Evidently, Prime Minister Tony Blair failed to
"properly inform" the House of Commons about the legality of the Bush-Blair
use of force against Iraq. Indeed, Blair may have deliberately misinformed
Commons passed on March 19, 2003, the British
Government's Motion on Iraq, which
"Notes that in the 130 days since Resolution 1441 was adopted Iraq
has not cooperated actively, unconditionally, and immediately with the weapons
inspectors, and has rejected the final opportunity to comply and is in further
material breach of its obligations under successive mandatory UN Security Council
"Notes the opinion of the attorney general that, Iraq having failed
to comply and Iraq being – at the time of Resolution 1441 and continuing to
be – in material breach, the authority to use force under Resolution 678 has
revived and so continues today."
Blair based his request to Parliament for authorization to invade Iraq on what
Blair characterized as the "opinion of the attorney general."
However, the several opinions of Lord Goldsmith have now been made public,
and it is obvious that Blair mischaracterized those opinions to the House of
Commons and to his own Cabinet.
When Iraq invaded and "annexed" part of Kuwait in August 1990, the Security
Council demanded – in Resolution 660 – that Iraq immediately withdraw all its
armed forces and henceforth respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity
In November, when Saddam hadn't yet withdrawn from Kuwait, Resolution 678 authorized
member states to "use all necessary means" to enforce Resolution 660 and supplementary
Resolution 686 is the Gulf War "cease-fire" resolution. It requires
Saddam Hussein to accept and abide by all previous Security Council resolutions
– including Resolution 678 – "which remain in force."
Resolution 678 is the only resolution that has authorized the use of
"all necessary means" by member states against Iraq. It is important to know
under what conditions and in what circumstances that authorization to use force
Clearly, if Saddam had done something deemed to be a "material breach" of Resolution
686 – such as invading Kuwait, again – then member states would be authorized
by Resolution 678 to use "all necessary means" to eject him.
But what if Saddam were ever found to be in "material breach" of
some Security Council resolution other than Resolution 686?
Immediately following the cease-fire, UN observers entered Iraq and discovered
that Saddam Hussein was in substantial noncompliance with several UN arms-limitation
conventions, including the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons
(NPT). Their discoveries led to Resolution 687.
Resolution 687 imposed economic sanctions that were not to be lifted until
Iraq was once again in substantial compliance with all UN arms conventions,
including the NPT. All chem-bio weapons and the facilities capable of making
nukes and chem-bio weapons were to be destroyed – under the supervision of the
UN Special Commission – and never rebuilt.
By mid-1998, on the basis of reports submitted to them by the Commission, most
members of the Security Council were of the opinion that Iraq was in
substantial compliance with Resolution 687 and most wanted to lift the
economic sanctions. President Clinton vetoed that, however, making it clear
he would never allow the sanctions to be lifted so long as Saddam Hussein was
Compliance with Resolution 687 should have meant the lifting of sanctions.
Noncompliance with Resolution 687 merely meant the continuation of sanctions.
There is no suggestion whatsoever that noncompliance with Resolution 687 would
have automatically meant "the authority to use force under Resolution 678
More importantly, the recently released opinions of Lord Goldsmith reveal that
he realized that for the majority of the Security Council members, noncompliance
with Resolution 1441 would also not have resulted in an automatic authorization
to use "all necessary means." A second resolution, specifically authorizing
that use, would have been necessary. Goldsmith's
opinion closes with this warning:
"Finally, I must stress that the lawfulness of military action depends
not only on the existence of a legal basis, but also on the question of proportionality.
"Any force used pursuant to the authorization in Resolution 678 (whether
or not there is a second resolution):
must have as its objective the enforcement [of] the terms of the cease-fire
contained in resolution 687 (1990) and subsequent relevant resolutions;
be limited to what is necessary to achieve that objective; and
must be a proportionate response to that objective, i.e., securing compliance
with Iraq's disarmament obligations."
So what do you think? Did the Bush-Blair use of force in Iraq satisfy those