Wednesday, 5 February 2003

February 5, 2003: The day the Security Council became irrelevant

At least, that's the emerging consensus among the free people of this planet about what will be on the UNSC's epitath if it fails to authorize military force against Iraq. Consider:

  • Statement of the Vilnius Group Countries, 21 November 2002: “We support the goal of the international community for full disarmament of Iraq as stipulated in the UN Security Council Resolution 1441. In the event of non-compliance with the terms of this resolution, we are prepared to contribute to an international coalition to enforce its provisions and the disarmament of Iraq.”

  • George W. Bush, State of the Union Address, 28 January 2003: “[L]et there be no misunderstanding: If Saddam Hussein does not fully disarm, for the safety of our people and for the peace of the world, we will lead a coalition to disarm him.”

  • Statement of the “Gang of 8”, 30 January 2003: “The U.N. Charter charges the Security Council with the task of preserving international peace and security. To do so, the Security Council must maintain its credibility by ensuring full compliance with its resolutions. We cannot allow a dictator to systematically violate those resolutions. If they are not complied with, the Security Council will lose its credibility and world peace will suffer as a result.”

  • Statement of the Vilnius Group Countries, 5 February 2003: “The clear and present danger posed by the Saddam Hussein's regime requires a united response from the community of democracies. We call upon the U.N. Security Council to take the necessary and appropriate action in response to Iraq's continuing threat to international peace and security.”

  • Fred Kaplan, Slate: “[I]f the Security Council does not now take action against Iraq, it might as well disband.”

  • Eugene Volokh: “If the Security Council members took the view that the evidence is not damning, and that Iraq is cooperating, they would be (as best I can tell) completely wrong and irresponsible; but at least then if they persuaded the public of these facts, the recommended consequences would make sense. But if they acknowledge that there should be no meaningful consequences for gross violations of the Security Council's resolutions — then what's the point of having the Security Council?”

OK, that's what a goodly percentage of the world's democracies think. Well, the ones that aren't called France, at least. Now, let's review what the French want to do again:

Let us double, let us triple the number of inspectors. Let us open more regional offices. Let us go further than this, could we not, for example, put up, set up, a specialized body to keep under surveillance the sites and areas that have already been inspected? Let us very significantly reinforce the capacity for monitoring and collecting information in Iraq.

Wow. Saddam must be quaking in his boots. Defy the Security Council for a dozen years, and we'll sick more UN bureaucrats on your country! This may work in the European Union, where quel dommage! a farmer might have to face down an evil minion from Brussels if he's exceeded his milk quota, but outside the fantasy universe of Eurocrats (and the EU), nobody gives a damn. This isn't just more lard for the butter mountain, this is international peace and security we're talking about here.

The truly sad thing (well, at least if you're a Gaullist) is that the U.N. Security Council is about the last place on earth they have even the illusion of real political power. The Franco-German partnership in Europe is starting to look more like the German partnership with Vichy France. French military power is no match for a few malcontents on the streets of Abidjan. And French diplomacy was just emasculated by two editors at the Wall Street Journal's European edition.

Without the Security Council, and the ability to veto legislation there, France's relevance to the world order is rien. Last month, they handed the keys to Europe to the hollowed out regime of Gerhard Schröder. This month, they handed over all of their credibility to Saddam Hussein's. And, before the year is done, neither will remain in power and France is going to have a hard time getting Europe's keys back from the Christian Democrats and its credibility back from the interim civilian government of Iraq.