A double Rant… Bush and the UN

This was spurred by the JaneMs’ comments in the comments of the last post.

My response ended up being a rather involved rant… so, why not just post it so that everyone sees it!

Jane said:

Chris, do you think that the UN gets “signals”? The UN seems oblivious even to being hit between the eyes with the proverbial two-by-four. Your faith in the UN is childlike. It’s interesting to contrast your willingness to give the UN time to get signals (while villages are being slaughtered and refugees raped and starved to death) with the intense outrage you feel towards the American military in Iraq. You believe the best of the UN and you believe the worst of the US. Difficult to fathom the depth of your bias.

I am glad that Canada is sending help. Just wish it were more significant and copied by other western nations including my own.

Comment by jane m — May 8, 2005 @ 19:14

My outrage stems from the fact that George Bush basically decided to invade a sovereign country and explain it later…. with no regard to how to manage the aftermath or thought as to how to involve the International Community.

It’s especially poignant on this, the 60th anniversary of VE day. We were supposed to have left the days of unilateral invasions and occupation behind us.

He’s a disgrace and an outrage Jane… he’s a warmongering, selfish, fool. Those men sitting and standing proudly at the cenotauphs and memorials today. They were real heroes. They were real liberators, they fought and died and understood their sacrifice. They wept for their enemies just as they wept for their brothers and comrades. George Bush is just a suit who wants to impress his daddy by talking tough and blowing up homes and houses that he’s never seen.

If he had any concept of the horrors of war he would have shown the restraint and reluctance that even his father, his own mistakes not withstanding, exhibited.


I’m sorry… it just really makes me angry when people try to justify the unjustifiable. Uniltareral action is not an option. There is absolutely no reason in this day and age to invade a country without the resources made available through the 100+ countries in the UN. My faith is not in the UN, but rather in Multilateralism. REAL multilateralism, where the burden as well as the reward is shared. Not this fake “coalition building” where countries are bought against the will of their citizenry and are able to jump ship when the going gets tough.

Yes, the UN, is deeply flawed. But it’s all we got. If George Bush and Tony Blair put as much energy into reforming the UN as they did into turning Iraq into a warzone then maybe some progress would actually be made.

It’s really not the UNs’ fault because the UN is simply a gathering of politicians. If each member on the UNSC wasn’t so wrapped up in its’ own affairs and actually dealt with the issue instead of the “interests” then the UN might actually have a chance at working. Everyone complains about how the UN is so screwed up.. but in reality the UN works just fine, it’s the bloody selfish “interests” of the countries involved that make the UN impossible.

Unfortunately, the only way that’s ever going to change is for the politicians involve to change. I don’t see that happening… at least not very fast.

The only way I see the UN changing… *really* changing, is if the world community actually made its’ voice heard and pushed it’s leaders to take action.

The UNs goal is the betterment of all mankind, not the betterment of countries. So it is up to us, the citizens to take action if we want there to be change.

We need to make it clear to our own politicians that we want change. Frankly I don’t really care what that change is.. as long as it’s change for the better and that there is an *effort*… no more reports, no more inquiries…. just DO it for god sake!

I do not believe the best in the UN. The UN in its’ current form is crap. Actually.. we’re not really talking about the entire UN, we’re talking about the UNSC. And we’re not even really talking about the UNSC.. we’re talking about Five countries… Russia, France, Britain, China and the United States.

These five countries are collectively representative and responsible for everything that is wrong with the UN. They are the reason nothing changes and they are the reason nothing gets done.


Yikes.. two rants in a row.

God.. what was I talking about?? lol

Oh ya, at least with this meager contrbution Canada is showing that it is willing to take the initiative and use what the UNSC has already managedto agree on to actually make its’ own contribution. The UN should be supporting the AU completely rather than just giving it limited mandates… instead, it’s too busy bickering about the ICC.

