Wars of Aggression: Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran

"Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities."
- Voltaire, Questions sur les miracles (1765)

Senator Lieberman, Secretary of State Clinton, and former UN Ambassador John Bolton have resumed rhetoric of a United States attack upon Iran. This article will define “War of Aggression” and explain when a war is justifiable under US and international law. Laws are meant to be understood and obeyed. Among the most important for governments and citizens to understand is when war is authorized, and when responses other than war are required. If we wish to call ourselves civilized, we MUST understand the rule of law before we threaten a nation for destruction, death, and cruel physical, emotional and mental agony.
It is edited from my brief, “War with Afghanistan and Iraq, rhetoric for war with Iran”; found here: http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/node/41708.

Note: this information is in context of Iraq and Afghanistan. A war against Iran is equally illegal, as they have not attacked the US, there is no imminent threat from their legal action for nuclear energy (full explanation in the brief and my article, “Iran, nuclear weapons, nuclear energy and the law”) and the UN Security Council has not authorized force. For a war to be justified, there are only two acceptable conditions: being under attack (or imminent threat of attack) or UN Security Council authorization. That’s it. Any other war is legally classified as a War of Aggression. For our political “leadership” and mainstream media to NOT MAKE THIS CLEAR, their mutual intent is obfuscation and war without being labeled as criminal mass murderers. On to the section of the brief:

Iraq’s WMD were chemical and biological weapons. Assuming that the US was concerned about these weapons that the US originally supplied Saddam during his invasion of Iran from 1980-1988,[1] the conservative first option should have been the UN Security Council voting for the UN WMD agency, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to directly request Saddam to submit to OPCW’s authority. The Director-general of OPCW, Jose Bustani, was in talks with Saddam to do so. Instead of supporting this reasonable alternative to war, the US promised to withhold its funding of the UN (22% of the UN’s budget) until Bustani was fired. The US called Bustani’s talks with Saddam an “ill-considered initiative.” The US request was honored; the US then paid its 2002 UN dues in April 2002; less than one year before the US invasion of Iraq. This was the first time in UN history where the Director of an international program was fired.[2] By the way, the US does not cooperate with the OPCW to ensure US compliance with International Laws of chemical and biological WMD.

The US Congressional authorization for military force in Iraq relied heavily upon the Bush administration’s claims of Saddam’s WMD. On November 3, 2002, Iraq submitted to the UN an 11,800 page report of its history of WMD. The US requested that over 8,000 pages of the report be removed for US “national security.” The US media complied, but not the international media. What these redacted pages documented was US supplying Iraq with all elements of the WMD program in support of Saddam’s dictatorship and Iraq’s War of Aggression against Iran.[3] The US was one of many countries supplying these materials.

CIA Director George Tenet explicitly stated that the October 2002 CIA National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) reported that Iraq was not an imminent threat to the US because any attack would cause war with the world’s most powerful military.[4] This assessment was subsequently repeated in official reports from several agencies.[5] However, the October NIE remained classified to Congress before their vote to authorize President Bush to use our military against Iraq. Instead, the Bush Administration declassified a “White Paper” that changed language to escalate the appearance of threat from Iraq and removed the language that Iraq was not an imminent threat to US security.[6] The White Paper for Congress was titled, “Iraq’s Continuing Programs for WMD.” Again, because we know that all of the alleged evidence was known to be false at the time it was reported, the title of this “report” is misinformation. Republican chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), understated this conclusion: "[T]oday we know these assessments were wrong. And, as our inquiry will show, they were also unreasonable and largely unsupported by the available evidence."[7]

Congress passed the “Joint Resolution Authorizing Use of Force Against Iraq” in October 2002 (the Iraq Resolution)[8] that authorized President Bush to act pursuant to the War Powers Act of 1973 (WPA) regarding military action in Iraq. This legal authorization, H.J. Resolution 114, states in Section 3 (c) (2): “Nothing in this joint resolution supersedes any requirement of the War Powers Resolution.”

The WPA[9] states in Section 8 (d) (1): “Nothing in this joint resolution-- (1) is intended to alter the constitutional authority of the Congress or of the President, or the provision of existing treaties.” The applicable treaties are the UN Charter[10] and the Nuremburg Charter.[11] As a consequence of humanity’s experience of two global wars, all country-initiated warfare was declared illegal except defensive wars when under direct attack. Iraq did not attack the US. The NIE found no evidence of imminent danger of attack upon the US. To date, President Bush has not presented such evidence. Therefore, the military campaign failed to meet the prima facie legal requirement of defensive war and is illegal under US and international law.[12] Specifically, the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan are Wars of Aggression.[13]

No evidence of WMD was found in Iraq either before the war with UN inspections from November 2002 to March 2003, or after the war.[14] The Bush administration attacked Iraq even though weapons inspections were in full progress.

