Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Richard Perle says invasion of Iraq was against the law

War critics astonished as US hawk admits invasion was illegal

International lawyers and anti-war campaigners reacted with astonishment yesterday after the influential Pentagon hawk Richard Perle conceded that the invasion of Iraq had been illegal. In a startling break with the official White House and Downing Street lines, Mr Perle told an audience in London: "I think in this case international law stood in the way of doing the right thing."

President George Bush has consistently argued that the war was legal either because of existing UN security council resolutions on Iraq - also the British government's publicly stated view - or as an act of self-defence permitted by international law.

But Mr Perle, a key member of the defence policy board, which advises the US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, said that "international law ... would have required us to leave Saddam Hussein alone", and this would have been morally unacceptable.

Should this really come as any surprise to anyone? The Law to these guys is only a convenient fiction to be discarded the minute it becomes inconvenient. By our actions we have told the world that the United States is not to be trusted.

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