th, 2006 at 16:06 | #3

    “As for 1441 – when they knew that they weren’t going to get the resolution”

    1441 passed unanimously.

  4. rog
    April 26th, 2006 at 16:08 | #4

    Tony Blair would disagree; “‘I never had a moment’s doubt about this. Because 9/11 for me was, ‘Right, now I get it. I absolutely get it.’ This has been building for a long time. It is like looking at a picture and knowing it was important to understand it, but not quite being able to make out all its contours. And suddenly a light was switched on and you saw the whole picture. It was a defining moment. We stood shoulder to shoulder with America because my belief then, and my belief now, is that America was attacked not because it was America – but because it was the repository of the values of the Western world, and it was the main power embodying them. It was an attack on all of us. And I don’t mean that in a sentimental way.”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/04/23/wcon23.xml&sSheet=/news/2006/04/23/ixworld.html

  5. jquiggin
    April 26th, 2006 at 16:09 | #5

    “Still having a student say such things can’t have been nice. And may not have been smart on his part as you can probably figure out who it is from his initials.’

    I think if you read it carefully, the student is complaining about someone else altogether – I have a research position so it’s unlikely to be me. But Blair’s commenters are so incoherent it’s hard to tell.

    On your main point, I think the Iraq war has greatly improved the position of dictators and WMD merchants everywhere. No-one is at all keen to join Bush in an attack Iran, for example, after the Iraq fiasco. And the new PM of Iraq spent most of the Saddam years as a guest of the Assad regime in Syria, which doesn’t seem to be at all shaken by US sabre-rattling.

  6. jquiggin
    April 26th, 2006 at 16:12 | #6

    What is your quote meant to demonstrate, Rog? I don’t think anyone here opposed attacking Al Qaeda after 9/11 – certainly I supported the Afghanistan war.

  7. avaroo
    April 26th, 2006 at 16:24 | #7

    “On your main point, I think the Iraq war has greatly improved the position of dictators and WMD merchants everywhere. No-one is at all keen to join Bush in an attack Iran, for example, after the Iraq fiasco. And the new PM of Iraq spent most of the Saddam years as a guest of the Assad regime in Syria, which doesn’t seem to be at all shaken by US sabre-rattling. ”

    Not sure how a dictator would improve his position, other than by killing anyone who threatens his dictatorship. I don’t see a groundswell of world support for dictators.

    I don’t think anyone is keen to attack Iran, least of all GWB. But sometimes we have to do things we aren’t keen on. I don’t imagine anyone was keen on losing thousands of lives in Germany either. I would guess and hope that any attack on Iran would be from the air, with no ground invasion. All we’d really need to do is take out enough wmd capacity and installations to do heavy damage. And we could do that from the air, weekly if we have to.

    “And the new PM of Iraq spent most of the Saddam years as a guest of the Assad regime in Syria, which doesn’t seem to be at all shaken by US sabre-rattling. ”

    Not sure why it matters where the new PM of Iraq spent years as a guest.

  8. avaroo
    April 26th, 2006 at 16:26 | #8

    rog, I agree. I think the light did go on for Blair, as it did for many others, that the dysfunctionality and sickness in the ME had been allowed to fester way too long. When he talks about making out “all the contours” he clearly means the ME.

  9. April 26th, 2006 at 16:35 | #9

    avaroo,
    Merely breaching a UNSC resolution does not give grounds for an invasion, or invasions would be an almost daily occurence. The resolution has to authorise it under the relevant article (is it article IV?) of the UN charter. There are several possible interpretations of resolution 1441, but there is not the usual formula of words authorising military action (being “all necessary means”). Lawyers and others more qualified than me will argue on thse points for a while to come.
    The other possibilities would be Saddam’s continued breaches of the resolutions that authorised Gulf War I, but the breaches would generally only constitute a valid case for war if they met the requirements of International Law (a reasonable summary is given here).
    Most of these possible justifications stand on there being a present threat to Iraq’s neighbours or other countries, which is why the understanding of the belligerent powers of Iraq’s WMD position is important.
    In summary, IMHO there is no absolute answer either way – yet. There will need to be a court case somewhere in a recognisably impartial jurisdiction to test the arguments before a sound call can be made – despite what the people howling at each other on this matter may say.
    The jury is still out.

  10. Hal9000
    April 26th, 2006 at 16:40 | #10

    “I think people of good will can debate whether or not UNSC 1441 authorized action in Iraq. ”

    People like Tony Blair and Colin Powell (as agent for George W Bush), who assured the UNSC resolution 1441 did not and could not authorise military action in the absence of another resolution, and that was the basis on which it was passed.

    Still, you could attempt to save your argument with the line these gentlemen are proven liars, so that was merely another lie. So which is it, Avaroo – were they lying to the Security Council, or lying about their casus belli when they invaded? They could of course, and this would be my view, have been lying both times. The one thing that is logically impossible is for them to have been telling the truth both times. When do you reckon they were lying?

