U.S. Bombing of Iraq

STATEMENT BY SENATOR DOUGLAS ROCHE, O.C.Former Canadian Ambassador for Disarmament
December 16, 1998

The U.S. military strike against Iraq is a violation ofInternational Law, undermines the United Nations and ought not to have beensupported by Canada.

The Clinton Administration will never be able to escape theaccusation in the eyes of the world that it struck with undue speed to deterthe impeachment vote tomorrow in the House of Representatives. For theAdministration suddenly to wage war in the face of a domestic politicalcrisis is a shocking abrogation of the responsibility the United States hasassumed in world affairs. If the Clinton Presidency is saved, even for awhile, by the killing of innocent people in Iraq, history will hold thePresident accountable for gross misconduct.

Saddam Hussein has indeed provoked the international community withhis refusal to comply with the United Nations inspectors' requests foraccess to relevant sites. But the U.S. had no justification ininternational law for a military strike. The personality of key players andthe national composition of inspection teams were factors in the impasse.Those problems could have been solved through the mediation of U.N.Secretary-General Kofi Annan, duly empowered, and a clear statement by theU.N. Security Council that sanctions against Iraq would be lifted on a datecertain upon the completion of inspection. The permanent members of theSecurity Council, in disagreement, have lost their chance to build theconditions for a peaceful resolution of this matter.

Canada takes its place on the Security Council in a few days. It isan inauspicious start to enter backing war waged by the decisions only ofthe U.S. and U.K. It can only be hoped that Canada will use its newposition of influence to argue that the principles of international law, notof expedient militarism must be used in all disputes and that Canada willnever again give automatic backing to military action without the completeconcurrence of the U.N. Security Council.