The U.N. Security Council resolutions have relevance to the recent history of Iraq. During 1991 Saddam Hussein initiated aggression against Kuwait. In the years following his defeat Security Council Resolutions condemned his conduct especially his non-compliance with those Resolutions. In addition to this, he was guilty of other breaches and violations. This led to a unanimous adoption among Security Council members of Resolution 1441 on November, 2002. As per this Resolution the Security Council had “repeatedly” warned Iraq “that it will face serious consequences as a result of its continued violations of its obligations” resulting from “material breaches” and “non-compliance” with all “relevant” prior resolutions. Subsequent to the adoption of this Resolution the United States pointed out that there was no comprehensive investigations are needed in the future in order to present additional proof of the military status of Iraq. The rationale for this resolution is understandable – elaborate investigations would delay an offensive by coalition countries, while allowing Iraq more time to organize its military position. While Resolution 1441 would have given coalition partners more time to determine the military posture of Iraq, there was also the doctrine of anticipatory or pre-emptive self-defence proposed by the United States and its allies. Thus, a conclusion that the Iraq war of 2003 was illegitimate is unsupported on grounds of Saddam Hussein’s conduct in the period leading up to the war.
Justification for the use of military force against Iraq has also been proposed by supporters of the concept of “humanitarian intervention.” In recent years this has come to mean that there is a “duty to engage in humanitarian intervention” especially where repeated violations of basic Human Rights have existed. This argument was not directly drawn in prior to the attack on Baghdad but it might have been and it suggests that such an option may be regarded relevant in the future. By its nature it will basically be concerned with the protection against breaches of basic Human Rights and not seek the broader objective of regime change. To be legitimate, it first would have to meet some basic tests. It would also have to be grounded in ethics and utility as reflected in public opinion across the world, so that criteria for both legality and legitimacy are met. It would have to be the product of and supported by a consensus within the major States comprising the United Nations. But documented evidence suggests that the Bush administration failed in both the areas of legality and legitimacy.
It is an open secret that the middle-east region is of strategic importance. Any country with aspirations to dominate the world will have to have “control” over the region’s resources (read oil) and governments. The United States, the only superpower at the time, was not above this ambition. Noted American intellectual Noam Chomsky points to glaring misinformation released by the White House in his recent scholarship. In Chomsky’s own words,
“The US wasn’t upholding any high principle in Iraq, nor was any of its allies. The reason for the unprecedented response to Saddam Hussein wasn’t his brutal aggression — it was because he stepped on the wrong toes. Saddam Hussein is a murderous gangster — exactly as he was before the War. He was even our friend and favoured trading partner at one point in time. His dictatorship of Iraq comprises many atrocious acts, but well within the range of many similar crimes conducted by the US and its allies, and nowhere near as terrible as some.”
Unfortunately, not many people know this reality. The false propaganda from the government quarters was so grand in scale that it appeared genuine and truthful. If maintaining sovereignty of independent countries is the reason for the war, then why didn’t the U.S. Government interfere with the Chinese annexation of Tibet and other such atrocities across the world? Hence, the real motivations for American intervention were buried under a veil of propaganda. In this sense, the Iraq War, as understood by the general public, is illegitimate.