Tuesday, June 14, 2005

You make the call

Regarding The Times story I wrote about the other day, The Times has posted a partial transcript of the Cabinet office paper – partial because apparently the final page was missing. Judge for yourself whether or not The Times did it justice.

The Times characterization:
The briefing paper, for participants at a meeting of Blair’s inner circle on July 23, 2002, said that since regime change was illegal it was “necessary to create the conditions” which would make it legal.
The actual text of the paper:
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. Otherwise we face the real danger that the US will commit themselves to a course of action which we would find very difficult to support.
In regards to the simply put “regime change was illegal”, this is what the Cabinet paper actually says:

11. 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. A detailed consideration of the legal issues, prepared earlier this year, is at Annex A. The legal position would depend on the precise circumstances at the time. Legal bases for an invasion of Iraq are in principle conceivable in both the first two instances but would be difficult to establish because of, for example, the tests of immediacy and proportionality. Further legal advice would be needed on this point.

12. 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. It would be preferable to obtain backing of a UNSCR for any ultimatum and early work would be necessary to explore with Kofi Annan and the Russians, in particular, the scope for achieving this.


Anonymous Mark said...

While it reflects the complexity of the situation, it doesn't sound to me like they're contriving a reason for war. I can see where an anti-war-biased reader could read part of it and come to the conclusion some came to in the UK. They're saying that they need to communicate to the U.S. government that there are certain circumstances that they can participate in regime change, and there are circumstances where they cannot.

5:27 AM  

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