Centre for Research on Globalisation

Centre de recherche sur la mondialisation



by Srdja Trifkovic

News and News Unfit to Print, 20 September/ septembre 2002.
Centre for Research on Globalisation (CRG),  Centre de recherche sur la mondialisation (CRM),  globalresearch.ca ,  21  September/ septembre 2002

When the Guardian, Le Monde, and La Repubblica praise George W. Bush, it is a sure sign that he is doing something seriously wrong—and last week he did commit the greatest blunder of his presidency so far. Addressing the General Assembly of the United Nations on September 12, the President declared that

the conduct of the Iraqi regime is a threat to the authority of the United Nations, and a threat to peace. Iraq has answered a decade of U.N. demands with a decade of defiance. All the world now faces a test, and the United Nations a difficult and defining moment. Are Security Council resolutions to be honored and enforced, or cast aside without consequence? Will the United Nations serve the purpose of its founding, or will it be irrelevant?

The President's new stand was reiterated in his September 14 national radio address and at a Camp David press conference later that day: "The U.N. will either be able to function as a peacekeeping body as we head into the 21st century, or it will be irrelevant." This is the chance for the United Nations to show some backbone and resolve, the President concluded, "as we confront the true challenges of the 21st century." All of which gives us the worst of all worlds: yet another unnecessary, and therefore unjust war is to be "legitimized" by being waged under a Security Council resolution.

The immediate result was to establish that there does exist something more nauseating than the whine of assorted European and Third World talking heads lamenting Washington's unilateralist selfishness, and it is their chorus of praise for America's sudden willingness to subject its foreign policy to the approval of the "international community."

Predictably, the Wall Street Journal's British equivalent, the Financial Times, was elated, saying that Bush "proved himself a master of the art of turning the tables on his critics" with a powerful speech that offered a "strong rationale" for action:

Above all, the speech cleverly emphasised that what is at stake is the post-1945 international system itself. [Saddam's] contempt for the international community, if it goes uncorrected, risks profoundly undermining, perhaps fatally, the UN's credibility as the forum for achieving global security. Bush has clearly rejected the views of hardliners in his administration . . . The U.S. should be applauded for having taken the diplomatic road. As Bush said, it is the authority of the UN itself that is challenged. The onus is on the rest of the Security Council—to demonstrate their commitment to helping the UN and the international system it represents to face down the challenge to its authority.

To remark that saving the "authority" of the United Nations is not a good reason for war is apparently an alien notion to most Europeans regardless of political affiliation. The nominally conservative Irish Independent thus wrote that Bush's speech

was noteworthy for two points, one indisputable and one highly positive. One, UN resolutions must be enforced, and Iraq has defied them; two, Mr. Bush wants to act through the UN. He may have only modified, not renounced, his unilateralism. But he has made an important concession to world opinion. That makes the U.S.-dominated world a slightly safer place.

Even the presumably "conservative" editorialist of the London Times joined the bandwagon:

The president deftly turned the tables on his critics. He put the multilateralist argument for dealing with Saddam . . . The shallow caricature of Bush as a sort of 'cowboy' will be less plausible after yesterday's performance. He has instead offered the UN the opportunity to share the role of sheriff with him.

The Guardian noted that "Bush has made some positive steps—rejoining UNESCO and seeking solutions to global poverty are all commendable" and added that taking his case against Iraq before the UN was "heartening." All that is not enough, however:

Blair worked hard to persuade the president to observe the diplomatic proprieties and his efforts, in the teeth of opposition were not all in vain. Bush is right to say that the UN's credibility will be undermined if its resolutions are ignored . . . The damage may be incalculable if, in the future, the U.S. continues to veto or block the UN actions it does not welcome simply because they do not serve the narrow U.S. national interest. Support for the UN's integrity cannot be selective: a la carte multilateralism is not an option.

Across the Channel Le Monde announced that "the road to Baghdad passes through New York" now that Mr. Bush has chosen "the multilateral look":

On the surface the idea is to implement the resolutions asking for Iraq's disarmament. In reality it is a way of making official Washington's new strategy, the strategy of 'preventive war' . . . Its aim is to counter a virtual threat with a specific operation. President Bush did not even bother to give proof of the existence of Iraq's arsenal or of the collusion between Saddam Hussein and Bin Laden. Faced with this new doctrine, Europe has nothing to offer. What is most worrisome is not the fact that among themselves, the Europeans had different views on Bush's Iraqi policy. What is of concern is the total absence of strategic thinking in Europe on the threat posed by Islamic radicalism and the dissemination of weapons of mass destruction. If we are against preventive war, what have we to offer? If we feel that Iraq is not today's number one danger and that to wage a war against it is a treatment worse that the disease itself, why not say it loud and clear?

