Obamas on TV, Bingham on Iraq

In case any reader of this hasn’t already heard it, President-elect Obama’s first weekly address, delivered on 15 November, can be seen and heard on YouTube at

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=Zd8f9Zqap6U .

It lasts some three and a half minutes.

It’s also available on The Huffington Post (online newspaper) of 18 November at —


The meatiest part of the extended interview with the Obamas on the CBS “60 Minutes” programme on 16 November is at


The rest is on other clickable clips from the programme in the right-hand panel of the page (complete with Viagra commercials).

There’s also a transcript (with more links to the video clips) starting at


and continuing on several more pages (with a link to the next at the end of each page). It combines policy discussion with more personal stuff: well worth hearing or reading, IMFFHO.

Extract on government borrowing (George Osborne and David Cameron please note):

Kroft: Where is all the money going to come from to do all of these things? And is there a point where just going to the Treasury Department and printing more of it ceases to be an option?

Mr. Obama: Well, look, I think what’s interesting about the time that we’re in right now is that you actually have a consensus among conservative Republican-leaning economists and liberal left-leaning economists. And the consensus is this: that we have to do whatever it takes to get this economy moving again, that we’re gonna have to spend money now to stimulate the economy.

And that we shouldn’t worry about the deficit next year or even the year after. That short term, the most important thing is that we avoid a deepening recession. [Emphasis added]


The fullest account that I can find of Lord Bingham’s important lecture questioning the legality of the attack on Iraq is in the Daily Telegraph of 17 November, at http://bit.ly/dhFn. The full text of Lord Bingham’s lecture seems not yet to be available online. Lord Goldsmith’s response looks like the most explicit statement issued so far of the proposition that there was no need for a “second resolution” of the Security Council. There’ll be some comment on this soon in Ephems — watch this space.


3 Responses

  1. Ed Davies says:

    Leaving aside all the “no automaticity” discussions regarding Resolution 1441, I wonder if you can clarify for me a point regarding Resolution 678.  As I understand it, 678 authorized the use of “all necessary means” to kick the Iraqis out of Kuwait.  After the first Gulf War Norman Schwartzkopf, I think it was, was asked, in an interview, why they didn’t carry on to Baghdad and gave three, what I thought were very reasonable, answers: more people would be killed, the UN resolution didn’t authorize it and they thought Sadam was going to fall anyway.  Two out of three isn’t bad.   So, even supposing Resolution 1441 did allow individual states to decide that Iraq was not complying with the terms of 687 and thereby reactivate 678, wouldn’t that just authorize evicting the Iraqi army from Kuwait again – something of an empty gesture in the circumstances, I’d have thought?

  2. Brian says:

    Ed, you make a very good point.  The US-UK argument was that UNSCR 678 imposed more obligations on Iraq than simply withdrawal of its invading forces from Kuwait:  in particular, there was also the obligation to disarm, which it was generally believed at the time (up to March 2003) Iraq had failed to do.  So it was possible to assert that 678 still authorised the use of force to compel Iraq to disarm, although considerable contortions are required to go on from there to claim that any government which felt like it was free to go ahead and attack Iraq for this purpose without the need for a formal decision of the Security Council that this could be done. 

    As you (or Norman Schwarzkopf) say, there were excellent reasons for not pursuing the retreating Iraqis into Baghdad and overthrowing Saddam Hussein once Iraq had been expelled from Kuwait:  in resisting pressures on him to do that, Bush père showed much better judgment than Bush fils did later (and with much less excuse). 

    Lord Bingham’s castigation of the US and UK for their illegal action in invading Iraq in 2003 in his lecture the other day (on which please watch Ephems for a new post coming shortly to a blog near you) briskly dissects the UK case for claiming that UNSCR 1441 authorised the use of force against the Iraqis without the need for a further resolution, an issue in which the question of ‘automaticity’ (which you mention) plays an important part see discussion of this and other 1441 matters in an earlier post of mine here

    Some more words of wisdom on this may be available on the letters page of the Guardian tomorrow (20 November), all being well.

  3. Ed Davies says:

    Thanks, particularly for your reference to the Attorney General’s advice in your previous post.  It does make the arguments look particularly stretched, doesn’t it?  I look forward to your further posts.

    Brian writes: It certainly does! (Now see http://www.barder.com/ephems/1269.)

    The Attorney-General’s (then confidential) lengthy and contorted advice to Tony Blair on 7 March 2003 is now on the Web here.

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