END THE VETO POWER?….I’ve noted many times that I think the UN has shown pretty good judgment in matters of military action by its members over the years. Not perfect judgment, mind you, but it has a pretty respectable record, and that’s one reason why working through the UN on Iraq is a good idea.
But here’s a question: isn’t it about time to get rid of the veto power of the five permanent members? The U.S. has been one of the loudest defenders of this privilege over the years, but it’s not clear to me that it has ever worked in our favor, let alone that it continues to do so.
Consider: if 14 out of 15 Security Council members approved of an invasion of Iraq but France vetoed it, it’s hard to argue that this should be allowed to prevent a military action that obviously has virtually unanimous international support. In this case, international action would indeed be held hostage to the unilateral action of one nation.
On the other hand, if the U.S. can’t persuade 10 out of 15 Security Council members that we should invade Iraq, I would argue that we should seriously consider the idea that we’re making a mistake. In the extreme, of course, we reserve the right to act on our own, but significant opposition suggests that at the very least we should take a step back and reconsider things.
The veto power of the permanent members makes the UN like a sort of crap game, where any of the permanent members can block UN policy at any time for any reason. Is it any wonder, then, that the UN is often ineffective? Get rid of the the veto power, place more trust in our diplomatic efforts, and I suspect that while we would lose a few arguments, we would win a lot more. And overall, the UN would probably become a friendlier place.
UPDATE: Bryant Durrell at Population: One proposed the same thing last week and included a link to this cool table, which shows which countries have been the biggest users of the veto power over the years.