The world is divided between the hawks, Bush and Blair, and the doves – the UNO and the European Union. Russia takes centre stage, its vote being crucial for the development of world diplomatic history.
The British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has called an extraordinary one-day session of Parliament (in summer recess until mid October) to debate the issue of Iraq, since the government declares that “at present it is not in a position to take decisions on military intervention in Iraq”. Certainly not, that is the prerogative of Parliament.
As for George Bush, his discourse today (Thursday) at the UN General Assembly is expected to set the tone of the debate, with the rest of the world lining up dutifully behind the hawkish USA/UK block (doubtless enticed by carrot-and-stick methods of diplomacy) or sensibly, within the spirit of the UN Charter, the position adopted by Kofi Annan and the majority of the EU countries.
President Bush will try to convince the Assembly that the question of Iraq is an international one which requires international action, leaving it unsaid, no doubt, that if the UNO fails to adopt the methods which Washington deems adequate, then Washington and London will circumvent the organisation and do it alone. It is expected that President Bush will list the UN Resolutions Iraq is in breach of, although it is unlikely that he will do the same regarding Israel.
In an interview with the BBC yesterday, Kofi Annan declared that the UN Charter recognises the right to self-defence of all nations “however, in the fight against terrorism, an international cooperation is required to make it effective”, adding that any action against Iraq must be “multilateral”, the principle upon which the UNO is based.
Antonio Vitorino, the EU Commissioner, stated the position adopted by the majority of the EU countries, in declaring that it is under the auspices of the UNO where any action taken against Iraq should lie: “Under the terms of the UN Charter, in the circumstance of a regime posing a threat to regional stability, it has to be the object of a verification process under the Charter and then a decision by the UN Security Council. For this reason any action must be ratified by the Security Council”.
This is the rule of law in what it is hoped is a world where international law is respected and upheld through the proper mechanisms. Failure to do so is an insult to the spirit of the UNO and an admission that Mankind is utterly incapable of resolving his differenda through dialogue.
Near the United Nations Glass Palace in New York, there is a metallic sculpture entitled "Evil Defeated by Good", representing Saint George transfixing a dragon with his lance. It was donated by the USSR in 1990 to celebrate the INF Treaty concluded with the USA in 1987