But to the disadvantage of the Bush Administration, the unfolding events after the initiation of the war made their original claims more implausible. Much of this initial scepticism and opposition could have been silenced had the war produced the outcome promised by the administration. Unfortunately, that was not the case. First of all, no WMDs were found. On top of that, investigation carried out by neutral agencies found that Saddam Hussein had not pursued any WMD program during the period following the Gulf War of 1991. To add to their declining credibility, the administration kept modifying its rhetoric to suit every new discovery. From a clear and simple claim of “presence of weapons of mass destruction”, the rhetoric evolved to such phrases as “weapons of mass destruction related program activities.” Use of such complex and ambiguous language has weakened what little support the administration had at the beginning of the war operation. George Bush’s recent rhetoric also exposes a lack of requisite urgency that underpinned his decision to invade and his determination that America could not wait for the rest of the world to join it in this endeavour.
The Coalition of the Willing’s failure to properly plan and execute its “liberation” of Iraq has led to a complete breakdown of law and order in the country. The insurgency following this collapse has affected the Iraqi civilian population more than the coalition troops. This outcome is in contradiction with the mission of “liberating the people of Iraq”. The setting of the Iraqi Governing Council to restore the situation has proved to be a failure. The exercise of setting up a democratically elected leadership in Iraq is perceived as a sham by neutral observers. So, in essence, the more recent developments undermine whatever little legitimacy America and its allies might have held.
On a more technical level, the war in Iraq and the one preceding it in Afghanistan have produced raging debates relating to legal terminology as well as moral, ethical and political issues. When government institutions propagate misinformation as against truthful information, the implications for the common public could be profound. Many political analysts and legal scholars have tried to decipher the prevailing issues of the Iraq war from an analysis of words and language used. In their seminal research on the legitimacy of American military intervention in general, Robert Tucker and David Hendrickson alluded to four fundamental criteria for legitimacy. According to them, The United States must
1. Pledge its actions to international law;
2. Commit itself to a consensual mode of decision-making as opposed to an independent one.
3. Upkeep policies of moderation as against extremism.
4. Successfully preserve harmony and prosperity within the union of democratic nations.
The American Society of International Law and the American Branch of the International Law Association performed a case study on the Iraq war. They gave the Bush administration the benefit of doubt wherever possible. Yet, it was concluded that the American invasion of Iraq failed on all four counts mentioned above. This conclusion heavily tilts the debate against America and its allies.