Monday 20 January 2003

Don't count on the UN to save us from going to war

Within the cabinet, the Labour party and in the country at large, a touching faith is increasingly placed in the ability of the UN to extricate us from the Iraq mess. This sentiment, broadly shared across western Europe, was summed up last week by a British minister: "Stick to the UN and there will be infinitely less trouble and even no trouble at all."

Some people, including leftish MPs and bishops, seem to hope that, in effect, the UN will save us not from our avowed enemy, Iraq, but from our main ally, America. Many others, motivated by a wide range of different concerns, also focus on demands for a second UN security council debate and/or resolution that, unlike last autumn's resolution 1441, would specifically authorise, or block, military action.

Such hopes of salvation or absolution are woefully misplaced from almost every point of view. Those opposed to war have little reason to believe that the security council, having voted unanimously for 1441, will thwart the US now. Although the council's composition has changed since then, political considerations, rather than considerations of justice, remain uppermost for the four other permanent members.

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