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Worldwide government positions on war on Iraq

This article primarily describes the positions of governments prior to the actual initiation of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and not their positions as they may have changed since then.

The 2003 Iraq War was easily one of the most widely-debated wars in history.

Table of contents
1 Background
2 Countries supporting the US position
3 Opposing US Position
4 In the Middle East
5 Other worldwide dignitaries
6 See also
7 External links


In 2002 United States began to campaign for the overthrow of Iraq's dictatorial president, Saddam Hussein. The United States, under the administration of George W. Bush argued that Saddam Hussein was a threat to global peace, a vicious tryant, and a sponsor of international terrorism. The Bush Administration also argued that they had reason to believe that Saddam Hussein was developing Weapons of Mass Destruction, something he had been forbidden to do since the end of the 1991 Gulf War.

Opinion on the war was greatly divided between nations. Some countries felt that the United States failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Hussein had an active weapons program. Others felt that Iraq was an insignificant and militarily weak country that was not worth fighting over. Some saw the war as an act of imperialism, and charged that the United States just wanted Iraq's oil.

On the other side, supporting countries argued that Saddam Hussein was one of the 20th Century's worst despots, and that free countries should be obligated to remove brutal dictators from power. Others felt that Saddam's ties to terror groups were well-established, and his weapons programs very real.

Countries supporting the US position

The US government announced that 49 countries are joined in a "coalition of the willing" in favor of forcibly removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq, with some number of other countries expressing their support in private. The 49 countries named by the White House are Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Colombia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Latvia, Lithuania, Republic of Macedonia, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Mongolia, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Palau, Panama, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Rwanda, Singapore, Slovakia, Solomon Islands, South Korea, Spain, Tonga, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, and Uzbekistan. Of these, the following countries had an active or participant role, by providing either significant troops or political support: Australia, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom and USA Some newspapers and organizations ([1]) have questioned what "willing" means in this context, or whether these countries' populations or even their governments were in favor of the plan to remove Saddam Hussein.

Four of these countries supplied combat forces directly participating in the invasion of Iraq: the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and Poland. Other countries are providing logistical and intelligence support, chemical and biological response teams, overflight rights, humanitarian and reconstruction aid, and political support.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom government has remained the strongest supporter of the U.S. plan to invade Iraq. Prime Minister Tony Blair has frequently expressed support for the United States in this matter, while many Members of Parliament have expressed their objections. Blair experienced the biggest rebellion from amongst government MPs ever witnessed in an English or British parliament; in a debate in the House of Commons, he only achieved a parliamentary majority through the support of most Conservative MPs and Ulster Unionists. One cabinet minister delivered a stinging personal attack on the Prime Minister, calling his behaviour 'reckless'. The Leader of the House and Lord President of the Council, Robin Cook (a former Foreign Secretary) resigned, saying that while he agreed with most of Blair's policies, he could not support the war. (Left-wing MPs spoke of mounting a leadership challenge to Blair within the Labour Party over his support for the war, however this has not eventuated.)

The United Kingdom has sent 45,000 personnel from the British Army, Royal Navy, and Royal Air Force, including the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal to the gulf region. The ground component will include 100 Challenger tanks. The First Armoured Division's 7th Armoured Brigade and 4th Armoured Brigade will take part in any war.

Public opinion polls show that the majority of British people would support war with UN backing, but are strongly opposed to war without.


The Howard government in Australia has been a strong and uncritical supporter of United States policy. Australia has committed a little over 2000 military personel, including a squadron of F/A-18 Hornet fighters and 150 SAS troops (see Australian contribution to the 2003 Gulf War for details.) The Australian public was clearly and consistently opposed to joining the war without explicit UN backing (around 60 to 70% of those polled) but since the war began has split more evenly: the latest reputable poll has support at 57% with 36% opposed. [1]


In March of 2003, Polish government announced that it will participate in a U.S.-led Iraq invasion and sent about 200 personnel. Poland sent 54 soldiers in elite GROM commando unit, logistic support ship "Xawery Czernicki" with FORMOZA navy commando unit, and 74 antichemical contamination troops. See Polish contribution to the 2003 Gulf War for details.


