A commenter on an LGF post
makes the following point
: "ALL polls consistently show that without UN support the American people DO NOT want to go to war unilaterally."
Someone else retorts
: "This is such a tired canard by now. Can't you do better? Multilateral does not mean just Germany and France."
The first commenter replies
: "To me multilateral means with the support of the UN and EVERY other country pitching in to help. Not just going with the piss-poor countries and the US bribing them with aid packages."
As I noted
, this actually makes the commenter an omnilateralist. I believe this has been an unspoken position of many who are against the war for some time. But I haven't seen it laid out so clearly by one of its adherents before.
The advantage of demanding omnilateral agreement before the US may do something which one happens to be against is clear. 99.5% of the time, unanimous agreement will be impossible. Is there anything that the UN and EVERY other country
could possibly agree to? Doubtful. Therefore the US may not act, and the political victory over the US is at hand.
The disadvantage of demanding omnilateral agreement is that most people, I suspect, will see that this is an unreasonable requirement to impose on the US, or on anyone for that matter. Look at how NATO's voting rules affect its ability to act- now multiply the number of countries by 10. And a number of these countries have interests in direct opposition to US interests. Clearly this is no way to get things done, and people realize this.
A solution to the political distaste an insistence on omnilateralism may cause is to simply call it multilateralism. Everyone can get behind multilateralism, right? Just redefine it to mean omnilateralism.
At the same time, true multilateralism, which does describe the US's efforts regarding Iraq, will be redefined as unilateralism. How many people in how many publications and at how many events have called US actions unilateralist? It's not possible to even start counting.
Unfortunately, I think these shifts in the meanings of the words has been somewhat succesful, particularly in the press. Challenges to the charge that the US is being unilateral, when it clearly isn't, have not followed each charge of unilateralism, as they should. Consequently, many people now accept, without thinking about it much apparently, that if the US acts without the UN or France or Germany, but with 10-20 allies, that we'd be acting unilaterally.
Changing the definitions of these basic words is a victory for the omnilateralists. It won't prevent the US from acting in Iraq, but there already has been political damage done to the US because of it, and there will be more later if we don't insist that they use these words honestly.