Bush needs the U.N.
Iraq is a threat. Its production of weapons of mass destruction needs to stop. If Hussein refuses to allow unfettered access to the U.N. weapons inspectors, the world must take action. The question is: How?
While the Bush administration attempts to gain U.N. support for regime change, it shows no hesitation to take unilateral action if its diplomatic effort fails. Unilateral military action is not the correct resolution, yet neither is inaction. Instead, the solution lies somewhere in between: a firm, yet cautious and considered approach to dealing with the Iraqi regime.
Action without world support will bring serious risks. Besides damaging the U.S. position in global politics, a war will be financially expensive and costly in human lives. An adverse reaction from the Arab states could have economic repercussions and could complicate efforts to achieve peace in Israel. A war might also encourage more acts of terrorism committed by Islamic extremists.
Alienation of our traditional allies could also hurt our efforts to retain their assistance in the war on terrorism. International support for any future military action we might take could also be jeopardized.
Incidentally, the American public is beginning to recognize
the risks of unilateral force. A recent Gallup poll found that only 37%
percent of Americans would favor such action without the U.N.'s expressed
blessing. Close to half would only support action on the condition of
The way around this predicament is simple. Pursue U.N. approval not as merely the first option, but the only option.
However, this solution is not as simple as it may sound. Getting U.N. support will not be easy. France, Russia, and China, all of whom have veto power on the U.N. Security Council, have expressed their doubts. After Bush spent the first year of his administration burning bridges with foes and allies alike, the international community is not yet warm to the idea of supporting U.S. interests in the Middle East.
There might just be a way around this. It will, however, warrant a departure from Bush's current diplomatic strategy. We need to change our image in the world community.
The current administration is content to act with little regard for the rest of world unless we are in need of its help. Our only international overtures come when we expect a direct benefit in return. It was only after Bush needed worldwide assistance in the war on terrorism that the U.S. paid its long overdue debt to the U.N. It was not until the U.S. sought support in Iraq that it announced its reentry into the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
We need a policy change so that we will not have to play "make-up" with the world every time we need its support.
There have been many issues of contention between the U.S. and the rest of the world in the past few years. The U.S. has refused to agree to the Kyoto Protocol on Global Warming, the International Criminal Court, and the Convention on Children's Rights. We will continue to receive an icy reception at the U.N. if we do not stop standing in the way of the world agenda.