During the three years of carnage in Iraq, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has shifted away from her now-discredited warning about a “mushroom cloud” to assert a strategic rationale for the invasion that puts her squarely in violation of the Nuremberg principle against aggressive war.On March 31 in remarks to a group of British foreign policy experts, Rice justified the U.S.-led invasion by saying that otherwise Iraqi President Saddam Hussein “wasn’t going anywhere” and "you were not going to have a different Middle East with Saddam Hussein at the center of it." [Washington Post, April 1, 2006]
Rice’s comments in Blackburn, England, followed similar remarks during a March 26 interview on NBC’s "Meet the Press" in which she defended the invasion of Iraq as necessary for the eradication of the “old Middle East” where a supposed culture of hatred indirectly contributed to the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
"If you really believe that the only thing that happened on 9/11 was people flew airplanes into buildings, I think you have a very narrow view of what we faced on 9/11," Rice said. "We faced the outcome of an ideology of hatred throughout the Middle East that had to be dealt with. Saddam Hussein was a part of that old Middle East. The new Iraq will be a part of the new Middle East, and we will all be safer."But this doctrine – that the Bush administration has the right to invade other nations for reasons as vague as social engineering – represents a repudiation of the Nuremberg Principles and the United Nations Charter’s ban on aggressive war, both formulated largely by American leaders six decades ago.
Outlawing aggressive wars was at the center of the Nuremberg Tribunal after World War II, a conflagration that began in 1939 when Germany's Adolf Hitler trumped up an excuse to attack neighboring Poland. Before World War II ended six years later, more than 60 million people were dead.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, who represented the United States at Nuremberg, made clear that the role of Hitler's henchmen in launching the aggressive war against Poland was sufficient to justify their executions – and that the principle would apply to all nations in the future.
"Our position is that whatever grievances a nation may have, however objectionable it finds the status quo, aggressive warfare is an illegal means for settling those grievances or for altering those conditions," Jackson said.
"Let me make clear that while this law is first applied against German aggressors, the law includes, and if it is to serve a useful purpose, it must condemn aggression by any other nations, including those which sit here now in judgment," Jackson said.With the strong support of the United States, this Nuremberg principle was then incorporated into the U.N. Charter, which bars military attacks unless in self-defense or unless authorized by the U.N. Security Council.