The Instigator
Pro (for)
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The Contender
Con (against)
4 Points

The Invasion of Iraq Was an Illegal Act of War

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/12/2011 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,578 times Debate No: 16922
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (3)
Votes (1)




I wish to debate the legality of the Invasion of Iraq in 2003.

It is in my opinion, that this action was an illegal act of aggression in the eyes of the international law as manifested by the UN charter which clearly states in article 51: "Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense 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-defense 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."

To summarize, states have the right to defend themselves against ARMED ATTACKS.
Knowing that there isn't a shred of evidence that links the state of Iraq with the attacks on September the 11th, we couldn't possibly say that the invasion of iraq was a justified act of retaliation against an armed attack simply because we weren't attacked by Iraq!

Which brings us to preemptive war...

Preemptive: Taken as a measure against something possible, anticipated, or feared; preventive; deterrent.

Everyone knows it's the center piece of the bush doctrine. However is preemptive war legal? Once again according to the U.N. charter article 2, section 4 clearly stipulates against "the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state" Importantly justifying that is in no longer considered an act of defense if your state is not being attacked. In other words, preemptive war is illegal!

One of the biggest advocates of preemptive war, neo con Richard Perle even admits that the invasion of Iraq was illegal. The quote was ""I think in this case international law stood in the way of doing the right thing." Conceding that yes the invasion was illegal, however he felt it was "morally right".

In closing, with the clear violation of the UN Charter and the clear admission from Richard Perle. I believe regardless of whether you personally feel it was justified or not, its fair to say the the invasion of Iraq was indeed an illegal act of aggression.

Sources: (Article 51 of UN Charter) (Richard Perle) (Article 2 of UN Charter)


Let us first stipulate that legality or illegality of anything is contingent upon enforcement power. If I rob someone then the government can incarcerate me. If the government couldn't incarcerate me then laws preventing robbery are meaningless. The UN cannot compel the US to act in according to its will. The power of the UN begins and ends with the imposition of sanctions that are of no consequence to US foreign policy because the US has veto power. The US is a sovereign nation, which for the purposes of this debate means that we answer only to ourselves. As such I will only debate in terms of what actually has consequence -and that is the United States Constitution. Constitutionally speaking, the Supreme Court has identified the president as the "sole organ" of foreign policy. The effect then is to reserve the area of foreign policy decisions exclusively to the legislature, with a few noteworthy exceptions mentioned in Art. I. If the US were at "war" (in the legal sense) with Iraq then the "war" would be legal, because congress authorized funding for the troops. The War Powers Act gives the president the authority to invade a country for a set period, but the caveat to that authority is that after that set proscribed amount of time (something to the effect of 60 days or so) congress must approve funding to continue occupation. In the case of Iraq, congress has not only approved funding, but it has steadily increased since the "invasion" began. Yet, this isn't really a "war" per se, as we consider "war" in the traditional legal sense. Iraq is, technically speaking, a police action -no more. While the effect of the two is virtually indistinguishable, the legal ramifications for one or the other couldn't be farther apart. There has been no sustained constitutional challenge to the War Powers Act that would undermine its authority. Bush had the authority to invade Iraq. Wether you agree with his ends or not, his means are perfectly legal.

As for my opponents arguments: The UN has no enforcement authority on the United States. Additionally, the US (as a permanent member of the UN Security Council) has veto power over any act of the UN. The UN has no compelling authority over the United States, and it is much the other way around -the UN is little more than a clever collection of non-superpower nations who merely enjoy the privilege of sitting at our table. As such, Article 51 is of no consequence and therefore any argument which would stem from it holds no water in this debate. My opponent's next argument deals with "preemptive war." I have already discussed the UN at length and the legal differences between a war and a police action, and thusly I see no reason to occasion the reader to endure it again. My opponent also briefly touches on the morality of "preemptive war" which is a debate I am happy to engage in, even though it is grotesquely beyond the scope of the framework he laid out for this debate (only the legality of US activity in Iraq).
Debate Round No. 1


My opponent appears to have a fixation on the notion of if a certain resolution can not be enforced, it may as well not have existed.


Con does not refute nor deny the fact that the invasion was indeed in direct violation of the U.N. charter as explicitly declared by former Secretary-General of the U.N., Kofi Annan, back in 2004. What my opponent does try to establish is " The US is a sovereign nation, which for the purposes of this debate means that we answer only to ourselves. As such I will only debate in terms of what actually has consequence -and that is the United States Constitution." Which would be a solid argument had this been an internal affair of the United States. Unfortunately for my opponent, he seems to be oblivious to the fact that the war in Iraq was an INTERNATIONAL affair.