    Still, outside the reality based community I suppose the oxymoron doesn’t matter.

  11. avaroo
    April 26th, 2006 at 16:43 | #11

    Andrew, breaching this particular resolution, 1441, Iraq’s last chance, did give grounds to enforce not only 1441 but all resolutions relating to Iraq. And short of invasion, how would you have enforced all 17 UNSC resolutions? My point is precisely that we all should have slapped Saddam the very first time he breached, not the 17th. By the 17th resolution, Saddam had long since decided that we simply did not mean what we said. And he had reason to believe that.

    If you will read UNSC 1441, including all resolutions recalled in 1441, you will find the words “any member nation is authorized to enforce this and all subsequent resolutions, by any means necessary to retors peace to the region.”

    Remember, GWI ended in a ceasefire. Any breach of UNSC resolutions should have resulted in immediate resumption of hostilities. It was our mistake to wait for the 17th breach.

    Every UNSC resolution against Iraq said that it was a threat to its neighbors.

  12. avaroo
    April 26th, 2006 at 16:53 | #12

    http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N02/682/26/PDF/N0268226.pdf?OpenElement

    See paragraph 3 of UNSC 1441, beginning with “Recognizing the threat….” for the UN’s view on the threat Iraq posed to international peace and security.

    And here is the language in 678, recalled in 1441.

    “Resolution 678 (1990) on the situation between Iraq and Kuwait
    29 November 1990 – Authorizes Member States, unless Iraq on or before 15 January 1991 fully implements Security Council resolutions, to use all necessary means to uphold and implement resolution 660 (1990) and all subsequent relevant resolutions and to restore international peace and security in the area.”

    http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/news/iraq/un/index.html

  13. rog
    April 26th, 2006 at 16:53 | #13

    John, my quote was in reply to shiobhan’s rant.

    However, what Tony Blair said is that you cant separate one jihadist from the other and Iraq was important to the balance of power in the M/E.

    As to your comment that generally the dictators’ lot has improved, I would say that the continued intransigence of Europe and the UN has been of the greatest benefit to despots and their collective weakness has made Iran more confident. Iran knows that the US is stretched over Iraq and Afghanistan and there is no one else.

    Whilst France continues to make noises nobody really believes them, their track record is appaalling.

    Blair is also damning of ‘liberals’ and wonders why they are so supportive of Saddam & co.

  14. April 26th, 2006 at 18:15 | #14

    avaroo,

    660 was not violated by Saddam prior to GWII (i.e. he did not re-invade Kuwait), so the authority to use force under 678 is not material. 687 (on inspections) was breached continuously from 1991 on and resolution 1441 is expressed to be “…a final opportunity to comply…” with 687. A read of the resolution may be useful.
    As I have said before this can be read either way and depends on the legal judgement to be made as to whether the language is sufficiently strong to authorise force without further action. The US, British, Australian and other governments made a judgement one way, possibly for political reasons, other government made a judgement another way, also possibly for political reasons. The only other possible legal grounds for an attack would be self-defense, which would be an heavy burden to prove given the circumstances.

  15. April 26th, 2006 at 18:17 | #15

    Don’t get me wrong, avaroo, I believe the war was justified and right, but there is still an open question as to its legality. What is justified may not be legal and what is legal may not be justified.

  16. avaroo
    April 26th, 2006 at 18:24 | #16

    “660 was not violated by Saddam prior to GWII (i.e. he did not re-invade Kuwait)”

    Remember, there was a ceasefire in GWI, so technically this is a resumption of hostilities, not a “new” war. At least as far as the UN is concerned.

    “so the authority to use force under 678 is not material.”

    The authority to use all necessary means in 687 applies to all subsequent UNSC Iraq resolutions. See the link above.

    “As I have said before this can be read either way”

    Actually I agree. Where I do not agree with you is on the legality issue.

  17. April 26th, 2006 at 22:00 | #17

    A great defense for Saddam. Props. You got any other reasons Saddam should’ve been allowed to stay in power?

  18. rabee
    April 27th, 2006 at 00:50 | #18

    Hi John,

    I read the comments about Steyn four years ago. And I agreed with you at the time. It seemed clear to me that Steyn was deliberately misleading his readers about Australia’s position, which at the time was no different from the British position.

    At first I was surprised that he brought this up now after four years. I’m also surprised that this is being cheered on by Tim Blair and JF Beck, who know fully well that Steyn was deliberately misleading his readers.

    I also saw that Juan Cole is being mauled by the Wall Street Journal, in particular the unilateral war advocates in that paper.

    I’ve been thinking about why the unilateral war advocates are so vicious.

    Of course, the main problem is that they have absolutely no remaining credibility. In their advocacy they adopted the strategy of the Big Lie: A bet made by policy advocates who craft a narrative whose parts are all deliberately untruthful.

    Apart from being inconsistent with democratic norms, it’s conceivable that using the Big Lie can be successful. However, it is certain that if the Big Lie is used to start a war, and the war turns bad, then typically those who conceived of and advocated using the Big Lie will at best have ruined their careers.

