Archive for June 23rd, 2008|Daily archive page

the danger of the UN

In the comments to a post at abu muqawama (a good COIN blog), there is a discussion of the role of the UN in world security. I take the position that it has recently made the world a more dangerous place. Here is my argument, which is also posted in abu muqawama’s comments. (The whole post is worth a read as well.)

The invasion of Iraq in 2003 was a direct result of the UN’s corruption during the sanctions period. If the UN had authorized the removal of Saddam in 1998 when the inspectors decided he was making their job impossible, they could have given him one last chance and he would have made good on it, or not. Whether Saddam complied or not, and been removed or not, the UN would have been both effective and seen as effective, and it would have kept the proper relationship between US military force and the UN. This would have probably been the best resolution.

Instead, when Butler and his inspectors left Iraq, the UN did nothing, and effectively the Coalition did nothing. Of course, by that time three of the permanent members of the UNSC had been bought by offers to allow their oil companies to develop Iraqi oil fields once sanctions were lifted. Since the US had made a big show of following the UNSC, Saddam considered himself safe to do as he pleased.

What pleased him was causing pretty big numbers of Iraqis to die due to malnutrition and lack of proper medical care after he had corrupted the Oil for Food program. The UN officials he bought looked the other way, and he and his cronies got wealthier while his propaganda machine exploited the deaths he caused to build hatred against the US. AQ cited Iraqi deaths under sanctions as one reason they attacked the US, I believe, and I am fairly certain Saddam’s propaganda on the sanctions helped recruit anti-US terrorists in the late 90s and early 2000s.

At the same time, Saddam was funding and supporting terrorist groups, particularly ones that targeted Israel. Since the Isreali-Palestinian issue is seen as key to peace in the ME, Saddam’s influence was for more war and less peace.

The UN was Saddam’s main protector, regardless of what he did, what laws he broke, or how many deaths he caused, because he bribed the relevant components of it. This contributed far more to violence and instability than to peace, law and order. Clearly the UN increased the threat of violence in the ME and the world during that decade, and it has not apparently improved in the meantime.


part 2