Skip to comments.THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: Twilight of the UN
Posted on 03/07/2003 5:17:03 PM PST by MadIvan
Before Hans Blix made his third report to the United Nations yesterday, the foreign ministers and diplomats were glad-handing each other as usual. But their cordiality could not dispel the impression that we were witnessing the twilight of the Security Council. Members have been wrestling with Saddam Hussein's defiance of their resolutions for 12 years. Yet still he co-operates only under duress - in this case, the presence of American and British troops on his doorstep.
At the present rate of progress, the task of destroying his weapons of mass destruction (WMD) could last indefinitely. That does not seem to bother many members of the council, who are more attached to process than effective outcome. The UN Charter confers on the council "primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security". America and Britain have been trying to use that forum to deal with a regime that poses a threat to the stability of the Middle East and beyond. Yet they have been accused of rushing to war for pointing out that Iraq is failing to afford the immediate, unconditional and active co-operation that Resolution 1441, passed unanimously last November, enjoined; and that it should now face the "serious consequences" that the same resolution threatened for non-compliance.
Three of the permanent members of the council, China, France and Russia, have declared their opposition to a sequel to 1441 that would authorise the use of force. They will welcome Mr Blix's assurances yesterday that Iraq has begun to destroy its proscribed al-Samoud missiles, an action that the chief UN weapons inspector described as the first substantial measure of disarmament by Saddam since the mid-1990s; that to them is proof that the inspections are proving effective. They will have also been pleased to hear Mr Blix conclude that, with Iraqi co-operation, it would take months rather than weeks to complete the key remaining tasks; that coincides with their proposal to extend inspections well into the summer before deciding on military action.
They have, however, been overtaken by events. American and British forces in the Gulf are now poised to invade Iraq. On Thursday, George W Bush said that he would force a vote seeking UN support for such a campaign within days, while making clear that rejection would not alter his determination to disarm Saddam. "If we need to act, we will act and we really don't need the UN's approval to do so," he said. "When it comes to our security, we really don't need anybody's permission to do so." Last September, Mr Bush warned the UN that failure to enforce its will would condemn it to irrelevance. On Thursday, he signalled that his patience with the world body was running out. With the notable exceptions of Britain and Spain, the Security Council has failed to appreciate the devastating effect of September 11 on the world's remaining superpower. Jacques Chirac has opted for a debased form of Gaullist anti-Americanism, and Gerhard Schröder has espoused pacifism for domestic electoral advantage. Vladimir Putin, having boldly reached out to America after 9/11, has, unwisely if probably temporarily, allied himself with "old Europe".
The opponents of Washington and its allies set great store by the United Nations. Yet their penchant for procrastination could render that body weaker than ever. Yesterday, America, Britain and Spain presented a revised draft sequel to 1441, giving Iraq until March 17 to disarm, that is, to hand over all existing WMD and all documents regarding past destruction of such weapons. It is now up to the Security Council to show that it can fulfil the purpose for which it was created.
Consequently, the Brits and Americans will proceed to do the job without them.
My question is whether, after the UN and France are thoroughly disgraced, France will start throwing a temper tantrum to get noticed like Kim Jung Mentally-Il of North Korea.
In that case, I hope they vote with a resounding "NO!". Then -once and for all- we can say good riddence to the UN.
President Bush emphatically gave them notice in a Helen-Thomasless press conference last night. Powell didn't have to repeat it.
Thanks Ivan, they got the picture
Read the new Brit resolution carefully. It does not specifically authorize military force. The French could vote in favor of it, or even abstain, and not break a pledge.
The U.S. and Britain have set a very, very neat trap. All the new resolution does is set a deadline without specifying consequences. Whoever votes against it could legitimately be accused of favoring indefinite inspections. And they can't defend the vote on the grounds that it authorizes force because it does not.
But once they vote it down, they've given the U.S. and Britain a great excuse to say that the S.C. has been unreasonable, and won't set deadlines.
Maybe that $4 billion could be better spent by giving men and women in the Armed Forces a pay raise. That's where our security comes from, not from an association with France, Germany, or Communist China.
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