My name is John. I am 21 years old and I study law in the Netherlands. In the past 12 months I have become fascinated by the motivation behind state practices, how these practices relate to international law and how states legitimize these practices towards their people and other states.
The reasons for their actions often entail more than states suggest, the mainstream media frequently lacks analysis of state actions and sometimes states pull up a big smokescreen to cover up their real intentions.
The most obvious contemporary example is probably the Iraq war.
On March 19, 2003 the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq. The justification for this invasion was that Iraq allegedly had weapons of mass destruction and the allegation that there was a link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11. Colin Powell delivered a famous speech at the United Nations during which he said “Saddam Hussein’s intentions have never changed. He is not developing these missiles for self-defense. These are missiles that Iraq wants in order to project power. To threaten and to deliver chemical, biological and if we let him nuclear warheads” (1)
In the media the evidence was labeled overwhelming, irrefutable and undeniable. Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and had to be stopped.
Years and many casualties later none of his claims turned out to be true. All the pictures were meaningless. It seems Colin Powell himself may have been misled by the intelligence community and a source called “curveball” but that’s not important for the point I’m trying to make here.(2)(3)
Even well-respected newspapers like the New York Times published the false claims that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. One year later the newspaper admitted that it fell for misinformation about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and apologized.(4)
Darne Ross who was a senior British diplomat at the UN responsible for imposing sanctions on Iraq says in the documentary “the war you don’t see” by John Pilger(5): “they(journalists) had very little chance to do anything other than accept our version of events and more or less relay it unedited to the public. […] if Journalists were not particularly supportive of our accounts we would freeze them out, we would make life harder for them.”
“Never believe anything until it is officially denied” -Otto von Bismarck.
Of course the Iraq war is an example and the situation is not always that grim. However I think the way in which the Iraq war was build up shows that it is important to put the justifications for state practices under strict scrutiny. Personally I also find it very interesting to think and speculate about why states do what they do. Through discussion I hope that we can gain insight into global politics. Feel free to criticize everything that I write.