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How did the law permit an illegal war… the Iraq war?

Updated: Mar 4, 2023

Written by Kaze Salah – legal presenter on Street Law


When people discuss the legality of the Iraqi war, some need to be made aware of this issue and the reality of events. This article will reveal how the war was a fight for politics based on avenging 9/11 and the personal gain of reopening the commodity of oil for the worldwide market. These ulterior motives were justified by creating false accusations of Iraq obtaining weapons of mass destruction (WMD) which did not conform with the United Nations (UN) providing the legal basis of a ‘necessary war.’ This paper will represent the detrimental actions of powerful agents that are not held accountable and the consequences of their actions. This paper will also present the well-crafted speeches to declare the Iraq War, which caused detrimental effects and the abuse of power by politicians to dictate the conversation. Additionally, it will highlight the moral justification of providing liberty to the citizens of Iraq and Kurdistan by removing the dictator Saddam Hussien. All of this thus provides a legal and moral justification for the war but under immoral motives to create an illegal war which had irreparable social damages.

Weapons of Mass Destruction

The primary justification by the U.K and US was that former dictator Saddam Hussien allegedly had WMD which posed a serious, worldwide threat. The truth of this accusation was questioned, after he was captured by the US military, by FBI’s special agent George Piro. He revealed that "for him, it was critical that he was seen as still the strong, defiant Saddam. He thought that faking would prevent the Iranians from re-invading Iraq."[1] This signifies Saddam’s threatening response was to Iran - he did not intend for the United States and the U.K. to invade. This was the perfect opportunity to take this accusation which did not comply with several UN resolutions, notably UN resolution 1441, that Iraq posed ‘an international threat to peace and security due to their non-compliance with weapons of mass destruction.’[2] The exercise of this resolution was based upon the bold claim of owning WMD despite American intelligence showing that they were not present [see more]. This represents that the legal justification guaranteed a legal war on Iraq for owning WMD and the obligation to act immediately for the ‘safety’ of all citizens.

Let’s first walk through former prime minister Tony Blair’s final speech before the War began in 2003, to illuminate the reality of his well-crafted speeches. He commenced his speech with the obligatory requirement from the United Nations (U.N) that ‘we have to act within the terms set out in resolution 1441.’[3] Blair is known for his very well-articulated speeches by using the collective pronoun ‘we’, which brings a personal enticement nationwide that the decision to commence the war is necessary as an obligation under the U.N. This organisation was set up after World War II to develop friendly relations among nations and provide international peace. However, the legal justification of war wis based on accusations, despite the social permanent harm at the cost of soldiers' and citizens’ lives. This consequently cost 100,000 civilian lives, and 4-5 million Iraqi and Kurdish people to flee their homes.[4] These were just some harms cause by the political issue of acquiring a win by avenging 9/11, which signifies a war crime.

The former Secretary-General supported this by stating: ‘Iraq war was illegal... was not made unilaterally and did not conform with the UN Charter from the beginning.’[5] This represents that this indictment was created between powerful politicians collectively for personal and economic interests as it did not follow the essential aims of the U.N. This emphasises that the unanimous decision of similar aims and objectives allowed legal justification of war despite not aligning with the U.N Charter and, in turn, caused ruinous harm to the people of Iraq. Thus, this war became an illegal war crime as it was based upon personal aims.


What happened behind the scenes?

The publication of the 9/11 commission reports that the connection between Iraq and Al-Qaeda was weak, and there was no cooperation with Bin Ladin on WMD.[6] Richard Clarke, who shaped U.S. Policy on terrorism, created this memo and, in an interview, outlined that behind the scenes, President Bush suspected a link between the two parties and would not accept the report without showing one.[7] Clarke outlined that they wrote a report stating that ‘there is no connection’ and got ‘bounced back' by the National Security Advisor… saying, ‘Wrong answer… Do it again.’[8]This interview outlined that President Bush abused his title to get the answers he desired despite the truth. This highlights the ulterior motives of this war of attaining a quick victory after 9/11 but causing everlasting social harm.

Despite this interview being published a year after commencing the war, it was not reported by the media as it was not newsworthy and gained very little recognition. However, social media platforms such as Twitter helped provide the ability to comment and address the public on any topic. For example, in response to the failure to find WMD, Fleischer responded that ‘President Bush (and I as press secretary) faithfully and accurately reported to the public what the intelligence community concluded.[9] This shows his deflection that there was any fault and that all decisions were made in good faith for world peace. It shifted the blame onto intelligence, ensuring their validity to avoid accountability for such a destructive war by using soldiers and citizens at the forefront of this political war. However, the interview and the 9/11 report revealed that the intelligence definitively outlined no WMD in Iraq.