    This is the situation with the war on Iraq, we were pushed into this war used the Big Lie. Everyone knows now that they were misleading us about every single issue concerning Iraq. Unfortunately, for them the war is going bad. So as far as I can tell the careers (or prospect of serious careers) of those individuals involved in misleading our civil and democratic institutions are likely to be over.

    However, be warned that while sinking they are likely to want to drag some of their opponents down with them. This is in their evil nature: Who of goodwill would deliberately undermine the democratic and civil traditions that have evolved over centuries? Who would be so unappreciative of the norms to which we find ourselves fortunate to be born into?

    A further warning to you John and others who happen to be serious intellectuals.

    As individuals and in a less organized manner, the warmongers who have destroyed the credibility of our civil institutions have for many years been waging a parallel crusade-a much more personal crusade. A careful glance at the motivations of these warmongers quickly reveals that they see themselves as unappreciated intellectuals.

    They are frustrated at not being able to establish serious intellectual careers. They unnaturally blame progressive academics for this failure. So it is not surprising that they are most vicious in the case of progressive professors such as Juan Cole and John Quiggin.

  19. April 27th, 2006 at 01:19 | #19

    I’ve heard Steyn described as a self-hating Canadian, a fate which befalls some of them either as a consequence of moving to the USA or as a preliminary to it.

  20. Abu Nudnik
    April 27th, 2006 at 04:53 | #20

    Mr. Steyn appears to be more happy to be Canadian today that Mr. Harper is in power. It’s embarassing to have a fool like the last two liberals in power spouting nonsense, invading area after area of provincial jurisdiction in order to buy votes, etc..

    As for 1441 it absolutely authorized force, like 16 other resolutions before it. Do you know the meaning of the word “resolution?” Hint: it doesn’t mean “just talk.”

  21. Michael H.
    April 27th, 2006 at 07:39 | #21

    I’m not too surprised by the pro-war mob still desperately clutching at the 1441 straw. Afterall, they expected the ‘cake-walk’ to be the means by which they would be able to beat down any criticism of the highly dubious legality of the invasion.

    1441 was passed because its proponents specifically said there was no “automaticity” for war in the resolution and further action would only occur via a subsequent resolution.

  22. jquiggin
    April 27th, 2006 at 07:49 | #22

    Of course, they are still clutching at the straw. But Steyn’s piece and the support he got form the warbloggers shows that they all know it’s a sham.

  23. Michael H.
    April 27th, 2006 at 08:08 | #23

    It never ceases to amaze me what a finely tuned nose they have for debasing themselves in the service of powerful interests.

    You’d think that just a modicum of self-respect would preclude these kind of intellectual contortions.

  24. snuh
    April 27th, 2006 at 10:35 | #24

    jeebus avaroo, give up. how many times do you need to be shown why un1441 didn’t authorise the use of force, before you will stop suggesting that it did?

    your continued refusal to see sense on this renders hilarious your invocation of “people of good will”.

  25. Majorajam
    April 27th, 2006 at 10:55 | #25

    Such crushing erudition from the chancer who walks like a man and writes like a redneck. Will wonders never cease. I would expect no less from a plutocrat mouthpiece whose exemplary qualifications include obdurate insistence on a patently fabricated story. What a double plus clown. You’re brave indeed JQ to engage in debate with people who cannot distinguish between obstinacy and reasoned argument. I find the whole thing mind numbing.

  26. Katz
    April 27th, 2006 at 11:06 | #26

    Bush’s and the Republicans’ approval ratings suggest that UN1441 promises to be a very efficient vehicle for regime change indeed.

  27. avaroo
    April 27th, 2006 at 12:55 | #27

    1441 says what it says. The wording cannot now be changed to suit political desires.

    War is never a cake-walk. It is serious business and a last resort.

    Nowhere does 1441 say there would be another resolution. If 1441 had meant that there would be another resolution required, it would have said so. UNSC resolutions are quite detailed and specific and they are never verbal in any part.

  28. Mork
    April 27th, 2006 at 13:00 | #28

    War is never a cake-walk. It is serious business and a last resort.

    Now we know you’re just messing with us!

  29. snuh
    April 27th, 2006 at 13:59 | #29

    Nowhere does 1441 say there would be another resolution. If 1441 had meant that there would be another resolution required, it would have said so. UNSC resolutions are quite detailed and specific and they are never verbal in any part.

    the problem with your argument is that it proves too much. observe:

    Nowhere does 1441 say there would not need to be another resolution. If 1441 had meant that there would not be another resolution required, it would have said so. UNSC resolutions are quite detailed and specific and they are never verbal in any part.

    also, quite apart from your argument proving too much, it’s also incorrect, in that UNSC resolutions frequently are less explicit than would be preferable. for instance, they often use key phrases with meanings that are not readily apparent, but are known and understood in diplomatic circles. for example, the magic phrase which authorises the use of force is “all necessary means” [and not, to pick a phrase entirely at random, "serious consequences"]. also, when a resolution says the UNSC “decides to remain seized” of a particular matter, this means that the prerogative of authorising action regarding the matter remains with the UNSC, and not with member states acting unilaterally.

    perhaps you can now apply your newfound knowledge of these phrases to the text of UN 1441. when re-reading UN 1441, i suggest you pay extra special attention to articles 4, 12 and 14, which certainly answer the question of whether UN 1441 authorised force absent further UNSC action, but unfortunately do not assist me in figuring out why you persist in being so obtuse.

