Wednesday, October 29, 2003

On the UN and the US

It is now time for the US to engage the UN, to take up our destiny as leader of the world -- through the UN, playing well and cooperating with others, enforcing global peace with a premium of attention placed on our national security. The collapse of the Soviet Union left little to nothing with regards to a teleological system with which to interpret reality, which, in turn, made the outsiders of history resort to what sociologists call "networks of kin," or, blood politics, namely, the use of ethnicity, as Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Glazer predicted a generation ago, as the most cohesive argument in influencing collective action and thus accruing power. The tragedies of Rwanda and Kosovo bear witness to the dangers of basing reality on ethnicity in the global village.

These three interpretations of reality, these forces � capitalism, ethnicity and fundamentalism �are the dominant realities for much of the planet. This tryprich hovers over the planet with the grave intensity of a cloud rendered by the British master portraitist, Gainsborough. What in particular does this menacing cumulus suggest?

Of late, neoconservatives have made cavalier use of buzz words like, "civilization" and "generation," suggesting that the administration is hunkering down for a Vietnam style war in the manner of the Crusades, putting Western Man on notice. Those neo-Straussians, who have spent tortured lifetimes locked in Ivory Towers reading Plato and understanding nothing Platonic (but quite a bit Clauswitzian) are characterizing the entire Islamic world, painted broadly, as barbarians, it seems. Perennial conservative favorite Victor Davis Hanson, in his recent book, �Autumn of War'' goes so far as to say Islam and the West are ''two entirely antithetical cultures.''

This is an especially narrow reading of history, especially considering that the Bushies appear congentially unable to assign blame to the Saudi Royal family -- who are the true mortal enemies of the West � through the Carlyle Group. Let us hope that the ascension of Colin Powell and the relative decline in power of Rumsefeld and Scooter Libby mean that calmer heads are prevailing in the administration.

If only we had gone the route of the United Nations and used the goodwill of nations surrounding 9/11 to take control of that confused but infinitely useful institution (now, though, said institution is devolving into a significant but useless artifact as a result of the teddy bearish but hugely irrelevant David Dinkinsesque leadership style of Kofi Annan). It is sadly amusing how the Right engages in its favorite sport: Pin The Hysterical Criticisms on the UN ("It doesn't work," "The UN is only after one thang: One World Government!"). Ironically, by not participating in the UN and playing well with the other nations on this big blue marble called the planet Earth, we are in caught in a dangerous self fulfilling prophecy. Blame the UN for being ineffective in combating evil on a global scale while disregarding it will, obviously, result in a UN ineffective in combating evil on a global scale that is disregarded and resentful .

The US pays the overwhelming majority of dues at Turtle Bay, and, through our international lawyers -- great minds they -- Mid Century last, influenced by the calamity of Hitler and Naziism, Fascism and Japanese Imperial expansion, basically wrote the UN Charter along with British intellectuals. In high surrealist fashion, it was the US and Britain that led the unilateralism and heartbreaking irrelevancy of the UN during what history will almost certainly refer to as the Second Persial Gulf War (2003-2003).

The US could easily -- through clever diplomacy, brandished carrots, lengthy courting of our pouting but not disinterested allies�establish dominance in the UN and reform all manner of areas that are currently, well, how does one say it? Spookily unresolved. For example, we could revolutionize the Law of the Seas committee, which my father chaired in 1979. The Law of the Seas Committee and International Law pertaining to the law of the seas, which is, in the most polite manner I can muster -- a basket case.

Any pirate ship (or, increasingly a terrorist commandeered ship) can affix the flag of a rogue nation at its mast and sail, unaccosted. The September 2003 issue of the Atlantic has a spooky article by William Langewiesche on the anarchic seas and what goes on out there offshore. One could buy a flag, from, say, Mali or Nigeria, or any other rogue nation, for a pittance, and be put on their registry; incidentally, that money goes straight into the pockets of the corrupt juntas. If caught, with, say, suspect weopons, the ship and the terrorist aboard would be subject to the law of Mali or Nigeria (hah, what law?) and not, say, to a standard Law of the Sea -- there is none beyond several miles away from the coastline of a sovereign nation. Remember those North Korean scuds on their way to Yemen? They were detained briefly and then let go by US military officials. We are, to use a maritime analogy, "flatfooted" in those mighty ocean breezes which are -- spookily -- highly conducive to chemical fumes. That is the precarious position that our overstretched navy and coast guard find themselves bound -- to no uniform of enforced law of the sea.

