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Thursday, January 23, 2003


Quick primer for those who find having the UN deal with North Korea and gettin' all unilateral on Iraq confusing and/or hypocritical (depending on your reflex to think ill of those who don't agree with you):

In North Korea, the WMD "crisis" is being forced by the North, at an accelerating pace – some say, shortly before their society implodes. (I'm not so hopeful.) The best way to deal with a situation like this? Delay. Defer. Discuss. Engage without effectual action. You know – the things the UN is really good at. (Throw in pandering to tyrants, too.) Problem ... cooled, though the UN never solves anything. We'll have to do that ourselves, but ... not now. Later.

In Iraq, the WMD "non-crisis" has been dragging on for eleven years now, to no discernible resolution [sic]. UN resolutions have done what they do – express fond common denominator hopes. Sanctions have done what they do – enable those willing to ignore them to make money, and give Saddam innocent 'victims' to distract the gullible from his military spending. Inspections have found what they are designed to find – just enough to justify more inspections. Later is now. War has become a preferable option to maintaining a deteriorating status quo. (Reasonable people can disagree, though the correlation is low.) The UN had a chance to do the right thing and chose not to. It's time for the grownups in the Anglosphere to step in.

I do think that the UN has a useful role to play, and I'd hate to see it collapse completely. (Imagine the mischief all those diplomats could accomplish stuck back in their home countries.) It's a wonderful place to take care of low-grade background and development issues, and to keep problems from boiling over at inopportune times – sort of like a warming stove in the kitchen of a busy restaurant during the dinner rush.
It's a tool, with specific and limited functionalities. If it's the only tool you believe in, all problems start to look to you like they can be resolved by extended discussions. You're mistaken.
It's also a valuable object lesson in what not to do when designing a world order.

posted by Kelly | 2:11 PM link