There could be four good reasons for going to war with Iraq. The first would be if she waged aggressive war against another country, as against Iran in 1980-88, and against Kuwait in 1990-91. She poses no such threat at present. The second would be gross, flagrant and continuing abuse of human rights. Iraq suppressed a Kurdish revolt during the 1980s, using chemical weapons and systematically killing an estimated 100,000 men women and children. Though the regime remains abusive and tyrannical it is doing nothing like this. The third would be a direct and provable link with the attacks of 11 September 2001, such as led to the forcible ejection of the Taliban regime from Afghanistan by a US-led coalition, with UN endorsement, in 2001. Despite its best efforts the US has established no such connection. The fourth reason would be blatant refusal to comply with United Nations Security Council Resolutions, over a dozen years, in maintaining a covert stock of biological and chemical weapons. Western intelligence sources are sure that these exist and they are probably right. But action lies squarely in the hands of the UN Security Council and its investigators – UNMOVIC and the IAEA. Military deployments by the US and Britain have greatly strengthened their hand. But they must be given the time and intelligence assistance to find and, if necessary, to destroy these things. Unless and until the Security Council expressly so determines there can be no justification for bombing or invasion.
Originally published as part of a debate on 12 January 2003 Writers, artists and civic leaders on the War: Pt. 1.