September 24, 2003


Annan Trounces Bush at UN (Ian Williams, September 23, 2003, AlterNet)

While the U.S. media will most likely play up George Bush's boring speech to the UN, the day clearly belonged to Kofi Annan.

In his distinctively quiet-spoken manner, Annan trounced the Bush administration's foreign policy doctrine of unilateral preemptive strikes at the United Nations General Assembly. Saying the world had "come to a fork in the road," at what "may be a moment no less decisive than 1945 itself, when the United Nations was founded," Annan spelt out explicitly and in the most public way possible the position he has until now reserved for quiet off-the-cuff sessions with the media. Drawing on the power of his office, he ripped apart the U.S. policy of hot preemption -- though without pointing specifically at the Bush administration:

"Until now it has been understood that when states go beyond (self-defense), and decide to use force to deal with broader threats to international peace and security, they need the unique legitimacy provided by the United Nations.

"Now, some say this understanding is no longer tenable, since an 'armed attack' with weapons of mass destruction could be launched at any time, without warning, or by a clandestine group. Rather than wait for that to happen, they argue, states have the right and obligation to use force pre-emptively, even on the territory of other states, and even while weapons systems that might be used to attack them are still being developed.

"According to this argument, states are not obliged to wait until there is agreement in the Security Council. Instead, they reserve the right to act unilaterally, or in ad hoc coalitions.

"This logic represents a fundamental challenge to the principles on which, however imperfectly, world peace and stability have rested for the last fifty-eight years ... if it were to be adopted, it could set precedents that resulted in a proliferation of the unilateral and lawless use of force, with or without justification."

By UN standards, it was an unprecedented, if justly deserved, rebuff to the United States.

So, just suppose that North Korea sold a nuclear weapon to al Qaeda--are Mr. Annan and Mr. Williams seriously arguing that we'd have to wait for UN authorization to go after them?

The President's Thorny Olive Branch (Ivo Daalder and James Lindsay, September 24, 2003, LA Times)

There has been much talk in recent weeks about President Bush's apparent determination to change course in Iraq. Exhibit One is his decision, reiterated in Tuesday's speech to the United Nations, to seek a new U.N. resolution encouraging other countries to contribute troops and money to the Iraq reconstruction effort. The White House, it appears, has finally recognized that it cannot succeed on its own in Iraq.

But a closer analysis of Bush's argument to the U.N. General Assembly suggests that there is less here than meets the eye, and that any policy changes he might be making are purely about tactics and not about strategy.

The speech was vintage Bush - clear, concise, hard-charging, with not an inch of give to his critics. Everyone has to make a choice, he said, and those that make a wrong choice (as did the regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq) must suffer the consequences. He admitted no mistakes in postwar planning and defended the U.S. decision to take the fight against terrorism "to the enemy."

"The deadly combination of outlaw regimes and terror networks and weapons of mass murder is a peril that cannot be ignored or wished away," Bush said.

The problem is, the president's worldview leaves little room for allies or international institutions that do not bend to Washington's ways.

Talk about mastering the obvious...

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 24, 2003 7:49 PM

Brother Kofi has it exactly backwards: until March 2003, when did any nation go to war to address a braod threat to international peace and security? 1999? 1967? One doubts those will be mentioned favorably by the UN. Perhaps 1917? Or 732? Keep going....

Posted by: jim hamlen at September 24, 2003 8:33 PM

Wrong. Orrin, c'mon. Surely you do not expect the war on terror to be won on the basis that all countries, especially your allies, must "bend to Washington's ways". How about arguing that Washington is right!

If you are the City of Light, then talk like it.

Posted by: Peter B at September 24, 2003 10:25 PM

Might makes right. Ever has it been so and ever will it be. Being right in truth is merely a nice benefit along the way.

Posted by: oj at September 24, 2003 10:33 PM

Curiously, it is precisely on those noble values so poignantly articulated by Annan (and other high-minded moralists) that Al Qaida, Saddam, Kim II, the Mullahcrats, and all their fellow travelers depend.

Which ought to indicate to anyone who bothers to look around a bit that something is wrong somewhere.

Shouldn't be too surprising, though, to anyone who understands that the UN has become the arch enabler, the source of higher morality in the service of evil, Pravda personified.

With only a cowboy left to drawl, "Now hold on there pardner"....

Posted by: Barry Meislin at September 25, 2003 3:28 AM


So might makes right, does it? That's a promising long term foreign policy, as the little corporal discovered. Talk about handing your adversaries a gift on a platter.

Bye bye High Noon, hello Rambo!

Posted by: Peter B at September 25, 2003 6:11 AM


High Noon was Rambo--no one helped Marshall Kane. They wanted to give in rather than fight.

And recall that the profoundly racist Ethan Edwards in The Searchers is just as much an American hero.

Most important, remember that in fact the Western heroes were a bunch of drunken, murderous, whore-chasing, cretins, who we glorified because they won.

Posted by: oj at September 25, 2003 8:54 AM

Right makes Might. We defeated Germany, Japan,
the Soviets because we were right. We trounced
Saddam in short order because we were right.

That's the way I see it.

Posted by: J.H. at September 25, 2003 9:01 AM

Think that's how Poles see their defeat by Hitler and Stalin?

Posted by: oj at September 25, 2003 9:10 AM

I'm never sure about which lessons of 10,000 years of Homo sapiens history apply to Homo americanus.

Posted by: David Cohen at September 25, 2003 9:16 AM

All of them. Human nature is immutable.

Posted by: oj at September 25, 2003 9:19 AM


If you were defeated as badly as the Poles were
you would need to take some of the blame.
A society that can't defend itself has some
problems. Whether the Poles see it that way
or not. Strenghth is a virtue. A society
lacking it is an incomplete society.

Posted by: J.H. at September 25, 2003 9:40 AM

The bitch deserved it?

Posted by: oj at September 25, 2003 9:44 AM

Isn't that part of our argument for German collective guilt? But if Kosiuscko (or his equivalent) had been around in 1939, things might have been different.

Put another way, if Nixon had been caught in 1970 rather than 1973, and McGovern been elected in 1972, and the Russians been vacationing on the Riviera by 1976, who would be responsible?

When you strip in public, better be standing next to a cop.

Posted by: jim hamlen at September 25, 2003 10:25 AM

Sorry to break the thread here, but did you catch the reference to "hot pre-emption"? Hey, I'm all against that, just like Kofi. I like the cool, simmering kind.

Seriously, I can't help but worry that the war on terrorism will master the terrorists, but falter before the overwhelming onslaught of mindless, incoherent leftist rhetoric. They obviously have studied Goebbels' theory of the big lie.

Posted by: Peter B at September 25, 2003 6:52 PM