Meaning that sense the United States Constitution is the supreme law of the land noted by the supremacy clause in article VI clause 2, we cannot infer that any external forces that come into play fall under our jurisdiction or our constitution's jurisdiction. The constitution is the supreme law of OUR nation's land i.e. the United States and nobody else. Because the invasion of Iraq was an international affair (as determined by the "coalition of the willing" below) we can easily assume that the military actions on Iraq were simply no longer under our nations supreme law but under international law.

The coalition of the willing entailed 30 countries of whom where to be publicly associated with the effort to invade and "disarm" Saddam's regime in Iraq. Within this coalition support seemed to be rather lacking however aid from said nations come in such forms as quote "Many of the countries on the list are from Eastern Europe, where countries like Romania are providing basing rights, while Poland has offered 200 troops and the Czech Republic is sending a chemical-biological warfare support unit." While other countries such as Japan prepared to pay for the "post-conflict" reconstruction costs of Iraq.

With this in consideration it's indeed clear that the invasion of Iraq was in fact an international affair. As such we must in order to determine the legality of such actions look to the international law as defined by the U.N. Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Which as I've stated in R1, preemptive war as in the justification of the invasion with the absent element of self-defense against an armed ATTACK shows in hindsight the invasion was internationally illegal.

Sources: (Kofi Annan's declaration) (Coalition of the Willing Info) (Invasion of Iraq and International Law) (U.N. Charter)


Laws that cannot be enforced are meaningless; as to wether or not the law should have existed or not is beyond the scope of our inquiry.

Because the United States is not subject to the law in question, it could not be in violation of it. The UN does not have jurisdictional enforcement, much less enforcement power itself. My opponent simply contends that the US is in violation of this UN protocol. Because I have demonstrated that the UN has neither the authority or the means to enforce that protocol, the US is not subject to it and therefore cannot be in violation of it. I take no issue with my opponent's recognition that this is an international affair. What I take issue with is his argument that has the effect of eroding the sovereignty of the United States and the constitution as supreme law of our land, and the only law to which we are subjected. The United States answers to no higher power.

While completely independent of the aforementioned UN protocol, my opponent argues that nations only have a right to engage other nations defensively. By his reasoning, defensive action is just. That which is just is not illegal, and if it is, then it ought not to be (even if we assume, for the sake of clash) that the US is subject to the "law" in question. The assistance of coalition forces only further demonstrates a globally recognized need to suppress what was then understood to be a threat to global security. The act of threat neutralization is defensive in nature, and by my opponent's own logic -the US (and coalition forces) not only had a right but an obligation to defend themselves.

As such, because the US is not subject to UN law the US cannot be in violation of the law in question. Even if the US were subject to such law, it acted defensively and therefore was justified. In view that the US action was justified (and determinatively so by the logic of my opponent) the law, wether the US is subject to it or not, is unjust because of its effect and therefore invalid. As such, the actions of the US and coalition nations are comprehensively sound.
Debate Round No. 2


JohnJohnSHTOOKAH forfeited this round.


The topic my opponent and I have been discussing is the following: "The Invasion of Iraq Was an Illegal Act of War."

These are the main points to be taken from this debate:

The invasion of Iraq was not a war. Congress never declared war, only funded a police action. The invasion of Iraq was not an act of war, it was a defensive measure taken by the United States and coalition forces to neutralize a globally recognized threat. Because it was defensive by nature in response to a threat, by my opponent's logic it was justified.

The invasion of Iraq was not illegal. My opponent has used a metric of legality that the United States neither submits to nor is subject to consequence of. Even if the US were subject to the charter my opponent has offered, the authority is meaningless because the United States has veto power over all UN decisions because of its status as a permanent member on the UN Security Council. Furthermore, that other nations joined the United States in their efforts in Iraq signifies a consensus among other nations that a threat existed that required pacification -and that the ensuing action of those nations was a defensive act rather than an illegal act of preemptive war.

Because I have proven that the invasion of Iraq was not an illegal act of war, victory for this debate must be afforded to CON.
Debate Round No. 3
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by YYW 5 years ago
No worries, bud. If you want to try it again with another topic feel free to challenge me to anything you like.
Posted by JohnJohnSHTOOKAH 5 years ago
Ahw shux, sorry there YYW, got a little distracted and I thought I had more time..
Posted by Thaddeus 5 years ago
"the UN is little more than a clever collection of non-superpower nations who merely enjoy the privilege of sitting at our table"
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by GMDebater 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct: Pro forfeited last round Arguments: Therefore, con's cases couldn't be refuted. Sources: Both had equally good sources.