Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Quote of the Day From Robert Wright / NYT

"In early 2003, a few die-hard fans of multilateralism asked why America was launching an essentially unilateral war. A common reply was that the multilateral body whose support America sought, the U.N. Security Council, wouldn't vote to authorize war, so President Bush had to proceed without it. Blame Security Council 'gridlock.'Now that we know how the war turned out, it's tempting to ridicule this logic by comparing Bush to a driver who runs a red light, kills a pedestrian and blames the tragedy on the light's redness."

Robert Wright,
senior fellow at the New America Foundation who runs the Web site

Making the U.N. Look Good - New York Times

Since the guest column is for subscribers only, I wanted to share some of Mr. Wright's thoughts about the ways that he believes, in the case of the Iraq war, that the U.N. did much better than some institutions, notably the U.S. government.
In a remarkable precedent, the Security Council had demanded that Iraq submit to pervasive arms inspections, and had prevailed. On the eve of war, inspectors were being let into every facility they asked to see.

Indeed, inspectors had checked out the sites American intelligence deemed most suspicious and had found nothing. So the idea that the inspectors should scram so America could invade and then do a better job of finding weapons struck some Security Council members as less than compelling. They gave America the red light. (Insert ridicule here.)

Oddly, and accidentally, Mr. Bush had catalyzed the evolution he then aborted. Iraq would never have admitted the inspectors had American troops not been poised to invade. This points to a flaw that future evolution should remedy: the U.N. lacks the power to get arms inspectors where they’re most needed. The sort of toughness Mr. Bush showed needs to be institutionalized multilaterally and integrated with such structures as the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.