The day of reckoning has arrived. The UN must act.

Former UK secretary of state for Northern Ireland, Peter Mandelson, writes a worthwhile piece in today’s Guardian. He argues that two different approaches are emerging in global politics:

One is the multipolarists’ view that for America to exercise its power unrestrained is destabilising and counter-productive, not least from the standpoint of America’s own national interest; and that the international system should be one in which a number of competing centres of strength, including Europe, Russia and China, provide a counterweight to American power.

The second is what could be termed the multilateralists’ view.

This accepts the realpolitik of American global leadership and that US engagement, however difficult, is essential for the world’s security, Middle East peace and to achieve a conception of global justice based on shared values and prosperity; and that the best way to harness this power is by making America comfortable with the use of multilateral institutions that are consistent and reliable vehicles for international including, as a last resort, military action.

He then concludes that:

Compromise is essential. If this fails, Britain will face a hugely difficult choice. It is tragic that military action could occur without full UN authority, when the case for action is so clear-cut and justified by the UN itself. But it would be an equal tragedy for America to fight alone and victory to be handed on a plate to the unilateralists in Washington, with much wider and longer lasting consequences for the future of the world than the fate of Saddam Hussein. Let us still hope it does not come to that.