- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 18, 2000

Ambassador Richard Butler, who led UMSCOM in Iraq from 1992 to 1997, has just written a most important book that concerns Saddam Hussein's Iraq and the impotence of the international system in dealing with weapons of mass destruction.
Mr. Butler was the quintessential arms controller. He is one of the most devoted international civil servants, an idealist but not a utopian, with a strong sense of realism. His recent book, "The Greatest Threat: Iraq, Weapons of Mass Destruction, and the Crisis of Global Security" (Public Affairs, New York, 2000), analyzes in detail the serious structural and organizational obstacles in the United Nations Security Council that deal with the awesome development of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons of mass destruction.
Mr. Butler describes in great detail the trials and tribulations of UNSCOM, the deviousness and defiance of Saddam Hussein and his minions, and the lack of collective security spirit among three major powers that dominate the Security Council: China, Russia and France. Mr. Butler analyzes the seriousness of the new types of weapons of mass destruction now available to different members of the United Nations and the danger that internationally irresponsible rogue states are defying the Security Council, which presents a serious threat to global security.
The structural forces that impede today's arms control have to do with the anachronistic structure of the Security Council. Despite the fact that, in the last 50 years, the international community created a collection of treaties designed to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, treaties that cover nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, the United Nations Executive Committee, the Security Council, failed to shoulder its responsibility in such a serious matter dealing with annihilatory modern weapons.
These treaties served the international community and the objectives of the treaties, although not flawlessly. Mr. Butler's major complaint is that "the greatest impediment to complete success has been the decision by some states not to join the agreements and abide by their terms." These treaties could be cheated on from within and the means of verification would neither deter nor detect such cheating.
Saddam Hussein became the master of manipulating and deceiving members of the Security Council whose responsibility was to strictly adhere to the United Nations decision that created UNSCOM for the purpose of destroying Iraq's weapons of mass destruction within 15 days after the end of the Gulf war. Despite a monumental and successful effort on behalf of both UNSCOM chairmen Ambassadors Rolf Ekeus and Richard Butler, Saddam Hussein's arsenal has not been seriously diminished. And at the end of Amb. Butler's term in 1997, Saddam is almost free of the sanctions, and they are disappearing by the day. The reason for this failure was "the unreliability of the enforcement mechanism."
From Mr. Butler's viewpoint, a most serious reform in the field of arms control is called for in the United Nations to make it efficacious and reliable in the growing threat these weapons present to the international community. Unfortunately, this is not possible since the U.N. charter established after World War II endowed members of the Security Council with veto power. Throughout the Cold War, it was the Soviet Union that exploited the veto power to challenge Western powers and pursue its expansionist policies in Europe and the former colonial world.
The United Nations must be reformed now that the Cold War is over. The veto power does not have the same political and strategic meaning and use for the great powers. Mr. Butler, aware that you cannot abolish the veto, suggested a way to circumvent without denying the use of this power by the Security Council. His idea is the creation of a non-veto structure, parallel to the Security Council, that deals exclusively with destruction of weapons of mass destruction.
Mr. Butler puts forward the idea, which he called the principle of exception, "that weapons of mass destruction are fundamentally different from other threats to peace. They cannot be the subjects of politics as usual because of their capacity to destroy everything. They constitute both the greatest threat and the great exception."
Yet he believes that this structure process does not contradict "the realist notion of the centrality of power; it would not signal uncritical support for an idealist approach to simply make an exception of weapons of mass destruction because of their special character. Indeed, success in this venture would enhance their security as well as that of all other states."
Although he admits this is an idealistic approach, he does not believe the Security Council's present structure will successfully challenge the Saddam Husseins and Slobodan Milosevics of the world, or the Russians in Chechnya. He does not see a contradiction between power and principle, as it is connected with the effectiveness of international law and international life. Here, the role of the United States is "absolutely crucial."
It is for the United States as a benign empire whose presidents from Woodrow Wilson to Franklin D. Roosevelt advocated the need to empower international organizations, to lead in creating this exceptional structure that will deal exclusively with the disarmament of weapons of mass destruction. However admirable Amb. Butler's idea is, and it certainly directs itself to the most significant crisis in global security the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction I cannot share his optimism that all five powers, especially China and Russia, with such disparate concepts of power politics, would surrender to Mr. Butler's noble idea as would the United States.Amos Perlmutter is a professor of political science and sociology at American University and editor of the Journal of Strategic Studies.

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