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[casi] Rai: A Last Push for War

The US/UK Struggle For War Not Inspections
by Milan Rai, author of 'War Plan Iraq: 10 Reasons Why We Shouldn't Launch
Another War Against Iraq' (Verso, 2002)

ARROW Anti-War Briefing 33 (27 February 2003)
WAR PLAN IRAQ Update Number 12

'The Prime Minister will launch a "last push for peace"
alongside the tabling of a new UN Security Council
resolution this week,' No. 10 said on 22 Feb: 'The
commitment to a further resolution underlines our
determination to explore every means possible to
deliver a peaceful outcome. If we go to war, it is
because we have to disarm Saddam.' (Observer, 23
Feb., p. 1)
'Hearing that what Britain and the US have now
embarked on is the "final push for peace" makes you
wonder whether those at the heart of government
have read George Orwell's 1984... there is every sign
that war rather than peace is what the British
government is now preparing for.' (Donald Macintyre,
columnist, Independent, 25 Feb. 2003, p. 18)
The 'tabling' or presentation of their draft
resolution 'marked the beginning of what U.S. and
British officials characterized as the final push to win
council backing for a decision to go to war.'
(Washington Post, 25 Feb.)

Shortly before it was presented, the draft US/UK
resolution was still expected to declare Iraq to be in
"material breach" of its disarmament obligations, and
to warn that it would face "serious consequences".
(Sunday Telegraph, 23 Feb., p. 28) Then, 'London
appeared to have persuaded Washington to opt for a
simple text without specifying "serious consequences"
if Saddam fails to comply.' (Sunday Times, 23 Feb., p.
1) And the draft resolution also no longer says that
Iraq is in 'further material breach' of its obligations.
'The draft resolution would provide no explicit
authority to conduct a war. It simply states that the
council "decides that Iraq has failed to take the final
opportunity afforded to it in Resolution 1441." It
places several critical phrases in the preamble,
including a finding that Iraq is in further "material
breach"-or violation-of its disarmament obligations
and warning Iraq of "serious consequences" if it does
not disarm. Those phrases have been viewed as
triggers for military action. By putting them in the
preamble, they would carry no legal weight but would
serve the purpose of signaling Washington's intent to
undertake military action.' (Washington Post, 25 Feb.,
p. A01)
Actually, the draft does not find Iraq in "further
material breach". It says that 'in its resolution 1441
the [Security] Council decided that false statements or
omissions in the declaration submitted by Iraq
pursuant to that resolution and failure by Iraq at any
time to comply with, and co-operate fully in the
implementation of, that resolution, would constitute a
further material breach'. It also 'finds' that the
declaration did contain 'false statements and
omissions' and that Iraq 'has failed to comply with, and
co-operate fully in the implementation of, that
resolution'. But the conclusion is not actually drawn.
There is only one 'operative' or legally-binding
paragraph in the new draft resolution. It says simply
that the Security Council 'Decides that Iraq has failed
to take the final opportunity afforded to it by
resolution 1441.'
'U.S. and British officials said the resolution was
worded this way to provide Britain and other
countries with "legal cover" to participate in a U.S.-led
war while providing opponents of war with the
"political cover" to assure their constituents that they
never authorized military action.' (Washington Post,
25 Feb., p. A01)
'It does not give explicit authorisation for
military action and does not even say that Iraq is "in
material breach" of last November's resolution 1441...
The wording is deliberately vague... A senior figure
said: "The resolution is quite light. We wanted to
activate the serious consequences without being in
your face about it. The Americans were quite clear
that legally they do not need a resolution at all. But
politically we want a chance for the Security Council
to remain in control." ' (Telegraph, 25 Feb., p. 1)
'In an attempt to win over waverers, the US and
Britain have abandoned hopes of a resolution that
would explicitly authorise war and opted instead for a
watered-down version that reiterates much of the last
UN resolution on Iraq, 1441.' A British official said,
'The Americans' original language was quite tough on
requiring the words "material breach" and so on. We
said you simply have to refer back to resolution 1441,
otherwise you're simply not going to get the nine
votes.' (Guardian, 25 Feb., pp. 1, 5) So, 'the operative
paragraph contained no ultimatum and no explicit
threat of war.' (FT, 25 Feb., p. 8)
'The question was whether wavering Council
members could sign up to a text that, while likely to
be seen as legal justification by the US for military
action, they could argue was a simple statement of
fact, with no endorsement for war.' (FT, 25 Feb., p. 8)
But it is not a simple statement of fact.
The US is determined on war. Inspections are an
obstacle to war, therefore they must be denigrated
and shut down as soon as possible. US Secretary of
