Thursday, February 02, 2006

Revenge of the Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys!!

In today's Guardian, Timothy Garton Ash has a post about why the international community needs to create "a new international system for the supervision and inspection of nuclear capacities in every country in the world. It should be explicit, consistent and administered by the nearest thing we have to a world arbiter, the United Nations. In order for it to be credible, established nuclear powers such as Britain and the US will have to submit themselves to the same regime of supervision and inspection as everyone else."

The title of this post comes not only from an excellent episode of The Simpsons, but from Ash's assertion that the French, by virtue of Chirac's veiled threat to use nuclear force in response to terrorism, have become tougher than the US, which Ash believes has seen the light by recognizing that "the only serious answer [to the problem of Iran's nuclear program] coming from Washington is multilateral diplomacy, preferably through the UN. Welcome to the Euroweenies club, Mr President!"

I doubt the logic here, but even if Ash is correct, how can he possibly put his faith in the UN to solve this problem? Is there not an international institution known as the IAEA, of which Iran is a member, that has the power to control nuclear material and punish countries for violating the rules? Is there not an international institution known as the UN which has the power to enforce on a global scale the rules of the IAEA? Ash's solution is tantamount to announcing that while the UN has failed and will never work, the solution is to simply keep trying.

The UN's problems and inability to solve difficult problems like this are not in its scope, but in its design. Having 5 nations that possess opposing understandings of international security and national interest responsible for making policy -- and giving each the power to prevent anything from happening -- is a recipe for an unworkable solution. Why does Ash have any hope that a new institution could be better? If it is to be made stronger and more binding, the powerful states won't join it. If it looks like the UN, preserving the sovereignty of all, then what's the point?

The only solutions to the problem rest with either unilateral or small-scale multilateral action (like NATO) or in creating an institution that is not as inclusive as the UN and thus can actually make decisions, pass judgments, and enforce its rules. Recreating the UN is simply a fool's errand.


patrick said...

Sadly, TGA's recent work is not up to par. He made a lot of sense when he commented on European domestic politics, but his recent takes on Europe-US relations have been rather vapid. His most recent book Free World is particularly poor. This is what happens when journalists become pundits.

Antiquated Tory said...

I would add that my one friend with a job in a relevant part of the American government insists that there will be a war if the Iranians get too close to having the Bomb, the only question being what kind of war, which will depend on who signs up for it.
Given Iraq, I'm afraid the answers are 'not an effective kind of war' and 'hardly anyone.'