One frequently hears statements about the damage done to the 'international community' by disagreements about the invasion and occupation of Iraq. It is clear from the general nature and frequency of its use that the term 'inter-national community' has an important political function in generating legiti-macy for those who act in its name. It is also clear from its popular usage that 'international community' means very different, and often quite opposed, things to different people. Why is the strong term 'community' chosen when 'inter-national society' might be more useful? Longstanding debates within political theory and the English school provide helpful insights into why people use this term in the ways that they do. This article will argue that international community implies a deep and robust sharing of identity, and that in relation to the Iraq war, the most important meaning of it equates broadly with the West. The authors look at the effect of the war on the western international com-munity through its impact on NATO, the EU, the UN, the WTO and public opinion. They further argue that the evidence from these sources does not yet suggest that the western international community has been fatally damaged
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