In late January 2003, a statement released to various newspapers and signed by the leaders of Britain, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Hungary, Poland, Denmark and the Czech Republic showed support for the US, saying that Saddam should not be allowed to violate U.N. resolutions. The statement went on to say that Saddam was a "clear threat to world security," and urged Europe to unite with the United States to ensure that the Iraqi regime is disarmed.

Thirteen potential future EU members (the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia and Malta) issued a tough statement on Iraq, in support of the US's position. French President Jacques Chirac commented in saying "it is not well brought up behavior. They missed a good opportunity to keep quiet". It was reported (but no citation is available) that Jacques Chirac suggested Romania and Bulgaria, which were not yet official EU members, might not be allowed to join because of the statement. This was later taken back, and, of course, this has not affected these countries chances for EU accession. Romanian President Ion Iliescu called Chirac's remarks irrational, saying "such reproaches are totally unjustified, unwise, and undemocratic." Bulgarian Deputy Foreign Minister Lyubomir Ivanov told reporters "it is not the first time that pressure is being exerted upon us in one or another form but in my opinion this is not the productive way to reach unity and consensus in the Security Council."

In the Netherlands the first Balkenende cabinet supported the USA. After that government fell in October 2002, there were new elections in January which the Second Balkenende cabinet won, so this policy continued. Dutch soldiers were sent to Iraq, and it was recently announced that they would stay at least until after the summer of 2004. So far there have been no Dutch casualties in this war.


On March 17, 2003, Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi said that he supports the U.S, U.K, and Spain for ending diplomatic efforts against Iraq. He also indicates no further UN resolution is necessary to invade Iraq. [1]

On March 26, 2003, the ambassador to the UN addressed first time at the Security Council that Japan supports the acts of the U.S. and allied countries. He claimed weapons of mass destruction are on hands of the dictatorship and Iraq has been continuously violating resolutionss of the UN for past 12 years. [1]


Despite public protests in front of the American Institute in Taiwan, leaders of the Republic of China seemed supportive of the war effort, however Taiwan did not appear in the official list of members of the Coalition of the Willing. This was presumably because the Republic of China is not publicly recognised in the interests of not offending the People's Republic of China. [1]

Other Asian States

Singapore, the Philippines and South Korea all pledged support for the war, as did a number of smaller Pacific nations such as the Federated States of Micronesia.

Opposing US Position

Some nations that were allies of the United States during the Gulf War are either opposed to war this time, or reluctant to help with it.

Many argue that Iraq has no connection to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Others opposed to US military action argue that insufficient evidence has been produced of "an immediate threat" and accordingly such action would be contrary to international law. They claimed that the issue of weapons of mass destruction (if indeed there were any in Iraq) could be solved through inspections and diplomacy, and insisted the weapons issue was merely an attempt to hide American desires to seize oil wells, establish a military presence in the Middle East, and frighten other OPEC nations into submission.

The U.S. government has claimed that some of these countries have shown support in private, asserting that they are afraid to do so in a public way.


On January 29, 2003, the European Parliament passed a nonbinding resolution opposing unilateral military action against Iraq by the United States. According to the resolution, "a pre-emptive strike would not be in accordance with international law and the UN Charter and would lead to a deeper crisis involving other countries in the region."

France, Germany and Russia are publicly opposed to US plans at all levels. As the US took a more militaristic position, these countries became increasingly opposed to the invasion. In the end, France made it clear it would use its UN Security Council veto against any proposed resolution for war in Iraq. (See The UN Security Council and the Iraq war.) On March 17, 2003, the US and Britain stated that they would not submit a resolution to the Security Council, admitting they did not have enough votes to force France or Russia to use a veto.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder made his opposition to the invasion an issue in his electoral campaign. Some analysts credited Schröder's come-from-behind victory on September 22 to tapping a broad anti-war sentiment among the German people. (Schröder met Colin Powell and a rapproachment was established after the Iraqi regime was overturned.[1])

US officials, notably Donald Rumsfeld, responded by dismissing the countries involved in opposition as being "Old Europe".

Almost all countries have called on the US to wait for the weapons inspectors to complete their investigations, which would have occurred in the middle of 2003.


