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2002-09-19 / View From the Middle

View From

The Middle
By Charles Rogers


Ignoring Iraq Could Be Last Task Of "Irrelevant" U.N.

At first, frankly, I was a little worried regarding our push for action against Iraq and as to whether we should, finally, stop vacillating and get rid of the threat of Saddam Hussein’s warfare programs — whether the United Nations likes it or not.

There is a danger in pushing too hard, I surmised, and then realized there is a danger in not doing something specific besides rely on that once-but-not-anymore-stalwart body of countries called the U.N.

Then, in terms that would have done a Rhodes Scholar proud, President Bush confirmed those latter thoughts in a speech to the General Assembly last Thursday.

It was a revelation to see the delegates called to task — finally! They’ve been a non-entity for too long anyway, and when the President said that if they didn’t go along with an ultimatum to Saddam, the U.S. would consider them "irrelevant" and we’d go it alone or with Great Britain and whatever few other countries agreed.

Irrelevant.

I can’t think of a crueler, but more appropriate, word, especially when it comes to a body of do-nothing delegates from so many countries; diplomats who, obviously, need something to do to dignify their at-tempts at dignity; something to justify those limousines and (oh, yes!) free parking places; something to justify the non-substanced three-word title "Uni-ted Nations Delegate."

It was more than 10 years ago that the Gulf War brought Saddam to his knees and told him he had to allow inspectors from the U.N. to come into his coun-try and then disarm completely. Then, when those in-spectors started coming in and looking around at things he didn’t want them to see, he kicked them out. HE KICKED THEM OUT! The guy lost the war and then told his conquerors to go to hell. And they stood for it! — Or is the word "cringed?"

Let’s see how he handles it this time. The stunning news just a few days after President Bush’s speech that Iraq has agreed to the "unconditional" return of the inspectors, no doubt, caught everyone off guard. Who would have thought it? White House officials are skeptical, of course, and still say just letting the inspectors in doesn’t cover all the demands, including disarmament. Most think it is a delaying tactic.

It was a revelation to hear President Bush tell the world body that Saddam "made the case for himself (through) his contempt" for every principle the U.N. stands for.

How long can it go on? How many more times can this grandiose body of diplomats be smacked in the face?

Now, after his speech, the answer is "as long as the United States lets them."

I was curious as to whether the Security Council would go along with Bush, as most people were. At this point, his speech and the lobbying by Secretary of State Colin Powell and his corps of diplomats seem to be making inroads. Where at first it was supposed that most of the 14 member nations would not support a resolution calling for the inspectors to go back to Iraq and disarmament take place, the opposite ap-pears to be true. Now it is a matter of semantics, if you will. I think "diplomatic wording" is how it should be phrased.

In his own folksy style, George Dubya Bush might not always come off as a heavyweight. But watch out. He’s called the United Nations’ bluff and told them if they don’t do something definitive — NOW — they might as well go home, because they will have become completely "irrelevant."


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