Five to Rule Them All: The UN Security Council and the Making of the Modern World

Five to Rule Them All: The UN Security Council and the Making of the Modern World

Five to Rule Them All: The UN Security Council and the Making of the Modern World

Five to Rule Them All: The UN Security Council and the Making of the Modern World

Synopsis

From the Berlin Airlift to the Iraq War, the UN Security Council has stood at the heart of global politics. Part public theater, part smoke-filled backroom, the Council has enjoyed notable successes and suffered ignominious failures, but it has always provided a space for the five great powers to sit down together.
Five to Rule Them Alltells the inside story of this remarkable diplomatic creation. Drawing on extensive research, including dozens of interviews with serving and former ambassadors on the Council, the book chronicles political battles and personality clashes as it opens the closed doors of its meeting room. What emerges here is a revealing portrait of the most powerful diplomatic body in the world. When the five permanent members are united, David Bosco points out, the Council can wage war, impose blockades, redraw borders, unseat governments, and levy sanctions. There are almost no limits to its authority. Yet the Council exists in a world ofrealpolitik. Its members are, above all, powerful states with their own diverging interests. Time and again, the Council's performance has dashed the hope that its members would somehow work together to establish a more peaceful world. But if these lofty hopes have been unfulfilled, the Council has still served an invaluable purpose: to prevent conflict between the Great Powers. In this role, the Council has been an unheralded success. As Bosco reminds us, massacres in the Balkans and chaos in Iraq are human tragedies, but conflicts between the world's great powers in the nuclear age would be catastrophic.
In this lively, fast-moving, and often humorous narrative, Bosco illuminates the role of the Security Council in the postwar world, making a compelling case for the enduring importance of the five who rule them all.

Excerpt

In June 2008, a convoy of jeeps and pick-up trucks arrived at the airport in Goma. The lakeside town in eastern Congo has been the epicenter of regional conflict since the Rwandan genocide in 1994, when nearly a million Rwandans sought shelter there from ethnic violence. As the world struggled to react to the mass exodus, more than 50,000 died from cholera and other diseases. Since then, Goma has been plagued by persistent violence between competing militia groups, which Congo’s weak central government has been unable to control. Bands of armed men roam the countryside, occasionally attacking refugee camps and harassing travelers.

Flanked by soldiers in blue helmets, a group of mainly middle-aged men hailing from a dozen countries disembarked from the convoy and disappeared inside the airport terminal. The tired and sweaty contingent represented the United Nations’ Security Council, the world’s most elite and powerful diplomatic body. The diplomats had spent the day touring a refugee camp on the outskirts of town. Sometimes stumbling over the rocky ground, they peered into makeshift huts covered with plastic sheeting, toured medical facilities, and listened attentively to singing children. The atmosphere was almost festive as the guardians of international peace and security checked on some of the world’s most vulnerable people. Several diplomats appeared to be moved. France’s ambassador grabbed a bullhorn and promised a crowd of refugees that the Security Council would get them home.

The delegation had arrived in Africa a week earlier to see for itself the complex crises in Sudan, Chad, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Accustomed to working together in the blue-and-gold chamber where the council makes its formal decisions, the diplomats had become traveling companions. They spent . . .

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