DO NOT USE How Legal Is This War?

Anti-war protesters occupy Market Street in San Francisco, Thursday, March 20, 2003. Hundreds of anti-war protesters were arrested Thursday for occupying and blocking intersections and for other acts of civil disobedience in protest of a U.S.-led war with Iraq. (AP Photo/San Jose Mercury News, Susanna Frohman) AP/San Jose Mercury News

Around the world, a coalition of the unwilling Thursday condemned the American-led war as illegal. As CBS News Correspondent Wyatt Andrews reports, one tough critique came from Russian President Vladimir Putin, a man President Bush has called a friend.

"If we allow international rights to be replaced by rule of the fist," said Putin, "then we call into question the foundations of international law."

And that by comparison was mild. In Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim country, President Megawati denounced what she called the unilateral attack and called on the UN to stop the war.

A Chinese spokesman accused the U.S. of violating international law, as did a spokesman in India. French President Chirac called for a return to the U.N.

"France regrets this action taken without the approval of the United Nations," said Chirac.

Much of the criticism of America now focuses on this point: that the President tried to win U.N. approval for the war--then failed--then claimed, as he did Monday, that the U.S. had the right all along.

But, strictly by the book, is this war legal? Anne Marie Slaughter, Dean of Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School, calls it a violation of the U.N. charter.

"The charter requires that the Security Council authorize the use of force. The Security Council has not done that here," she said.

Slaughter also says, however, that the President has raised a strong point. The U.N. did warn Iraq, in Resolution 1441, that "it will face serious consequences as a result of its continued violations."

"It was very clear at the time, that in fact the United States and Britain intended serious consequences to include the use of force," said Slaughter.

But now, even if this war ends successfully, the U.S. has fences to mend. Depending on your point of view or the country you're from, the accused outlaw nation in this war is America.
  • Justine Blau

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