  30. snuh
    April 27th, 2006 at 14:05 | #30

    As for 1441 it absolutely authorized force, like 16 other resolutions before it. Do you know the meaning of the word “resolution?� Hint: it doesn’t mean “just talk.�

    UN 1441 is so named because it is the 1441st resolution of the security council. international legal scholars would, no doubt, be surprised to find out that the security council has authorised force 1441 times, which would seem to follow from your argument, based as it is on the meaning of the word “resolution”.

  31. Katz
    April 27th, 2006 at 14:19 | #31

    Much posturing here over the legal and moral shadings that may be read into UN1441.

    The operating political point is that most of the significant nations of the world disagreed with the US that UN1441 authorised military force.

    As a result, the “Coalition of the Willing” took on the bedraggled appearance of a smattering of fly specks.

    Like the fat, no talent kid who owns the bat and the ball, the US bullied a bunch of midgets into playing by its rules.

    And what an unedifying spectacle it was.

  32. rog
    April 27th, 2006 at 16:31 | #32

    France had already pre-empted further discussion by the Security Council by announcing that they would veto military action. This is an inherent fault of the Security Council, the power of veto renders it almost ineffective.

    Already China + Russia have threatened to veto the proposed sanctions in the Sudan despite the resolution being approved by an overwhelming majority. The Sudan Govt has prevented the UN from using their troops as peacekeeping forces and OBL has condemned the UN forces in the south.

    Most unedifying

  33. Katz
    April 27th, 2006 at 16:47 | #33

    More sour-grapes blather from Rog.

    The point is that the US could bully only physical and moral midgets.

  34. wilful
    April 27th, 2006 at 16:54 | #34

    Katz has the real truth of it, the UNSC is an aboslute sideshow and ‘international law’ is an oxymoron. Simple fact is, the US and a handful of allies wanted to attack, lots of other middling powers didn’t want to, a figleaf was created just because it was a habitual nicety to do so.

    Howard and Blair wanted to go to war, they had stronger domestic need of the figleaf provided by 1441 than Bush, even that wasn’t really enough, but it turned out it didn’t matter.

    I’d like to see similar heated discussion of Israel’s refusal to return to the 1967 borders under resolutions 242 and 338.

  35. rog
    April 27th, 2006 at 16:58 | #35

    I thought you were the pick of the sour grape bunch, Katz.

  36. April 27th, 2006 at 21:13 | #36

    Katz,
    merely because most of the “significant” nations decided something does not necessarily make it right. The day I look at something and go with the majority merely because the majority wanted it that way is the day I check in to meet a few people in white coats with interesting electrical equipment.
    Would you contend, then, that all of the members of the COW were “…physical and moral midgets…”?
    While I would agree with you that “…operating political point is that most of the significant nations of the world disagreed with the US that UN1441 authorised military force…” I would not agree that this is the most important point. To argue that the political point is a deciding point is the argument of a moral mdget, something that, while we frequently disagree, I doubt you are.
    .
    While you argue that 1441 is a figleaf, you provide no substance to your argument. What may be plain to you is not necessarily the case. If you have a argument that 1441 is a fig leaf, please make it.

  37. jquiggin
    April 27th, 2006 at 21:26 | #37

    AR, if there is a dispute over what an Act of Parliament means, the Parliament gets to decide it (or, if it prefers, to leave it to the courts). We all know what happens when someone concocts a theory by which their criminal actions are legal.

    Similarly, Resolution 1441 means what the UNSC says it means, not what Bush or Blair thinks it should mean. Things might have got complicated if, say, 14 members had agreed that war was required and one had vetoed it, but it was clear that a solid majority of the UNSC opposed war, which was why there was no second resolution.

    Apart from all of this it’s clearly on the record that the whole thing was a sham. Nothing Saddam could have done (except maybe fleeing the country, and maybe not even that) would have prevented war.

  38. April 27th, 2006 at 21:44 | #38

    PrQ,
    In any legal argument the parliament does not get to decide – it is left to the courts. All the parliament can do is amend the legislation – something that (I would hazard a guess) will not happen in this case. All I am saying is that this should be a matter for the courts; which is why I am waiting, with great interest, somewhere that this whole question is put to a competent court. It will be a fascinating, and very important, case.
    The political decisions (with or without a “figleaf”) are another matter for debate, but the legal question can only be answered by a competent court.

