FLAWED DIPLOMACY: The United Nations & the War on Terrorism

By Anderson, David A. | Military Review, January/February 2012 | Go to article overview

FLAWED DIPLOMACY: The United Nations & the War on Terrorism


Anderson, David A., Military Review


FLAWED DIPLOMACY: The United Nations & the War on Terrorism, Victor D. Comras, Potomac Books, Inc., Sterling VA, 2010, 256 pages, $29.95.

Victor D. Comras, a leading expert on international sanctions and the global effort to combat terrorism and money laundering, writes a fascinating book about the history of the United Nations' (UN) involvement in combating terrorism to the present day. Epitomized by a legacy of agonizing bureaucratic inertia, the UN lacks a coherent policy, capacity, and general will to effectively address global terrorism, which is undermining international peace and security. In support of his thesis, Comras details the UN's experience in addressing terrorism-everything from the lack of a generally accepted defi nition of what actually constitutes terrorism and its consequences on policy development, to poorly crafted and unexecutable UN resolutions. Comras notes that no UN secretary general has willingly made countering terrorism his top priority. Secretary Kurt Waldheim had the issue thrust upon him by the Munich Olympics attack in 1972, as did Secretary Kofi Annan as a result of the 9/11 attacks on the United States. Combating terrorism is also a distracter to eliminating global poverty and improving the general health and quality of life of the world's disadvantaged.

One of numerous striking bits of research in Comras's book is that regardless of UN objectives in combating terrorism, state objectives and competing interests (e. …

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