It feels a bit like 1935
In 1935 Germany set the stage to re-occupy the Rhur, Japan invaded Shanghai and Italy invaded Ethiopia. The League of Nations did nothing.
The evidence of Iraqi non-cooperation presented to the Security Council in Blix’s report is more than sufficient to trigger the “serious consequences” envisioned by UN. And there is very little doubt that those consequence will be visited upon Saddam and, unfortunately his people, in a very few weeks.
There is really only one question left: will the United Nations damn itself to years, or even decades of total irrelevance by sitting on the sidelines as its resolution is ignored or will it join the coalition of the willing.
Regardless of the French, German, Russian and others misgivings the Americans and the English are almost certainly going to go into Iraq. They are going to say, not without justification, that they are enforcing the terms of Resolution 1441.
If they do go in more or less on their own it will reduce the UN to a talking shop. After all, who – and I am thinking North Korea, Israel, the Palestinians, Pakistan and India, Zimbabwe – would pay the slightest attention to the bleating of a body which cannot even enforce its own resolutions. The Security Council would be the little powers’ rump.
The invasion and pacification of Iraq by and Anglo American force would mean the end of the UN, the end of multi-lateralism and the end of the international system. “Old Europe” would be free to wave its cane at the cowboys and the ex-colonialist but impotent to do anything about it.
By far the better alternative is for the French, the Germans, the Russians and the Chinese, as well as we wavering Canadians, to demand instant and complete compliance with every jot and tittle of 1441. Now, this minute. And to back up that demand with, say a division each from each of these countries. (OK, Canada can send a ship, some of our amazing snipers and – if we really want to destroy the Iraqi will to fight – Sheila Copps as a human shield.)
If the nations of the United Nations have the gumption to stand up for the resolution they have passed there is every possibility that Saddam will go the exile route. It may be possible to achieve Iraq’s disarmament without a shot fired.
World Peace arrives the day the powerful stand together demanding that the will of the United Nations be respected. If that doesn’t happen, if Old Europe wants more time, then the authority of the United Nations is destroyed.
The League of Nations floundered on the unwillingness of the Great Powers of the day to stand up to Mussolini’s invasion of Ethopia. Once the Powers had proven their collective cowardice, it was only a matter of time before Hitler re-occupied the Ruhr and the Germans and the Russians were fighting proxy battles in the air over Spain.
To save Iraqi, American, British lives is a goal best achieved by risking German, French, Russian and other nations’ militaries. Simply by saying, “Enough, obey the United Nations.” These nations will ensure lives are saved and the hope of Peace the United Nations embodies will continue.