If George Bush had used the UN, moved our Superpower briskly through the musty halls of Turtle Bay, as an eagle on the world stage, we could easily have modernized those Byzantine structures at the UN set up by dozens of competing beaurocracies over the past half century, and used the resources of the navies of the world, for example, to, finally, put an end to generations of pirates (from ancient Greece, to Corsica, to Daniel Defoe to Johnny Depp's scruffy and less malevolent-looking Pirates of the Carribean) and those terrorists who increasingly frequent the anarchic oceans as their preferred routes of human slavery and other bold instances of tyranny.

But NO (shakes fist at computer screen huffily)! The hillbillies, the Rumsfelds and the pasty academic Straussians with their dogeared copies of Commentary in their back pockets, pale from the fortifications of the Ivory Tower, who have spent the 80s and 90s misreading Leo Strauss wanted to go at it alone ... alone ... which, as it happens, is just what the terrorists wanted. (continues shaking fist angrily at computer screen) By Isolating the US, making us act unilaterally, making us aggressive, all the while breeding the next generation of terrorists in the madrases of Saudi Arabia and Chechnya and the "Stans" of the former Soviet Union (Uzbeki, etc) and the Sudan and Jordan and Egypt, now work through tyrants in the UN to move world opinion, incrementally, in their favor: while the Rumsfeldian crows continue to cackle "irrelevant, Old Europe".

Didn't we all know that this was how this bad Operetta was going to end? With Donald Rumsfeld -- a two bit amateur wrestler at Princeton who has made a career of fighting (army, two tours of duty at the Defense Department)-- insulting Old Europe ad nauseum? It's time for Rummy to hit the showers: no more wrestling on the international stage for him.

I believe that the advancement of mankind requires an appeal to a universal and international law. This road leads upwards, away from provincial concerns, towards the United States, that great experiment in post-ethnicity, which appeals to international and universal law in all its founding documents, and ultimately towards the United Nations, the Parliament of Man.

Let us strengthen international Law. Pacta Sunt Servanda (pacts will be served), so that for the first time perhaps in history, since Roman Law, International pacts will be enforced by a mighty UN backed by the most powerful nation in the history of the world. Imagine the world's navies policing the oceans for pirates and terrorists, commanded by the US. Makes you sleep better at night, n'est-ce pas?

It is high time for International Law to be followed and enforced. It is high time for an International Criminal Court (I have a Dream: Kissinger in ankle chains trying to charm an international tribunal for War Crimes in Chile and East Timor). It is time for the people of the world to stop clutching at kinship in blood and kinship in religion as viable systems of reality in a global world, else we continue the historical loop, caught in repeat, at war with those who are outside our kinships of blood and religion.

We must realize that the only kinship that will bring harmony to the pandemonium of international affairs is a kinship and concern based on our shared planetary territory, the Earth. With global advancements in travel and communication, the landscape of the planet has shortened, leaving us with a global village, a neighborhood, in which we all either share, or proceed to corrupt en masse. No one asked for this global village, but it appears that history is asking us to respond.

President George Bush�s recent address to the United Nations did not back down an inch with regards to the steamrolling stance of his administration and the war in Iraq. Alas. On top of that stubbornness, the President asked the General Assembly to send troops to internationalize the affair. So, let�s all get this straight: George Bush wants the world to send in troops, under the US banner, to a situation that they already fundamentally opposed. French Prime Minister Chirac, ostensibly speaking for the Chocolate making countries, says that they want Iraq�s sovereignty given back to the Iraqis. The immediate aftermath of the Presidents speech is that the UN has decided to cut back on troops in Iraq. Charmed, I�m sure.