  39. Simonjm
    April 27th, 2006 at 22:00 | #39

    Andrew say 20 years down the line and this is all a bad memory and a Mr Howard is up before the World Court, -who have decided that it was an illegal war – you will be happy for him to do time when found guilty of participating in said war?

    It is a court after all :)

  40. Katz
    April 27th, 2006 at 22:10 | #40

    “While you argue that 1441 is a figleaf,”

    I argue nothing of the sort!

    My argument is that 1441 says what it says which may or may not be what Bush and Blair says what it says. Then again it may say what Chirac says what it says.

    AR, if you had been paying any attention at all to my argument, you would have read that I framed everything I said with the following:

    “Much posturing here over the legal and moral shadings that may be read into UN1441.’

    Perhaps I should have been more explicit about my determination not to indulge in any posturing on these issues.

    I see no need to change my dismissive attitude to these aspects of the debate in this thread.

  41. avaroo
    April 28th, 2006 at 06:14 | #41

    “Nowhere does 1441 say there would not need to be another resolution.”

    Because resolutions don’t say there will not be another resolution.

    “If 1441 had meant that there would not be another resolution required, it would have said so.”

    No, it wouldn’t have. Otherwise, all resolutions would say this.

    “in that UNSC resolutions frequently are less explicit than would be preferable.”

    What you mean here is that they don’t say what you’d like them to say, which isn’t the same thing.

    “for example, the magic phrase which authorises the use of force is “all necessary meansâ€?

    which is in 1441 and is quite clear and well understood.

    “also, when a resolution says the UNSC “decides to remain seizedâ€? of a particular matter, this means that the prerogative of authorising action regarding the matter remains with the UNSC, and not with member states acting unilaterally”

    No, it doesn’t mean that at all. It just means that the UN isn’t going to go away on the matter. This particular statement says nothing at all about whose prerogative it is to do what. Nor does it say a single thing about the behavior of any member state.

    “the question of whether UN 1441 authorised force absent further UNSC action”

    it did. I’ve already said this.

  42. avaroo
    April 28th, 2006 at 06:21 | #42

    “The operating political point is that most of the significant nations of the world disagreed with the US that UN1441 authorised military force.”

    I’m not sure that being unable or unwilling to support the enforcement of the UNSC resolutions against Iraq means that nations didn’t think that UNSC 1441 authorized action. Certianly I’ve seen no poll of nations on this point.

    “All I am saying is that this should be a matter for the courts; which is why I am waiting, with great interest, somewhere that this whole question is put to a competent court.”

    Andrew, in your view, what court would this be? It would have to be a court that all members of the UNSC recognize as “competent” and the UNSC includes Britain and the US.

  43. Katz
    April 28th, 2006 at 06:53 | #43

    “I’m not sure that being unable or unwilling to support the enforcement of the UNSC resolutions against Iraq means that nations didn’t think that UNSC 1441 authorized action. Certianly I’ve seen no poll of nations on this point.”

    The US and UK aborted their attempts to get a further rsloution when it became clear that a majority of the SC intended to vote against them.

    That’s as close to a poll on this question as you’ll ever get.

    The Chimp didn’t want to count the votes.

    But then again he has a history of that doesn’t he?

  44. rabee
    April 28th, 2006 at 06:57 | #44

    I hope we agree that there was no “automaticityâ€? in Resolution 1441, because China, France, Russia, and the US agreed with this at the time: (if the war was legal, then it wasn’t because of 1441)

    Joint Statement by China, France and Russia
Interpreting UN Security Council Resolution 1441 (2002)

    “Resolution 1441 (2002) adopted today by the Security Council excludes any automaticity in the use of force. In this regards, we register with satisfaction the declarations of the representatives of the United States and the United Kingdom confirming this understanding in their explanations of vote, and assuring that the goal of the resolution is the full implementation of the existing Security Council resolutions on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction disarmament. All Security Council members share this goal.â€?
    http://www.staff.city.ac.uk/p.willetts/IRAQ/FRRSCHST.HtM

    United Kingdom Explanation of Vote on
UN Security Council Resolution 1441 (2002)

    “There is no “automaticity” in this Resolution. If there is a further Iraqi breach of its disarmament obligations, the matter will return to the Council for discussion as required in Operational Paragraph 12. We would expect the Security Council then to meet its responsibilities.â€?

    http://www.staff.city.ac.uk/p.willetts/IRAQ/UK081102.HTM

    United States Explanation of Vote on
UN Security Council Resolution 1441 (2002)

    “this Resolution contains no “hidden triggers” and no “automaticity” with respect to the use of force.â€?
    http://www.staff.city.ac.uk/p.willetts/IRAQ/US081102.HTM

  45. avaroo
    April 28th, 2006 at 07:06 | #45

    “There is no “automaticity� in this Resolution. If there is a further Iraqi breach of its disarmament obligations, the matter will return to the Council for discussion as required in Operational Paragraph 12. We would expect the Security Council then to meet its responsibilities.�

    The matter did return to the Council for discussion. This doesn’t say “the matter will return to the Council for another “last opportunity” resolution”

    “this Resolution contains no “hidden triggers�

    absolutely none, the triggers were well spelled-out in all of the Iraqi resolutions.

