Humanitarian Grounds for Iraq War?
Re: Human Rights Watch Executive Director Ken Roth, “War in Iraq: Not a
Humanitarian Intervention“, 26 January 2004, Keynote essay to Human Rights Watch, “World Report 2004.”
My reply, from a discussion list:
I deeply disagree with the way the Bush administration pursued the war
against Iraq. The hyping of unfounded ‘intelligence,’ the backroom deals
with corrupt or authoritarian expatriates, the spying on the UNSC
ambassadors and then the discarding of them, the disregard for the United
Nations Charter, the undermining of international law and the law of
occupation–all of these steps and policies made our world so much more
shoddy and dangerous and mistrustful.
That said, I simply must disagree with HRW and Mr. Roth that there were no
humanitarian grounds for such a war. I believe that what Saddam was doing
to the Marsh Arabs from the mid-1990s could legitimately qualify as a
genocide. Likewise, the Anfal campaign against the Kurds. Although the
latter was carried out some years ago, the former had been recent and
ongoing. Moreover, there is not in most legal systems any statute of
limitations on murder, so I am not sure why there should be one on
genocide or mass murder.
In short, I believe that the United Nations Security Council was obliged
to remove Saddam Hussein from power on the basis of egregious violations
of the UN Convention on Genocide
The proper way for the Bush administration to have proceeded was to apply
to the UNSC under Article 8 of the convention.
Any Contracting Party may call upon the competent organs of the United
Nations to take such action under the Charter of the United Nations as they
consider appropriate for the prevention and suppression of acts of genocide
or any of the other acts enumerated in Article 3.”
In so saying, I do not mean to give the Bush administration a pass on its
behavior, since vigilanteism is not the same as lawful prosecution. Bush
lynched Saddam, when in fact his regime should have been put on trial and
removed by the Security Council.
I do not believe most Iraqis would agree with HRW on this one, and they
are the ones who had to live with that regime.