War Crimes and War of Aggression in Iraq: A War of Aggression is defined as a non-defensive war for territorial gain and unauthorized by the UN Security Council. The US legal argument that the “War on Terror” is not a War of Aggression is that the US actions against Iraq and Afghanistan were defensive. Saddam was in the process of executing an attack against the US, and Osama bin Laden was being protected by the Afghan government, which made them co-terrorists. This legal opinion of “defensive action” supersedes the opinion of the UN Security Council.

Because we now know that the principle claims of Saddam’s threat to the US were known to be false at the time they were told to the American public, as documented in the first part of this paper, there is no legal defense for the war in Iraq that I see except the following: the US attacked Iraq legally because when we’re afraid that somehow, someday, they might decide to commit suicide by attacking the most powerful military country in the world, it is self-defense to lie about reasons they might attack us and then attack them even though we know we fabricated claims of their aggression. Unless you find this argument of defense compelling, the US war in Iraq is a War of Aggression.[15]

An analogy might help: someone shoots and kills a person. The defendant claims self-defense because the victim was about to use a lethal weapon against the defendant. No lethal weapon was found on the victim’s body (you could add that the victim was being searched at the time he was shot). The defendant claims that he had “good intelligence” that the victim was about to attack with deadly force. After these claims are made, investigation shows that the defendant’s information was not credible. The defendant still claims innocence because the world is a better place without the victim.

Sometimes people discuss that the US invasion of Iraq was legal due to UN Security Council Resolution 1441 that demanded Saddam’s full cooperation to account for any WMD or face “serious consequences.”[16] This claim is legal nonsense because the US does not speak and act for the UN Security Council. The US only has authority for military force when they have the votes from the Security Council. In this instance, the US specifically chose not to call for a vote authorizing force because they didn’t have the votes. As a revealing sidelight, US leadership used the NSA (National Security Agency) to spy on Security Council diplomats to gain information that might have been helpful to influence their votes in favor of invading Iraq.[17] The purpose of the NSA is to access secret information.

UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, asserted, “I have indicated it (the invasion of Iraq) was not in conformity with the UN charter. From our point of view and from the charter point of view it was illegal.”[18]

War Crimes and War of Aggression in Afghanistan: Let’s review the history of the US invasion of Afghanistan. After the attacks of 9/11, the US government requested the cooperation of the Afghanistan government for extradition of Osama bid Laden to be charged with the 9/11 attacks. The Afghan government agreed, as per usual cooperative international law, as soon as the US government provided evidence of bin Laden’s involvement.[19] The US government refused to provide any evidence. The Afghan government refused US troops entering their country and extradition until evidence was provided, and made their argument to the world press for the rule of law to apply to the US extradition request. The US invaded Afghanistan without providing evidence and without UN Security Council approval. President Bush stated, “There’s no need to discuss evidence of innocence or guilt. We know he’s guilty.”[20] Seven years later, despite promises to do so, the US has not provided any evidence that bin Laden was involved in the 9/11 attacks. Indeed, the FBI does not seek bin Laden for the 9/11 attacks, stating “there is no hard evidence connecting bin Laden to 9/11.”[21] Some of you might have heard of a bin Laden “confession video.” The Pentagon’s “official translation” seems to indicate foreknowledge of the attacks, but independent translations show that the “official” version is a manipulation and an accurate translation shows no evidence of involvement.[22] Apparently, the FBI is in agreement with the independent translations. Indeed, Princeton professor of International Law Richard Falk articulates doubts concerning many aspects of the government’s explanation of 9/11.[23] This view of a counter-government explanation is now shared by over 1,000 reputable scholars and professionals with academic training and professional experience that qualify them as experts in their testimonies.[24]