State Colin Powell said a month ago, 'The question
isn't how much longer do you need for inspections to
work. Inspections will not work.'  (Independent, 23
Jan., p. 1)
Iraqi co-operation with inspectors is an obstacle
to war. Therefore it must be rubbished. President
Bush has sought to dismiss Iraqi compliance: 'Saddam
Hussein can now be expected to begin another round
of empty concessions, transparently false denials. No
doubt he will play a last minute game of deception.
The game is over.' (Telegraph, 7 Feb., p. 1)
'All the war rhetoric from London and
Washington has obscured the real concessions already
made by Iraq,' points out columnist Mary Dejevsky.
(Independent, 26 Feb., p. 18) Some of these were set
out in the Security Council on 14. Feb. by French
Foreign Minister Dominic de Villepin, in a speech
which won applause from ambassadors: 'Real progress
is beginning to be apparent: Iraq has agreed to aerial
reconnaissance over its territory; it has allowed Iraqi
scientists to be questioned by the inspectors without
witnesses; a bill barring all activities linked to weapons
of mass destruction programs is in the process of
being adopted, in accordance with a long-standing
request of the inspectors; Iraq is to provide a detailed
list of experts who witnessed the destruction of
military programs in 1991.' (<>)
Not to forget inspectors' ready access to
Presidential palaces.
If we want to test Iraqi compliance, we must
follow the procedure laid down in UN Security
Council Resolution 1284, which asked inspectors to
draw up the 'key remaining disarmament tasks' for
Iraq, saying that 'what is required of Iraq for the
implementation of each task shall be clearly defined
and precise'. <> This was
a resolution proposed and championed by Britain,
with US support.
Now France is trying to get the Security Council
to implement this resolution. A new Franco-Russo-
German memorandum asks for the drafting of the
'key disarmament tasks' to be 'speeded up': 'The key
remaining tasks shall be defined according to their
degree of priority. What is required of Iraq for
implementation of each task shall be clearly defined
and precise. Such a clear identification of tasks to be
completed will oblige Iraq to cooperate more actively.
It will also provide a clear means for the Council to
assess the co-operation of Iraq.' (24 Feb. 2003,
How can Iraq have failed the disarmament test?
How can you fail someone when you haven't
even written the examination paper, let alone
presented it to the person being tested, or given clear
a timetable for when it should be finished?
The draft US/UK resolution does not explicitly
authorise war, but British officials 'say that it provides
"water-tight" legal authority for war', and this is the
general impression one receives through the British
media. 'It would trigger the serious consequences
threatened in resolution 1441.' (Telegraph, 25 Feb., p.
1) The phrase 'serious consequences' is reported
almost universally as 'diplomatic code' for military
action, thus authorising war.
This is a lie. Professor Vaughan Lowe, Chichele
Professor of Public International Law at Oxford
University, and a practising barrister was asked by the
Radio 4 Today programme to consider the legality of
war on Iraq in Dec.
He said, 'The statement in paragraph 13 of the
Resolution [1441] that "the Council has repeatedly
warned Iraq that it will face serious consequences as a
result of its continued violations of its obligations" is a
simple statement of what the Security Council has
done in the past. It cannot in my opinion possibly be
interpreted as an express or implied authorization to
States unilaterally to take military action against Iraq in
the future.
'Certainly, paragraph 13 amounts to an implied
threat of "serious consequences" if Iraq breaches its
obligations in the future. But nothing in paragraph 13
suggests that the consequences would be decided
upon and taken by anyone other than the body that
has, under the procedure established in the
immediately preceding paragraphs 11 and 12, been
given responsibility for deciding how to respond to
material breaches: that is, by the Security Council
'Equally, the simple fact that Resolution 1441
does not expressly forbid the use of armed force
plainly cannot itself amount to an implied authorisation
to use force... Most Security Council resolutions do
not expressly forbid the use of force: no-one would
argue that they therefore all authorise it.'
'My conclusion, therefore, is that under present
circumstances it would be contrary to international
law for the United Kingdom to engage in military
action against Iraq, or assist any other State in taking
such action, unless it was expressly authorised to do
so by the United Nations Security Council.' Thus sinks
the new resolution. The US and Britain are engaged in
a last push for an illegal war of aggression.

(Please see also ARROW Anti-War Briefings 25:
Material Breach / 28: Second Resolution /
31Key Tasks for important background to the US/UK
resolution.) <> 0845 458 2564
ARROW BOOK War Plan Iraq: Ten Reasons Against
War On Iraq by Milan Rai (Verso, 2002)
'Readable and well-sourced' The Times 'Excellent'
Tariq Ali 'Required reading' Professor Paul Rogers
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