The timing of the war is based on a number of factors. Military action was not taken sooner because of a genuine desire by the British in particular to get UN Security Council endorsement, and by the Americans not to be seen going it alone. A summer 2003 campaign was impossible because the conditions would have made it impossible for allied troops to operate in nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) protective clothing. September 2003 was considered, but rejected due to destabilizing effect the uncertainty was having upon the global economy and friendly Muslim states.
The intervention currently taking place is illegal. Article 2(4) of the UN Charter requires states to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of a state. States may only legally resort to force in the interest of individual or collective self-defense (Article 51) in anticipation of action sanctioned by the UN Security Council, or in the face of a threat to international peace and security.
America has not proved that Iraq was behind the September 11 atrocities, thus self-defense is ruled out. American spokespersons have therefore sought to justify action by identifying Iraq as a threat to international peace and security. However, under Chapter VII Article 39, the UN Security Council is responsible for determining threats to international peace, and under Article 42 the Security Council, not individual Member States, is empowered to authorize a response.
Some diplomats have argued that in fact the Security Council has already given notice of the Iraqi threat, in Resolution 678, which gave the go-ahead for the 1991 Gulf War, and Resolution 687, which set out the ceasefire terms. Yet the passage of time is sufficient to disqualify this legal reasoning, and they need to be renewed in order to retain validity. Furthermore, Resolution 687 kept economic sanctions in place and demanded disarmament of Iraq? dangerous weapons, but said further action had to be considered by the Security Council.
The Allies will defeat Saddam Hussein. This will mean a reduction in the price of oil, and, at least initially, a reversal of the prolonged slide on global stock-markets. On the other hand, the defeat of a major state-centric opponent of the United States may lead to an increase in support for non-state-centric avenues of resistance to hegemony. Ironically therefore, inspired in part by the rise of international terrorism, the Second Gulf War could lead to a substantial increase in terrorist acts.
By acting in defiance of international public opinion, George W. Bush is undermining the ?ew World Order to achieve the universal aspirations of mankindpeace and security, freedom and the rule of law, proclaimed by his father in his Jan. 1991 State of the Union Address in the aftermath of the Cold War and at the time of the First Gulf War. By contrast, the earlier campaign was marked by a high degree of international consensus, and was pursued in close accordance with international law.
The essentially unilateral action by the United States will lead to increased anti-Americanism, and international resistance to further attempts at leadership and coalition building. Therefore, it may mean that action by the United States against North Korea has actually become more unlikely as a result of the war in the Gulf rather than, as feared by many on the Peninsula, the next logical step.
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