The UN is FUBAR… but again, it’s all we’ve got. So we have to fix it. I know it can be done. We just have to convince our own politicians that it’s in their INTERESTS to do so.

21 replies on “A double Rant… Bush and the UN”

  1. Well, gee whiz, Chris you forgot to rank Bush up there with Stalin, Hitler, Hirohito, Mao, and Mussolini. lol Aren’t you glad I come here to inspire your anti-American rants? I’m sorry, I can’t take such hyperbole seriously.

    “It’s really not the UN’s fault”? Pathetic response, m’ boy. You need to work on that UN defense a bit. The UN has devolved into a haven of corrupt, self-serving, greedy board of dictators. If it’s the best civilized countries can come up with, then we are indeed doomed. Multi-lateral? How? when self interest is the only game in town. Let’s dismantle UN and NATO while we’re at it. You multi-lateralists can do much better on your own, I’m sure. I’m sure the UN would get along fine with out the US. Might miss our financial contribution, though. Well, just watch out, John Bolton is coming. Things should get very interesting at the UN when he arrives.

    I see many unhappy days ahead for you, Chris, because the EU ain’t gonna work as a great power, Russia – what a joke, and so China is your only hope that some day somebody kicks the shit out of the US. Unfortunately, if that happens, Canada won’t escape negative consequences.

    Actually, I’m glad to do you the favor of pushing your hot buttons. I had the same reaction over at SMASH’s to your comments all last year. I must say you inspired me to spout off some pretty good rants myself. You gave it back too but always the gentleman. I appreciate that.

  2. Well Jane.. I’m not the one doing the ranking. It just so happens that in history the only leaders who have launched an invasion of a a sovereign nation happen to be in the club that you mention.

    George Bush made himself a member the day he decided to ignore International Law and invade Iraq.

    My gripe with him isn’t even on the level of multilateralism… it doesn’t reach that level of complexity. The Iraq War was illegal, that is the crux of it. He did not follow the Rule of Law that he is so eager to claim to love. You, me, George Bush, Tony Blair… we all simply do not have the option of picking and choosing which laws we follow.

    If he disputes the interpretation of the law.. then he has the ability to do so, and I believe he did attempt to do so (though only on the urging of Tony Blair) by going to the UN. But when that process “took too long” then he simply rejected it. He decided to ignore the UN. I have absolutely no sympathy for that… no matter what the faults of the UN. The law applies whether you like it or not.

    Maybe I’ll wake up tomorrow and say to myself… “Today, I’ve decided I will go shoot someone dead.”

    Does that somehow make it legal? Of course not.

    Do I have the right to make my case in court to get the law changed? Of course I do. But if I simply reject the courts proceedings and decide it’s taking too long it’s not going to make it any more legal. If I go ahead and shoot someone then I’m still criminally responsible.

    What I don’t understand is the need to explain this. Why must I explain the rule of law? Why must I explain this to otherwise perfectly law abiding citizens?

  3. And as for the UN:

    You quoted where I said “It’s not really the UN’s fault” and then didn’t respond to any of my reasoning behind that statement.

    Do you disagree with the notion that the UN is simply a gathering of political entities and is driven by the interests of each individual country rather than the overriding humanitarian and, frankly, logical values that the UN deems important?

    I invite you to read the UNs’ charter.. even just the opening articles. I challenge you to find one that you cannot agree with to some extent.

    What’s really odd is that we’re sitting here arguing yet when I read your comments I see the same opinion buried under the hatred for the UN.

    You said:

    “The UN has devolved into a haven of corrupt, self-serving, greedy board of dictators.”

    Of which the United States is an active, willing, and essential participant. Are you suggesting that the US representation at the UN is somehow immune to the corruption and self serving attitude that is so prevalent at the UN?

    If you are… then frankly, you’re delusional. 🙂
    If you are not… then we are actually speaking the same language and we have an avenue to actually address how to *change* the UN for the better.

