« Our "Schizoid" Relationship with Animals | Main | Take Two Minutes and Do This Now »

Legitimizing Our "Overwhelming Might"

A typically good column by Thomas Friedman in yesterday's New York Times:

When all 15 members of the U.N. Security Council, including Syria, raised their hands in favor of a U.N. demand that Iraq submit to unrestricted inspections of its weapons arsenal or else face "serious consequences," it was the first hopeful moment I've felt since 9/11...

How did it happen? Well, the short answer is that we learned something surprising this past week -- that in the world of a single, dominant superpower, the U.N. Security Council becomes even more important, not less. France, Russia and China discovered that the most effective way to balance America's overwhelming might was not by defying that power outright, but by channeling it through the U.N. And the Bush team discovered that the best way to legitimize its overwhelming might -- in a war of choice -- was not by simply imposing it, but by channeling it through the U.N.

When Congress debated authorizing the use of force to disarm Iraq, I thought long and hard about it. I ended up deciding that Saddam Hussein is the type of person who only responds to believable threats of force, and that for such a threat to be believable, we would have to be fully prepared to follow through on it. Having said that, I'm glad that Colin Powell won the day and convinced President Bush to give him the time to pursue a Security Council resolution. I hope it doesn't come to war, but if it does, we have created a far more defensible position for ourselves.

Now, everyone who thinks the Security Council would have passed this resolution -- or that Iraq would have accepted it -- without the credible threat of attack from the US, raise your hands.

Post a comment