Kofi Annan – Keep the U.N. United

Kofi Annan – Keep the U.N. United

I think he has all the facts right, and still comes to the wrong conclusion.

But the immediate and most urgent aspect of that task is to ensure that Iraq no longer has such weapons. Why? Because Iraq has actually used them in the past, and because it has twice, under its present leadership, committed aggression against its neighbors–against Iran in 1980, and against Kuwait in 1990.

That is why the Security Council is determined to disarm Iraq of these weapons, and has passed successive resolutions since 1991 requiring Iraq to disarm.

All over the world, people want to see this crisis resolved peacefully. They are alarmed about the great human suffering that war always causes, whether it is long or short. And they are apprehensive about the longer-term consequences that this particular war might have.

War is not something that is about to begin. War has been waged for the last 12 years. Sanctions are an act of war. The Iraqi people already feel the effects of war — they are starving under the worst regime since Stalin while the UN wrings its hands.
Has that moment arrived? That is the decision that the members of the Security Council now face. It is a grave decision indeed. If they fail to agree on a common position, and some of them then take action without the council’s authority, the legitimacy of that action will be widely questioned, and it will not gain the political support needed to ensure its long-term success, after its military phase.
Sorry, Kofi. It isn’t the legitimacy of the action that will be questioned; it will be the legitimacy of the UN that is in question. Should the US go in and do what the UN has been unable to do (as we certainly will) then it will show that the UN is useless when compared to the power of America and the “New Europe” allies.
If, on the other hand, the members of the council can come together, even at this late hour, and ensure compliance with their earlier resolutions by agreeing on a common course of action, then the council’s authority will be enhanced, and the world will be a safer place.
Here is the thing about negotiations, Kofi: If you are not able to walk away from the table, you cannot negotiate. The US has nothing to lose; the UN has everything to lose. If the UN agrees to sending the US in, then the status quo is preserved. If the US goes in without the UN — and we certainly will — then the UN will lose any semblance of control, and will either implode, or simply fade away.
All around the world these last few months, we have seen what an immense significance not only states, but their peoples, attach to the legitimacy provided by the U.N., and by the Security Council, as the common framework for securing peace. As they approach their momentous decision this week, I hope the members of the Council will be mindful of this sacred trust that the world’s peoples have placed in them, and will show themselves worthy of it.
Even more importantly, we will see how little significance the US attaches to the UN and the security counsel, and the terrible truth for you is that in this political world, the US opinion is the only one that matters.

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