LONDON – As the war in Iraq continues, politicians around the world have started conversations about post-war Iraq. There seems to be disagreement between those who hold weight in the international community, again.
This begs the question, does unanimous or even a majority of international consensus matter?
It does not seem so with the war in Iraq. The United Nations Security Council did pass Resolution 1441 last November. It called for a return of weapons inspectors and total disarmament by Iraq or it would face “serious consequences.” While the coalition led by the United States and United Kingdom is being validated internationally by 1441, a second, stronger worded resolution authorizing force was not passed.
The United Nations was created after World War II in an effort to prevent another world war and force dialogue between the entire international community. This certainly worked during the Cuban Missile Crisis and throughout the Cold War; a nuclear holocaust between the United States and the Soviet Union was averted. Broad international consensus was not gained much at all during the Cold War as both superpowers had vetoes in the Security Council.
Now the United States is the only superpower. It seems that international consensus is not nearly the top priority of the Bush administration, especially since Sept. 11. However, an issue like Iraq is nowhere near as large an issue as the possibility of another world war, which seems almost impossible at this point in history.
As it stands right now, I have yet to hear of any concrete findings of any biological, chemical or nuclear weapons in Iraq. Vials of a white powder found at an Iraqi military complex frequented by UN weapons inspectors are now believed to contain explosives, not chemical or biological agents, according to BBC online. The coalition must be hoping some evidence of weapons of mass destruction are found, but I suppose they can claim Iraq destroyed them when they knew the war was coming.
The validation of this war by finding these weapons seems much more important for British Prime Minister Tony Blair than U.S. President George Bush. Blair’s constant push for the war was based of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s failure to comply with 1441, while Bush changed his position to disarmament and regime change before the war began.
France, Germany and Russia, who were all opposed to military action in Iraq, are now beginning to voice concerns over the administration of post-war Iraq. Some in the Bush administration have voiced the possibility of the United States running the country while it is in its transition phase. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld suggested a former CIA director to head the operation, according to Sky News. France, Germany and Russia have said the UN should take over directly after the conflict is over, with the United States surrendering all control. Britain is remaining somewhat quiet but is in favor of some UN involvement.
Once again this is probably more of a concern for Blair than Bush. The U.K. is part of the European Union. The E.U. is a complicated system of supranational government, with its powers growing and changing from treaty to treaty. While defense is not yet covered in the E.U., a common foreign and security policy has been discussed. Respect between national governments is paramount in the E.U., which is split on Iraq. Blair must balance this with his close alliance to the United States.
International consensus is a tough issue in today’s democratic world. Governments are subject to the approval of their people ultimately, but not necessarily to the rest of the world. However, history has shown that if you cross a certain line, consequences are usually had. I wonder if that line will ever be crossed by a democracy. Only time will tell.
Vince is a junior technical journalism and political science double major. He is currently studying abroad at Middlesex University in north London. E-mail comments to Vblaser17@aol.com.