The Impact of the United Nations: Multilateralism in a Unilateral World

Bypassing a second United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force to disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction, the United States and Great Britain have joined forces to lead a military coalition in Iraq that seeks to topple the current regime and remove the threat of a ruthless dictator. After months of protracted negotiations and failed diplomacy, the political events leading up to the current war have once again raised perennial questions regarding the ability and effectiveness of the United Nations to resolve global conflicts, particularly without any viable enforcement mechanism.

In an age dominated by a single economic and military superpower, can the United Nations effectively function without the full support and backing of the United States? Why is there an apparent incongruity between the goals of the United Nations and that of the world’s largest democracy? Is the conflict in Iraq simply a reflection of a fundamental weakness inherent in the very structure of the United Nations, or is the war merely the result of a superpower imposing its will upon the rest of the world? How will the events of the past few months impact the composition and future of the United Nations? Given its strict opposition to the war, what role will the United Nations play in the postwar restructuring of Iraq?

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