Sunday, June 12, 2005

Highlights of the DSM#2

Here are some particularly important parts of the second DSM (I'm sure it will get a sexier name in a few hours).
The US Government's military planning for action against Iraq is proceeding apace. But, as yet, it lacks a political framework. In particular, little thought has been given to creating the political conditions for military action, or the aftermath and how to shape it.
20/20 wonksight- We now know that the "political" reasons were haphazardly thrown together with single source information (some of which was already determined to be false of fraudulent).
We need now to reinforce this message and to encourage the US Government to place its military planning within a political framework, partly to forestall the risk that military action is precipitated in an unplanned way by, for example, an incident in the No Fly Zones. This is particularly important for the UK because it is necessary to create the conditions in which we could legally support military action.
Was the US already on the path to war, with no change possible? The UK at least was knew that it needed to meet certain conditions before it went to war. It is rather disconcerting to read that it was "
necessary to create the conditions." Creating conditions to go to war shows the old attitude of a former empire, and no compassion for those who would actually fight the war of these politicians.
Aside from the existence of a viable military plan we consider the following conditions necessary for military action and UK participation: justification/legal base; an international coalition; a quiescent Israel/Palestine; a positive risk/benefit assessment; and the preparation of domestic opinion.
Do you remember how the US administration discussed the flavor of the week reason for war? What about Coalition of the Willing, with the member nations that refused to be named, the ones that joined to get on the good graces of the US, or the ones that were tiny nations (often islands) with no army, which sent their moral support? How about how Bush finally paid attention to the Israel/Palestine situation, claiming that Palestine would be calmer without Saddam? Do you remember the claims that our soldiers would be met with flowers and candies? I'm sure you don't need to be reminded about the propoganda put out by the White House and never questioned by the cowed press.
US views of international law vary from that of the UK and the international community. Regime change per se is not a proper basis for military action under international law. But regime change could result from action that is otherwise lawful. We would regard the use of force against Iraq, or any other state, as lawful if exercised in the right of individual or collective self-defence, if carried out to avert an overwhelming humanitarian catastrophe, or authorised by the UN Security Council.
US views of international law differ from the international community? Really? Like we are above the law? But that the UK considerred it OK to set up a situation that would lead to war is also disturbing.
This leaves the route under the UNSC resolutions on weapons inspectors. Kofi Annan has held three rounds of meetings with Iraq in an attempt to persuade them to admit the UN weapons inspectors. These have made no substantive progress; the Iraqis are deliberately obfuscating. Annan has downgraded the dialogue but more pointless talks are possible. We need to persuade the UN and the international community that this situation cannot be allowed to continue ad infinitum. We need to set a deadline, leading to an ultimatum.
We got our ultimatum. We got a resolution that let the inspectors in. Bush then claimed that the inspectors were being kept out of Iraq, while inspectors were destroying missiles and rockets that might have had an illegal range. Then, when it became increasingly obvious that there were no WMD, Bush told the inspectors to leave so that we could attack. We constantly claimed clear breaches of the resolution for the slightest infraction or disagreement.
It is just possible that an ultimatum could be cast in terms which Saddam would reject (because he is unwilling to accept unfettered access) and which would not be regarded as unreasonable by the international community. However, failing that (or an Iraqi attack) we would be most unlikely to achieve a legal base for military action by January 2003.
While the inspectors were on the ground, the Bush administration was attempting to direct them into investigating certain computer networks in order to get Saddam to say no. This would have been a breach of the resolution. The UN inspectors chose to follow their own plan in order to find out if Iraq had WMD. When single parts of WMD related equipment were found, whether they be an old empty artillery shell or a centifuge part buried under a rosebush, the finding was trumped by the adminsitration as a cause for war.
A post-war occupation of Iraq could lead to a protracted and costly nation-building exercise. As already made clear, the US military plans are virtually silent on this point.
And little US preparation would be performed after this memo was written.
Time will be required to prepare public opinion in the UK that it is necessary to take military action against Saddam Hussein.
Really? Maybe they needed more time, or a more agreeable press.
There would also need to be a substantial effort to secure the support of Parliament. An information campaign will be needed which has to be closely related to an overseas information campaign designed to influence Saddam Hussein, the Islamic World and the wider international community.
They didn't do a very good job here either.
This will need to give full coverage to the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, including his WMD, and the legal justification for action.
If only they had spent more time searching for WMDs instead of attempting to justify their invasion.

by Robster @ 6/12/2005 11:05:00 AM PERMALink