- The Washington Times - Monday, February 17, 2003

As we watch our every move against Iraq being thwarted by two international bodies, the U.N. Security Council and NATO, it is important to remember that these organizations are not sacrosanct institutions requiring revolutions or constitutional amendments to be changed. They simply are bodies in which the United States is a member-state because they serve our national interests, like any of a myriad of other security organizations that have come (and gone) before. As such, there is no reason that the United States should not seek to form new alliances when it faces new threats.
For example, the United States was for decades a member of the South East Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO), an alliance formed to provide defense against Communist aggression in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific. This coalition was founded in 1954 by Australia, France, Great Britain, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand and the United States. After political disputes, France ceased active participation in SEATO in 1967, and Pakistan withdrew in 1972. By mutual agreement, the alliance disbanded in 1977.
Similarly, the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) was a mutual defense alliance founded in 1959 by Iran, Pakistan, Turkey and the United Kingdom, with the United States as a de facto member. Iran and Pakistan went their separate ways in 1979, and CENTO disbanded after it no longer could be effective.
The U.N. security Council was formed by anti-Axis allies in the 1940s as a way of ensuring that era's threat never reappeared: fascism. As the 1950s dawned, it was obvious to some nations that this Security Council (with the USSR as a permanent member) would be ineffective in countering that era's new threat: communist encroachment into Western Europe so these nations formed a new alliance, NATO.
NATO and the Security Council remain important, but the first decade of the 21st century has come with its own new threat: global terrorism. As was true in the past, a new alliance is needed today to defeat this new menace.
Abandoning the United Nations or NATO would be too drastic and is unnecessary. After all, the United States did not abandon the Security Council when we helped give birth to NATO. Similarly, there is no reason the United States cannot concurrently form a new international alliance, this one opposed to global terrorism. The 18 nations that last week signed a letter of support for the United States might form the core of this new alliance. It is through this alliance (how about calling it AATO, for Anti-terror Alliance Treaty Organization) that the impending war in Iraq could be fought. No one could seriously argue that the United States was acting unilaterally if it fought in concert with 18 democratic allies. Further, you can be sure that other nations would quickly be clamoring to join the new alliance as soon as its success was demonstrated.
Some would argue that this new alliance would lack the credibility of the better-established Security Council. To the contrary, however, the 18 nations (and the United States) all are democracies, and, so this new alliance would have great credibility. The Security Council, on the other hand, currently is home to Syria, Angola and Cameroon, hardly bastions of democracy, as well as the authoritarian China, which is a permanent member.
Likewise, some would contend that this new alliance would undercut NATO. However, it is the elimination of the Soviet threat that has weakened NATO. NATO simply was not designed to fight terrorism. It is not out of spite to France and Germany that we form this new alliance; in fact, the United States could simultaneously remain in NATO. We simply have different interests from France and Germany.
The Germans are focused on pacifist domestic politics, while the French have a restive Muslim population and financial interests in Iraq that restrict their willingness to join our war on global terrorism. The United States, on the other hand, has seen terror's evil and is not willing to succumb again. A new alliance can help ensure that our response, including regime change in Iraq, is not unilateral. And who knows: In a couple of decades, AATO may have accomplished its goal and defeated global terrorism, and we will be discussing its disbanding.

Duncan DeVille is the director of GlobalOptions, an international business security firm, and a visiting scholar at Harvard law school.

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