    “and no “automaticityâ€? with respect to the use of force.â€?

    I agree, force wasn’t to be automatic. It would only be used if Iraq did not comply. And it didn’t.

    I wish I could agree with Andrew that this will be wrapped up neatly by some court at some point in the future. But there’s no such court, that everyone will agree is “competent”. Therefore, it seems we are doomed to forever argue about what UNSC 1441 meant (as there’s no room means to argue over what it said). I hope the next generation is spared the argument and I think it likely that it will be. If Vietnam is any indication, that argument appears to be confined to one US generation, the boomers, and it doesn’t infect younger people.

  46. avaroo
    April 28th, 2006 at 07:11 | #46

    “The US and UK aborted their attempts to get a further rsloution when it became clear that a majority of the SC intended to vote against them.”

    Actiually, there was no further resolution ever put to a vote, because some UNSC members said they wouldn’t vote to enforce what they’d already voted to enforce in 1441.

    “That’s as close to a poll on this question as you’ll ever get.”

    My point precisely. There is no such poll, making the claim that “most of the significant nations of the world disagreed with the US that UN1441 authorised military force” untrue. The fact is, the countries you consider “significant”, such as France and Germany and Russia, really couldn’t have been much help militarily anyway. I think pride got in the way in Germany’s case, they just couldn’t openly admit that they couldn’t have helped either financially or militarily. Now, of course, we know why Russia and France didn’t want to enforce the resolutions. And it isn’t flattering to either.

  47. rabee
    April 28th, 2006 at 07:27 | #47

    We all agree that UNSC R1441 had no “Automaticityâ€? in use of force, and that we should look elsewhere for legal reasons to invade Iraq.

    The Australian Attorney General’s March 18th 2003 memorandum supporting the use of force against Iraq is based on UNSC R687: (the Reasons (section) for this support does is not based on UNSC R1441.)

    “Reasons

    14. In our view, Iraq’s past and continuing material breaches of SCR 687 have negated the basis for the ‘formal cease-fire’. Iraq, by its conduct subsequent to the adoption of SCR 687, has demonstrated that it did not and does not ‘accept’ the terms of SCR 687. Consequently, the cease-fire is not effective and the authorisation for the use of force in SCR 678 is reactivated.

    15. We do not believe that the authorisation contained in SCR 678 has expired (endnote 3) or that, coupled with SCR 687, it was confined to the limited purpose of ensuring Iraq’s withdrawal from Kuwait. Nor do we believe that the Security Council has either expressly or impliedly withdrawn the authority for the use of force in SCR 678 in all circumstances.

    16. Operative paragraph 2 of SCR 678 set out above itself contains no limitations in terms of time. Nor is the purpose for which the authority to use force was given confined to restoration of the sovereignty and independence of Kuwait. The authority to use force also was to uphold and implement ‘all subsequent relevant resolutions and to restore international peace and security to the area’. That purpose holds as good today as it did in 1990. There is no finite time under the Charter in which the authority given in a Security Council resolution expires. Nor is there any indication in resolutions subsequent to SCR 678 that the authority for the use of force contained in that resolution has expired. Indeed, subsequent resolutions indicate to the contrary. (Endnote 4.)

    17 Given the existing authority for the use of force, suggestions that there is a legal requirement for a further resolution are misplaced. Also, suggestions that the use of force in Iraq in the absence of a further Security Council Resolution would be ‘unilateral’ are wrong. ”

    http://www.pm.gov.au/iraq/displayNewsContent.cfm?refx=96

  48. rog
    April 28th, 2006 at 07:29 | #48

    Simonjm says the World Court “is a court after all”

    No court can exist without a sovereign to ensure that the judgements are upheld. No sovereign can exist without a military power to enforce its position.

    There is no sovereign called “World” and no “World military” there is the UN which has no sovereign powers and no military.

    The Nuremberg War Trials were conducted on terms agreed upon by the victors and were not based on any international or national law.

    Prior to Nuremberg it was Churchills opinion that putting Nazis on trial was a farce, a “show trial” and that they should have been classed as criminals and summarily executed. It was the Americans wish that they be tried under a rule of law.

    Churchills wish that senior Germans be classed as criminal outlaws and shot on sight was partially achieved by the end of the war.

  49. Michael H.
    April 28th, 2006 at 07:57 | #49

    rabee,

    The AGs arguments suffer the odd flaw or two.

    The breach of UN Res 687 that the AG refers to, is based on the belief that Iraq had WMD, which it didn’t. Therefore that ‘reason’ is baseless.

    And UN Res 678 (re-affirming 660) authorised force only in respect to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. How that applied to Iraq in 2003 is a mystery.

