‘Multilateralism’: A Dangerous Obsession

by | Mar 19, 2003

As war nears, it’s become clear that two of its instigators are Jacques Chirac, the president of France, and Hans Blix, the chief United Nations weapons inspector. If Chirac had stood with the United States and other nations in enforcing Resolution 1441 immediately and unconditionally, then Saddam Hussein, faced with powerful and unanimous opposition, may […]

As war nears, it’s become clear that two of its instigators are Jacques Chirac, the president of France, and Hans Blix, the chief United Nations weapons inspector.

If Chirac had stood with the United States and other nations in enforcing Resolution 1441 immediately and unconditionally, then Saddam Hussein, faced with powerful and unanimous opposition, may have capitulated.

If Blix had been tough in condemning Saddam’s lack of compliance, the cynics running the French, Russian and Chinese governments would not have been able to keep asking for more time. All Blix needed to do was tell the Security Council that Iraq’s initial report was incomplete and that Saddam was thus in material breach of the resolution.

Behind Chirac’s obstructionism, of course, were France’s desire for Iraqi oil, the French president’s long and harmonious relationship with the Iraqi dictator, and France’s desire to control Europe without U.S. interference. For the French, it didn’t start this year. “They have consistently opposed efforts to hold Saddam Hussein accountable for his actions,” said Vice President Cheney on Sunday.

As for the avuncular Blix: the usual explanation for his squishiness is that he does not want to be responsible for causing a war. He is, after all, a Swede. But that excuse is far too benign.

In a little-noticed interview with MTV on March 12, Blix revealed far too much about where his true sentiments lie. He doesn’t think that Saddam Hussein is such a terrible threat. In fact, his real nightmare is not the unleashing of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons. It’s climate change.

“I’m more worried about global warming,” he told MTV, “than I am of any major military conflict.”

Blix is hardly alone. The danger of warming has long been a cult belief among many Europeans. But, thanks to opposition from the U.S., Australia and developing nations, there is little chance that measures like the Kyoto Protocol will wreak damage on the world economy – and especially on the poor – from an abrupt and irresponsible reduction in energy use.

But now the real danger of the climate-change obsession is emerging: To Blix and other Europeans, it crowds out other threats. Saddam, Osama bin Laden, North Korea. These are no big deal compared with global warming. Climate change is the main act; Iraq is a sideshow.

Even Tony Blair, our staunch ally against Iraq, puts global warming roughly on a par with Saddam and terrorism as a danger. “The only answer,” he said last month, “is to construct a common agenda that recognizes both sets of issues have to be confronted for the world’s security and prosperity to be guaranteed. There will be no security if the planet is ravaged by climate change.”

Blair also said, “It is clear Kyoto is not radical enough.” He contended that extreme weather, brought on by global warming, had already caused enormous damage around the world and that the situation will worsen if politicians don’t muster the will to cut greenhouse-gas emissions.

Blair may simply have been responding to smarmy critics who claim he is an American lapdog. But he behaves as if he believes the Green rhetoric – even though there is not a shred of evidence that recent storms (which are far from unprecedented) were caused by planetary warming. The extent of the human role in the slight warming over the past century is also unknown. The temperature rise that untested computer models project over the next 100 years may – if it happens at all – be the result of natural cycles that have been occurring over millions of years.

Meanwhile, it is worth reading more of the Blix comments, which reveal not only his adherence to the global-warming cult but also his contempt for what he sees as U.S. “unilateralism” and his casual attitude toward war.

The MTV reporter asked Blix, “Do you notice, as many have suggested, that there’s an increasing unilateralist bent in the United States government?”

Blix answered, “Yeah. On big issues, like war in Iraq, but in many other issues they simply must be multilateral. There’s no other way around.

“You have the instances like the global warming convention, the Kyoto Protocol, where the U.S. went its own way. I regret it. We will have regional conflicts and use of force, but world conflicts I do not believe will happen any longer

“But the environment, that is a creeping danger. I’m more worried about global warming than I am of any major military conflict.”

In response to another question, he said:

“[C]hemical weapons have been the weapons of choice for terrorists as they were in Japan in the subway a number of years ago, so they will not be gone. But I don’t think there’s any reason for a rant of hysteria, no.

“At the same time, though, one must not disregard and forget the things that are breeding these terrorist movements. Why do they become terrorists? Why do they become so desperate they are willing to blow up airplanes or buildings? Therefore, we have to look at the social problems as well.”

With a chief inspector like Blix, it’s easy to understand why Saddam has not disarmed. Blix knows all the Euro buzzwords: root causes, global warming, unilateralism. The real question is why the U.S. decided to go through the U.N. in the first place when we had the legal authority to pursue disarmament and regime change with our own coalition. The answer, of course, is that we decided to be multilateral. Next time, that’s a mistake we won’t repeat.

Ambassador Glassman has had a long career in media. He was host of three weekly public-affairs programs, editor-in-chief and co-owner of Roll Call, the congressional newspaper, and publisher of the Atlantic Monthly and the New Republic. For 11 years, he was both an investment and op-ed columnist for the Washington Post.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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