In Holland DeVolkskrant only had one complaint: that Bush's conversion to the correct globalist-multilateralist mindset was insufficiently enthusiastic: "The fact that Bush is prepared to go through the UN is the good news. The bad news is that he is not doing this very happily."

In Warsaw Rzeczpospolita wrote that "the United Nations today has perhaps a last chance to prove that it is able to safeguard world peace and security." Spanish La Razon praised the fact that "Bush has saved the dignity of the UN." The leftist Madrid daily El Pais also commended "a positive step forward on the part of the administration that had previously leaned in the direction of unilateralism." In Stockholm Expressen went so far as to assert that the world may breathe freely, since the U.S. has chosen to seek Security Council approval. In Switzerland the Neue Zurcher Zeitung praised Bush's emphasis on strengthening the success and credibility of the UN.

Even the traditionally America-bashing, old-Left Parisian daily Liberation praised the fact that "a dose of mutilateralism has been added to the messages of unilateral threats made during the summer." Across the Rhine another leftist bastion, Germany's national television ARD-TV, commented that "America may now fight the evil with the blessing of the international community." In Cologne the Westdeutscher Rundfunk—long critical of Bush—finally accepted his argument that "ignoring UN resolutions is totally unacceptable." Frankfurt's Hessischer Rundfunk delighted in the fact that "with President Bush's speech in New York, the General Assembly and the UN Security Council have turned into the appropriate forums for the debate over how to react to the Iraq question." The Frankfurter Allgemeine approvingly noted that Mr. Bush "acted as someone who speaks on behalf of the UN . . . and his appeal to accept the danger from Saddam is a chance for the UN to regain lost credibility." Even the traditionalist Die Welt of Berlin sighed with relief that Mr. Bush is not going it alone, but "in the legal framework of the UN, approved by the UNSC": "The accusations of unilateralism no longer remains . . . The United States may even act more internationally than the model pupils of multilateralism."

We know that something is badly amiss when a French paper—in this case Le Figaro—commends an American president in terms worthy of a Midwestern country club geostrategist, or one of Rush's faithful listeners:

The man is smart . . . The charges he made against Saddam are irrefutable. Enumerating them without passion added to their intolerability. Washington did not bring out any new proof against an Iraqi threat, but the White House's reasoning was faultless.

Copenhagen's Berlingske Tidende went further, sounding like a loyal Bulgarian paper praising a speech by Comrade Brezhnev three decades ago: "Bush made it crystal clear that the 'remove Saddam project' is not about American aggression, but the world's interests. Bush's excellent speech has ensured that overwhelming pressure will be brought to bear on Saddam Hussein and the partners of terror."

As the Private Eye's columnist used to say, "Pass the sickbag, Alice!"

For a breath of fresh air away from this mondialist love-fest we have to return home, to Will Grigg, editor of The New American magazine. There is only a handful of instances in which it is right to wage war, he says, but when war is justified, it is mandatory: we have no choice but to fight if our vital interests, our homes, families, freedoms, and homeland are threatened by an aggressor. None of this applies to Iraq, and therefore fighting it would be a wrong war. Furthermore, the Administration's case for war against Iraq omits entirely the question of U.S. national interests, focusing instead on the supposed necessity of enforcing the will of the UN:

No sane American relishes the thought of an Iraqi regime armed with nuclear or bio-warfare weapons. But here's the question patriotic Americans must confront: Are we willing to send our nation's sons to kill and die on behalf of UN disarmament decrees? . . . Warfare is an unfortunate, and probably inevitable, aspect of the fallen human condition. But Americans should fight wars on our terms, for our reasons, through the constitutional mechanisms provided by our Founding Fathers. The impending war on Iraq meets none of those conditions. Americans must contact our representatives in Congress—who control both the power of the purse and the power of the sword—and tell them in no uncertain terms that we will not stand for any more UN wars.


 Copyright Srdja Trifkovic  2002,  For fair use only/ pour usage équitable seulement .

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