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Iraq War Report exposes double standard of US, UK in int’l relations

Author  :  Shen Dingli     Source  :    Chinese Social Sciences Today     2016-07-25

The long-awaited Iraq War Report released by the UK government on July 7, 13 years after the war ended, concluded that the United Kingdom’s participation in the war was a mistake and the blame falls on former Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The report repeatedly used the term “invasion” to characterize the military action against Iraq taken by the United States and the United Kingdom in 2003 and called it the United Kingdom’s most controversial military engagement since the end of the Second World War.

Within the post-World War II framework of international relations, only two types of wars are considered legitimate: defensive wars fought without legal authorization from the United Nations or military actions authorized by the UN Security Council. But Iraq did not attack the United States and the United Kingdom, and there was no evidence indicating Saddam Hussein’s involvement in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. No weapons of mass destruction were found, stripping the main rationale for the invasion of any semblance of legitimacy, and there was no UN authorization for the use of force.

It is no exaggeration to say that it was not a legitimate move and use the term “aggression” to describe this war. At the beginning, the United States made a groundless claim that if it did not attack first, then Iraq would. It was believed that evidence of Saddam Hussein’s intentions would be found after his ouster.

It is absurd to use the assumption of guilt as a pretext to overthrow a foreign government, and more than a decade later, no evidence has been found to support the claims they made.

For the United States and the United Kingdom, the legal basis of international relations is national self-interest, not the international rule of law and facts. A more obvious double standards exist in their policy toward foreign countries. For example, they claim international norms must be obeyed by other countries, while neglecting the principles of international rules of law and human equality.

The invasion of Iraq violated international rule of law, causing the continued turmoil in Iraq and the Middle East. More than a hundred thousand Iraqis lost their lives and the country suffered huge losses of state property while the social structure began to break together with the rise of regional extremists, so its spillover effects has seriously affected West Asia, North Africa and Europe. This is a humanitarian disaster, which has opened a Pandora’s Box of insecurity and instability in the region.

The war launched by the United States and the United Kingdom has brought serious harm to the world, so deep reflection is needed. The world’s great powers must adhere to international rules, facts as well as laws in dealing with international issues, rather than put their own interests above all other countries. Double standards are not acceptable in international law.

British authorities should be applauded for their willingness to face the truth, but what’s more important is the lessons that can be learned from it. Other superpowers should learn from the United Kingdom, face the facts, respect international law and act on it from now on.


Shen Dingli is associate dean of Institute of International Studies at Fudan University.

Editor: Yu Hui

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