Nothing Wrong With Losing


Fred Kaplan is, as usual, very good in his latest. I wanted, however, to highlight something he says that expresses a very common sentiment that I think ought to be called into question: “Meaningful, multilateral sanctions seem a dead end at this point, in any case; to continue to push for them, when crucial governments are set against them, only makes the United States and the United Nations look more foolish.”

I know I’m tilting against the overwhelming consensus here, but I think it’d actually be good to see the United States make a serious proposal for multilateral something-or-other that we’d like to see happen, to get some support for the proposal on the Security Council, to put it to a vote, lose the vote, and then complain about the loss but accept it as legitimate. It seems to me that this is how the Security Council ought to work — not unlike a legislature, where people regularly introduce proposals that they know are going to be defeated. Obviously, Bush isn’t one to care about this sort of thing, but I think establishing a trend in that direction would be of enormous benefit to the UN over time.