  50. Katz
    April 28th, 2006 at 08:06 | #50

    “Actiually, there was no further resolution ever put to a vote, because some UNSC members said they wouldn’t vote to enforce what they’d already voted to enforce in 1441.”

    Tosh.

    “I think pride got in the way in Germany’s case, they just couldn’t openly admit that they couldn’t have helped either financially or militarily. Now, of course, we know why Russia and France didn’t want to enforce the resolutions. And it isn’t flattering to either. ”

    Mere fantasy.

    Can’t any Bush apologist do better than this?

  51. avaroo
    April 28th, 2006 at 08:21 | #51

    Avaroo, as advised previously, you’ve been monopolising comments threads. You’re on automoderation from now on. You get one (normal length) comment per day. Use it well JQ

  52. rabee
    April 28th, 2006 at 08:32 | #52

    Michael,

    The Australian Attorney General’s memorandum seems to contain the soundest arguments for the legality of the war. Much more sound than those made by the US, which appear to be based on 1) right to self-defense 2) pre-emption 3) international terrorism 4) regime change…

    The Australian argument is that there were cease-fire violations. Iraq was in breach of the cease-fire agreement made 13 years earlier. The cease-fire at the time was a conditional cessation of hostilities that where revived by Iraq’s violations. Now a cease-fire is not peace. You don’t need a new UNSC resolution to resume hostility.

  53. snuh
    April 28th, 2006 at 08:58 | #53

    No court can exist without a sovereign to ensure that the judgements are upheld. No sovereign can exist without a military power to enforce its position.

    this just in: the international court of justice does not exist.

  54. rabee
    April 28th, 2006 at 09:41 | #54

    Avaroo,

    We have established that the soundest legal argument for war on Iraq is articulated in the Australian Attorney General’s Memorandum
    http://www.pm.gov.au/iraq/displayNewsContent.cfm?refx=96
    We have cleaned the table of Bushite anti-international law gobbledygook (e.g., war on terror, imminent threat, regime change, democracy through the barrel of the gun). The Australian Attorney General’s argument is in fact Clinton’s argument (the Bush regime does not respect US law and does not recognize international law).

    The question is now how sound is the Australian Attorney General’s Memorandum.

    In particular,

    * Can resolution 678 authorizing force against Iraq in the first gulf war be “reactivated� without an explicit UNSC resolution reactivating it?

    This is, the British Attorney General’s “revival” argument, which he admits “is controversial. It is not widely accepted among academic commentators.â€?
    http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/issues/iraq/document/2003/0307advice.htm

    It also came up much earlier than 2003. For example
    “BYPASSING THE SECURITY COUNCIL: AMBIGUOUS AUTHORIZATIONS TO USE FORCE, CEASE-FIRES AND THE IRAQI INSPECTION REGIME� Lobel and Ratner
    American Journal of International Law, 1999 (I only have a hard copy)

    “We argue that two fundamental values underpinning the United Nations Charter—that peaceful means be used to resolve disputes and that force be used in the interest and under the control of the international community and not individual countries—require that the Security Council retain strict control over the initiation, duration and objectives of the use of force in international relations. To ensure that UN-authorized uses of force comport with those two intertwined values, this article argues for three rules derived from Article 2(4) of the Charter: (1) explicit and not implicit Security Council authorization is necessary before a nation may use force that does not derive from the right to self-defense under Article 51; (2) authorizations should clearly articulate and limit the objectives for which force may be employed, and ambiguous authorizations should be narrowly construed; and (3) the authorization to use force should cease with the establishment of a permanent cease-fire unless explicitly extended by the Security Council.

    The questions raised by the Iraqi inspection crisis of 1998 are likely to arise in the future.8 The claim of the U.S. Government to an ongoing UN authorization to use force against Iraq to enforce the cease-fire agreement has resurfaced often over the past seven years and is unlikely to be withdrawn. Moreover, the tendency to bypass the requirement for explicit Security Council authorization, in favor of more ambiguous sources of international authority, will probably escalate in coming years.�

    So at the very least the “reactivation� argument made by the Australian government and used to bypass the security council are not in keeping with the spirit and the intentions of the UN charter.

  55. snuh
    April 28th, 2006 at 10:43 | #55

    averoo, your method appears to consist of just throwing up a bunch of assertions, without even pretending to try and substantiate them in any way. so, for example, “Because resolutions don’t say there will not be another resolution” and “No, it wouldn’t have. Otherwise, all resolutions would say this” and “it did. I’ve already said this.” well if you’ve said it more than once, it must be true! i mean, would it be asking to much for you to prove, or at least provide a citation, for these assertions?

    your claim that the phrase “all necessary means” is in UN 1441 is, whilst technically true, grossly misleading. the phrase appears in the recitals, i.e., the council merely recalls “its resolution 678 (1990) authorized Member States to use all necessary means”, which is not the same thing as the council making a determination in 2002 to do this, which, fatally to your argument, the council did not do.

