Thursday, March 25, 2004


The article of the day seems to be George Monbiot's "A charter to intervene" from the Guardian. In it he argues in favour of the UN as the ultimate arbiter of when a supposed "humanitarian intervention" is justified, and for reforming the UN charter to allow it to licence such wars. I agree. There's a problem, and sometimes military force might be a solution; while one nation or a coalition of nations may seek to use humanitarianism to mask other objectives (as the Italians did in Abyssinia and the US did in Iraq), requiring them to run it past others and gain the approval of uninterested parties makes this much more difficult.

Yes, I know I'm agreeing with Sock Thief here, but it's actually not that surprising. We're both liberal internationalists; we just have different opinions of George Bush and Robert Fisk.

What may surrise Sock Thief is that many of the anti-war movement would also agree with Monbiot. The UN is seen as a source of international legitimacy by non-Americans; an explicit Security Council motion permiting action against Iraq would have removed many people's objections (at least to the extent that it was believed to be free of threats and bribery from the US).

What scuppers it of course is that any serious UN reform has to include reforming the Security Council by removing the veto and the idea of "permanent" members. And the vetoholders will never allow that to happen. As a result, the UN's legitimacy will continue to suffer.

(Monbiot's article has also spurred Morgue to say some interesting things).