    On John Bolton? Why would his attitude change anything at the UN? If anything it’ll only make things worse because he’ll be so insulting, or so unconciliatory, or both… that no compromise will ever be able to be reached and deadlock will ensue.

    How is that different from now?

  4. Another point of view regarding the liberation of Iraq from a truly monstrous tyrant:

    “Let nobody mislead you, the Iraq that we inherited in April 2003, following the British and American led liberation, was a tragedy. The Ba’athist criminals had starved the country of an infrastructure and the people of their freedom. Apart from the Kurdish safe haven, Iraq was a playground for thugs and a prison for the innocent.
    Saddam’s war against the Iraqi people was ongoing; we have evidence which demonstrates that the regime was executing its challengers until the last days of its rule. It was that war, lasting almost forty years, which was the true war of Iraq.

    We have all heard of the genocide, gassing, ethnic cleansing, mass murder and the environmental vandalism of the territory of Iraq’s historic Marsh Arabs. We understand that there is no turning the clock back. Instead, we press ahead with democratisation and justice.


    Of course the liberation of Iraq has been controversial, as all wars should be. Sadly in this case, war was not the ’best’ option, it was the only option. Under Saddam, war was never controversial, never discussed, simply ordered and executed by him and his thugs.

    Iraqis sometimes wonder in amazement what the debate abroad is about. Why do people continue to ask why no WMD was found? The truth is that Saddam had, in the past, used chemical and biological weapons against his own people, and we believed he would do so again. Of course Saddam himself was, in the view of those who opposed him, Iraq’s most dangerous WMD.

    Read the rest of Talabani’s letter to Blair here, and Chrenkoff’s “good news” compilation here.

    Posted By Smash | Link | Iraq |Liberty | Speak Up (0) | Trackback

    I couldn’t resist copying this piece from LT SMASH’s site. I’m sure you’ve read it or will soon.

    Iraq is going to be rebuilt into a decent democratic society and many other countries will be inspired to do the same by observing their example. My one regret is that I am of an age that I’ll be in my dotage when the fruit is borne and may not remember how it all started.

    Delusional? Boy howdy, that’s a good one. You need to read some history, son. The US is the best thing that ever happened to this planet. If you think we are greedy and corrupt, then have at it. I’m not going to dignify your attack on my country. Say what you will, your “opinion” doesn’t equate to truth. I guess your hyperbole is the measure of your frustration.

    One of the reasons I often don’t answer you in a very detailed response to a lot of what you say, is the fault of your teensy tiny little comment box. I have cataracts, my vision (until I have surgery) even with glasses is about 20/60. I don’t mean to alibi but I could be much more eloquent if I didn’t have to scroll up and down so much. It’s too much of a challenge for this soon to be retired old-timer. One line stops at 33 characters…too little space for the likes of me.


    Jane M

  5. The only country on earth that ever went to the UN for permission to fight any of the wars fought since the inception of the UN is…guess who? The US.

    The UN is not sovereign and has no power to even enforce it’s own rules. It serves no meaningful purpose, is a posturing charade by little men with big egos and hasn’t solved a serious problem between nations that I’ve ever noticed. I’m sorry, I’m not content to say “well, it’s not much but it’s all we’ve got so let’s just all pretend that we’re getting somewhere within the framework of this ineffectual, corrupt and silly organization so we can all pretend we are trying to help people who are being slaughtered by their own government>”

    How do you feel about the US intervention in the “civil” war in Kosovo? No UN sanction there. The US just did it, stopped the carnage. NATO finally got involved after unilateral action by the US but nobody in Europe wanted to actually, you know, do the right thing…too hard for them. How come you’re not hopping up and down shouting about the evil Clinton and the US Congress who all voted to “invade” Kosovo’s airspace and bomb the crap out of them until they came to their senses?

