Iraq War Botched and Illegal
Apart from a few enthusiasts of the "surge," most commentators now regard the
Can the war then be chalked up to a painful lesson learned?
On the contrary, after five years of war, it seems that no real lesson has been learned. Indeed, there's a refusal to even acknowledge why it was wrong to invade
Sure, there's lots of criticism of the Bush administration for poor war planning, and for squandering
All this is true, but it skirts a more fundamental problem – one that was barely mentioned in all the fifth-year anniversary commentaries last week – that the invasion was a war of aggression carried out in defiance of international law.
This is not a mere technicality. According to the Nuremberg Tribunal, set up by the Allies after World War II: "War is essentially an evil thing ... To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime."
The whole international legal system established after 1945 was dedicated to outlawing aggression, with the United Nations Security Council created to act as arbiter.
The Bush administration's decision to invade
None of this seems to concern Senator Hillary Clinton, who stands a good chance of being the "anti-war" candidate in the
This is a stunning line of reasoning. Leaving aside the absurdity of suggesting that what Iraqis are experiencing is "freedom," there is the troubling fact that she doesn't seem to be aware – or care – that invading
This indifference to the war's illegality is typical of mainstream political and academic commentators.
Michael Ignatieff, who was prominent among intellectuals supporting the war, failed to even mention the war's illegality in his widely noted mea culpa in the New York Times Magazine last summer. Ignatieff, now deputy leader of
A more basic "hard" question didn't seem to occur to Ignatieff: What right does the
It seems the lesson learned is to plan better before invading.
As long as commentators confine themselves to this sort of war critique, the imperial assumption behind the war – that the
Indeed, some of the war's key enablers – like Clinton and Ignatieff – may soon hold power.
We in the West are vigilant about aggression in our enemies. Yet, after five years of horror in
Linda McQuaig is a journalist and author. Her most recent book is Holding the Bully's Coat: