Kofi Annan’s “Illegal” War on Democratic Iraq

With the credibility of the United Nations at an all time low, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan moved last week to further discredit the 21st century’s League of Nations. On Thursday, Annan told the BBC that the Coalition’s war in Iraq “was not in conformity with the UN charter from our point of view, [so] from the charter point of view, it was illegal.” Perhaps Annan hoped his overheated plea could illegitimize the world body’s 2002 war endorsement ex post facto. The fact remains the United Nations Security Council authorized “serious consequences” for Saddam Hussein’s Ba’athist regime, and, in accordance, international Coalition forces brought the tyrant’s “Decade of Defiance” to a cataclysmic halt.

UN Security Council Resolution 1441, adopted in November of 2002, gave Hussein “a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations,” which included its production of a “currently accurate, full and complete declaration” of all chemical, biological and nuclear weapons and weapons programs within 30 days. Furthermore, the resolution – adopted unanimously – “Recalls…that the Council has repeatedly warned Iraq that it will face serious consequences as a result of its continued violations of its obligations.”

Discussing this measure on February 8, 2003, Annan claimed, “In Resolution 1441, the Council decided to convene immediately if any further material breach of Iraq’s obligations, or any interference by Iraq with inspection activities, is reported to it.”

However, the edict required no further UN authorization to unleash deadly force.

The text of Resolution 1441 builds a case for military retribution based on Saddam’s long history of ignoring UN decrees. Resolution 678, passed months before Operation Desert Storm, allows UN member nations “to use all necessary means to uphold and implement resolution 660 and all subsequent relevant resolutions and to restore international peace and security in the area.” (Emphasis added.) One subsequent resolution is UNSR 687, which required Iraq to embark on a full weapons inspections regime as a condition of the ceasefire agreement. Resolution 1441 specifically stated that any failure to fully disclose all WMD weapons or programs within 30 days constituted a violation of Resolution 678, automatically triggering the potential military retribution it promises.

All parties agree Iraq’s fraudulent 12,000 page report did not satisfy this condition. That is, Saddam Hussein chose war over peace.

Until the Security Council adopted Resolution 1441, one could argue Resolution 678 did not authorize force under those conditions; 1441 legislated the “serious consequences” that would follow stemmed from an authorization to rain shrapnel on Baghdad. The time for Saddam to elude UN weapons inspectors had come to an end.

Today, Kofi Annan is berating the United States – the author of Resolution 1441 – for enforcing its provisions with “original intent.”

For George W. Bush, “serious consequences” meant Saddam’s being driven from power, incarcerated and remanded to the custody of his former subjects pending swift and certain justice; for Annan, “serious consequences” meant the sadistic ruler’s continued reign of terror without so much as a diminution in his Oil-for-Food bribery check.

Annan has defined “illegal war” the way feminists used to cry “rape”: any consensual action one of the parties later regrets.

The irony of the war is that the United States defied the will of UN leaders in order to consolidate the power of the UN. By defying Kofi Annan, George W. Bush rescued the organization’s discredited threats from the quicksand of its own reticence. A dozen years of idle requests and toothless entreaties brought the Security Council well-earned disregard. Only when Coalition forces “unilaterally” enforced the UN’s resolutions did the world come to see the Hudson’s most prestigious debate society occasionally means action.

Naturally, one should dismiss out of hand Annan’s claim the war is “illegal.” Had George W. Bush actually violated any UN resolution in any way, he would have soared to the top of The Hague’s war crimes trial docket, ahead of even Augusto Pinochet and Henry Kissinger.

Annan’s classification of this “illegal” war does not merely glance President Bush 51 days before the presidential election; it also portrays the fledgling provisional government of Iraq as an interloper. In Annan’s formulation, President Bush’s illicit union with imperial warfare produced this beleaguered governing council – desperately trying to contain daily terrorist attacks in order to hold democratic elections next January – as its bastard offspring. This can only invigorate those elements of society, including holdovers from the previous “legitimate” government, seeking to terrorize their way back into power.

Kofi Annan is playing politics with the lives of the men and women working against the forces of darkness to establish a peaceful and democratic Iraq. In the process, he has inverted reality and become the chief petitioner for his own irrelevance.

This story originally appeared on Monday, September 20, 2004, on FrontPage Magazine.