    In closing, Chris, one of the reasons I don’t take the time to answer all your points is that your comment section is only 33 characters or so wide. I have to scroll up and down and up and down and keep losing track etc. Your comments are not user friendly. I’m entitled to gripe. I have cataracts, 20/60 vision wearing my glasses and sit and look at a computer all day at work. My eyes just don’t work that good anymore when everything is cramped together. I’ll probably have surgery on at least one of them in 2005 but even so the scrolling up and down even when you can see is a pain. Can you fix it?

    I’m missing CSI Miami so gotta go

  6. I will endeavour to fix that… I was actually annoyed at that very problem on LT-Smashs site as well. I think it’s just a function of the pop-up comments.

    What would you say to turning off the pop up windows and just commenting in the same window as the post?

    One way you can avoid that problem is by clicking on the permanent link of the article first before commenting. That way you see all the comments, along with the original post and your new comment as you type it.

    The title of the post is the permanent link to the article.

  7. I’m practically illiterate when it comes to any manuevering on the PC but I’ll try to follow your suggestion. Or is it something you are going to change? As usual I’m confused. Gotta turn in. I’ll look again tomorrow if I have time at work but I’ve got two meetings as well as lots of other stuff to do.

  8. Afghanistan was also a sovereign country in 1998 when al-Qaida blew up our embassies in Africa. There was surely a case for invading Afghanistan then, since the embassies were as much sovereign territory of the United States as lower Manhattan.

    Iraq also expelled U.N. weapons inspectors in 1998, in violation of the agreements that ended the first Gulf War, a war authorized by the United Nations.

    But America did nothing in 1998. Instead, we did not invade Afghanistan until the 9/11 attacks, and we did not invade Iraq until March 2003. What happened, in other words, was that a political threshhold was crossed in 2001 by al-Qaida and then afterwards by America.

    The question about Iraq in 2003 was whether that country forfeited some of its rights as a sovereign nation by violating international law but preserved enough of them to require a new U.N. resolution to authorize all-out military action to enforce that law.

    The case for Iraq’s absolute sovereignty in 2003 is I think very weak, given its record of breaking legally-binding resolutions to which it had agreed. The problem was whether the United States had the right or the duty to take upon itself the role of enforcing a resolution that the authorizing body refused to enforce.

    What is the duty or the prerogative of other powers when the U.N. fails to act? It would be best if this problem could be solved by reform of the U.N. Security Council, but reform requires voluntary assent on the part of the permanent Security Council members and what if such assent is not forthcoming?

    What the world said to America in 2003 was fundamentally what we Americans said to ourselves in 1998: the provocations didn’t rise to the level of requiring war in response. We changed our mind in 2003 but the U.N. Security Council didn’t.

    The trouble is that if a country needs to attack us directly in order for a military response to be justified, I wonder how that is different from saying that America cannot resort to war, if all measures short of war fail, against a country that has nuclear ambitions until a nuclear weapon traceable to that country goes off in an American city.

    I don’t have an easy answer to this question because the flip side is that nearly anything can be justified on preventive grounds. It is already becoming a very arbitrary matter which countries we intend to prevent (Iran? But not North Korea?) from building nuclear weapons that might be used against us.

    I see the U.N. in much the way one could have seen the old Articles of Confederation in the post-1783 United States, or the early American federation after 1789 when some states allowed slavery and others didn’t. The U.N. is a half-way stage between a true world state, for which the planet is not yet ready, and the law of the jungle from which nation-states are trying to emerge. The U.N. will be replaced only when people feel a sense of community larger than the nation. In the meantime, I am not sure we want to go back to the world that existed before the U.N. What we need is to recognize more clearly the limits of the U.N. so as to make more effective use of the limited things it can do.

  9. David you’ve explained the underlying issue very well indeed.

    Can one nation legally take preventive military action (ie. that which would prevent an attack on said nation) against another sovereign nation without the consent of the UNSC.

    My default answer is quite simple. No.

    That is the fundamental basis of my outrage against the Bush Administration.

