Unilateral, schmunilateral!

I’ve been harping on the “unilateral” talk lately.

Nonplussed is a great liberal site that I read regularly and Mr. Thibodeau posted a response to comments (some from yours truly) on an earlier post.

Since we were not utterly alone, I think there is some validity to the argument that we did not act unilaterally in the strict sense of the word. I could live with “insufficiently multilaterally” as a less lyrical alternative description.


I think we were going to go into Iraq come hell or high water and made that intention quite clear. Would anyone argue that Bush would have made a different decision if he knew he wouldn’t have those crack Polish and Italian troops in the foxholes with us? Not bloody likely. I think we would have invaded even if the Brits had stayed home.

So I defend the use of the word “unilateral” because that was our intent (yes, as a matter of fact I am a mind reader!). The presence of the other troops was a fig leaf, just as our weak pre-war diplomacy in the UN was just for show.

My response is (if you will forgive me for quoting part of my comment on his site):

Using the word “unilateral” and saying things like “going it alone” when it very clearly isn’t true (in the “strict” sense or otherwise) isn’t going to help anyone, UNLESS the aim is to convince someone (who may not actually know better) that we really ARE alone. That is deceitful. That is why I’m opposed to the “unilateral” talk.

Very obviously we were going into Iraq whether the Poles and Italians were with us or not. I’d put forward that without the UK we would have had to think long(er) and hard(er) about it. I don’t think we would have gone in in the spring of 2003 without them, though we almost certainly would have later.

To play down the offerings (though many ARE indeed small relatively speaking) of some of our current allies implies that they aren’t significant in “blood and treasure”. That’s pretty narrow-minded.

The use of “unilateral” is not political hyperbole (“millions of nations are opposed to what we’re doing”) but an outright lie. Nancy Pelosi said that we are “going it alone” in her portion of the Democratic rebuttal to Bush’s SOTU speech. The Democratic candidates and representatives repeat the charge every chance they get. It is absolutely, clearly, patently UNTRUE.

Let me repeat that.


Let me repeat that again.


When cornered with the facts, unilateral-claimers duck and dodge, finally retreating to the fall-back postition of “well, we’re calling all the shots and we’d be acting unilaterally, technically speaking, if we had to.”

Yes we would. But we don’t have to.

Because we are not alone in Iraq.

Who do we need to be multi-lateral? France? Germany? Russia? China? Canada? India?

Wouldn’t it be GREAT if all those folks were on our side?

Alliances mean compromises, though. We’ve been pretty uncompromising about this whole war on terror. I think that’s been good far more often than not. What would we have had to do to get France to sign up? They had no interest in meeting anyone half way. Same thing with China and Russia. We could have secured French, German, Russian, and Chinese support simply by giving up everything that we felt was important, and probably more.

Were we right or wrong to go into Iraq? That is a different subject, but the answer does not depend on how many nations agreed to invade.

If we were right, we were right to go in with the support we had. We would have been right to go in with every other nation in the UN. We would have been right to go in alone. You don’t determine right and wrong with a show of hands.

If we were wrong, we would have been wrong even if France and Germany led the charge.

This is not a popularity contest. This is the Fourth World War.

“Insufficiently multi-lateral”? If we’re doing the right thing, it doesn’t matter.

As it happens, I think we’re doing the right thing in Iraq. And we have plenty of friends who are standing there with us.

(Although I take great exception to Mr. Thibodeau’s stand on this issue, I continue to respect his opinion and suggest that MO readers check him out from time to time. Left-coaster, but definitely worth a look.)