The multilateralism of the US, as demonstrated by rhetoric surrounding UN resolution 1441, is a sham.

At least according to Seumas Milne writing in the Guardian today. The whole piece is a rather disjointed piece hitting many of the major anti-war bases in a mostly off-handed “Well, of course” tone, taking as golden truth the contentions that, to name a few, the war in Iraq will most likely go badly and be a drawn out, quagmiriffic affair, that a nuclear Iraq with Saddam at its helm isn’t really a threat and is only on Bush’s plate because he gets a stiffy thinking about dipping his hands into all that sweet, sweet oil, and that in order for war to be justified under Resolution 1441, we need incontrovertible proof of Saddam’s continued programs of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs.

Yes, yes .D.s.

So, it’s pretty clear that Seumas (my God, what a name to have in Junior High. Couldn’t his parents have picked something that sounded tougher … like “Alice” for instance?) would be mightily displeased at American unilateralism (even that strange brand of American unilateralism that includes Britain, Australia, Qatar, possibly even Canada now, and several others), yet at the same time, neither does his heart warm at the prospect of a UN resolution that specifically gives the go-ahead:


But in reality this UN procedure has already been shown to be a fraud. It has been absolutely clear throughout that the US, and by extension Britain – explicitly confirmed this week by Blair when he declared that the UN could exercise no “block” on war – have only been prepared to use the UN if it guarantees the result they want . It is only necessary to imagine applying such a condition to other systems of rules – elections or laws, for example – to see its utter absurdity.


Ah, yes. Absolutely absurd.

The bigger absurdity that Seumas seems to be missing however, is the analogy of an impartial body of law with absolute authority to the United Nations, an organization overrun by particular national interests coming from all sides . Indeed, this is the only true “multilateralism” that this august body repeatedly adheres to, where everyone is equally out to get their own.

Realists recognize that France’s oppostition to war is based on its own economic interests in Iraq, its pathological eagerness to still appear relevant to international affairs, and finally its very real and very justified fear that a war with Iraq will inflame its own hostile, unassimilated, ghetto-ized and armed-to-the-teeth muslim population inhabiting its inner cities. Realists can see that Saudi Arabia doesn’t want Saddam to be deposed because he’s the quitessential class troublemaker of the Middle East, who will draw the teacher’s attention away from the slightly more discrete criminal doings of all the other children. Realists also don’t blind themselves from the fact that, in the end, these countries will likely go along with a US-led attack once it becomes clear that we won’t be deterred by any international hecklers, because the thing they fear most is being left out of a high-profile, one-sided victory, whereby they may slide even further into a place of irrelevance from which their rhetoric will hold even less meaning for us than it already does.

The US is being as multilateralist as one could reasonably expect from a sane, not particularly suicidal nation, for it has frequently sought allies and tried to enlist others to the cause. What it will not do however, is to hang itself out to dry so that it can further the economic/political/psychological interests of other nations who would not bat an eye if the Great Satan were thrown to the wolves.

last update : 23-5-2018

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