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Arrogance at the Podium (Read 77 times)

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Arrogance at the Podium
Sep 13th, 2002 at 9:37pm
by Matthew Rothschild,

Bush's "My Way or the Highway" address to the United Nations will go down in history as one of the most arrogant speeches ever given.

Right there, in front of Kofi Annan and the world's leaders, he unilaterally appointed the United States as the enforcer of U.N. resolutions.

"The conduct of the Iraqi regime is a threat to the authority of the United Nations, and a threat to peace," he said. And then he said the United Nations has got to go along with the U.S. provocation of a war against Iraq, or the U.N. will make itself "irrelevant."

How would the Bush Administration feel if Russia all of a sudden announced that the Security Council resolutions demanding that Israel withdraw from the Occupied Territories will be enforced, and if they weren't, Moscow would attack Israel?

This is one of the problems of Bush's unilateralism: It is nonreciprocal. But If the shoe were on the other foot, Bush would be screaming.

The other problem is its utter lawlessness. One country cannot put itself above all others, above the Security Council, and above the U.N. Charter. That is no system of international law; that's the law of the jungle.

Bush invited other nations to join the United States, but he made it clear that if they didn't, too bad. Here was his unmistakable closing: "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."

This is bullying of the first order.

And the bullying continued when Bush laid down the gauntlet to Saddam Hussein. "If the Iraqi regime wishes peace," Bush said six times, it must comply with a detailed list of demands.

Bush could not soften such bellicose threats by saying fatuously that "the United States has no quarrel with the Iraqi people." This is the standard disclaimer whenever Washington goes to war and ends up killing lots of innocent people. Such a profession of good will doesn't, in any way, justify the violence to come. And if Bush goes to war, as now seems a near certainty, the death toll could mount, especially if Saddam Hussein's troops continue to hunker down in Baghdad, a city of three million people.

In his speech, Bush did not make the case that Saddam Hussein was in league with Al Qaeda or somehow responsible for the heinous attacks of September 11. He didn't do so because the evidence is simply not there. Nor did he contend that Saddam Hussein would use weapons of mass destruction in a first strike against the United States, another dubious proposition. Instead, he made another argument: "Our greatest fear is that terrorists will find a shortcut to their mad ambitions when an outlaw regime supplies them with the technologies to kill on a massive scale."

But even someone as hawkish as Richard Butler, the former chief U.N. weapons inspector, testified before Congress on July 31 that Saddam Hussein is unlikely to dish off such technologies or weapons to terrorists. "Given his psychology and aspirations, Saddam would be reluctant to share with others what he believes to be an indelible source of his own power."

Brent Scowcroft, former national security adviser under Gerald Ford and Bush's dad, also discounted Bush's "greatest fear." Writing in the Wall Street Journal on August 15, Scowcroft said, "He is unlikely to risk his investment in weapons of mass destruction much less his country, by handing such weapons to terrorists who would use them for their own purpose and leave Baghdad as the return address.

Yes, Saddam Hussein is a brutal leader.

Yes, he has reneged on his promises to the United Nations.

But he does not pose an imminent threat to the United States.

Saddam Hussein's army is a shadow of what it was in 1991, and the United States routed it back then.

Furthermore, he is not a suicide bomber; he is a power monger. That's why he decided not to use his chemical and biological weapons during the first Gulf War. Washington warned him he'd get blown away, and so he backed off.

Deterrence worked then. Why won't it work now?

The United States has survived far greater threats than Saddam Hussein, and faces a far greater threat today in Al Qaeda, which has already declared war against the United States and inflicted a body blow.

By waging war against Saddam Hussein, Bush not only is aiming at the wrong target, he may be sowing the seeds of future terrorist attacks against us.

Up until now, many good-hearted people have assumed that Bush at the last moment would pull back and decide not to wage all-out war against Iraq. Bush's speech before the U.N. dispels any such lingering hopes.

Bush really means war.

Let's face that fact, and organize nonviolently to oppose it.

We don't have much time.

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