When does the State of Law gain the right to break the law?
International terrorism breaks every law in the code, every commandment in every religion and every degree of decency or civility. Human life, the most precious commodity, is treated with a chilling disrespect, callous and cruel acts of murder sow panic and destroy life and lives alike.
Such was the case with the September 11th attacks which galvanised the Bush administration into a rabid quest for revenge. In the rush to mobilise military forces and public opinion, many ugly, crass and outright falsities were paraded as fact, Bin laden and Saddam Hussein were mentioned in one and the same breath and in an example of how the mass media can be manipulated and manipulative, US Marines in Iraq were even asked by Sky News reporter
Jeremy Thompson if they were looking for revenge for the Twin Towers attack.
However appalling the journalism, it was the symptom and not the cause of the illness because the propaganda machine in Washington and London had already got the message across: Saddam Hussein was as much an imminent threat to the USA and Britain as Osama Bin Laden.
Imagining this were the case and imagining that the documents which pointed towards Iraq having WMD which could be deployed in 45 minutes were true, imagining Iraq really did have plans to attack Washington and its allies and that Baghdad really did import yellowcake uranium from Niger to activate its nuclear weapons programme, there would have been a credible causus belli under the label "legitimate self defence" which anyway should have been taken to the UN Security Council, where certainly 9 out of 15 votes would have been secured.
Under this pretext, the State of Law has every right to defend its citizens, always within the proper forum of international law, which is the UNSC, all of whose documents regarding Iraq mention the need for a further resolution to justify an attack.
However, the fact of the matter is that the decision to invade Iraq had been taken at the highest level when George Bush came to power. The clutch of companies which gravitate around the men who in turn gravitate around the President of the USA had their sights set on Iraq's oil and the unseen political barons behind the scenes had theirs set on Iraq's enviable geo-strategic position, while the pro-Israeli Jewish lobby understood that with Saddam in power, there was no Middle East peace deal.
The reason why the USA and UK decided to attack Iraq without going through the proper channel of law (the UNSC) was because they knew they would not get the 9 out of 15 votes just as they knew that Iraq did not have WMD, otherwise they would never have attacked.
Technically, the USA and UK broke the terms of the UN Charter to which they were signatories. Therefore, the war against Iraq was illegal, as was that against Afghanistan because revenge is not a legitimate causus belli, however understandable that attack was. Nevertheless, the number of Afghani civilians murdered during the US/UK led attack was higher than the number of victims on September 11th, whereas in Iraq, the number of dead is estimated at 10,000 with a further 15,000 wounded, many maimed for life.
The decision to attack Iraq outside the auspices of the UNSC and the failure to prove beyond reasonable doubt by legitimate means and not by forged documents and lies, that Iraq had plans to deploy WMD outside its borders and/or had concrete liaisons with Al-Qaeda or any other international terrorist organization which was planning to use Iraqi facilities as a basis for such an attack, invalidates any legal basis for the action.
The fact that documents were forged and lies were told is proof that Washington and London knew from the beginning that they were in the wrong. The politicians had gone too far, too fast, they had sent the troops to the Gulf expecting the security services to come up with a justification. It did not exist.
The decision to push ahead and act as outlaws, deriding the international community and disrespecting world opinion was a monumental political mistake caused by arrogance on one hand and eagerness for protagonism on the other. Like the Prima Donna who gives that one performance too many, Bush and Blair stepped outside the area of play hoping the referee would not notice.
History will tell if they are forgiven for not using the rule of law to manage the Iraqi crisis and as such, they acted more like international terrorists than states of law.