Home / Archive tout / After Iraq: Can We Build a Better World ?

After Iraq: Can We Build a Better World ?

A year after the Iraq war, even if the analysis of how to tackle the problems diverge wildly, the good news is that most Europeans and Americans can probably agree that:

. There are still numerous threats to global security

. The existing global institutions are not able to meet these threats.

This paper explores ways which may be acceptable to both sides of the Atlantic in instituting a reform of global governance.

{{The Bush Administration: Asking the Right Questions}}

Even many who hate President Bush’s policies can safely admit that this Administration has dared to pose some good questions:

• Why should we continue to deal with dictators given that they are the cause of many countries’ economic impoverishment, human rights abuses and insecurity?

• How can we stop the spread of Weapons of Mass Destruction?

• Why do our post-World War II international institutions (United Nations, World Bank, North Atlantic Treaty Organization…) seem so ponderous and out of step?

This is crucial, as many Europeans have for decades posed similar questions, and pointed out that the world order, whilst perhaps “stable”, is deeply flawed and needs change.

{{The Europeans: Need to Start Thinking of Better Answers}}

The biggest failing of all Europeans in recent times – and this applies to Tony Blair just as it does to Jacques Chirac – is their singular lack of creativity. It was their inability to find a serious credible alternative to US policy (prolonging inspections was just more of the same, not an alternative) which left many countries the choice of either being sucked into the US’s slipstream, or being repelled by the eddy of the same blast of cold air, as the juggernaut of American military might bulldozed its way to Baghdad.

Moreover, Iraq is the beginning (not the end) of the American plans to restructure the world order. Regardless of which candidate is returned to the White House in 2005, if the European Union fails to become pro-active, Iraq may just be the first of many shocks coming from across the Atlantic, which could deconstruct 50 years of integration.

{{Finding a Carrot: A Group which the Whole World Wishes to Join}}

{The UN and NATO must change, and the EU can help}

The UN is having trouble tackling the fundamental issues of our day – which are not necessarily those highlighted in the Iraq war. Whilst all blame cannot be parked at its door, a better way has to be found to bring poor, oppressed peoples the chance of sustainable democratic development. NATO, also, once a cornerstone of our post-war order, came under strain with the Iraq War. Moreover its institutions are likely to find it ever harder to cohere as membership expands.

Europeans thus face the risk that if NATO and the UN remain as they are, the US may simply ignore them. Moreover, making the world a better place cannot be done all by threats or invasions. It must be done by offering incentives too.

Indeed the EU has something very special to offer here. It has created the only mechanism so far effective working that spreads wealth and democracy: this mechanism is called membership. Not that the main gains come from the act of joining the group. Rather they come precisely because (unlike the UN) the rules of the club are such that only countries respecting democracy, rule of law, and economic reform can join. By setting the bar very high, the EU galvanizes tremendous internal positive changes in aspirant countries. In exchange these then benefit from the EU’s own political, financial and security guarantees.

The need today is for an organisation that plays precisely this same role globally. NATO, which is already playing a part role in Central and Eastern Europe, is the ideal candidate. NATO should be renamed, and any country in the globe be allowed to join if they are functioning democratic, market economies respecting the rule of law and having solved domestic, and border conflicts. Countries like Australia, Botswana, Chile and New Zeeland would likely be able to join at once. Countries such as South Africa, and Russia would have a tremendous incentive to continue moving in the right direction – not least with the prospect of Article 5 (mutual defence) guarantees, and a re-direction of financial support by existing members to these weaker candidates.

{The mission must determine the coalition, not the coalition the mission}

Some see the so-called “Wolfowitz Doctrine” as a threat, but the EU should recognise it to be an opportunity too. A NATO transformed into a global organization could provide democracies with a mechanism for consultation on geopolitical issues, and a platform to design inter-operable military forces. Whilst not replacing the United Nations, it would provide a useful additional framework. Moreover, whenever the UN requires military action to enforce its resolutions, the new NATO’s forces would be available. NATO already recognizes that not all countries will be involved in every mission, hence opening the door to coalitions of the willing being recruited from its ranks.

To ensure that NATO decision making does not grind to a halt, a form of majority voting could be introduced, with both the US and the EU (the latter only collectively) having a veto right. Even if individual EU Member States sat at the table, by only attributing a veto to the EU collectively, a powerful encouragement would be given to the development of a real European Security and Defence Policy. Furthermore, by broadening the alliance beyond its current geography, the notion that a single EU voice may threaten remaining members would be reduced, as in a bigger NATO, having a single EU voice would be a blessing in order to have rapid decisions.

{{Finding a Stick: Building a Legal System to Handle Tyrants}}

{International law needs to protect peoples, not just states}

Still, even if an attractive force for change is built, there will still be a need to handle “bad guys with bad weapons”. Europeans shrink at the idea that Syria or North Korea could go the way of Iraq. But if we are serious in wishing to avoid this, the EU had better propose a better way to rid the world of dictators seeking Weapons of Mass Destruction.

In this context, the EU could capitalize on the recent trend in International Law to accord less weight to national sovereignty, and more to the rights of peoples living in those states. In bombing the former Yugoslavia during the Kosovo crisis, NATO set a precedent, drawing limits on what a country’s leader can do domestically without interference by the international community. The war in Iraq extended this logic further: the argument made by the United States and United Kingdom was that the systematic abuse of human rights in a country, when combined with WMD, is unacceptable for the international community. Most Europeans could probably agree, if a mechanism could be found for removing cruel dictators from power in a bloodless manner, and if guilt could be established. These conditions point to the need for a law-based approach.

{For an International Criminal Court that the US would want to join}

Hence the EU could suggest that the Security Council be empowered to indict a leader of country and order his trial before the ICC. The rules could be drawn up so as to catch only those clearly beyond the pale. Hence leaders democratically elected could not be indicted (ruling-out the US, Russia, Israel, etc), but those who are developing Weapons of Mass Destruction against international law could be subject to indictment . By making the Security Council the arbiter of who is indicted, and excluding democracies from the target list, Washington’s main objections to the ICC are removed.

Indictment may trigger change, as it did in Serbia. But it would be wise to add further teeth. In the absence of compliance by the regime targeted, the Security Council could automatically “de-recognise” the leader concerned. This would legitimise domestic opposition seeking to remove the dictator, as well as freezing the regime’s international assets, representation, and travel with “smart sanctions”. To increase the internal pressure, the Security Council could decide to spread the dragnet of indictments to other individuals in that country. As the elite feels threatened, so its interest in finding a solution (i.e. removing the dictator) increases. If after a fixed time, the regime is still in power, and not disarming, then the door would be open to “any necessary measures”. This however would authorise the use of force only for the removal of the offending individuals, hence again increasing the pressure for an internal revolution.

An interference in national sovereignty? Absolutely, but less so than invasion. And who knows, it may be that we can remove some unpleasant figures from power by encouraging collapse from within, rather than invasion from without.


Regardless of whether the ideas floated above find any resonance, the crucial fact remains, it is not good enough for us in Europe to whine about US policy. By the time we will have stopped crying, only the rubble will be left. Any solution obligatorily passes through our becoming creative – moving away from the lowest common denominator politics of what we have tried before, and suggesting new ways (and indeed processes) of doing things. Love him or hate him, George W. may be doing us a favour by destroying the foundations of what we believed in for the last sixty years.

About adminMSIT001

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.