Letter to the Editor of The New York Times regarding an Op-Ed on Preemptive Attack on Iraq

August 1, 2002

(Note: The paragraph marked by “///” was deleted in the published version.)

To the Editor:

Senators Joseph R. Biden Jr, and Richard G. Lugar call for serious discussion of what can be done to remove Iraq's dictator Saddam Hussein from power (Op-Ed, July 31). In reviewing the options and problems, no reference is made to the United Nations.

///When a similar issue arose in 1990, there were detailed congressional debates followed by Security Council resolutions authorizing member states to use "all necessary means" to repel Iraq's aggression and crimes against humanity. On January 16, 1991, as combined military forces led by the United States launched their successful assault against Iraq, then-President George Bush proclaimed to the nation that we had an opportunity "to forge for ourselves and future generations a new world order, a world where the rule of law, not the law of the jungle, governs the conduct of nations." ///

A preemptive military strike not authorized by the Security Council would clearly violate the UN Charter that legally binds all nations.

In debating the options for Iraq, let us never forget that the rule of law remains our best safeguard for a more peaceful and humane world.

BENJAMIN B. FERENCZ, New Rochelle, NY, July 31, 2002
The writer was a prosecutor at the Nuremberg war crimes trials.