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

By David L. Bosco | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5
THE ICE BREAKS (1986–1993)

IN EARLY DECEMBER 1986, the Maltese oil tanker Free Enterprise was sailing in the Persian Gulf near Iran’s Kharg Island when Iraqi jets streaked overhead. Seconds later, a missile plowed into the ship, which was forced to limp into a nearby port.1 It was the second attack on the tanker in less than three months and part of a disturbing expansion of the Iran-Iraq conflict into the Persian Gulf. In 1985, there were more than sixty documented attacks on shipping in the gulf.2 In 1986, some ninety merchant ships were attacked, with numerous casualties. Both combatants were deploying new technologies purchased abroad to harass ships trading with its enemy, and the tit-for-tat strikes were reaching ever closer to the Strait of Hormuz, a critical bottleneck for international commerce. Iranian officials warned Iraq’s allies in the region that Iran would be within its rights to close the strait.3 The toll at sea was serious, but it paled next to the losses on land. By late 1986, the war had already taken nearly 250,000 lives. Iraq regularly bombed major Iranian cities and used chemical weapons to blunt Iranian infantry advances. Iran retaliated as best it could, lobbing missiles inaccurately into Iraqi cities and using its superior troop strength to wear down Iraqi forces.

All the while, Iran’s bitterness at the council’s inaction festered. The dynamics on the council, however, were shifting rapidly. The Soviets, in particular, were reevaluating their attitude toward the organization and its role in conflict resolution. Over the decades, the Soviets had realized that the body could be useful for dividing and embarrassing its Western rivals and for cultivating relations with the developing world, but its suspicion of the council as a Western-dominated institution had never disappeared. The Soviet leadership rarely attempted to use the council to pursue substantive policy goals. At most, the council was a place to expose Western hypocrisy.

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

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1- The Council Created 10
  • Chapter 2- Fits and Starts (1946–1956) 39
  • Chapter 3- The Court of World Opinion (1957–1967) 80
  • Chapter 4- A Hostile Environment (1968–1985) 112
  • Chapter 5- The Ice Breaks (1986–1993) 148
  • Chapter 6- Growing Pains (1994–2001) 184
  • Chapter 7- A More Dangerous World (2001–2006) 216
  • Conclusion- The Council in Context 249
  • Notes 257
  • Sources and Further Reading 287
  • Index 299
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