2003 January 23 Thursday
The Irony of the UN on Iraq

The Daily Telegraph quotes Mike O'Brien, UK Foreign Office minister who handles the Middle East, trying to placate the left of the Labour Party on Iraq.

"We have to draw the line on Iraq," he said, "If we do not draw the line here, the message to other countries such as Iran, Libya and North Korea is that UN resolutions do not matter. They will be encouraged to seek nuclear weapons and that will press other countries to seek a nuclear capability for their own defence."

The article discusses the poor prospects for a second UN Security Council resolution explicitly authorizing the use of force in Iraq. It seems likely that the US and its allies will invade Iraq without a second authorising resolution. Some consider this to be a horrible undermining of UN authority and of international law (or at least of their reinterpretations of international law).

Here's the irony of the current situation: If the US and its allies do not succeed in preventing the development and spread of more advanced weapons of mass destruction throughout the Middle East and eventually into other parts of the world then the United Nations will become irrelevant. Nuclear armed states will have no need to obey UN Security Council resolutions because no state or group of states will be willing to use military means to discipline them. Already the North Korean regime has stated repeatedly that even economic sanctions against it will be treated as an act of war. That sort of threat has to be taken seriously because the North Korean regime may well already have a couple of nuclear weapons. Therefore even the use of sanctions may not be a usable option for the UN Security Council when dealing with a nuclear state.

It remains a Hobbesian world. Proponents of an idealized and expanded role for the United Nations willfully ignore the central role that force must play in the maintenance of any political order.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2003 January 23 12:22 AM  UN, International Institutions

bunuel said at January 23, 2003 10:59 AM:

Not too clear how you mean the "irony of the UN".True,it is still,virtually,a Hobbesian world despite the existence of the UN (which was instituted to transcend it).But the problem seems to be with it as a democratic institution;one man-one vote type.Here the irony is that it is a democracy most of whose members are non democrats(to put it very mildly).

Randall Parker said at January 23, 2003 1:06 PM:

The irony is that the biggest UN advocates want the US to be restrained by the UN and yet without the US the UN will quickly find itself in a position where the UN Security Council is totally irrelevant.

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