How Kofi Annan Can Stop the War by Paul
According to recent reports, the United States may be about to warn the U.N.
inspectors and reporters to leave Iraq within three days. The purpose of
this warning will be to protect the inspectors and reporters from harm when
U.S. forces attack Iraq, perhaps late next week.
The situation provides an interesting opportunity for U.N. Secretary General
Kofi Annan. If the U.S. issues the expected warning, he can and should
announce that the U.S. has no authority to evict the inspectors, who are
United Nations employees. Furthermore, Annan can say that he will not
withdraw the inspectors from Iraq unless he is ordered to do so by the U.N.
Security Council or the inspectors report that they are not being allowed to
do their job.
Any effort to get the Security Council to order the inspectors out under
current circumstances would undoubtedly fail, and if by some miracle it did
get the needed nine votes it would certainly be vetoed by France, Russia, or
China. Such an announcement by the Secretary General would have three very
First, it is unlikely that President Bush and his advisors would proceed
with an attack, which would be a public relations nightmare as long as the
inspectors are still in Iraq.
Second, the announcement would not undermine the work of the inspectors, but
could even increase their clout, and that of the Secretary General,
vis-à-vis Saddam Hussein. As long as they remain, the inspectors would
protect Iraq from an American attack, but if not given carte blanche to do
their work they will leave.
Third, the announcement would become a precedent for greatly enhanced power
to be exercised by the Secretary General of the United Nations. This person
is the closest thing we have to a chief executive for the world, and he is
in a position from which it is natural to consider the welfare of the people
of the world as a whole.
Until now, the veto power enjoyed by the five permanent members of the
Security Council (U.S., Great Britain, France, Russia, and China) has
considered to be a limit on the power of the United Nations. However by
assuming the power to act on behalf of the human race unless the Security
Council tells him he cannot, the Secretary General can make the veto work to
increase his own power, and thus the power of the United Nations.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if today's tragic world conditions provided the
opening for a great leap forward in our world institutions! If he seizes the
opportunity fate has given him, Kofi Annan may well go down in history as a
"Machiavelli for peace," one of the greatest people of the twenty first
And it will be the Bush Administration that made it all possible!
Paul F. deLespinasse is professor emeritus of political
science at Adrian College in Michigan. He can be reached at