Secretary General Kofi Annan United Nations New York, NY USA
September 26, 2002
I am surprised and alarmed by your response and that of the United Nations Organization to President Bush's speech, especially as Mr. Bush has clarified his meaning since.
The President took the position that the United Nations will be irrelevant if it fails to enforce Security Council Resolutions concerning Iraq, while at the very same time his government is continuing its long-standing policy of frustrating the implementation of Resolutions it does not like, such as 242. Indeed, where Israel is concerned, we must not even insist upon the Geneva Conventions regarding the treatment of civilian populations.
And nobody laughed. Nobody shouted, “The emperor is naked!”
Now what if President Saddam Hussein had come to town to demand that the United Nations enforce all Security Council Resolutions or be counted irrelevant, pointing to the many Resolutions spurned by Israel with tacit or even active US support, the latest just this week – or the Resolution calling on Indonesia to withdraw from East Timor, which it flouted for 24 years with US support and encouragement while murdering one third of the civilian population? Who would not have laughed at the Iraqi President?
What is the difference? Is it not that the US is a great power and Iraq a small one? If Iraq misbehaves, everyone is prepared to apply stern discipline. If the United States or its clients misbehave, everyone must pretend to see nothing amiss.
If we are to have a world order in which the weak are disciplined while the strong do as they please and everyone sucks up, we need no United Nations to enforce that. That happens all by itself, just as water runs downhill with no need of retaining walls or a pump. If the UN condones that, then indeed the UN is perfectly irrelevant, serving no function but to excuse the imperial ambitions of the mighty by giving them such Security Council Resolutions as they wish – framing mischief by statute, as written long ago in the Psalms.
Emboldened when he saw the UN intimidated by his bullying, Mr. Bush has since made quite explicit the position that the United States is entitled to attack whomever it deems dangerous to itself. How does this differ from Mussolini's claim that he could do whatever he liked in Ethiopia in 1935? Failing to confront that is what finished the League of Nations.
In permitting itself to be bullied, the United Nations has not appeased Mr. Bush. When a big kid successfully takes a little kid's lunch money, he never says, “That's enough, I'll be nice now.” He says, “That was way cool, I'll do it again tomorrow!” If Mr. Bush is allowed to attack Iraq without penalty, he will not stop there. He will point to how well it worked and go on to the next demand. And it will not be easier to resist but more difficult than it is today.
If Saddam Hussein falls off his balcony or something tomorrow, who will mourn? Saddam Hussein runs an odious regime. In the minds of some, this excuses letting Bush have his way.
In the same way, when Hitler swallowed Austria in 1938, people excused their inaction by recalling that the Austrian regime was a cruel dictatorship that had massacred the workers of Vienna when they went out on strike.
If Bush is allowed to conquer Iraq, he will certainly have a new demand to follow. He has made that quite clear in his National Security Strategy, in which he intends to “support moderate and modern governments, especially in the Muslim world,” with the purpose of winning “a battle for the future of the Muslim world.” After Iraq, if the NSS is to be believed, it will be the turn of Iran or Syria, and then of Saudi Arabia once Iraqi oil supplies are in American hands, thus making the United States independent of Saudi or Russian oil sources.
The American pursuit of diplomatic cover for its plans cannot really be principled, because principle would demand more change from the US than from Iraq. Iraq is not presently underwriting a client state's campaign of ethnic cleansing and mass starvation in violation of numerous Security Council Resolutions as America is doing in Palestine. Iraq might have weapons of mass destruction and might use them if provoked.
The United States certainly does, and has stated its intention of first use of nuclear weapons if it feels threatened – a feeling for which it is not accountable to anyone but itself. In all this, the American regime repudiates a first principle of its own political culture, enunciated by James Madison in Federalist paper #10, that no man may judge justly in his own cause. This principle, applied to nations, is the foundation of the United Nations. If you sit still for Mr. Bush's repudiation of it, you give it all away!
Since there is no foundation in principle for what America seeks, it's no surprise that it's really all just bribes, extortion, and threats. Russia is offered a free hand in Chechnya and Georgia with a nod and a wink, and China is offered a free hand against the Uighurs, in exchange for their complicity in American aggression, just as Hitler let Poland and Hungary each take a bite of Czechoslovalia in 1939. But their turn came, just as that of Russia and China will come, should they go along.
Now is when it's easy. Now the American people still hesitate to step up to this nakedly imperial policy, just as the Germans hesitated to follow Hitler into Czechoslovakia in 1938. Firm resistance on principle, a determined refusal to give the United States any support until it conforms itself to its rhetoric on ALL Security Council Resolutions, could change everything. As is perfectly obvious – as has been admitted by Republican political tacticians – this crisis is about the November midterm elections.
That men would actually consider risking the deaths of tens of thousands, perhaps millions, of people in a needless war to win 20 congressional seats in an election shows how remorseless and irresponsible they are. A human being is obliged to stand against men like these! A firm response from the Security Council will make the whole game go sour, affording America another chance to rejoin the family of nations.
On the other hand, appeasement will raise American expectations, and demands will grow more outrageous. As the past year has shown, America will only grow more merciless and lawless, and a string of successes will eventually make it feel confident that it can perfect the world by eliminating the potential threats of Russia and China.
It will be easier for all, us Americans not least, if the world is resolute now.
An American Christian who wants to see other American Christians serve God rather than American values of peace and safety through violence and plunder.