Here is an article that appeared in "The Straits Times" (Singapore) from a Japanese professor of international relations, Robyn Lim. In my opinion, it is a remarkably coherent perspective on Goofy Annan, nuclear weapons proliferation, and the War on Terror. http://straitstimes.asia1.com.sg/commentary/story/0,4386,274492,00.html SEPT 25, 2004 There's No Such Thing as an Illegal War By Robyn Lim AMERICA'S allies in Iraq have repudiated United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan's argument that the recent war in Iraq was 'illegal'. Japan has asked for a 'please explain'. When the UN Security Council proves itself not up to the job of ensuring rogue states live up to their commitments, the United States and its allies have no choice but to bypass the council. Otherwise, they will be unable to confront the intolerable risks to their security posed by the linkage among rogue states, Muslim terrorists and weapons of mass destruction. What is 'legality' in a world that lacks a common government and enforceable rules? The reality is that 'legality' is merely realpolitik by committee - what the five permanent members of the Security Council are able to agree on. By Mr Annan's definition, the 1999 war in Kosovo was also 'illegal' because Russia and China did not agree to it. Yet this was a 'politically correct' war because it was a humanitarian intervention. There was no US strategic interest at stake at the outset. (There soon was such an interest, however, because of then US president Bill Clinton's blunder in saying there would be no commitment of ground troops. That emboldened the Serbs to accelerate their ethnic cleansing of Kosovo Muslims, and that soon put Nato's credibility on the line.) In the immediate aftermath of the 1990-1991 Gulf War, there was optimism that the Security Council would work as intended - as a concert of great powers willing to use force if necessary to keep the peace. But that moment of optimism faded when Russia and China were unwilling to act as part of a great power concert in relation to the 'wars of the Yugoslav succession'. Moreover, Saddam Hussein was allowed to defy 17 resolutions of the Security Council. The world had to learn all over again what should have been learnt in relation to Germany after World War I - it is impossible to disarm a defeated state without occupying it. Members of the council, including France, were more intent on pursuing their economic and other interests in relation to Iraq than in enforcing the will of the 'international community'. Currently, the 'international community' is failing again in relation to Iran. If Iran is hell-bent on acquiring nuclear weapons, the 'international community' is again ducking the issue. Even at this point, the Iran issue has not been sent to the Security Council, mainly because China and Russia will not agree. Iran is following where North Korea has led. North Korea's dangerous nuclear brinkmanship has included blatant defiance of Pyongyang's commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Yet the Security Council has not even met on the issue. That's because China, which has done much to help arm North Korea, will not allow it, even though the more sensible elements in China seem to understand they have created a Frankenstein. Small wonder the NPT, one of the more successful Cold War arms control agreements, is now rapidly unravelling. How long, one wonders, will Japan be content to rely on the US and the NPT for its nuclear security? The US is uniquely powerful because of the collapse of countervailing Soviet power. But it is also uniquely vulnerable, as 9/11 showed. After 9/11, any US president will be driven by the fear of a nuclear weapon being exploded in an American city. Those who rail against perceived US 'unilateralism' do not understand this. If the Security Council proves itself unable to act in relation to Iran, its relevance will continue to be eroded. In Iran, the US faces hard choices. But the threat cannot be ignored. Iran is a long-time sponsor of Muslim terrorist groups such as Hamas, Hizbollah and Islamic Jihad. It rewards the suicide bombers in Israel. The hardline mullahs who rule in Teheran have long collaborated with North Korea and China in missile development. Indeed, Iran's Shahab 3 intermediate range missile can now threaten Israel as well as vital US and European interests in the Middle East. The Shahab 3 is said to have been fitted with an accurate Chinese navigation system, and is capable of being fitted with a nuclear warhead. The US, with its army still bogged down in Iraq, has no palatable options in relation to Iran's nuclear ambitions. But the option of doing nothing may not be available either. The same is true for Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East. No Israeli government can hope to survive if it sits on its hands while Iran acquires nuclear weapons. Mr Annan, by allowing the BBC to paint him into a corner saying the US-led war in Iraq is 'illegal', will help to convince even more Americans and allied governments that the UN is irrelevant. Australia's long-serving Prime Minister, Mr John Howard, is right when he says that the UN is paralysed. The writer is professor of international relations at Nanzan University, Nagoya, Japan.