/* News Ticker Head info ------------------------------------------------ */

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

The U.N. is Not Our Savior, Pt. III

Part one: The behavior of the U.N. during the 12 years of Iraqi sanctions, considering what the U.N. could have had to gain from the relationship with Saddam Hussein.
Part two: Reviewed the series of abuses of the Oil for Food program.
Now, in part three, I look at President Bush's reaction to the situation as presented to him.

Follow the links above to read the first two sections.

The U.N. is Not Our Savior, Pt. III

President Bush, especially, found himself in a position to either “fish or cut bait,” and there is no question that he is a person who would rather fish. What some term “cowboy mentality” is more likely a mindset which dictates that inaction is often more dangerous than the wrong action; that sins of omission are as damnable as sins of commission.

Reviewing the President’s record (both public and private sector) it is clear that he is an action taker. Compared to his immediate predecessor (who is, of course, a “thinker” more than a doer, as demonstrated by his now-Senator wife who laments the days when we were led by someone who would “really think” about these issues, not act) Bush does appear reckless and indiscriminant, but that does not mean such a perception is valid. It is easy to dismiss him as reckless, when what is really meant is that he talks with a Southern drawl, gets syllables mixed up when he’s confronted by long words, and is probably just not so smart, after all.

Putting myself in the position of the President makes me realize one important thing: I would have done exactly what he did, and I’m not sure I’ve yet heard a single alternative “plan” that would have addressed the perpetual propping up of Hussein at the expense of the health and welfare of the Iraqi people.

Granted, there is no evidence to suggest that the humanitarian purposes alone would have ever moved the U.S. or U.K. to take a stand against the U.N. graft machine. But the threat of being “caught looking” at another terror strike was certainly a factor. President Bush was being criticized for not acting in anticipation of the Trade Center attacks. The thinking goes like this: the President had SOME information regarding terrorists learning to fly or knowing how to fly or planning to hijack U.S. airlines, so he should have done SOMETHING. So, he has some information regarding terrorists securing chemical or biological weapons from Iraq with the intent of inflicting punishment on the infidel Americans. He is told by defectors from Hussein’s regime that Iraq may be within months, or even weeks, of obtaining nuclear capability.

We know that the regime in Iraq is well funded and firmly empowered by the U.N., and that internal controls (weapons inspections, intelligence, and international oversight) are failing to maintain any sense of security. Terrorists are coming and going at will, often with either the profit from illegal oil sales or the training and experience offered by Iraq in their back pockets when they leave. It is not unreasonable to assume they are being given chemical, biological, or even nuclear agents for use against the Western Allies.

And, after September 11, it is not a stretch to believe they are willing to strike us inside our own borders. Every single intelligence agency in the world knew that Saddam Hussein’s government possessed and used chemical weapons in the past, they were engaged in at least attempting to manufacture or maintain them in the present, and planned to use WMDs whenever the chance presented itself in the future. The Iraqi government was in breech of the most recent U.N. resolution (1442) and more than a dozen others.

For months, the White House attempted to utilize the structures of the U.N. to force the issue. As we reviewed earlier, the U.N. had little reason to cooperate. (In reality, that attempt to work through the bloated bureaucratic system may be one reason evidence of chemical and biological weapons is now so difficult to find: the delays gave ample opportunity to the Iraqi government to cover up and destroy.)

After months of effort, a coalition of like-minded nations was employed to take the actions the saber-rattling members of the U.N. constantly threatened, but lacked the moral fortitude to follow up on. Dozens of other countries joined the U.S. and U.K.-led military build up and eventual invasion. Even though diplomacy was pursued and the choice-consequence nature of the situation was repeatedly laid out for the Hussein government, the critics continued to maintain that the action of the coalition was illegitimate and reckless. How many countries does it take to make a “legitimate” coalition? How long do you allow a dictator, condemned by most every civilized nation in our world, to personally profit from the exploitation of a system we were in part responsible for? How many times do you tell a child not to touch the boiling pan of water on the stove before you smack his hand to keep him from burning himself? Grand edicts are useless without the moral resolve to back up the consequences. The U.N. as an organization may have been comfortable with the duplicity and dishonor of the Iraq situation, but that in no way should bind the sovereign nation that I live in to perpetuate the same.

There are also long-term, strategic considerations to ponder. The middle-east is often referred to in the media as a “tender box”, and the history of terrorism, dictatorship, brutality, and anti-American fanaticism is well documented. To diffuse or moderate that sector of the world has to be a goal of our country’s foreign affairs policy making.

This President seems committed to a long-term, gradual transformation via the democratic mechanism, and sees a democratically governed Iraq as an important piece of such a plan. The philosophy behind such belief is that empowering a people (in this case, the Iraqis) with the ability and the system to improve themselves (reduce poverty, promote greater freedom and equality) is far superior to either forcing better conditions upon them from the outside (humanitarian aid alone) or lowering our own standards (so they aren’t so “jealous” of our power and wealth). In other words, teaching a man to fish.

Governments and man-centered bureaucracies are breeding grounds for the deadly sins that come from power and wealth, and man’s fallen nature makes it easy to be seduced by these corruptors. This tendency toward self-gratification must be considered when we consider public policy. Of the two systems offered (a U.N.-centered program and a U.S./U.K.-led coalition) which offers the greatest number of checks and balances against abuse? Which environment better allows for identification and correction of abuses and problems?

Is there room for debate about the specifics of such a plan? Undoubtedly. Does this action by our government, as well as any other action, require of the citizens of the United States to serve as the ultimate oversight committee to ensure accountability, openness, efficiency, and honest morality? Without a doubt. Do I have more confidence in the United States, and especially this President, than I do in the United Nations in helping achieve such a goal? For me, there is no question.


Post a Comment

<< Home