The Legitimacy of the International System is at Stake

It is good that the Bush Administration has finally moved to involve the United Nations in resolving the problem of Iraq's development and possession of weapons of mass destruction.

It is good that the Bush Administration has finally moved to involve the United Nations in resolving the problem of Iraq's development and possession of weapons of mass destruction.

It is extremely important to do so because the entire legal and political legitimacy of moving against Iraq rests on the 16 UN resolutions that the President mentioned in his speech. Bypassing the UN now would have destroyed that legitimacy and precluded future multilateral enforcement action in Iraq.

The UN Security Council needs to remain the locus of decision-making on international use of force. This is what the entire international community, including the great powers, wants. It has clearly indicated this preference in its response to the unusually public policy deliberations on Iraq in the Bush Administration throughout July and August.

But here's why the second point made by President Bush is so important. The UN needs to be effective if it wants to remain relevant in matters of war and peace. It needs to do a significantly better job of enforcing its own decisions. Allowing Iraq to brazenly flaunt the will of the international community reflected in the relevant UN resolutions does no less damage to the credibility of the UN system than any unilateral strike by the United States.

As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Russia has a vital stake in maintaining the effectiveness of the international system it helped found. That's why I hope Russia will be able to support a new UN resolution presenting Iraq with a tough but realistic deadline to admit the weapons inspectors or face the strong resolve of the Security Council to enforce its resolutions by whatever means necessary.

It remains unclear to us, however, whether the Bush Administration will be prepared to accept the results of successful international inspections in Iraq; i. e. a disarmed Iraq--with Saddam still in power.

Dimitry Rogozin is a member of the State Duma of the Russian Federation and serves as the chairman of its International Relations Committee. He is also the Russian President's special representative for resolving the status of the Kaliningrad enclave.