Statement on Iraq War

Statement to Edmonton Canadian Action Party Meeting March 3, 2003, 7:00 p.m., South East Edmonton Seniors’ Association, 9350 – 82 Street and to University of Alberta Teach-in on Iraq, March 5, 12 p.m.
By Senator Douglas Roche, O.C.

A U.S.-led war against Iraq would be an illegal act and Canada should stay out of it.

Chief U.N. Weapons Inspector Hans Blix has reported that Iraq's destruction of a number of its Al Samoud 2 missiles is "a very significant piece of real disarmament."

Despite the disarmament actually occurring in Iraq, the Bush Administration dismissed these actions and says "regime change" must also occur to prevent an attack.

Prime Minister Jean Chretien is correct that there is no U.N. resolution calling for the removal of Saddam Hussein. There is no basis in law to make removal a condition for avoiding war.

It is not a defence of Saddam Hussein to make this statement. His is an odious regime. But there are several other odious regimes around the world that the U.S. is not threatening to attack. U.S. policy on Iraq has now become irresponsible.

The current "Canadian compromise" at the U.N. is a masterful diplomatic initiative to avoid war. The Canadian plan sets a deadline of March 28, 2003 for the U.N. inspectors to report that Iraq is in "substantial compliance" with the U.N. resolutions, or face "all necessary means" to force Iraq to disarm.

If Iraq is in substantial compliance by that date, more inspectors and monitors would be sent in, and war would be averted. If Iraq is not in compliance, war could be authorized.

In his February 28th report to the U.N., Mr. Blix says that Iraq has been "helpful" in getting the inspection process established, and 84 inspectors have conducted more than 500 inspections of 350 sites. The entire country is under aerial surveillance.

While saying that "Iraq could have made greater efforts" in showing disarmament, it has nonetheless "taken a number of steps which have the potential of ... solving longstanding unresolved disarmament issues."

Since the February 28th report, the destruction of the Al Samoud missiles has commenced and as of today 28 have been destroyed.

France, Germany and Russia are right in saying: "Inspections have just revealed their full pace; they are functioning without hindrance; they have already produced results."

It is doubtless this progress that has kept the Turkish parliament from giving its approval to the stationing of U.S. troops in Turkey to fight Iraq on a northern front.

With the strong stand taken by France, Russia and Germany, it is now unlikely that the U.S.-U.K.-Spain resolution to authorize war on Iraq will pass in the U.N. Security Council, despite U.S. efforts to buy the votes of small nations.

People around the world have spoken in their marches on February 15th. Important countries of Europe have spoken. The Non-Aligned movement has spoken. They all want Iraq disarmed by the peaceful means of U.N. inspections.

The inspections are working.

The U.S. and U.K. are now virtually alone in their reckless fixation on war. Their war, fought by a "coalition of the willing," will be illegal as well as immoral. It will be a violation of what international law stands for.

Canada must continue to oppose an illegal war and work to strengthen the U.N.'s capacity for weapons inspection and verification of disarmament steps.