the undersigned, are citizens of Singapore. We have been
disturbed by the events that have unfolded since 20 March
2003. On that date, the United States of America launched
a unilateral and aggressive military invasion of Iraq, a
sovereign nation. This action violates international law
and runs against the collective will of the nations and
peoples of the world. We strongly oppose the war because
it is illegal, immoral and internationally destabilising.
believe there are compelling reasons to oppose the war.
We further contend that Singapore should oppose the war
not just to protect the long-term interests of Singapore
but also because it is wrong.
Illegality of the war on Iraq
find that the invasion of Iraq violates three applicable
bodies of law: the United States Constitution, the United
Nations Charter, and the international laws of war:
The Charter of the United Nations states
that the primary purpose of the UN is to “save succeeding
generations from the scourge of war”. The highest
urgency is given to the peaceful settlement of disputes.
Only under two circumstances is the use of force permissible,
namely in self-defence against an actual or imminent armed
attack (Article 51) and when the UN Security Council authorises
the use of force “in the common interest”,
to maintain or restore international peace and security
(Chapter VII). In the latter case, a new resolution authorising
“all necessary means” to enforce the previous
resolution is required for military action.
The “serious consequences” called for in Resolution
1441 do NOT constitute a mandate for military action.
The careful negotiations during the drafting of 1441 last
year clearly indicate the international community’s
expressed desire to prevent an automatic resort to the
use of force should Iraq be found to be in immaterial
breach of the resolution. US arguments to the contrary
are in bad faith – and in violation of the Vienna
Convention on the Law of Treaties.
if Iraq were to be found to be in breach of the UN weapons
inspection regime, current resolutions do not prescribe
military action as the first resort. There was no opportunity
for the Security Council to duly explore all possible “serious consequences” to ensure or verify
Iraqi compliance before this invasion was summarily declared
by the US.
is there evidence of any clear and present threat posed
to the US or to the international community by Iraq –
in stark contrast Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1991.
The pre-emptive use of force cannot therefore be qualified
under self-defence. Without a second resolution mandating
war, the present invasion is a clear violation of the
UN Charter, a position confirmed by the UN Secretary-General
Kofi Annan on 10 March 2003.
Additionally, the war is illegal even within the United
States. Article VI, Section 2 of the US Constitution states that any treaties the US enters into become “the
supreme law of the land.” Thus, the UN Charter,
ratified by the US, is of the highest order in American
law. Although American law states that Congress may override
a pre-existing treaty or Congressional-Executive agreement
of the US, doing so would place the US in breach of the
obligation owed under international law to its treaty
partner(s) to honour the treaty or agreement in good faith,
and is against the central tenet of international law
that it cannot be overridden by domestic law.
The war of aggression in Iraq also violates the rules
and principles of international law (as enshrined
in the "Principles of International Law Recognized
in the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal and in the Judgment
of the Tribunal", adopted by the International Law
Commission of the United Nations in 1950), which together
set limits on the means of war. The Nuremberg Charter
prohibits “Crimes against Peace” which are
described as “planning, preparation, initiation
or waging of wars of aggression”, such as the present
invasion of Iraq. The International Military Tribunal
at Nuremberg has also stated that “to initiate a
war of aggression...is not only an international crime,
it is the supreme international crime.”
Immorality of the war on Iraq
war is not, as some have argued, a case of international
and domestic law getting in the way of a moral case for
war. The reasons stated by the US for taking military action
have been opportunistic, inconsistent, and one by one have
been shown to be unsupportable. Justifications put forward
in support for war include claims that:
Iraq has weapons of mass destruction
(WMDs) in violation of previous UN resolutions and must
be rid of them by force. At the time of this
invasion, there had been no concrete evidence from any
source that Iraqi possesses such weapons. UN-authorised
weapons inspectors, who have supervised the destruction
of Iraqi weapons in the past, have not only not found
any evidence of WMDs in the build-up to this war, but
have not been allowed by the US to continue their work.
Evidence presented by Colin Powell to the UN on 5th February
2003 has been revealed to be falsified. To date, searches
of suspected WMD sites by allied troops in Iraq have failed
to unearth any credible evidence of current Iraqi WMDs.
Nor have WMDs been deployed in battle to date – given the overwhelming military pressure at present, the
Iraqi regime is either extraordinarily restrained, or
it does not in fact have WMDs to use.
we find it hypocritical for the US – a key supplier
of materials to Iraq’s weapons development programmes
in the past, the nation with the world’s largest
stockpile of nuclear and other WMDs, and the only country
to have used nuclear weapons in war – to preach
about the need to remove such weapons from Iraq.
if Iraq were to be found to be in breach of the UN weapons
inspection regime, current resolutions do not prescribe
military action as the first resort. There was no attempt
to explore non-military “serious consequences” to ensure or verify Iraqi compliance before this invasion
was summarily declared by the US.
Iraq has active links with
al-Qaeda. No evidence to date supports claims
that such a link exists. Al-Qaeda, as an organisation
of religious fundamentalism, expressedly opposes to a
Saddam Hussein’s secular dictatorship. Similarly,
Saddam’s regime views organisations such as al-Qaeda
as active threats to its own power and does not support
its cause. Yet the propaganda machine has managed to convince
up to 55 per cent of Americans that Iraq and Saddam were
directly responsible for September 11 – a patent
fallacy that has been used to justify this invasion.
