Multilateralism and Halting WMD Proliferation

[quote=“Wall Street Journal”]The New Multilateralism
How the U.S., with international cooperation, brought Libya to heel.

Thursday, January 8, 2004 12:01 a.m.

The media have barely noticed, but the Bush Administration has embarked on a burst of “multilateral” cooperation. It’s called the Proliferation Security Initiative, and in only a few months of existence it has already had more success than the United Nations in controlling weapons of mass destruction.

The PSI offers a better way than traditional arms control to enforce global norms in the age of proliferating WMD. The PSI allies–11 and growing–have agreed to interdict shipments of WMD, delivery systems and related materials at sea, in the air and on land.

But don’t mistake PSI for a multilateral institution in the conventional sense. There’s no headquarters, no secretary-general, no talkfests–and, perhaps most important of all, no French or Russian veto. “PSI is an activity, not an organization,” a senior Administration official tells us. It’s an action-oriented group that “needs to be agile and move fast.”

As PSI grows, the U.S. official contemplates “dozens of other countries participating” in dozens of different ways. Call it mix-and-match multilateralism. Countries participate or not, depending on the need at hand and on their own capabilities. The one common thread is U.S. leadership.

Take the Libya operation, in which four nations took part. […]

North Korea felt the force of a similar operation last August, when a Pyongyang-bound freighter was boarded in a Taiwanese port and its undeclared cargo confiscated. The freighter was carrying 158 barrels of phosphorus pentasulfide, a precursor for chemical weapons.

Then there are those who think we’d all be safer if only we’d “strengthen” the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The new idea would have U.N. inspectors permanently monitor and control stockpiles of nuclear material. But effective arms control requires enforcement, and new, tougher NPT terms hardly matter with a U.N. that declined to act against Saddam Hussein and North Korea.

The spread of WMD is the gravest threat to world security and will sometimes need to be met with force. The U.S. needs all the help it can get, but the old global institutions aren’t up to the job. The PSI is a herald of the real new world order, multilateralism with teeth.[/quote] … index.html