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[casi] R.Perle: 'Coalitions of the Willing Are Our Best Hope',filter./news_detail.asp

Coalitions of the Willing Are Our Best Hope

By Richard Perle
Posted: March 21, 2003

National Post  (Canada)
Publish Date: March 21, 2003

Saddam Hussein's reign of terror is about to end. He will go quickly, but
not alone: In a parting irony he will take the United Nations down with

Well, not the whole United Nations. The "good works" part will survive, the
low-risk peacekeeping bureaucracies will remain, the looming chatterbox on
the Hudson will continue to bleat. What will die in Iraq is the fantasy of
the United Nations as the foundation of a new world order.

As we sift the debris of the war to liberate Iraq, it will be important to
preserve, the better to understand, the intellectual wreckage of the
liberal conceit of safety through international law administered by
international institutions.

As free Iraqis document the quarter-century nightmare of Saddam's rule, as
we hear from the survivors able to speak from their own soil for the first
time, let us not forget who was for this war and who was not, who held that
the moral authority of the international community was enshrined in a plea
for more time for inspectors, and who marched against "regime change." In
the spirit of postwar reconciliation that diplomats are always eager to
engender, we must not reconcile the timid, blighted notion that world order
requires us to recoil before rogue states that terrorize their own citizens
and menace ours.

Many have argued against a coalition of the willing using force to liberate
Iraq. Decent, thoughtful and high-minded, they must surely have been moved
into opposition by an argument so convincing that it overpowered the
obvious moral case for removing Saddam's regime.

No, instead the thumb on the scale of judgment about this war is the idea
that only the UN Security Council can legitimize the use of force. It
matters not if troops are used only to enforce the UN's own demands. A
willing coalition of liberal democracies isn't good enough. If any
institution or coalition other than the UN Security Council uses force,
even as a last resort, "anarchy," rather than international law, would
prevail, destroying any hope for world order.

This is a dangerously wrong idea, an idea that leads inexorably to handing
great moral--and even existential politico-military decisions--to the likes
of Syria, Cameroon, Angola, Russia, China and France.

When challenged with the argument that if a policy is right with the
approbation of the Security Council, how can it be wrong just because
communist China or Russia or France or a gaggle of minor dictatorships
withhold their assent, they fall back on the primacy of "order" versus

But is this right? Is the United Nations Security Council the institution
most capable of ensuring order and saving us from anarchy? History would
suggest not. The United Nations arose from the ashes of a war that the
League of Nations was unable to avert. The League was simply not up to
confronting Italy in Abyssinia, much less--had it survived that debacle--to
taking on Nazi Germany.

In the heady aftermath of the Allied victory in the Second World War, the
hope that security could be made collective was reposed in the United
Nations Security Council--with abject results. During the Cold War, the
Security Council was hopelessly paralyzed. The Soviet empire was wrestled
to the ground, and Eastern Europe liberated, not by the United Nations but
by the mother of all coalitions, NATO. Apart from minor skirmishes and
sporadic peacekeeping missions, the only case of the Security Council
acting in a serious matter affecting world order during the Cold War was
its use of force to halt the North's invasion of South Korea--and that was
only possible because the Soviets had boycotted the Security Council and
were not in the chamber to cast their veto. It was a mistake they did not
make again. With war looming, the UN withdrew from the Middle East, leaving
Israel to defend itself in 1967 and again in 1973.

Facing Milosevic's multiple aggressions, the UN could not stop the Balkan
wars or even protect its victims. Remember Sarajevo? Remember Srebrenica?
It took a coalition of the willing to save Bosnia from extinction. And when
the war was over, peace was made in Dayton, Ohio, not in the United
Nations. The rescue of Muslims in Kosovo was not a UN action: Their cause
never gained Security Council approval. The United Kingdom, not the United
Nations, saved the Falklands.

This new century now challenges the hopes for a new world order in new
ways. We will not defeat or even contain fanatical terror unless we can
carry the war to the territories from which it is launched. This will
sometimes require that we use force against states that harbour terrorists,
as we did in destroying the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

The most dangerous of these states are those that also possess weapons of
mass destruction, the chemical, biological and nuclear weapons that can
kill not hundreds or thousands but hundreds of thousands. Iraq is one such
state, but there are others. Whatever hope there is that they can be
persuaded to withdraw support or sanctuary from terrorists rests on the
certainty and effectiveness with which they are confronted. The chronic
failure of the Security Council to enforce its own resolutions--17 of them
with respect to Iraq, the most recent, 1441, a resolution of last
resort--is unmistakable: It is simply not up to the task.

We are left with coalitions of the willing. Far from disparaging them as a
threat to a new world order, we should recognize that they are, by default,
the best hope for that order, and the true alternative to the anarchy of
the abject failure of the United Nations.

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