International Meeting
2003 World Conference against A & H Bombs

Niihara Shoji
Researcher of Nuclear Weapons Issues

War on Iraq and World Peace: Movements and Challenges of Peoples of the World

The U.S. government invaded Iraq in clear violation of the principle of the U.N. Charter prohibiting preemptive attack. One thing that caught my attention regarding the run-up to the war was the fact that even before the outbreak of the war, anti-war opinion spread quickly worldwide along with efforts by governments and U.N. discussions in favor of one single cause: defend the international rules for peace. These events demonstrate how outrageous the Bush administration's preemptive attack was and clearly show that a new current is being formed within the 21st century international community that opposes war and preserves peace.

Massive anti-war actions swept the world. Never in the past have such enormous anti-war rallies and demonstrations taken place before the outbreak of war. More importantly, a large number of governments opposed the war, against the background of this mounting world campaign. In fact, governments of more than 130 countries, or 70% of the U.N. member states, expressed either opposition or disagreement to the war. In addition, a heated debate took place in the U.N Security Council until the last minute, over whether to support or not the war the U.S. was planning to launch. This was also unprecedented in history and in the end the Bush administration failed to wrest the so coveted Security Council resolution that would give legitimacy to its war on Iraq.

Opponents of the war argued that the rules for peace established in the U.N. Charter should be respected. This has an important bearing not only on the Iraq war but also on the future of 21st century.

The U.S.-British forces rushed into war in flagrant violation of the U.N. Charter rules in defiance of the concerns of the people of the world. A large number of innocent Iraq citizens fell victim to the invasion. Their military operations included weapons of indiscriminate destruction. Iraq Body Count, a non-governmental organization, which carried out a careful investigation, has estimated that the war killed at least 6,000 non-combatants or 7,780 at the maximum. We should note that victims include a large number of young children. This is a significant feature of this war. The list of Iraqi victims compiled by Iraq Body Account as at the end of May (2003), shows that in the first list of 100 killed, more than 50% of the 80 people whose age were identified were 20 or younger. Most of them were very young children.

Why did the Bush administration wage this reckless and illegal war in disregard of international opposition? In short, the United States implemented its strategy that anyone who is against U.S. interests would be subject to military strike, regardless of the rules for world peace, which humanity built on the basis of its tragic experience in two world wars in the 20th century. In its pursuit of this strategy, the U.S. government is working to retain its global military predominance in conventional and nuclear forces through new arms buildup, development of new types of nuclear weapons and planning for their use. The centerpiece of the new nuclear strategy is the idea that "usable nuclear weapons" are needed; usable like conventional weapons. As part of its strategy, the Bush administration has unilaterally abandoned its policy of "no use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states", a promise it made during the First Special Session on Disarmament of the UN General Assembly. How ridiculous it is for the United States to use the adversary's weapons of mass destruction as well as terrorism as a justification for its preemptive strikes!

As a matter of fact, the biggest reason the U.S. and British governments gave for justifying the start of war on Iraq was the allegations about the Saddam Hussein regime's weapons of mass destruction. In an attempt to support their exaggerated argument that the Iraqis still possessed weapons of mass destruction which could be deployed for use within 45 minutes, they invoked the well-known history of Iraq's use of chemical weapons during the war against Iran and on the nuclear weapons program that Iraq actually had in the past. But now, media reports from Washington and London are enough to prove that the U.S. and British governments falsified information on Iraq's WMD to fit in with the scenario they had prepared long before and that they rushed into war based on the fabrication. They did this in double and even triple violation of world peace. The essence of the Bush administration's strategy to counter WMD proliferation militarily is to wage preemptive strikes, whenever it is necessary to do so, even if it is only based on allegations. This is "preventive war", the worst form of preemptive strikes, the idea that makes it possible to wage a war based on fabrication. Preemptive strike is a flagrant violation of the rules for preserving world peace. Moreover, the fact that this war was started based on false evidence underlines the unlawfulness of the military attack on Iraq in every respect.

I was stunned to read a Los Angels Times article which exposed a Bush administration's secret plan to use nuclear weapons against Iraq, and that this was being conceived before the start of the war. This is like saying, "We will not permit you to have nuclear weapons. If you ever attempt to have one, we will resort to war to stop that. And we have the freedom to maintain the world's mightiest nuclear arsenal and the freedom to use it." It is clear that such a strategy will only work to exacerbate the issue of WMD proliferation and not to solve it.

It has become increasingly clear that the only and the fundamental solution to the problem is to totally ban without delay nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. We have treaties in place banning chemical and biological weapons. The nuclear weapons states agreed to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear weapons in the final document of the 2000 NPT Review Conference. The recent U.N. weapons inspectors in Iraq proved its capability in removing WMD from that country, and thus demonstrated that such international inspections are an effective means in preventing the production of WMDs. Without doubt, totally banning WMD by bringing pressure of international opinion to bear in support of it will be the only realistic solution to the problem. In the face of the Bush administration's dangerous military counter-proliferation strategy, calls are arising worldwide for the prompt realization of the abolition of nuclear weapons. I would like to reiterate that this now represents an increasingly urgent task for world peace.

Today, the U.S.-British military occupation of Iraq is drawing criticism and protests from the Iraqi people, who are saying that the occupation is a new form of colonialism imposed on them. The war which was illegal from the outset, must be stopped. We must not allow them to justify the war and continue the military occupation. We must be persistent in maintaining international condemnation of the lawless war on Iraq. We must not allow ourselves to lend a helping hand to this occupation.

In Japan, many people have taken part in a variety of anti-war actions in solidarity with the peoples of other countries, voicing their opposition to the war and support for peace. By contrast, the Japanese government, which is subservient to the U.S. government, supported the Iraq war and allowed the U.S. military bases in Japan to be used for the war in violation of the war-renouncing provision of the Japanese Constitution. What is more, it rammed through a bill in the national Diet to make the sending of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to Iraq legitimate. This is a gross violation of the constitutional principle of peace. It also trampled on a previous unanimous parliamentary resolution prohibiting the dispatch abroad of the SDF. Prior to passage of the bill to send Self-Defense Forces units to Iraq, the government made contingency bills into law in defiance of strong public opposition, in order to set up a structure allowing Japan to go to war with the U.S. and mobilize the entire nation for wars. Now the government is taking concrete steps toward that goal. The legislation to send the SDF to Iraq and the contingency legislation are in flagrant violation of the constitutional principle for peace, which Japan established based on its remorse for its past war of aggression against and the colonialization of Asian countries. These laws will generate fear and new military tension among other Asian countries. We continue to strongly protest against the legislation.

We firmly oppose the actual dispatch of the SDF to Iraq. I believe that the task now is for us to strengthen our struggle to check the Japanese government's actions that run counter to the world efforts toward peace, as an international obligation of the Japanese people and the Japanese peace movement.

In expressing opposition to war on Iraq, many peoples and governments of the world insisted on the defense of U.N. rules for peace. This has a significant bearing on the fate of the 21st century. This represents the common demand we are setting forth for the creation of a peaceful 21st century without war. For every individual, movement and government that supports the prohibition of nuclear weapons and the strict observance of the rules for peace, the central task is to promote international cooperation and solidarity, regardless of differences in thought, creed, religion, values, nationality, social status or social system. This will be the most important guarantee for creating a world without nuclear weapons and without war.