Oh those Brits. This is taken wholly from The Observer since I’m too brain-dead tired to write more than a sentence myself. It’s a hoot + a wonderful complement to LondonBear’s diary with the great Flash movie.

That Iraq legal advice in full (slight return)

By Rafael Behr / Politics 06:11pm


Another public service brought to you by the Observer blog. We read all of the Attorney General’s advice on the legality of the Iraq war so you don’t have to.

Digested, it boils down as follows.

Advice of 7 March 2003

1. You asked me whether or not you can invade Iraq without getting a new resolution from UN Security Council. I’ve asked around a bit. This is what I reckon. … more below

2. It’s ok to have a war with someone if:

(a) they started it

(b) there’s a humanitarian catastrophe, but it has to be a really, really bad one.

(c) the Security Council says you can.

3.The Americans say you should be able to go to war to preempt trouble; that isn’t in the rules yet.

4. that humanitarian catastrophe thing is a bit flaky, don’t use it now.

5. Maybe the Security Council has actually already given you permission.

6. Some people say that the resolution you got last year, 1441, counts as permission because it revives the old Gulf War resolution.

7. There was a ceasefire at the end of the Gulf War, but with conditions.

8. We’ve bombed Iraq since then a couple of times and got away with it.

9. The US says we didn’t even need resolution 1441, but they’re on their own on that one.

10. Resolution 1441 is ambiguous.

11. Ambiguous enough that we might get away with it.

12. But it’ll be tricky.

13. Resolution 1441 might also say that the Security Council has to decide.

14. There are two arguments:

(i) you can do it anyway.

(ii) you can only do it if the Security Council explicitly says you can.

15. The first argument says you would still need to talk to the Security Council, but, as long as Iraq has been misbehaving, you’re ok. You don’t need a new resolution.

16. The second argument says: nice try, but the Security Council will decide who’s been misbehaving thank you very much.

17. So who decides that Iraq is misbehaving?

18. Under 1441 the definition of misbehaviour is pretty broad. Result!

19. It would help if Blix and El-Baradei slammed Saddam.

20. All that wrangling with the French was supposed to deal with this, wasn’t it?

21. Who knows, the Security Council might come round.

22. But don’t count on it. Bloody French!

23. We know that they know that we know that they know we might be able to go to war anyway, but they know that we know that they know that we know that we’re not sure.

24. So a new resolution would be handy.

25. The old ones seem to mean whatever you want them to mean.


26. Resolution 1441 is a fudge.

27. Ideally, we want a new one.

28. But the US may be right in saying that we don’t need one.

29. As long as Blix and El-Baradei deliver the goods.

30. We got away with it in Kosovo.

31. If we try for a second resolution and get vetoed, we’re screwed.

32. We should think about what the International Criminal Court would say.

33. But not too much, as long as our forces don’t do anything stupid.

34. We should think about what British courts would say.

35. And the UN General Assembly.

36. If we do it, we can’t go around saying that regime change is the goal. Disarmament is our story and we should stick to it.

Advice of 17 March 2003

Oh, go on then.

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