On this 43rd-month anniversary of Operation Iraq Freedom, a couple of questions for everyone.
First, to what extent do you suppose the now 43-month-old American military seizure of Iraq falls within one or more of the following sets of principles (or principles very close to them—fee free to name your own favorites: presumably, they won’t be might makes right), as codified by a couple of instruments that, like it or not, we cannot simply dismiss for their triviality?
Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.
2005 World Summit Outcome (A/RES/60/1), UN General Assembly, September 16, 2005
138. Each individual State has the responsibility to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. This responsibility entails the prevention of such crimes, including their incitement, through appropriate and necessary means. We accept that responsibility and will act in accordance with it. The international community should, as appropriate, encourage and help States to exercise this responsibility and support the United Nations in establishing an early warning capability.
139. The international community, through the United Nations, also has the responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, in accordance with Chapters VI and VIII of the Charter, to help to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. In this context, we are prepared to take collective action, in a timely and decisive manner, through the Security Council, in accordance with the Charter, including Chapter VII, on a case-by-case basis and in cooperation with relevant regional organizations as appropriate, should peaceful means be inadequate and national authorities are manifestly failing to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. We stress the need for the General Assembly to continue consideration of the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and its implications, bearing in mind the principles of the Charter and international law. We also intend to commit ourselves, as necessary and appropriate, to helping States build capacity to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and to assisting those which are under stress before crises and conflicts break out.
Look at it like this: Given the scale of deaths alleged by the research of Gilbert Burnham et al. (i.e., some 655,000 “excess” or war-related Iraqi deaths since the start of the American invasion, some 601,000 of which (or 92 percent) died violently), how long ago do you suppose we all should have begun talking in terms of intolerable minimums? Hard-trigger mechanisms? Thresholds that no civilized people would ever permit themselves to cross? And words to this effect?
Sounds to my ear like questions worth asking.
2005 World Summit, United Nations, September, 2005
The Human Cost of the War in Iraq: A Mortality Study, 2002-06, Gilbert Burnham et al., October, 2006 (as posted by the Center for International Studies, MIT)
"Updated Iraq Survey Affirms Earlier Mortality Estimates," Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, October 11, 2006
"Mortality After the March 2003 U.S. Military Invasion of Iraq," ZNet, October 11, 2006