Thursday, December 30, 2004

The Iraq War was Illegal Mr. Kamm

Dear Mr. Kamm:

I read a review you wrote of Chomky's article ( ) from his latest book in which you wrote, "The Anglo-American liberation of Iraq was grounded in Saddam's defiance of the cease-fire terms that obtained at the end of the first Gulf War. He violated UN Security Council Resolution 687, which codified those terms, and 16 others; his overthrow was an assertion of the integrity of international law in an anarchic world order." Your claim that the overthrow of Saddam was "an assertion of the integrity of international law" is disturbing because attacking Iraq was a violation of International Law.

The US and UK can not legally decide what is enforcement of a UN resolution and on their own "enforce" a UN resolution. The idea that they have the legal right to do so is plainly wrong, both the United States and the United Kingdom have signed the UN Charter and agreed to abide by it. UN Security Council Resolution 687 does not authorize Member States to attack Iraq if Iraq violates the provisions of 687.

UN Resolution 687 says clearly that the cease-fire is effective when Iraq gave notification of its acceptance of the provisions. There is absolutely no provision for an automatic authorization to attack Iraq if Iraq violates any of the resolution's provision. And 687 makes clear that the Security Council will "take such further steps as may be required for the implementation of the present resolution".

By the way, Hilary Charlesworth and Andrew Byrnes, professors at the Centre for International and Public Law at the ANU, make the same points I just made: "It is inconsistent with the clear terms of resolution 678 and indeed the whole structure of the UN charter to argue one or more states could decide for themselves when and if the authorization could be revived." "The position that individual member states can respond to claimed violations of the ceasefire agreement between Iraq and the UN without the consent of the Security Council is inconsistent with the role of the council and is an unsustainable view of international law." - No, this war is illegal By Hilary Charlesworth, Andrew Byrnes

I would have no right to pick a British law and decide that you are in violation of it and go about holding you accountable even if I claim it is my assertion of the integrity of the law to do so.

You wrote, "he mentions not once – he does not even allude to – the character of Saddam's regime." This is not the case. Chomsky writes, "But there is rarely any shortage of elevated ideals to accompany the resort to violence. In 1990, Saddam Hussein assured the world that he wanted not "permanent fighting, but permanent peace . . . and a dignified life"

You wrote, "There could scarcely be a starker illustration - morally, politically and intellectually - of the difference between President Bush and Professor Chomsky. Bush analyses political conditions carefully before alighting on a course founded on moral principle and strategic necessity." Mr. Kamm, you cannot be serious. Bush violates International law and thinks it's a joke. He responded to concerns about violations of International Law concerning Iraq contracts with this: "International law? I'd better call my lawyer. He didn't bring that up to me."

I agree with you when you wrote, "Clearly I ought to wait to read Chomsky's book in full before making a definitive judgment." I was wondering if you did eventually read it, I have and it is terrific.

Tom Murphy

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