Home

Right war, wrong time

President Bush has rallied his troops for what he calls “The first warof the 21st century”. What is your view of this crisis, where, briefly, do you stand? This is the question we are putting to people around the world, especially those with their own public reputation and following. Our aim, to help create a truly global debate all can identify with.
Joseph Nye
6 February 2003

Iraq may be a case of the right war at the wrong time. Preventing Saddam Hussein from developing weapons of mass destruction and defying more than a decade of resolutions passed under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter seems to meet the standard of just cause, and Resolution 1441 provides rightful authority.

On the other hand, a war would divert attention from the more imminent dangers posed by al-Qaida and North Korea. And it is important that any action involve a broad coalition. A few months ago, I described my position as that of an ‘owl’ - more willing to use force than the doves but more patient and multilateral than the hawks. It would have been more prudent to have built up troops more gradually and allowed more time for the inspectors and diplomacy to try to press Saddam to choose between disarmament and his survival. He still has this choice, but it appears that he is not learning from his past mistakes.

In the current situation, one can regret that we are at this branch of the decision tree, but realise that the costs of allowing Saddam to cheat again and return to the evasive diplomacy of the 1990s will have enormous long-run costs for the UN as well as for security more broadly.

© Joseph Nye 2003

Originally published as part of a debate on 6th February 2003 Writers, artists and civic leaders on the War: Pt. II

See also Writers, artists and civic leaders on the War: Pt. 1.

US election: what's at stake for the rest of us?

Our editor-in-chief, Mary Fitzgerald, is on the ground in key battleground states ahead of the US election.

There's never been more at stake. But the pandemic has kept many foreign journalists away. Hundreds of international observers who normally oversee US elections aren't there.

Hear Mary describe what she's seeing and hearing across the country, from regular citizens to social justice activists to right-wing militias arming themselves for election day.

Plus: hear from the journalists behind openDemocracy's latest big 'follow-the-money' investigation, which lifts the lid on how Trump-linked groups have exported their culture wars across the world.

Join us for a free live discussion on Thursday 29 October, 5pm UK time/1pm EDT.

Had enough of ‘alternative facts’? openDemocracy is different Join the conversation: get our weekly email

Comments

We encourage anyone to comment, please consult the oD commenting guidelines if you have any questions.
Audio available Bookmark Check Language Close Comments Download Facebook Link Email Newsletter Newsletter Play Print Share Twitter Youtube Search Instagram WhatsApp yourData