On the news now, a correspondent reported from the Azores where the pro-war-in-Iraq lobby have been meeting. She said something I found startling. Apparently at several points during the last few months it had looked like the UK/US position would get upwards of nine/ten votes in the Security Council. That was until France declared its intention to use its veto. At this point the other countries saw no advantage in voting to approve a war that couldn’t happen anyway – and which might cost them an election. Almost to a man, they changed to a no vote.
I’ve expressed repeatedly my anxieties with any upcoming war with Iraq – that while it’s clear to me that Saddam Hussein is an unpleasant man who should be removed, the route that I believe has to be taken is one of international collaboration. I do not believe that any country or group of countries should be able to act internationally (unless they have directly and individually been provoked) without at least the vaguest assent from the international community. My opinion has been that, should there be failings in the United Nations, then it is the job of the world to change the United Nations, not to disregard it.
But my whole position has relied on the integrity of the people concerned. If countries act in an honourable way, then I have respect for their opinions. And I’ve argued to defend the assumption that people are acting honourably. I have continually argued for France’s right to express its dissent from the opinion of the international community. And I’ve been hostile to the possibility that France or the United States should try and bargain with, threaten or buy the votes of any other country on the Security Council or across the world.
But where is this integrity, exactly? France has crossed the line a couple of times. The United States and the UK have demonstrated that they’re not averse to a little bullying as well. And now we hear that the votes of the rest of the Security Council depend only on what they think will play well with their electorates. Our world is run by monsters and hypocrites and if I could retire from it, I would.