China, People's Republic of


While Canada participated in the Gulf War of 1991, it has refused to engage in a war on Iraq without UN approval. Prime Minister Jean Chrétien said on October 10, 2002 that Canada would be part of any military coalition sanctioned by the United Nations to invade Iraq. With the subsequent withdrawal of American and British diplomatic efforts to gain UN sanction, Jean Chrétien announced in Parliament on March 17, 2003 that Canada would not participate in the pending invasion.

While this is the official policy of the government, the Canadian Navy has been engaged in Operation Apollo in the Arabian Sea, escorting American conveys in the "War on Terrorism". The Canadian Minister of National Defence, John McCallum, said that if an American ship is attacked while under a Canadian warship's protection, the captain won't ask if the shells are from terrorists or Iraq before firing back.

Canada has indicated that it would take an active part in the reconstruction of Iraq following the war.

CBC News: PM says Canada will not fight in Iraq.


India does not support the war on Iraq. According to a Statement by the Ministry of External Affairs "The military action [...] lacks justification" [1]

In the Middle East

A number of Iraqi opposition groups have shown support for the potential U.S. led invasion. Ahmad Chalabi, of the Iraqi National Congress told a Turkish news agency that they "do not see an operation as a war between Iraq and the United States. This will be a war to liberate Iraq. The opposition will play a great role."

There is also supposedly some support for a possible invasion inside the country of Iraq itself. In late 2002, The US military announced that it had been receiving emails from members of the Iraqi military that, in their words, were "very encouraging". Saddam Hussein has reportedly made an attempt to cut off email communication between the US and the Iraqi army. In early 2003, NBC news anchorman Tom Brokaw interviewed a number of Iraqi citizens. On camera, the citizens proclaimed that they would fight to the end against the American invaders. Off camera however, Brokaw said many of the citizens said that the Americans were "very welcome".

The U.S. Army has reportedly received email from some of the Iraqi soldiers, which it considers to be "very encouraging". In March of 2003, Defence Secretary Rumsfeld confirmed reports that the U.S. Government was in communication with a large portion of the Iraqi military.

The governments of countries such as Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Saudi Arabia have shown their support by allowing the U.S. to use their air strips and military bases, however, the level of public support in those countries of military action remains to be seen.


Turkey was showing reservations, fearing that a power vacuum after Saddam's defeat will give rise to a Kurdish state. Turkey initially agreed to allow U.S. use of the air base at Incirlik, and to allow the U.S. to investigate possible use of airports at Gaziantep, Malatya, and Diyabakir, as well as the seaports of Antalya and Mersi.

In December 2002, Turkey moved approximately 15,000 soldiers to the border with Iraq. The Turkish General Staff stated that this move was in light of recent developments and did not indicate an attack was imminent. In January 2003, the Turkish foreign minister, Yasar Yakis, said he was examining documents from the time of the Ottoman Empire to determine whether Turkey had a claim to the oil fields around the northern Iraqi cities of Mosul and Kirkuk.

In late January 2003, Turkey invited at least five other regional countries to a "'last-chance' meeting to avert a US-led war against Iraq."
The group urged neighboring Iraq to continue cooperating with the UN inspections, and agreed that "military strikes on Iraq might further destabilize the Middle East region." [1] Also in attendance were Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Syria.


Jordan is a US ally in the area. Prior to UN sanctions being placed on Iraq, all oil in Jordan was supplied at very low rates from Iraq. When shipments ended the economy suffered terribly, and today the Jordanian economy is completely dependent on US supplies and economic aid. The government is attempting to follow a policy of neutrality, but is under increasing pressure by the public to refuse to allow US basing there. In late January, Jordan announced that it would most likely allow US troops to operate out of the country.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is in a similar situation, although they are not as dependent on the US economically. Their public remains dead set against US action, regardless of a UN mandate. The government has repeatedly attempted to find a diplomatic solution, going so far as to suggest that Saddam should go into voluntary exile.



