uploaded : Saturday 15th Feb 2003 at 18:54
by : The Editors
The following (after this introduction) is an article that first appeared in these pages in November 2002.
Since then the anti-war movement has grown around the world, whilst those of us who actually believe that Saddam Hussein has been one of the greatest threats to the world for years side with the Bush doctrine. We do not believe it is 'about oil;' we believe that had Al Gore been elected he would have had the wisdom and prudence to see the threat of Saddam as clearly as we do. Unfortunately this Cabinet has overwhelming oil connections and the lack of trust with which the world holds the present Administration is boosted by this fact.
We may be wrong. However, one one point we feel we must make a stand. This was bought to the attention of Europe last week at the Annual Conference on National Security in Munich by US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld: that Syria, Libya and Iraq hold influential posts in the United Nations, chairing committees including those on HUMAN RIGHTS and DISARMAMENT. Here are his exact words:
'Let me add these sad thoughts about the state of the United Nations. An institution that, with the support and acquiescence of many of the nations represented in this room, that would
permit Iraq, a terrorist state that refuses to disarm, to become soon the chair of the United Nations Commission on Disarmament, and which recently elected Libya--a terrorist state--to chair the United Nations Commission on Human Rights of all things, seems not to be even struggling to regain credibility.
'That these acts of irresponsibility could happen now, at this moment in history, is breathtaking. Those acts will be marked in the history of the UN as either the low point of that
institution in retreat, or the turning point when the UN woke up, took hold of itself, and moved away from a path of ridicule to a path of responsibility.
'To understand what is at stake, it is worth reminding ourselves of the history of the UN's predecessor, the League of Nations. When the League failed to act after the invasion of Abyssinia, it was discredited as an instrument of peace. It was discredited properly. The lesson of that experience was best summed up at the time by Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King, who declared: "Collective bluffing cannot bring about collective security."
'That lesson is as true today, at the start of the 21st century, as it was in the 20th century. The question before us is-have
we learned it?
'There are moments in history when the judgment and the resolve of free nations are put to the test. This is such a moment. The security environment we are entering is the most dangerous
the world has seen. The lives of our children and grandchildren could well hang in the balance.
'When they look back at this period, what will they say of us? Have we properly recognized the seriousness of the threat, the nexus between weapons of mass destruction, terrorist states and
terrorist networks? Will they say we stood still-paralyzed by a straitjacket of indecision and 20th century thinking-while dangers gathered? Or will they say that we recognized the coming danger, united, and took action before it was too late?
'The coming days and weeks will tell.'
When asked last week at a Pentagon press breifing if al Qaeda and Iraq are linked as terrorist entities, he replied, 'And was Abrhaam Lincoln short?'
JewishComment endorses this view and asks the United Nations to allow the United States and its coalition of the willing to use force to disarm Saddam Hussein and to restore hope to an Iraqi population and a Middle East cowering under the shadow of his tyranny.
From November 2002:
by Carol Gould
I am going to make myself very unpopular with those who believe that diplomacy must come first before war with Iraq, but I have one problem with the glorification of that erstwhile institution, the United Nations.
Since Syria was allowed to become Chair of the Security Council earlier this year, my regard for the UN has dropped to an all-time low. The previous ?low? came in September 2001, when the so-called Conference on racism in Durban ? driven by UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson ? turned into a terrifying hate-fest against Israel. When the Palestinian Intifadah began in September 2000, after Arafat?s rejection of the latest peace offer from a patient and immensely civilised President Clinton and Prime Minister Barak, the United Nations said and did the minimum as a wave of violence engulfed the region.
Tons of money had poured into the Palestinian Authority from the Arab League, the USA, the EU and numerous agencies, and the Palestinian people remained impoverished. Where was the UN?s loud condemnation of this apparent subterfuge? Only when Israel, a democratic sovereign state of minute geographical size tried to defend itself did the UN and its representative, Terje Roed Larsen, condemn her actions. Everyone knows the joke about the Italian soccer team in a German van being transported by a Swedish driver that is hit by a Romanian truck, and the UN condemns Israel.
