2002 September 28 Saturday
France, Russia, China make UN a mockery

Fareed Zakaria examines the history of how France, Russia, and China gutted attempts to use UN resolutions to sanctify efforts to restrain Iraq (why anyone should consider the UN as a source of moral legitimacy in the first place is beyond me - but fools do). The most important thing to know about the United Nations is that it is a fatally flawed organization masquerading as something lofty:

The record is not encouraging. For the past 10 years France and Russia have turned the United Nations into a stage from which to pursue naked self-interest. They have used multilateralism as a way to further unilateral policies. The dust from the gulf war had not settled when the French government began a quiet but persistent campaign to gut the sanctions against Iraq, turn inspections into a charade and send signals to Saddam Hussein that Paris was ready to do business with him again. “Decades from now, when all the documents are available, someone is going to write an eye-opening book about France’s collusion with Saddam Hussein in the 1990s,” says Kenneth Pollack, who worked at the CIA and the NSC during those years.

Keep in mind that 3 out of the 5 permanent UN Security Council members are France, Russia, and China:

Moscow also led the charge against the appointment of Rolf Ekeus as the chief weapons inspector in January 2000, a campaign that is worth recalling. After Russia and France had vetoed about 25 names, Kofi Annan decided to put forward someone whose qualifications he thought were unimpeachable. Ekeus had headed up the original inspections team to Iraq after the gulf war. In that role, he had been patient but clever, finding more Iraqi weapons programs than any expert had imagined. Russia, joined by France and China, vetoed the appointment.

The people of France bear special moral responsibility for this because they have a real functioning democracy. In the case of China and Russia one can blame the actions on small ruling elites that are little restrained by their citizens. But the French government more closely represents the will of its people.

But the real story here is that it demonstrates the unconstructive role that the UN plays in the world. Had the US never sought UN approval in the first place the US could have used military force to make the Iraqis allow inspections by teams chosen by the US for their effectiveness.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2002 September 28 01:51 PM  UN, International Institutions


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