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The National Security Archive at George Washington University

CONSORTIUM NEWS - Edited by Robert Parry


November 21, 2003

Richard Perle Publicly Admits Iraq Invasion Was Illegal

War critics astonished as US hawk admits invasion was illegal (11/20/03 - The Guardian [UK])

The London Guardian reports that Richard Perle (known to his buddies as "The Prince of Darkness [with a very bad comb-over]") admitted on Wednesday (11/19/03) that the US/UK invasion of Iraq was illegal. He also strongly implied that other senior Administration officials knew full well that the invasion violated international law but that they simply didn't care.

Perle's admission is the first by any Bush Administration figure that the invasion was illegal. Even more astonishing is the fact he made it while President Bush is in London on his high-profile state visit, making speeches defending the invasion and maintaining the official line that it was legal.

Speaking at a London event organized by the Institute of Contemporary Arts, Perle told the audience, "I think in this case international law stood in the way of doing the right thing."

The US/UK failure to win United Nations backing for the invasion -- largely due to French resistance -- meant there had been "no practical mechanism consistent with the rules of the UN for dealing with Saddam Hussein," Perle said.

Perle was categorical, saying "international law...would have required us to leave Saddam Hussein alone", but that this would have been morally unacceptable [sic].

He said the British government (i.e. Parliament, not PM Blair) "has never advanced the suggestion that it is entitled to act, or right to act, contrary to international law in relation to Iraq."

But, Perle explained, this position underscored "a divergence of view between the British government and some senior voices in American public life [who] have expressed the view that, well, if it's the case that international law doesn't permit unilateral pre-emptive action without the authority of the UN, then the defect is in international law".

The hypocrisy is particularly rank since the US public position, which Perle helped craft, has been to insist strenuously that international law supposedly sanctioned the invasion. The claim was that UN Security Council Resolution 1441 (passed Nov. 2, 2002) authorized invasion in language that threatened "serious consequences" if Iraq failed to adequately account for its WMD. However, the very same resolution -- written by the US, Britain, and Northern Ireland -- also "Reaffirm[s] the commitment of all Member States to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq, Kuwait, and the neighbouring States."

When other Security Council members balked, the US then claimed that threat of force had been "implicit" since the end of the first Gulf War due to the terms of the cease fire. Ultimately, President Bush simply invoked America's "sovereign authority" to launch the allegedly pre-emptive invasion. Of course, with zero WMD found to date it looks as though the only thing that got pre-empted was several days' worth of soap operas, thanks to the wall-to-wall news coverage.

[Read the source...]

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