8.2.5        The International Politics of Decision-Making on Iraq

(This is an archived extract from the book Patterns of Power: Edition 2)

Despite international concerns about the Iraqi regime, the UN was not likely to authorise an invasion: several countries were arguing that the weapons inspectorsshould be given more time,[1] and any proposal to invade would be vetoed (8.2.3). Saddam Hussein knew that the UN would never authorise an invasion against him if he allowed the weapons inspectors to resume their work, so he readmitted them in November 2002. That guaranteed a continued international stalemate.

Britain and America also knew that the stalemate was likely to continue: they had no reason to suppose that they would ever gain UN agreement to invade Iraq even before they made any formal request for authorisation. They knew, at least from November 2002 onwards, that if they wanted to take action against Iraq it would be without international support and that it would be seen as flouting international law.

The UN Charter contained no remit for regime change per se, in Iraq or anywhere else (

PatternsofPower.org, 2014

[1] Several countries wanted to give weapons inspectors more time, as reported in a New Zealand Parliamentary paper entitled Iraq and disarmament for example, which was published on 18 March 2003:

A number of countries, especially Russia, France and Germany, as well as the UNMOVIC and IAEA chairs themselves, believe that Iraq is cooperating with the weapons inspectors, that results are being achieved, and that therefore the inspections should be given more time, more resources, and more authority.

This report made several other comments which indicated differences in international opinion. It was available in April 2014 at http://www.parliament.nz/en-nz/parl-support/research-papers/00PLLawRP03011/iraq-and-disarmament.