Jewish World Review Sept. 23, 2002 / 18 Tishrei, 5763
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | WILL the United Nations endorse a resolution authorizing a U.S.-led invasion of Iraq if it fails to honor the previous U.N. resolutions calling for the destruction of weapons of mass destruction? Can America get the votes?
Those are the wrong questions. The fact is, the United Nations has got to endorse U.S. action or lose its credibility.
And the nations that most object to U.S. action are the very ones who can't oppose it because they need the United Nations to maintain its credibility.
In his brilliant U.N. speech, President Bush based the case for endorsement of a U.S.-led invasion squarely on the United Nations' institutional needs. Warning of the legacy of impotence that pervaded the League of Nations after its failure to stop the Japanese invasion of Manchuria, the Italian invasion of Ethiopia and the German re-occupation of the Rhineland, he predicted a similar fate for the United Nations if it did not act to enforce its resolutions on Iraq.
But there is a related question - one Bush couldn't ask out loud, but one surely in the minds of the U.N. delegates and their governments: What will be the legacy if the United Nations refuses to back a U.S. invasion to enforce the United Nations' own resolutions?
An invasion is going to happen. If the United Nations doesn't back it, it loses all credibility. If America can act just as easily without U.N. permission to keep the peace and to implement the resolutions of the global community, why do we need a United Nations?
France, Russia, China and other nations on the Security Council all need the United Nations as a vital instrument of influence over the United States. One on one, they can have little impact on the Washington goliath. But, together, in a world body, they can affect U.S. behavior.
They need the United Nations far, far more than we do.
These nations will ultimately back U.S. action because 1) It's going to happen anyway, and 2) they can't afford to let the United Nations be on the wrong side of history. They can't cripple the institution on which they depend for their international leverage.
To save face, if for nothing else, the United Nations has got
to endorse the U.S. action as long as it is inevitable. By
backing the U.S. invasion, the United Nations can attempt
to channel or control it and can, at a minimum, still preserve
its standing as the world legislative body. Otherwise,
American success in enforcing the U.N. resolutions on Iraq
will doom the institution to permanent irrelevance.
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