2002 October 28 Monday
France, Russia, the US, and UN legitimacy

Writing in the New York Times (free registration required) William Safire writes on the likely consequences if Putin and Chirac continue to oppose the US UNSC resolution on Iraq:

Should Vladimir Putin and Jacques Chirac lead the Council down the path of appeasement, Bush will undertake the liberation of the Iraqi people with an ad hoc coalition of genuine allies. And here is one pundit's assessment of the likely consequences:

After our victory in the second gulf war, Britain would replace France as the chief European dealer in Iraqi oil and equipment. Syria, the Security Council member that has been the black-market conduit for Saddam's black gold, would be frozen out. The government of New Iraq, under the tutelage and initial control of the victorious coalition, and prosperous after shedding the burden of a huge army and corrupt Baath Party, would reimburse the U.S. and Britain for much of their costs in the war and transitional government out of future oil revenues and contracts.

If Turkey's powerful army on Iraq's border significantly shortens the war, its longtime claim to royalties from the Kirkuk oil fields would at last be honored. This would recompense the Turks for the decade of economic distress caused by the gulf wars, and be an incentive for them to patch up relations with pro-democracy Iraqi Kurds fighting Saddam at their side.

Tim Hames, writing in The Times of London, points the finger of blame at Jacques Chirac for the failure of the UN negotiations on an Iraq resolution.

The United States has tolerated this risible spectacle so far because the White House is absorbed by the mid-term elections on November 5, while much of the media and public have been obsessed with the sniper saga. British diplomats, desperately looking for a form of words that will be accepted at the Security Council, have been unwitting beneficiaries of the killing spree in Maryland and Virginia. But with arrests on that front made, and the election campaign about to come to a close, the Americans will either expect an appropriate UN resolution to be embraced imminently or will decide, correctly, to deal with the situation unilaterally.

It is has been widely claimed that Mr Putin will, after the horrors of Moscow, feel compelled to co-operate with the Americans over Saddam. This is to assume that the Russians are the real problem at the United Nations. They are not. Mr Putin has legitimate commercial and strategic interests in the region and is entitled to drive a hard bargain with Washington. That is what he is doing and it is not resented. The grotesque recent grandstanding by Jacques Chirac is an entirely different matter.

There are two separate arguments to consider that frequently get made in discussions about this UN resolution on Iraq. The first argument is that if the US fails to get UN approval and then goes on and takes out Saddam's regime anyhow this will be a blow for the authority of the UN. I think that is certainly true. The argument that frequently follows from the first argument (made no doubt by UK diplomats to the Russian and French governments) is that the decrease in the luster and relevance of the UN would be a bad thing. Well, by contrast, I see that as the double bonus points benefit. I am keeping my fingers crossed that Chirac and Putin will stick to their guns in opposing a firm UN resolution with teeth. Please guys, don't let me down. We all know that an inspections regime would be a sham anyhow. I am guardedly optimistic that you will find it within your hearts to oppose US hyperpuissance. Go down fighting and put a nail into the coffin of the UN. Go France! Go Russia! Go China and even Mexico too!

(Tim Hames link from Iain Murray and William Safire link from Bill Quck)

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2002 October 28 04:49 PM  UN, International Institutions

McNeil said at December 23, 2011 1:47 PM:

My god, how very wrong were we, back then.

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