Tierney argues that international delegation can have important consequences, even for powerful states. In particular, he contends that the US delegation of inspection authority to United Nations weapons inspectors and to the International Atomic Energy Association after the Gulf War of 1990-91 entailed significant sovereignty costs by affecting the timing and costliness of the subsequent 2003 US invasion of Iraq. Among other things, he notes that the inspectors' independent behavior made it much more difficult for the US to assemble the type of multilateral coalition that would share the costs as it had in the earlier Gulf War. Tierney also notes that this example shows how different states can pay different costs as the result of the same episode of international delegation.

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