Monday, January 20, 2003

Liberal rift opens over war stance
"Senior Liberal identities said the issue of whether troops should be dispatched if the UN Security Council did not endorse a resolution authorising the use of force was deeply dividing the party. While the Prime Minister, John Howard, has repeatedly said Australia still hoped for a peaceful solution, he has, in line with the US position, declined to rule out military action even if it is not sanctioned by the UN. A Herald poll, published on Saturday, found 92 per cent of Australians would not support such involvement."

Australia should not, of course, be involved in any war on Iraq with or without a UN resolution. But the extent of opposition in Australia, the US and the UK to a war without UN backing will place immense pressure on the US to get the necessary UN Security Council resolution. A combination of bribes, intimidation and heavy handed diplomacy may well achieve the desired result for the US, as it has done in the past. But the Council may vote against such a resolution, and countries such as France, Russia and China may veto it. Will the Bush Administration go ahead without UN support? It has has signalled repeatedly that it will. For the UN to retain credibility, it must vote down or veto the resolution to attack Iraq if and when it is put by the US. The lesson of history is that it is a mistake to appease warmongers. If you give them one country, they want another, and another, until they are stopped by united, concerted action against; until war itself is effectively outlawed. Formally speaking, war was in fact outlawed by the establishment of the UN following the Second World War, but so much more needs to be done to put it permanently behind us.

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