Wednesday, September 11, 2002

Paul Kelly is proclaiming from the Mount today, but he doesn't get it yet. He wants the UN to be given veto power over a US attack on Iraq, but acknowledges:
The worst option is doing nothing, as advocated by the virulent mob of US haters so prominent in our media.

Kelly does not offer an alternative course if the Security Council doesn't produce the goods. Keep in mind that of the five vetoes on the Council, one (France) has massive trade and defence links with Iraq, one (Russia) has a deal worth $60 billion deal hanging, and will prefer status quo. China's terms of trade benefits strongly when the US dollar dips, say, because of another attack. The other two, the USA and the UK are committed to an attack.

Kelly wants the USA to make its self-defence, and the safety of Western cities worldwide, hostage to the good wishes of the French, the Russians and the Chinese.
Bush's historic claim that containment and deterrence no longer work is unconvincing and premature. Remember that Bush has shunned the military option in confronting the rest of the "axis of evil", Iran and North Korea. So why not Iraq?

The only thing that will verify Bush's claim that containment is outdated, is a nuclear or biological attack on a Western city. These are big stakes, and Saddam Hussein's sovereign right to kick the shit out of his countrymen should not be a determining factor. As for the others, an attack on North Korea will provoke a land war with China, to no present advantage, and possible escalation into nuclear conflict. Iran has no immediate prospect of pursuing nukes, and is showing signs of lberalisation from within. And who's to say there are not plans afoot anyway. By Kelly's reckoning, that would make the attack in Iraq more legitimate.
US willingness to use force strengthens the prospect for a diplomatic outcome, because Hussein knows that if he keeps flouting the UN then a military strike is certain.

But force is only credible if it is inevitable. Making the threat dependent on the UN makes it conditional. Saddam knows he can string the UN along for years.
terrorism will not be defeated by military means alone and victory will depend upon the battle of ideas. Bush's failure is his inability to articulate a new international order and a plan for a better world.

Possibly, but how do ideas get through to the ground when totalitarian regimes control all information access? And is this a demand that the US decide the future of the world, before taking any action? Australia did not have a plan for East Timor, beyond ending the militia's reign. Should we have waited?
The US plan to destroy "rogue regimes" won't weaken al-Qa'ida.

Let's get Mullar Omar on the line to fact check that one into the ground. One of the world's principal sponsors of terrorists is gone, pounded into a thin red smear in a forgotten cave in Afghanistan. His network is dispersed, killed, or captured and his friends have gone to ground. Are they all gone? No. Are they bleeding? Yes. Is it terminal? Wait and see. But denial of safe havens is the first, non-negotiable step.
the post-September 11 question is whether the US, as global hegemon, pursues its security interest within the established global framework or goes it alone, using its military power in a neo-imperial manner to conquer and remake rogue regimes. This would weaken the role of US allies, undermine the UN and international treaties and cripple multilateralism for a generation.

And multilateralism through the UN has worked so well so far. Korea, Cyprus, Lebanon, Bosnia, Rwanda. Where are the success stories?

UPDATE: Eugene Volokh has more to say on why Iraq is different to the USSR.

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