He also writes that Iraq “did not attack us,” ignoring the multiple instances of it trying to shoot down our airplanes that were enforcing the no-fly zone created not unilaterally by the United States but under U.N. auspices. ~Quin Hillyer

I’m sure Mr. Hillyer must believe this claim, as so many war supporters seem to, since it is one of those claims repeatedly thrown in the face of war opponents.  It is, however, simply untrue that it was under U.N. auspices.  Perhaps proponents of the war do not believe that the no-fly zones should have needed U.N. authorisation, and perhaps they think U.N. authorisation and operating under the organisation’s auspices are vastly overrated, but they cannot claim U.N. authority for the no-fly zones.  They were set up quite unilaterally, or trilaterally if you like, by the United States, Great Britain and France.  By my reading of the U.N. Charter, they were pretty clearly illegal infringements on Iraqi sovereignty.  No-fly zone defenders have claimed that these actions were legal under UNSCR 688, but the text of this resolution does not even begin to authorise ongoing air patrols.  The resolution was a statement about repression of minorities and humanitarian crisis.  It does not say that other member states can or should intervene to stop this repression and it specifically states in its opening sections:

Reaffirming the commitment of all Member States to the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of Iraq [bold mine-DL] and of all States in the area…   

Perhaps all of that doesn’t matter to war supporters, and they think that Washington and the allies did the right, albeit illegal, thing.  But what none of them can do is claim that the no-fly zones were anything other than American and allied intervention done without legal sanction under international law.  If they really want to argue that responses to such repeated, systematic violations of another state’s sovereignty constitute an attack by that state on our forces and thus constitute a cause for war, they can do so, but it won’t be convincing.

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