Regime Change Revisited

The UN Security Council’s 15–0 vote adopting Resolution 1441 in November 2002 seemed to show it speaking with the same single voice it had spoken with in the wake of Iraq’s August 1990 invasion of Kuwait. What was perceived in 1990 as an outrageous and unacceptable breach of international law—one UN member state’s invading another—galvanized the Security Council into action on a hitherto unprecedented level.1 But in the years after 1990, widespread disgruntlement with the sanctions—which were ostensibly intended to rid Iraq of its WMD capability, but with a subtext of destabilizing Iraq to the point where its people would rid themselves of Saddam Hussein—eroded this international consensus. Members’ ideas of what would constitute sufficient ‘‘compliance’’ for the sanctions to be lifted soon came to diverge.

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