Wielding an image of former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell during his infamous "weapons of mass destruction" speech that helped make the case for the U.S. invasion of Iraq in2003, Sacha Llorenti, the Bolivian ambassador to the United Nations, blasted the United States for its unilateral military action against Syria saying it is "vital to remember what history teaches us."
Llorenti, whose country holds a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council (UNSC) and had called the emergency meeting, said that while members of the body were "discussing and demanding the need for an independent and impartial investigation" into Tuesday's chemical attack on civilians in Idlib, Syria, the United States was "preparing—once again—to carry out a unilateral attack."
"The United States has not only unilaterally attacked," Llorenti said, "the United States has become that investigator, has become the prosecutor, has become the judge, has become the jury. Whereas the investigation would have allowed us to establish an in an objective manner who is responsible for the attacks, this is an extreme, extreme violation of international law."
The reason for the UNSC, he explained, is that it has "developed instruments of international law to precisely prevent a situation where the most powerful attack the weakest with impunity and to ensure a balance in the world."
Llorenti further observed that throughout history there were "many episodes in which...various powers...have acted unilaterally and violently. But that it happened once again does not mean that the UN must accept it."
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"On Wednesday, February 5, 2003, the U.S. Secretary of State came to this room and came to present to us, according to his own words, "convincing proof that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq,'" the ambassador said.
Then, holding the image of Powell, Llorenti continued: "I believe that we must absolutely remember these pictures...We were told that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and this was the motivation for the invasion. After the invasion there were 1 million deaths and it launched a series of atrocities in that region. Could we talk about [the Islamic State] if that invasion had not taken place? Could we talk about the serious and horrendous attacks in various parts of the world if that illegal invasion had not taken place? I believe it is vital to remember what history teaches us."
For her part, Nikki Haley, President Donald Trump's ambassador to the UN, called the deployment of 59 Tomahawk missiles a "measured step," and said that the U.S. is "prepared to do more, but we hope it will not be necessary."