Perhaps the only local ally supporting US action is Kuwait, whose hostility towards Iraq stems from the events surrounding the Gulf War. The public appears to consider Saddam to be as much of a threat today as in the past, and are particularly interested in attempts to repatriate many Kuwaiti citizens who disappeared during the Gulf War, and may be languishing in Iraqi jails to this day. However, even in Kuwait, there is increasing hostility towards the United States. [1]

Other worldwide dignitaries

Richard Butler

Richard Butler, who led the UN inspection teams in Iraq until 1998, accused the United States of promoting "shocking double standards" in considering unilateral military action against Iraq. He said, "The spectacle of the United States, armed with its weapons of mass destruction, acting without Security Council authority to invade a country in the heartland of Arabia and, if necessary, use its weapons of mass destruction to win that battle, is something that will so deeply violate any notion of fairness in this world that I strongly suspect it could set loose forces that we would deeply live to regret." In pointing out that the United States has not responded in the same way to Syria, which is also suspected of having weapons of mass destruction, and that several US allies, including Pakistan, India, and Israel, have such weapons without having signed the nuclear nonproliferation treaty, Butler asked why the United States is "permitting the persistence of such shocking double standards". However, part of the U.S.'s position is that Iraq is a unique case. Iraq is the only country out of this list that has had 12 years of defiance against 17 U.N. resolutions calling for its disarmament. Butler himself, upon leaving Iraq for the last time in 1998 said he could not say that Iraq had disarmed.

Nelson Mandela

In February, 2003, Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa, sharply criticized Bush and his drive for war, saying, "If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America." Mandela also said, "One power with a president who has no foresight -- who cannot think properly -- is now wanting to plunge the world into a holocaust." Mandela also accused Bush of "ignoring the U.N.". Mandela went on by asking "Is this because the secretary general of the United Nations is now a black man?" Bush's supporters argue that he had been working through the U.N. on this issue since the previous September; however, he and his Cabinet made it clear that they would act with or without UN agreement.

Scott Ritter

As of August 2002, former UNSCOM weapons inspector Scott Ritter, who believes U.N. inspections effectively verified the destruction of over 90% of Iraq's weapon capabilities, is actively campaigning against an invasion, and challenging the Bush administration to make public any evidence that Iraq has rebuilt the capabilities which were destroyed under the auspices of UNSCOM. Says Ritter, "If Iraq was producing weapons today, we would have definitive proof." However, critics of Ritter point out that four years earlier he had exactly the opposite view as inspectors were forced to leave Iraq. In 1998, upon leaving Iraq, Ritter sharply criticized the Clinton administration and the U.N. Security Council for not being vigorous enough about insisting that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction be destroyed. Ritter also accused U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan of assisting Iraqi efforts at impeding UNSCOM's work. "Iraq is not disarming," Ritter said on August 27, 1998, and in a second statement, "Iraq retains the capability to launch a chemical strike."


The Vatican has also come out against war in Iraq. Archbishop Renato Martino, a former U.N. envoy and current prefect of the Council for Justice and Peace, told reporters last week that war against Iraq was a "preventative" war and constituted a "war of aggression", and thus did not constitute a "just war." The foreign minister, Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran, expressed concerns that a war in Iraq would inflame anti-Christian feelings in the Islamic world. On February 8, 2003, Pope John Paul II said "we should never resign ourselves, almost as if war is inevitable." [1]

Mary Robinson

Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and ex-president of Ireland Mary Robinson was also highly critical, in an article published in The Irish Times.

Lech Walesa

Leader of the opposition to the communist regime in Poland during the 1980s, former president of Poland and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Lech Walesa supports the invasion and said that the UN should accept the war because it has done nothing worthy of its name in the last few years.

Vaclav Havel

The most well known and highly regarded dissident in Communist Czechoslovakia and later President of democratic Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic, Vaclav Havel spoke in favour of a projected American and Allied invasion of Iraq as early as September 2002, stating that "Saddam Hussein's regime poses a major threat to many nations and to his own people ... there should be international intervention." [1]

Adam Michnik

Adam Michnik, the most important intellectual of the Polish Solidarity movement, also issued statements in support of the war, pointing to historical reasons for the former eastern bloc countries' support for the American action in Iraq.[1]

Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton

Former American Presidents Carter and Clinton have both offered criticism on the war. While Clinton was in favor of regime change, and supported the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, he strongly objected to the ways in which he perceived the Bush administration to be ignoring the will of the America's traditional allies and undermining proper UN procedures. President Carter opposed the war entirely, and the Carter Center outlined a specific "alternative to war" plan that involved an increased presence of weapons inspectors.

See also

External links