That appeal to Iraqi sovereignty is a brilliant passive aggressive diplomatic move on the part of Chirac. It is, on the one hand, a popular and democratic utterance made to appeal to the sentiments of the General Assembly, namely, the non-aligned Nations and those hostile to the hyper power of the US (namely, most of the world).

In contrast, Imperial Administrator Paul Bremer has said recently that Iraq is not yet ready for self rule. In point of fact, it would be wholly against US national interests to give Iraq back to the Iraqis, in its current volatile state, which would automatically be a resentful enemy, if less dangerous than when Hussein was at the helm. So let us liberal and conservative Americans unite � that Elvin anti-realist Dennis Kucinich notwithstanding � in grave concern at the idea of allowing Iraq immediate sovereignty.

President Musharaf of Pakistan has already given us a resounding no, couched in the frisky proviso that if the US sends �military and intelligence aid� (read: money), then they might be able to comply. Might. Of course, any such an offer would have to be reciprocated with India, Pakistan�s nemesis, whose troops we would also like in the mix; Egypt, too must be bribed: Egypt, which is undergoing deep internal resistance to the US and, if the Atlantic Magazine is to be believed, the Mubarak regime is on the verge of being toppled by a more radical element. Turkey is looking increasingly unhappy at further cooperation with troops, as we cannot quite match our previous bribes from before the Second Persian Gulf War.

Security Council Resolution 1244, which made Kosovo a UN protectorate, increasingly appears to be the best viable option for the Iraq quagmire. UN protectorate status is, in fact, an incubation program for nations that has a remarkably high rate of success �- in East Timor, for example. Despite the fact that many of the most powerful nations in the General Assembly and Security Council were against the war, now is the time to put aside petty differences. The tyrant Sadaam Hussein is gone, and order in the region is the next great obstacle facing the world.

Our American troops are in a shooting gallery. On average one soldier is killed a day, and several attacks per day are sustained. The UN is also a target. The UN Mission in Baghdad was attacked, killing the great humanitarian Sergio Vieira de Mello, an architect, by the way, of the mechanisms of UN Protectorates. And the UN Mission in Iraq was attacked earlier today. Giving up the administration of Iraq to the UN would save us from the budget crunching $87 billion that George Bush asked the nation to spend. Although the UN troops would be targets of Muslim terrorists, they would be far less of a target and we would be free of the quagmire.

Why are we being stubborn about Iraq? Any civilized thinker knows (that elven waif Dennis Kucinich notwithstanding) that we cannot abandon Iraq altogether, that would be contrary to our national interest. The UN wants to do this, or at least, they would accept this burden if only for the sake of relevance or humanitarian altruism. The UN would probably do a better job than the US as well because internal antagonisms towards the world legislative body are far less than against the US.

The US would save tens of billions of dollars in the process. The US would regain a degree of goodwill from the nations of the world. US soldiers would be out of dangers way, to a large extent, and, finally, we would be able to rotate home those soldiers, to attend to their families. Fresh UN troops would lessen US involvement and allow new reserves to pick up where exhausted troops left off. The UN would be doing what they are good at � not �making constitution,� as President George Bush contemptuously offered, but in incubating a nation.

There is no reason for George W Bush to cling to the carcass of Iraq as if he were an apex predator unwilling to abandon his prey. The President had best turn his attentions to America and our own electric grids before lavishing those favors on Iraq. We�ve done our job; Iraq is no longer a threat. Now let�s leave the heavy lifting to the experts.

Once the UN is recognized and empowered as the Parliament of Man by the US, then, and only then, can compassionate conservatives End trafficking in human slaves. Pass the UN resolution. Enforce this with all the armies of the world. GW and conservatives are right on the buzzer with this. Human Rights advocates will team with conservatives and the armies of the world to finally eradicate this scourge in our lifetime.

Ladies and gentlemen we are the future of the world, and the UN is the framework by which the human race and the global village can advance and prosper.

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