Waging Peace
March 16, 2003 5:50 PM   Subscribe

Waging Peace: Dr. Robert Muller, former assistant secretary general of the United Nations, and one of the people who witnessed the founding of the U.N., says the global body is fulfilling its ultimate purpose: "Never before in the history of the world has there been a global, visible, public, viable, open dialogue and conversation about the very legitimacy of war".
posted by alms (19 comments total)
well, this isn't funny.
posted by quonsar at 6:01 PM on March 16, 2003

Dr. Muller is perhaps unaware of the Kellogg-Briand pact, which outlawed war back in 1928. Certainly he doesn't mean to imply that some countries have been disobeying international law since then, does he?
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 7:30 PM on March 16, 2003

No war, no peace.

Know war, know peace.
posted by republican at 7:34 PM on March 16, 2003

maybe I'm just being cynical here, but isn't the UN's "ultimate purpose" to stop war instead of just talking about it? Seems like a global/visible/public/etc. dialogue about the legitimacy of war isn't going to do anything to keep this from happening. It may be "all a conversation" still at this stage, but I'd be willing to wager that the war will start within a week or two.
posted by Vidiot at 7:45 PM on March 16, 2003

It may be "all a conversation" still at this stage, but I'd be willing to wager that the war will start within a week or two.

I agree. That's, I think, one of the most interesting questions: do Robert Muller's insights become any less valid once the war starts? Is the public exposure and dialog still as significant a step forward as he says it is, even if the war begins? How will the dialog continue once the war begins? Or will it? Democratic candidates for President have said they'll shut up once the bombs start falling. But will the rest of the US or world?
posted by alms at 7:55 PM on March 16, 2003

A week or two? The smart money's on Wednesday -- although Robert Fisk thinks that the UN can still stop it.
posted by muckster at 8:03 PM on March 16, 2003

The official "War" - invasion of Iraq - is likely to be swift. But after the initial blaze of glorious victory, months after the welcoming crowds which initially greeted the American troops as liberators have melted away, I suspect the Americans, noble ideals and all, will be caught in a trap of their own devising as initial Iraqi goodwill turns to grumblings, then to sniper fire, then to suicide bombings......and it is at this point the real test - for those who believe in the cause of Peace- will come: to somehow prevent the polarization of the world into competing camps filled with hate and rage.
posted by troutfishing at 8:08 PM on March 16, 2003

you mean just like it is in Afghanistan now, right?

posted by Vidiot at 8:12 PM on March 16, 2003

The war has been going on for some time now. The invasion phase is what is coming up.
posted by moonbiter at 10:10 PM on March 16, 2003

Vidiot, although current Afghanistan is not the Paradise Terrestrial, isn't it in much better shape, with better prospects for the future, than it has been for most of the last two decades? (1, 2, 3, ) Most of the dark predictions made before the war by left-wing media like CommonDreams (muckster's 'smart money'), like mass civilian starvation, or a Vietnam-like quagmire, simply haven't happened. I can't imagine Iraq won't be better off without Saddam, than with him.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 3:08 AM on March 17, 2003

Good point, Slithy. I agree especially with your last sentence. But I also wonder for Iraq's future, since the Administration that's so bent on invasion hasn't really seemed to have given too much thought to what happens after. This is coming from a camp that openly disparaged (and continues to disparage) "nation-building." And from what I understand, some parts of Afghanistan -- those tenuously held by the Northern Alliance with US support -- are in better shape. But I do think the Administration needs to do a more thorough job of addressing what comes AFTER Saddam has fallen.
posted by Vidiot at 4:11 AM on March 17, 2003

isn't the UN's "ultimate purpose" to stop war

Early intervention can prevent larger problems later. The first Gulf War is a good example of containment, otherwise we'd be looking at a much wider Gulf War today. Iraq was building WMD, had allready used them, and had ambitions beyond Kuwait, we know that for sure. If thats still true today remains unclear but we know that sanctions and no-fly zones helped temper those ambitions but we can't do that forever there has to be resolution.
posted by stbalbach at 4:35 AM on March 17, 2003

troutfishing, from what I know of the Persian mentality I don't think there will be isolated pockets of resistence. Persians operate with a centralized command and controll but once that is gone they will see no reason to resist. We saw it in the first Gulf War. Think back to Alexander of Macedon. He regularly took on Persian armys 10 times his size but he knew if he flanked the lines and caused the King to personally retreat the rest would follow. He did this many times to his success. The notion of a lone sniper or pockets of resistence is a Western tradition of individualism that is not so strong in fact they would probably consider that a "barbarian" way to fight.
posted by stbalbach at 4:48 AM on March 17, 2003

Except Iraqis aren't Persians.
posted by Vidiot at 5:02 AM on March 17, 2003

No war, no peace.

Know war, know peace.

republican, the surest way to reserve an eternity of hellfire and damnation is to steal hokey slogans from the fundies. The fundy God would smite you in a heartbeat for far less.
posted by eustacescrubb at 5:12 AM on March 17, 2003

though current Afghanistan is not the Paradise Terrestrial, isn't it in much better shape, with better prospects for the future, than it has been for most of the last two decades?

Yep, opium production is at an all time high and the CIA has the infrastructure in place for the distribution. Good times in WarLordistan, except for those starving, those not growing opium, all the females, anyone wanting fresh water or a decent place to live that hasn't been bombed to shit, etc. Yep, just like the good old days. [/snark]
posted by nofundy at 6:10 AM on March 17, 2003

Except Iraqis aren't Persians.

Near East would be more appropriate term.

"Iraq" was part of the Persian empire for a long time.
posted by stbalbach at 7:23 AM on March 17, 2003

St. Balbach - Don't get mired in that "Iraqis aren't Persian." quagmire. Languagehat and I had at each other over that one (though I think he knows more than I on the issue...) and it ended with mutual apologies. It's a rather gray issue.

I hope you are right...but I am invoking basic human psychology here - no one loves an occupying force. If the US somehow quickly "De-Baathizes" Iraq and moves slowly but steadily on measures to reassure Iraqis that the final outcome, in several years, would be self determination under some limited form of democracy (along with a return of the economic prosperity which should really be flourishing in Iraq given the country's highly educated population and vast oil reserves) well, then, it might work out for the best.

But remember - the Americans will be sorely tested. The troublemakers will not necessarily be Iraqis (at least initially). Many Islamic extremists are flooding into Iraq to combat the Americans. They will attempt to force the Americans into taking repressive or punitive measures which could provoke the Iraqi public and polarize the situation. Israeli troops were greeted as liberating heroes freeing the country from the scourge of Arafat's PLO, at first, when Sharon sent troops into Southern Lebannon in 1980. One year later, though, the suicide bombing attacks against those same Israeli troops had begun.

By the same token, the saga of US military presence in Afghanistan has just begun. Wait a year or two.
posted by troutfishing at 8:14 AM on March 17, 2003

On the question of Persia, according to Will Durant the Persians originated as a bunch of tribes in the mountains of Kurdistan in 837BC and were Indo-Europeans from the Caspian Sea area and conqured the incumbant Assyrians. At the height of the empire it covered western India through Egypt. The founding capital city was in present day Hamadan in Iran. The empire declined quickly from degeneration and Alexanders conquest was the end of it.

I agree with you religious zelots will cause problems but hopefully we will be able to literaly buy them off which is how we handle Afghanistan. Most people in that part of the world will be loyal to the hand that feeds and protects them, at least for a while.
posted by stbalbach at 5:41 PM on March 18, 2003

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