    No, ["decides to remain seized of the matter"] doesn’t mean that at all. It just means that the UN isn’t going to go away on the matter. This particular statement says nothing at all about whose prerogative it is to do what. Nor does it say a single thing about the behavior of any member state.

    actually, the phrase is meant to protect the UNSC’s authority on matters of international peace and security from being encroached upon by others. it originally found its way into UNSC resolutions as a means of preventing action/deliberation on the seized matter by the UN general assembly [see article 12 of the UN charter], but is now understood also to indicate the UNSC’s determination that individual states respect its authority by not taking unilateral action.

  56. Simonjm
    April 28th, 2006 at 11:39 | #56

    umm Rog, that’s why nations have to sign up so as to give it authority. I believe we signed up so it has authority to try Austrlian citizens. I would guess that the UK has to so there Blair better watch out.

    Bush and co are OK something as silly as a World Court isn’t worth signing up to. After all when you are a fairweather moralist using the doctrine of necessity that allows you to justify torture kidnappings etc, you would be spending a lot of time there.

  57. rog
    April 28th, 2006 at 15:08 | #57

    a. the US is not a signatory to International Law

    b. if GWB was to be tried for waging ‘aggressive’ war so would all NATO countries and Clinton for waging war in Serbia

    c. there is no penalty for acting without UN sanction

    d. there is no court that would try GWB, Blair etc.

    You have to get a grip on the political realities of the situation. There are now calls to allow Israel to join NATO, about time too.

    http://www.jcpa.org/brief/brief005-23.htm

  58. snuh
    April 28th, 2006 at 18:26 | #58

    a. the US is not a signatory to International Law

    international law exists whether the united states agrees or not, which, incidentally, it does (agree). what you mean is that the US has refused to ratify the rome statute, which creates the international criminal court.

    b. if GWB was to be tried for waging ‘aggressive’ war so would all NATO countries and Clinton for waging war in Serbia

    the rome statute is not retrospective, that is, the ICC has no power to hear any matter pertaining the crimes committed prior to its inception [rome statute, article 11]. i.e., on any view of aggression, NATO/the clenis are in the clear.

    c. there is no penalty for acting without UN sanction

    d. there is no court that would try GWB, Blair etc.

    re bush, you’re right, as the court can’t exercise jurisdiction over his war in iraq, as neither the U.S. nor iraq is a party to the rome statute. however, the ICC would have jurisdiction wrto blair, and it’s not inconceivable that he could be prosecuted in relation to the conduct of the war in iraq.

    re aggression, article 5 of the rome statute specifies the crimes over which the court has jurisdiction. although aggression is included, this is subject to article 5(2), which provides that the ICC won’t have jurisdiction over aggression until a provision defining “aggression” is adopted in accordance with the statute.

    however, the provisions on “war crimes” ought to discomfort blair a little. these provisions are in article 8, which specifies as war crimes, amongst other things:
    - torture
    - the taking of hostages
    - and unlawful deportation or transfer [think extraordinary rendition];
    all of which have occurred in connection with the war in iraq. of course, the ICC is a court of last resort, meaning it could only act if british courts refused to [i.e., there are several courts that could try blair, and of course the US congress retains the power to impeach bush].

  59. rog
    April 28th, 2006 at 19:15 | #59

    Yeah sure

  60. Michael H.
    April 28th, 2006 at 21:47 | #60

    rabee,

    There was a ceasefire because Iraqi forces vacated Kuwait as 660 demanded them to do. The events leading up to 2003 were unrelated to Kuwait. In fact, Kuwait counselled against the Iraq war.

    Maybe you’re right that the Australian AGs argument was the soundest of the lot, which is some measure of the stupidity of the others.

    All of which just underlies JQs’ point that “it was all a sham”.

  61. avaroo
    April 28th, 2006 at 22:33 | #61

    rabee, If you’ll check my previous comment, you’ll see that I agree that the Australian AG’s comments are absolutely correct and are in fact, exactly what UNSC 1441, authored by the US, said. There isn’t any discrepancy that I can see between the AG’s comments and 1441.

    To maintain the ceasefire, Iraq had to comply with 660 and all subsequent resolutions. The UN said repeatedly that it had not. In fact, that’s why the SC kept issuing resolution after resolution against Iraq, because it had not complied with the subsequent resolutions. Was the UN supposed to just forever keep issuing resolutions that said Iraq hadn’t done what it had to do? I don’t see the purpose of the SC to be the “world nag”, meant to just keep nagging people to take specific actions. Is that what it has become and if so, how is that a good thing?

  62. rog
    April 29th, 2006 at 09:27 | #62

    Iran has just told the “world nag” that it doesnt give a damn what it says about Iran’s nuclear program and argues that if the SC makes decisions that are not within its competence Iran does not feel obliged to obey.

    Given the SC are still unable to agree how to act on Sudan it is unlikely there will be any resolution on Iran.

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