Lastly, politicians use war to control and ensure that the western world retains its power and is never in a position of vulnerability by employing the media to spread their persuasive speeches to decrease opposition through denial. Greenspan supported this, former chair of the Federal Reserve, saying ‘The Iraq war is largely about oil’[10] and acknowledged that the lack of public involvement due to the limited representation by the media had not been altered to the measure that it should have been and where the social harm had arisen from and continues as they have control over these reservoirs. He shows the reality of the situation that America's national interest is capitalism and ensuring that they have control over the world's biggest commodity and not be excluded from the export business.

I personally conducted an interview with Hoshyar Abdullah - the previous treasurer of the Kurdistan party outlined that despite oil exports making up to 90% of Kurdistan’s export income, it is mainly taken by those in control, the US.[11]The war removed the laws on nationalised oil by Saddam but created a continuance of tension between the western dominance over their commodities and their politics. Therefore, the delusion that WMD existed validated the politician's belief in the moral aid of removing Saddam to end a dictatorship but start a lifetime of harm.


Bibliography:


Bessma Momani, 'The Human Cost of the Iraq War Outweighs All Others' (Brookings, 20 March 2013) https://www.brookings.edu/opinions/the-human-cost-of-the-iraq-war-outweighs-all-others/ accessed 27 December 2022


Bricker Bonnie, 'The Costs of War for Oil' (Foreign Policy in Focus, 19 October 2007) https://fpif.org/the_costs_of_war_for_oil/ accessed 27 December 2022


Fleischer Ari, '"Bush Lied"' (Twitter, 20 March 2019)


Interview with Hoshyar Abdullah, “The Economy of Iraq and Kurdistan” (12 October 2020) personal


(Parliament and Politics, 18 March 2003) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_zsKfuEIM4&list=LL&index=9&ab_channel=ParliamentandPolitics accessed 2 January 2023


Rebecca Leung, 'Clarke's Take On Terror' (CBS News, 19 March 2004) https://www.cbsnews.com/news/clarkes-take-on-terror/ accessed 25 December 2022


Saddam’s Confessions, Columbia Broadcasting System; interview by Scott Pelley, 1957-, in 60 Minutes, Part 1 (New York: Columbia Broadcasting System, 2008 UNSC Res 1441 (8 November 2002) UN Doc S/RES/1441


9/11 commission, 'The 9/11 Commission Report' [2004] 1 (1) The Foundation of the New Terrorism 60



[1] Saddam’s Confessions, Columbia Broadcasting System; interview by Scott Pelley, 1957-, in 60 Minutes, Part 1 (New York: Columbia Broadcasting System, 2008 [2] UNSC Res 1441 (8 November 2002) UN Doc S/RES/1441 [3] (Parliament and Politics, 18 March 2003) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_zsKfuEIM4&list=LL&index=9&ab_channel=ParliamentandPolitics accessed 2 January 2023 [4] Bessma Momani, 'The Human Cost of the Iraq War Outweighs All Others' (Brookings, 20 March 2013) https://www.brookings.edu/opinions/the-human-cost-of-the-iraq-war-outweighs-all-others/ accessed 27 December 2022 [5] BBC News, (16 September 2004) http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/3661134.stm accessed 27 December 2022 [6] 9/11 commission, 'The 9/11 Commission Report' [2004] 1 (1) The Foundation of the New Terrorism 60 [7] Rebecca Leung, 'Clarke's Take On Terror' (CBS News, 19 March 2004) https://www.cbsnews.com/news/clarkes-take-on-terror/accessed 25 December 2022 [8] Ibid. [9] Ari Fleischer, '"Bush Lied"' (Twitter, 20 March 2019) https://twitter.com/AriFleischer/status/1108182901294796801 accessed 2 January 2023 [10] Bonnie Bricker, 'The Costs of War for Oil' (Foreign Policy in Focus, 19 October 2007) https://fpif.org/the_costs_of_war_for_oil/accessed 27 December 2022 [11] Interview with Hoshyar Abdullah, “The Economy of Iraq and Kurdistan”(12 October 2020) personal

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