The War Against Iraq and the Future of International Law: Hegemony or Pluralism?

This Article is devoted to the question of the future relevance of international law at a time when the idea of a “rule of law” in international affairs seems to be waning. Why should the sole superpower look to international law in its quest for protection from dangers of weapons of mass destruction and terrorists? Is the European insistence on questions of legality, which was visible in the dramatic British attempts to secure some kind of Security Council backing and to advance international legal arguments for its participation in the invasion of Iraq, more than a fig leaf for a quest for political relevance in spite of military ineptitude? First, we will look back to the debate on the lawfulness of the attack on Iraq. Before we can deal with the role and influence of international law on political decision-making, the arguments of the coalition in favor of the lawfulness of its invasion need to be taken at face value. Maybe the changed realities of international life, in the era of terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, require a reinterpretation of the law-a law that may be not so ironclad as some European powers wanted to make their audiences believe. Or maybe we should give up the legal enterprise altogether, following those who regard law in general, and international law in particular, as the “ideology of the status quo.”