Posted by andreas from dtm2-t9-1.mcbone.net (18.104.22.168) on Sunday, March 16, 2003 at 5:20AM :
If you can't win, change the rules of the game.
Along this brilliant line Joseph S. Nye proposes in the Washington Post to
modify preemptively the Charter of the - then pre-emptied - United Nations
in order to include preemptively the possibility of a preemptive war.
This type of intervention then would be waged within a multilateral
This proposition - stemming from a reputed professor of political sciences
(or better: political engeneering) - positions itself in the perspective
and as an extension of a flurry of diverse tentatives which aim at
preventing any veto against the US politics.
Taking into account the impossibility of winning over the permanent members
of the UN Security Council, Nye envisages to suppress the authority of the
council and to substitute for it the vasal coalitions of the coerced,
coaxed and hoaxed which are so intrepidly being manufactured by the US.
By Joseph S. Nye
Friday, March 14, 2003; Page A27
Iraq is the first test of the new Bush doctrine of preventive war. Because
it represents a dramatic departure in American history, it is crucial that
we set the right precedent.
President Bush's national security strategy makes a plausible general
argument for preventive war. Technology has increased the lethality and
agility of terrorists, and the trend is likely to continue. In the 20th
century, malevolent individuals such as Hitler and Stalin needed the power
of governments to be able to kill millions of people. If 21st-century
terrorists get hold of weapons of mass destruction, that power of
destruction will for the first time be available to deviant groups and
individuals. This "privatization of war" is not only a major change in
world politics; its potential impact on our cities could drastically alter
our civilization. And the fear is that certain deviant states, such as Iraq
and North Korea, might become enablers of such terrorist groups. This is
what the new Bush strategy gets right.
What the administration has not yet sorted out is how to go about
implementing its new approach. It is deeply divided between assertively
imperial unilateralists on the one hand and more multilateral and cautious
realists on the other. Since 1945, Article 51 of the U.N. Charter has
enshrined a broad consensus that a state's use of force should be
restricted to individual or collective self-defense. Preemption in the face
of imminent attack -- such as Israel faced in 1967 -- is widely regarded as
acceptable self-defense, but preventive war has not been accepted.
Now, as Bush has argued, with the new threat of transnational terrorism and
weapons of mass destruction, the cost of waiting may be too high. The test
of "imminence" must be broadened. But the price of moving from preemption
to prevention should be some form of collective legitimization, preferably
under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which is concerned with threats to the
peace as well as acts of aggression. Multilateral preventive war may be
justified when unilateral preventive war is not. Otherwise the awful
lessons of the first half of the 20th century would be lost, and any state
could set itself up as judge, jury and executioner. That precedent would
come back to haunt us.
We also need a careful checklist of criteria to limit the number of future
cases. Iraq meets these criteria. The regime has a history of aggression
that has already been condemned by the Security Council. It has used
weapons of mass destruction. It has been a state sponsor of terrorism. It
lacks a pluralistic political system that allows internal restraints. A war
would meet the standard of a just cause. Moreover, the military means we
would use can discriminate between combatants and noncombatants, and there
is a reasonable prospect of success. So far, the missing criterion is a
broad coalition of allies. Without it, Iraq could be a case of the right
war at the wrong time.
Impatient hawks say that our military buildup is costly to maintain and
that we must act before hot weather arrives in the Persian Gulf. But cool
weather comes more than once a year. As the world learned in 1914, military
timetables should not determine such momentous decisions.
The Bush administration has made a strong moral argument for action, but it
must be more attentive to the political benefits of moving with a broad
coalition. It is unlikely that calling in more inspectors would persuade
Saddam Hussein to choose between disarmament and his survival, but it could
help to broaden the coalition. Given the administration's rapid military
buildup and our blustery diplomacy with France, it is likely war will come
soon. But if more time would produce a broad coalition, it would be worth
Public opinion polls show that the American people are willing to support
the use of force, but only if the United States acts with broad support.
President Bush has raised the right question about preventive war. Now he
needs the patience and diplomatic skill to complete the full checklist if
he is to produce the right answer.
The writer is dean of Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and
author of "The Paradox of American Power."
© 2003 The Washington Post Company
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