The people of Iraq have suffered
under the cruel dictatorship of Saddam Hussein and that
the US is morally bound to alleviate their plight. This humanitarian argument for war is insidious: it ignores
the grievous injury inflicted on the civilian population – first, by years of US-led sanctions against Iraq
and second, by current US military activities. Estimates
suggest that the civilian death toll in this conflict
may be higher than that of combatants from both sides
impact of this war includes and extends beyond dead civilians
killed outright by bullets and bombs. It threatens a full-scale
humanitarian disaster that will last for generations to
come, not only for the Iraqis, but also its neighbours
and the troops on the ground:
A missile that wiped out 62 Iraqi civilians in a crowded
marketplace has been identified as an American “precision” munition by its serial numbers, despite attempts by
the US-UK coalition to blame it on the Iraqis.
• In clear violation of the Geneva conventions and other
international laws protecting civilians in wartime,
US troops have knowingly fired upon -- and inflicted
casulties -- on international journalists and an ambulance.
The US has openly deployed cluster bombs in this war
– a weapon condemned widely as posing the same
grave threat as landmines. These indiscriminate munitions
cause immediate and long-term injury to civilian populations,
reduce the productive use of land where they have been
used, and are notoriously difficult to dispose of after
Controversy surrounds the US military’s use of
highly-toxic depleted uranium ammunition, which has
been linked since 1991 to cancer, birth defects and
the notorious Gulf-War Syndrome.
The Iraqi people need to be “liberated” into democracy. Even
if the world agrees that the Iraqis would be better off
without Saddam, the decision to install a new government
is not for a foreign military power to take. Self-determination
is the very foundation of the democracy that the US purports
to bring to Iraq by violating its fundamental sovereignty.
is absurd that the US claims to be exporting democracy
when its own administration chastises nations such as
France and Turkey for heeding the will of their people
in denying support for this war.
motives for war
motivations in this war have not been sufficiently scrutinised.
The intent to invade and occupy Iraq falls within a broad
agenda of American policy set out in the “Project
for the New American Century” – which predates
security concerns raised by Sep 11. This initiative, undersigned
by some of the chief architects of this invasion, including
Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and Dick Cheney, calls for
the US to project its power and advance American interests
throughout the world through initiatives based on unilateralism
and military strength rather than multilateralism and consensus-building.
There are clear vested interests in the invasion of Iraq.
On the national level, The US stands to gain control of
Iraqi oil in post-war Iraq, consolidate its dominance of
the Gulf region, and obstruct the emergence of the Euro
as an alternative international currency to the USD.
US plans for post-war Iraq involve the installation of a “transition” government comprising US officials.
Infrastructure projects for the reconstruction of Iraq –
to paid for by Iraqi oil – have been earmarked exclusively
for American companies, thereby sidelining international
and aid agencies that are specifically tasked to do the
job. Many of these companies, such as Bechtel, Halliburton
and its subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root, have direct links
with the White House, the Pentagon and neo-conservatives
in the Republican Party. The US has also called for frozen
Iraqi assets to be pooled into a US-controlled fund, while
threatening to deny foreign banks who refused to do so the
right to conduct business in the US.
Instability as a result of the war in Iraq
and aggressive US military action sets a dangerous precedent
in international geopolitics for other rogue nations to
follow. It advances the paradigm that “might makes
right” and encourages other countries to undertake
their own unilateral, “pre-emptive” military
actions. It has already led to a more belligerent stance
in Israel against the Palestinian people, in violation of
peace accords and countless UN resolutions.
is it certain that the US will conclude its militarism with
Iraq; on the contrary, subsequent targets in the so-called “Axis of Evil” have been identified, and Syria
and Iran have now been warned of “consequences”
due to them. According to the Israeli paper Ha'aretz, US
Undersecretary of State John Bolton has said that after
defeating Iraq, the US would “deal with” Iran,
Syria, and North Korea.
does not make the world safer. Countries who already have
WMDs or are pursuing them are now more likely to accelerate
their acquisition of said weapons as insurance, in advance
of possible military action by the US. This position is
supported by the US’s two-faced treatment of Iraq
vs North Korea (which is far more likely to possess operational
is real potential for the current situation to spin out
of control and set off a regional or global conflagration.
Moreover, experts, including the CIA, agree that the current
war is likely to catalyse terrorism and the proliferation
of WMDs globally.
our Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Dr Tony
Tan has said that with Singapore declaring its support for
the US-led action, the Republic could be in the cross-hairs
of Al-Qaeda sympathisers and affiliates, such as the Jemaah
Islamiah (ST, 22 March, 2003). We agree and must question
the wisdom of a position that increases Singapore’s
profile as a target while reducing its credibility as a
proponent of international law.
interests of small nations such as Singapore are best served
by strict adherence to legal institutions, multilateralism
and diplomacy in the resolution of conflicts. We cannot
at the same time insist to our neighbours that our disagreements
be resolved through international law while supporting flagrant
violations of international law elsewhere.
conclusion, we, the undersigned citizens of Singapore, wish
to state our strong condemnation of the US-led war in Iraq
and our commitment to encouraging the resolution of international
conflicts through the rule of law and the United Nations.
While we must work to address the humanitarian crisis brought
on by this conflict, it is still important to condemn this
illegal, immoral and destabilising war, and demand a stop
must not give implicit or explicit support to the continuation
of aggression by the US or any other nation. We therefore
urge the Government of Singapore to reconsider its position
in the light of international law, moral responsibility
and Singapore’s own long-term interests.
by Alvin Pang and Toh Hsien Min et al
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