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A Path Strewn With Skeletons


K.P. Fabian

THE INTERNATIONAL STRUGGLE OVER IRAQ: POLITICS IN THE UN SECURITY COUNCIL 1980-2005
By David M. Malone
Oxford University Press, New York, 2006, pp. 398, Rs. 595.00

THE SECOND COMING: US WAR ON IRAQ 2003: AN INDIAN PERSPECTIVE
Edited by Sreedhar and S.N. Malakar
Academic Excellence, New Delhi, 2004, pp. 244, Rs. 595.00

SAUDI ARABIA: PEOPLE POLITICS POLICIES
By Gulshan Dietl
National Book Trust, New Delhi, 2006, pp. 134, Rs. 60.00

VOLUME XXXII NUMBER 3 MARCH 2008

In examining the origins of US invasion and occupation of Iraq starting from March 2003, one of the major questions that come to mind is: What role did the United Nations Security Council play in this horrendous drama? The United Nations was founded ‘to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.’ Why did the UN Security Council fail to prevent the aggression? Why did the Security Council, subsequently, endorse the invasion and occupation? What are the lessons to be drawn from all this?   David M. Malone’s book deals with the Security Council’s involvement with Iraq for the period 1980-2005. Currently Canada’s High Commissioner to India, Malone has served as his country’s Ambassador to the United Nations. From 1998 to 2004 he was President of the International Peace Academy in New York. He has been a journalist too. Therefore, his credentials are superb and he enjoys a felicity of expression, not always associated with books on Iraq. The author’s intention is ‘to tell a story, profiting from the benefit of hindsight, highlighting elements that in my view merit particular attention as they relate to each other and to the overall. Many of these individual incidents look rather different, and their significance greater, within the broader sweep of time.’   The narration begins with the 1980-1988 Iraq-Iran war. Malone characterizes the role of the UN Security Council as ‘the Cold War Peacemaker’. But in an insightful analysis of the evolution of the role of the UN, Malone points out that such a role was played only from 1986 onwards. When Iraq invaded Iran in September 1980, the reaction from the Security Council was ‘exceptionally limp’. Iran ignored the Security Council because its resolutions referred to the war merely as a ‘situation’, not even as a ‘dispute’. The reason for such behaviour on the part of the Security Council was primarily the reluctance of the United States to take a position supportive of the aggrieved party, namely, Iran because it still held the US embassy hostages in Teheran. In any case, it was part of US policy to build up Iraq as a regional power to succeed to the role once played by the dethroned Shah. The other permanent members, UK, France, and Russia with substantial business interests with Iraq did not want to name Iraq as the aggressor. China, the least influential out of the permanent five, took a neutral stand. By 1986 ...


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