United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan now says that the invasion of Iraq by the United States and a handful of allies, and the occupation that has followed upon that invasion, is "illegal."
That statement has drawn rebukes from officials and allies of the Bush administration. Certainly, a pre-emptive war like the attack on Iraq strains the standards of legality. And the continued occupation of any sovereign nation by invading forces violates the basic principles of international law. Yet officials in Washington and in the capitals of Great Britain and Australia objected aggressively to Annan's assertion that their nasty little war was unlawful.
Despite all the bluster from the Bush administration and its apologists, Americans should look beyond the spin and ponder the basic point that Annan has made.
Two facts are absolutely clear:
• The invasion was launched without official sanction, let alone encouragement, from the United Nations. Thus it has not been waged in accordance with accepted standards of international law.
• The invasion was launched, and the occupation has continued, without an official declaration of war by the U.S. Congress. Thus it has not been waged in accordance with accepted standards of U.S. constitutional law.
As much as the spin doctors in Washington might want to dismiss Annan's assertion that this is an illegal war, the evidence would seem to be on the secretary-general's side. And the bluntness of his assertion should be celebrated by all who seek to break through the web of political deceit and open an honest debate about a war that should never have been waged.
Copyright 2004 The Capital Times