[1] US Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs: Second Staff Report on U.S. Chemical and Biological Warfare-Related Dual-Use Exports to Iraq and The Possible Impact on the Health Consequences of the War. May 25, 1994: http://www.gulfwarvets.com/arison/banking.htm , DemocracyRising.US. Arming of Iraq and the Iraq-Iran War: http://democracyrising.us/content/view/30/74/ , National Security Archive. Battle, J. Shaking Hands with Saddam Hussein. Feb. 25, 2003: http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB82/ , and Wikipedia background summary: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._support_for_Iraq_during_the_Iran-Iraq_war .
[2] Wanttoknow.info. Burks, F. Key move made quietly in 2002 set the stage for war with Iraq: http://www.wanttoknow.info/iraqwarsetup .
[3] Project Censored. Lough, T. & Brage, L. #3 in top 25 censored stories for 2004: US illegally removes pages from Iraq UN report: http://www.projectcensored.org/top-stories/articles/3-us-illegally-removes-pages-from-iraq-un-report/ .
[4] Information Clearing House. Bugliosi, V. The prosecution of George W. Bush for murder. May 10, 2008: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article19903.htm and Democracy Now! CIA’s Tenet: Iraq posed no imminent threat: http://www.democracynow.org/2004/2/6/cias_tenet_iraq_posed_no_imminent .
[5] Center for American Progress. Neglecting intelligence, ignoring warnings. Jan. 29, 2004: http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/kfiles/b24889.html .
[6] Information Clearing House. Bugliosi, V. Ibid. FAS.org. Levin, C. Opening statement of Senator Carl Levin at the Senate Armed Services Committee with DCI Tenet and DIA Director Jacoby. March 9, 2004. http://www.fas.org/irp/congress/2004_cr/levin030904.html , and excerpts from Vincent Bugliosi’s book, The prosecution of George W. Bush for murder. Indictment for dummies: http://ralphlopezworld.com/vince.html .
[7] The National Security Archive. CIA whites out controversial estimate on Iraq weapons. July 9, 2008: http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB129/index.htm .
[8] THOMAS (Library of Congress): http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?c107:5:./temp/~c107F27y2K:: .
[9] Avalon Project. The War Powers Act: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/warpower.asp .
[10] United Nations: http://www.un.org/aboutun/charter/ ; Articles 2, 33, 39, and 51.
[11] ICRC. International Humanitarian Law: Principles Nuremburg Tribunal 1950: http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/FULL/390?OpenDocument .
[12] The Modern Tribune. Young, D. L. Accountability for an illegal war. Jan. 14, 2005: http://www.themoderntribune.com/iraq_war_violating_the_war_powers_act.htm .
[13] For commentary, consider Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_of_aggression .
[14] BBC. Report Concludes no WMD in Iraq. Oct. 7, 2004: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3718150.stm , GWU. Iraq and Weapons of Mass Destruction. National Security Archive Briefing Book #80. Updated Feb. 11, 2004: http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB80/ , Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraq_and_weapons_of_mass_destruction .
[15] Peterson, E.A. Sept. 17, 2004. Was The Iraq War Legal, Or Illegal, Under International Law? http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article6917.htm .
[16] One of many: Armscontrol.org. Disarming Saddam – a chronology of Iraq and UN weapons inspections from 2002-2003. July, 2003: http://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/iraqchron .
[17] Huffington Post. Solomon, N. NSA spied on U.N. diplomats in push for invasion of Iraq. Dec. 27, 2005: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/norman-solomon/nsa-spied-on-un-diploma_b_12927.html .
[18] Guardian. MacAskill, E., Borger, J. Iraq war was illegal and breached UN charter, says Annan. Sept. 16, 2004: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2004/sep/16/iraq.iraq .
[19] Global Research. Rudmin, F. Military oaths confront the Constitution: the Omar Khadr case. Nov. 11, 2008: http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=10899 .
[20] The Guardian: Bush Rejects Taliban Offer to Hand bin Laden Over. Oct. 14, 2001: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2001/oct/14/afghanistan.terrorism5 .
[21] Project Censored. Top 25 Censored Stories for 2008. #16: No Hard Evidence Connecting bin Laden to 9/11: http://www.projectcensored.org/top-stories/articles/16-no-hard-evidence-connecting-bin-laden-to-9-11/ .
[22] 911 Review.org. Bin Laden Confession: http://911review.org/Wiki/BinLadenConfession.shtml and Lederman, R. German Media: bin Laden 'Smoking Gun' Tape Translation Inaccurate. Jan. 1, 2002: http://www.rense.com/general18/inac.htm .
[23] The Journal. Falk, R. 9/11: more than meets the eye. Nov. 9, 2008: http://www.journal-online.co.uk/article/5056-911-more-than-meets-the-eye and http://www.911blogger.com/node/18483.
[24] Patriots for 9/11 Truth: http://patriotsquestion911.com/professors.html .