It is all well and good that Syria voted in favour of Resolution 1441 of November 8 that will demand full and unfettered inspections. It is encoruaging to learn that the Arab League is pleased that inspections are now being demanded. However, in my household there were no celebrations. Saddam Hussein is a master of obfuscation and it is likely the enormous pressure put on Syria (and leverage we will likely hear about some time in the future, despite Syria?s occupation of Lebanon and harbouring of terror groups) would have been immense.
It is laughable to hear even well-meaning fellow conservatives telling CNN that ?it is obvious that President Assad has come to realise the importance of recognising the danger of Saddam.? It is true that three al Qaeda operatives being protected and sheltered by Syria are wanted by the United States and that President Assad is inclined to be agreeable to handing them over, but in the long term the United States and other western countries must turn their attention to the threat that is Syria as well. (I do not often agree with Ariel Sharon but he too feels that Iraq is not the only problem in the Middle East.) If in fact we have entered a new era, in which President Assad?s next step will be to welcome Americans, world Jewry and Israelis with open arms to the resorts and cafes of Damascus, that is just hunky-dory. The likelihood of that happening is as probable as my going to the moon in my lifetime.
I live in a different time zone from most other people. I keep CNN, Sky, BBC News 24 and some American networks on all day and evening -- often until the wee hours ? and I read mountains of reports from both left and right-wing think-tanks, publications and organisations. I watch the full briefings from the US State Department and the Pentagon and try to read the transcripts from various government agencies in the UK and abroad. For this reason I have a very different view of the present situation with Iraq than that held by those here in the UK and abroad who oppose a move against Iraq.
For example, I expect very few people know that every day, British and American pilots are fired on by Iraq as they try to patrol the No-fly Zone; according to the Pentagon millions of dollars are spent by Saddam on expensive radar and anti-aircraft installations and not on food or medical aid for the Iraqi people. The United Nations has kept very quiet on this issue, whilst condemning Israel for protecting herself against terror.
I fully understand the complicated scenario of that expansive country: the different factions and tribal groups could end up waging war against one another and the regime that replaces Saddam could emerge as repressive as that of the Ayatollahs of Iran. Well, you will say, that is exactly why the United Nations must be in the driving seat in this scenario. What worries me is that the UN?s agenda is suspect. Israel has been on the receiving end of unbalanced condemnations for fifty years and is not allowed near the deliberations of the Security Council.
That UN inspectors have been supported by the Security Council -- including Syria ? is admirable, but it is inconceivable to me that an organisation that shows such an overwhelming hostility to Israel could be as tough as necessary against an appalling Arab dictator. Never, ever will I trust the UN again after the shameful events in Durban, just two days before September 11th, 2001.
Colin Powell has made an admirable effort in persuading all fifteen nations to support the Resolution ? according to the Washington Post he was hanging onto his cellphone up to the very moment that he walked his daughter down the aisle last Saturday ? but I am sorry to say I side with the Bush hawks. The UN?s credibility with me is as high as that perceived by many of the Red Cross during the Holocaust. Hopefully Hans Blix and his tram will be given ?unfettered? access to Iraq?s weaponry, but as the hawks of the Bush administration have alleged, Saddam hides weaponry in schools, hospitals, mosques and presidential palaces and he lies ?over and over and over again.?
The time frame of the Resolution runs from November 18 to Feb21, but we are also hearing of massive mobilisation by Britain and the United States. If what Scott Ritter calls ?good inspections? take place (he wants six months to two years of inspections and has said on CNN?s ?Late Edition? that he does not trust Hans Blix, whom he sees as a Bush poodle) all well and good. Nonetheless I am comforted knowing that the military establishment is not sitting back and sleeping.
One dreads the casualties and consequences of a strike against Iraq, but in my view the stability of the region emanates from the presence of democracies that respect women, homosexuals, multi-faith culture and press freedom . So far the only nation in that region that fits this description is Israel. That the UN has made this one enlightened democracy the butt of its hostility, but done nothing since the Second World War to liberate the oppressed people of that region speaks volumes about that ?disunited? international body.