The Iraq War was a terrible mistake and a violation of U.N. charter, said Hans Blix, former head of U.N. weapons inspections in Iraq (UNMOVIC) in the lead-up to the 2003 invasion.
George W Bush's administration certainly wanted to go to war, and it advanced eradication of weapons of mass destruction as the main reason. As Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz has since explained, it was the only rationale that was acceptable to all parts of the U.S. administration.
The 10th anniversary of the start of the U.S. war in Iraq is a muted affair with no official commemorations planned in either Washington or Baghdad. Instead, the anniversary continues to draw the same lingering questions of the past decade, namely was the war in Iraq worth fighting. The fallout continued today, the 10th anniversary, with a wave of bombings that killed at least 59 people in Baghdad and injured 221 others, according to police. The war has also taken the lives of 4,488 U.S. service members and left more than 32,000 wounded, said Louise Martinez for ABC News.
After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, George W. Bush's administration felt a need to let the weight and wrath of the world's only superpower fall on more evil actors than just Afghanistan's Taliban regime. Hans Blix headed the U.N. inspections in Iraq at the time of the war 10 years ago. Today, he looks again at the reasons why this terrible mistake -- and violation of the U.N. charter -- took place and explore if any lessons be drawn:
The war aimed to eliminate weapons of mass destruction, but there weren't any.
The war aimed to eliminate al Qaeda in Iraq, but the terrorist group didn't exist in the country until after the invasion.
The war aimed to make Iraq a model democracy based on law, but it replaced tyranny with anarchy and led America to practices that violated the laws of war.
The war aimed to transform Iraq to a friendly base for U.S. troops capable to act, if needed, against Iran, but instead it gave Iran a new ally in Baghdad.
Hans Blix further revealed, "Suspicions are one thing and reality is quite another. U.N. inspectors were asked to search for, report and destroy real weapons. As we found no weapons and no evidence supporting the suspicions, we reported this. But U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfield dismissed our reports with one of his wittier retorts: The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence".
"Rumsfeld's logic was correct, I believe, but it was no excuse for the American and British governments to mislead themselves and the world, as they did, by giving credit to fake evidence or assuming that if weapons items were 'unaccounted for' that they must exist. They did not exist", Hans added.
The embodiment of the rule of law internationally has been the U.N. Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights -- direct results of the devastation inflicted by the Nazi regime in Germany during the Second World War. No one wanted a repeat of such flagrant aggression, so the Charter was drawn up to replace gunboat diplomacy with peaceful measures overseen by the U.N. Security Council, said Michael Mansfield, the author of "Memoirs of a Radical Lawyer", to CNN.
Ten years ago Michael Mansfield was one of a small number of UK lawyers who opposed the invasion of Iraq on the grounds that it was illegal and unauthorised by the United Nations. They were all strong advocates of the notion that the rule of law was the bedrock of any civilised and democratic society.
It is for the U.N., he said, to determine what collective measures should be taken -- not for individual states to take unilateral or bilateral action. This is not rocket science, but the simple application of restraint and respect for the rules that Britain and America agreed to when they signed the Charter.
"But this is not what happened 10 years ago at the behest of U.S. President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Their agenda was quite different -- to remove a dictator, Saddam Hussein, whose regime was abhorrent", Mansfield added.
Within a year after the invasion, it became clear that Hussein's regime did not possess weapons of mass destruction. Congressional investigations determined that the Bush administration had made the decision to rid Iraq of the weapons based on a huge intelligence failure. Iraq had no such weapons. Hussein had disassembled his chemical and nuclear programs years before, but had kept even his own generals guessing about what his regime possessed.