March 23, 2005


Agenda driven by leading hawks (Greg Sheridan, March 24, 2005, The Australian)

THE pattern of senior appointments in Washington offers a fascinating insight into where the second Bush administration is heading. If you're a Bush critic, the good news is that George W. Bush is going to take the multilateral system and international issues hugely seriously. The bad news is just the same.

Bush is going to engage all the issues his critics claim he neglected in his first term - Third World development, the image of the US throughout the world, reform and reinvigoration of the UN. But he will do so in a way that is consistent with his political values.

Three appointments make this clear - Paul Wolfowitz to move from Deputy Secretary of Defence to president of the World Bank, John Bolton to move from under-secretary of state to US ambassador to the UN, and Karen Hughes, the President's former communications director, to become under-secretary of state for public diplomacy.

This is clearly earnest intent. They are all Bush insiders and genuine heavy hitters. Each will be criticised but each offers Bush the chance to make a real difference.

It was rather a big speech, was anyone paying any attention:
My nation will work with the U.N. Security Council to meet our common challenge. If Iraq's regime defies us again, the world must move deliberately, decisively to hold Iraq to account. We will work with the U.N. Security Council for the necessary resolutions. But the purposes of the United States should not be doubted. The Security Council resolutions will be enforced -- the just demands of peace and security will be met -- or action will be unavoidable. And a regime that has lost its legitimacy will also lose its power.

Events can turn in one of two ways: If we fail to act in the face of danger, the people of Iraq will continue to live in brutal submission. The regime will have new power to bully and dominate and conquer its neighbors, condemning the Middle East to more years of bloodshed and fear. The regime will remain unstable -- the region will remain unstable, with little hope of freedom, and isolated from the progress of our times. With every step the Iraqi regime takes toward gaining and deploying the most terrible weapons, our own options to confront that regime will narrow. And if an emboldened regime were to supply these weapons to terrorist allies, then the attacks of September the 11th would be a prelude to far greater horrors.

If we meet our responsibilities, if we overcome this danger, we can arrive at a very different future. The people of Iraq can shake off their captivity. They can one day join a democratic Afghanistan and a democratic Palestine, inspiring reforms throughout the Muslim world. These nations can show by their example that honest government, and respect for women, and the great Islamic tradition of learning can triumph in the Middle East and beyond. And we will show that the promise of the United Nations can be fulfilled in our time.

Neither of these outcomes is certain. Both have been set before us. We must choose between a world of fear and a world of progress. We cannot stand by and do nothing while dangers gather. We must stand up for our security, and for the permanent rights and the hopes of mankind. By heritage and by choice, the United States of America will make that stand. And, delegates to the United Nations, you have the power to make that stand, as well.

The President takes the UN more seriously than it takes itself.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 23, 2005 11:41 PM

Moral superiority compelled those who still take the U.N. seriously to have written off Bush five years ago as a drooling idiot who couldn't have anything either constructive or instructive to say about anything. So why would they have paid any attention at all to his speeches, other than to see if there was a hidden payoff to Halliburton or a secret pardon to Ken Lay bundled somewhere in the fine print.

Posted by: John at March 24, 2005 12:40 AM

It is put up or shut up time at Turtle Bay. If they don't want to do anything other than whine and freely violate NYC laws, they will now be shown as useless to all but their most brainwashed supporters.

Posted by: bart at March 24, 2005 9:51 AM

Bush puts the UN in the same dilemma as he put the PLO-Arafat: put up or shut up.

Posted by: Luciferous at March 24, 2005 10:04 AM

Bush puts the UN in the same dilemma as he put the PLO-Arafat: as bart said, put up or shut up. Tranzi pretensions are contrasted with UN performance. Either way its resolved, reconsiling the mismatch will make a joyful noise.

Posted by: Luciferous at March 24, 2005 10:24 AM