Nicolas J S Davies

A collection of published articles and letters to policymakers regarding the crisis in United States foreign policy by Nicolas J S Davies.

Location: North Miami, Florida, United States

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Letter to Kerry on Illegitimacy of Iraq Policy

Senator John Kerry
304 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Dear Senator Kerry,

Thanks to you and your campaign staff for replying to the last item I sent you, a copy of my letter to Kofi Annan of September 12th. I am writing today to address the question of legality and legitimacy with regard to your own policy statements on Iraq.

First of all, since my letter to Kofi Annan, he has spoken out as I asked him to do to publicly make it clear that the U.S. and British governments did indeed violate international law when we invaded Iraq. Since he made those statements, the Duelfer report has confirmed that Iraq had in fact complied with its obligations to disarm as required by SC Resolution 687 and subsequent resolutions, voiding the administration’s only claim for the legitimacy of the war. They could still argue that Iraq’s sloppy paperwork justified a war that has killed at least 30,000 people, but, as former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook put it in last Friday’s Guardian, “any international court would be certain to rule by its first coffee break that such a response was not legitimate when weighed against the twin tests of proportionality and necessity”.

Secondly, you quoted Colin Powell’s “Pottery Barn rule” – “You break it; you own it”. You must realize that, while that may have been the unwritten rule a hundred years ago, the current international law, under the Kellogg Briand Pact, the United Nations Charter, and the Geneva Conventions is actually “You break it; you give it back; and you pay for it”, as Iraq itself had to in the case of Kuwait in 1991. Current international law does not grant invaders and violators any role in the political future of their victims besides the payment of reparations or any assistance the victims themselves may request.

Thirdly, the Fourth Geneva Convention assigns a heavy burden on any military occupier regarding the protection and rights of civilians in occupied territory, and specifies that they cannot be deprived of these protections by “any change introduced into the institutions or government of the said territory” (Article 47). The Convention quite deliberately outlaws most of the tactics by which the subjugation of a people can be accomplished, from creating unemployment (Article 52) to recruiting local armed forces (Article 51) to destroying property (Article 53), all of which have nevertheless been illegally employed by our government in Iraq.

I realize that these facts are politically unpalatable to the American public, which has been so misled regarding our obligations under international law and regarding the nature of this conflict. However, international law does not really present us with a choice as to how we must proceed from this point. It requires that we “lose”, not that we “win”. When we are ready to end this spiral of violence, we must declare a ceasefire, and file an urgent request for the United Nations to intercede with representatives of the Iraqi people, religious, tribal and others, so as to permit the withdrawal of our occupation forces and the implementation of a legitimate political transition in Iraq, along with whatever international assistance the Iraqis request and the international community can supply. We must be prepared to support such a process, but we cannot control it or demand that it be undertaken on our terms without undermining its legitimacy.

The most well intentioned, sincere efforts by U.S. officials and U.S. forces cannot change the basic fact that these forces are in Iraq illegally and must be withdrawn. A restoration of legitimacy is the essential first step to set Iraq on a path to stability, not something that can be conjured out of illegitimacy by the right combination of guile and deadly force.

I hope, despite your campaign rhetoric, that you do in fact understand the illegitimacy of our country’s position in Iraq and that you will take the necessary steps to restore legitimacy and end this brutal and illegal war.

Yours sincerely