The United States wants to remove Saddam Hussein from power; its main allies would be content with his disarmament. The United States, therefore, wants to keep the United Nations weapons inspectors out of Iraq; its allies want to get them back in.
Today, capitalism is under attack for the first time since the fall of communism. Three reasons are mainly, and coincidentally, responsible. First, bear markets rule in the three main stock exchanges of the world. Whenever a lot of people lose a lot of money, they blame business. Second, a wave of scandals has hit the United States, affecting some of its best-known companies – Enron, Tyco, WorldCom. Scandals and bear markets are connected: Dubious accounting practices that are submerged in a tide of prosperity are ruthlessly exposed when the tide recedes.
The United States has officially demanded an immediate Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank. Israel has vowed to continue its “war for survival.” Meanwhile, the peacemakers shuttle sadly round the Middle East, oblivious to the fact that no one is listening to them.
It is fashionable to say that the suicide bombing of New York’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11 has profoundly changed the world. All press comment has been based on this assumption, with appropriately “deep” analyses of its effects on international relations, the world economy, globalization and so on.
The Nato action in Kosovo raises three questions for international relations. Was it legal? Was it just? And was it prudent? I will concentrate mainly on the third question, because this is most directly to do with Russia’s place in the international system. But first let me say something about the first two.
Was it legal?