'What is the Iraq war for ?' remains the question -- Akahata editorial, February 23

What was the Iraq war for ? This is the fundamental question U.S. President George W. Bush must answer now.

The past efforts for inspections have not been rewarded, but the Iraqi regime without doubt possesses weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in concealment -- this was what Mr. Bush asserted in March 2003 in his "ultimatum" to Iraq just before the start of the U.S. war. However desperate the United States was in hunting for WMDs in Iraq, no such weapons were found, which has made the Bush statement a lie.

If we regard them as threats

Now, Mr. Bush has found a different way of explaining it. In a U.S. television program, he admitted that no WMDs have been discovered but added: "I believe it is essential that when we see a threat, we deal with those threats before they become imminent."

Since no WMDs that he asserted Iraq possessed have not been found, Mr. Bush should admit his mistake. But his allegation about Iraq's WMDs was revealed to be so groundless that he had to say, "I want the truth to be known." Nevertheless, he is so defiant as to say that it is essential for the United States to launch an attack before a threat become imminent, if the United States sees a threat. This is the logic justifying U.S. wars based on its unilateral assessment of the state of affairs. What an arbitrary and dangerous logic this is!

The United Nations Charter provides that international disputes must be resolved peacefully, and makes it clear that the use of force against another country can only be justified for "self-defense" and with the approval of the U.N. Security Council. The U.S. war on Iraq cannot be justified as action in "self-defense".

UNSC resolution 1441 in November 2002 warned that Iraq may face a grave consequence if it fails to allow WMD inspectors into Iraq. However, the resolution was not one of authorizing the use of force against Iraq, and the United States acknowledged that. In fact, the inspections turned out to be effective.

Notwithstanding this, U.S. President Bush blamed the UNSC for not being responsive and the U.S. unilaterally launched the war on Iraq. Iraq's WMD was the main rationale behind his decision to use force against Iraq. The pretext has collapsed, and it has become all too clear that the U.S. war on Iraq was a lawless war of aggression.

However, the Bush administration has not made any review of its policy and is rushing to carry on with its preemptive strike strategy instead of stopping to rethink.

Some conservative academics and commentators in the United States began to argue that U.N. rules regulating the use of force are no longer realistic and that the "threat of WMD" is spreading to various countries or regions, thus calling for "preventive action" to be treated as internationally legitimate. Such an argument will only help in supporting the U.S. Bush administration's preemptive attack strategy.

UN Charter is all the more important

The importance of the U.N. Charter is increasing because of its role in thwarting the unilateral use of force. The need now is to use the U.N. Charter framework to establish an international order of peace. To curb the dangerous argument in favor of wars of aggression, it is important to continue to ask the question, "What was the Iraq war for?"

Does the Koizumi Cabinet keep on uncritically following Bush's arguments and support the U.S. preemptive attack military strategy? Does it continue dispatching the SDF to Iraq under U.S. occupation? The coalition government of the Liberal Democratic and Komei parties must answer these questions that are arising from the international community. (end)

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