    Jane, you bring up Kosovo, and you are correct, UNSC authorization was not obtained in that instance. However, the situation was much different. There were obvious human rights abuses and possibly genocide taking place. The violence was ongoing and threatening to spill over into neighbouring countries, which including countries bordering members of NATO.

    So, if I had been, in 1998, as concerned with world affairs as I am now then I most definitely would have had reservations with Canadian forces taking part in the NATO action. The other saving grace of the NATO action was the fact that it was a truly multilateral and shared initiative within the NATO alliance. All NATO members took part, grudgingly or not and continued to contribute through the UN once the initial campaign was over.

    That said… Kosovo represented an ongoing conflict endangering milliions of lives and mutliple ethnic groups.

    Where as in Iraq there was no threat of military action, there was no ongoing mass violence against ethnic groups (indeed the Kurds were their own defacto state, and the Shia were protected by a no-fly zone). There was no threat of conflict between any of Iraqs neighbours. And Saddam Hussein only international bone of contention was ongoing sabotaging of UN resolutions… which in and of itself did not, at any point, authorize the use of force after the cease fire was signed in 1991.

  10. David

    Once again I’m impressed with your wisdom and ability to provide a dispationate perspective of the situation. Thank you. You have given me a clearer understanding of how we got where we are regarding the Islamic/ME problems.


    Hundreds of thousands of mass graves hiding bodies of Iraqi citizens killed by the Ba’ath government don’t constitute mass murder in Iraq in your eyes? The only reason that the Kurds and southern Shia were safe was the fact the the US was enforcing no fly zones (and being shot at regularly by Iraqis under Saddams control and orders). How long do you believe it would have been possible to contain Saddam from more murder of his own citizens? How long was the stability going to last? The answer is …As long as the US military was available to be the policeman. Even if Saddam had died of old age, the specter of Uday and Oday presented further heightened prospects of terror and pathological agression out of Iraq. European (French primarily whose chief motivation is based on commerce) pressure was already being used to try to lift the sanctions on Iraq. In a matter of years, all would have been forgiven and Saddam would have been back in business plotting and murdering.

    Your fine tuning of your objection re: Iraq versus your agreement re: Kosovo is a typical rationalization used to explain a pathetic inconsistancy. In one case your ilk find for justification for intervention and invasion and in another case with a great deal of similarity, you find for condemnation. Once the horrors of the Ba’ath regime were publically shown to the world, it was interesting to hear so many crying…Yes, but, Saddam is a sovereign leader. The US is a big bully!!

    My judgment tells me your bias is stunning You come to your conclusions through the prism of anti-Americanism and Bush hatred. It’s okay for Clinton to save white Europeans from genocide but not the ME from abject starvation and mass murder. We have a similar perspective when assessing justification to intervene in Sudan. White people are worth going to war over, but not ME Arabs or black Africans at least in the view of the UN.

  11. Jane:

    yes, of course the mass graves are there… but the issue is whether it was happening again, or ongoing, or whether it would happen in the future.

    With the no-fly zones and the autonomous Kurdish territory in effect the Saddams forces were effectively shut out.

    I see very little similarity between the situations of Iraq and Kosovo. You see obviously see much more.

    In addition, remember that the “humanitarian” aspect of the justification of this war only started to appear in the rhetoric of Bush and Co. *after* it was clear that the UN Resolution which was based on the threat of WMD would fail.

    And I find your inclusion of race as having some bearing totally insulting.

    If Bush had obtained UNSC approval I would have SUPPORTED him and the war in Iraq. Even if he had managed to get NATO to lead the offensive and take care of the post-war situation, I would have SUPPORTED him and the war in Iraq.

    He did neither… instead… he made a unilateral decision to invade and occupy a sovereign nation… that’s the bottom line.

  12. My apology regarding the race comment. I do believe that generally Western governments are much more likely to go to the assistance of European and/or Western industrialized countries much more readily for humanitarian causes especially. I include my own country in this indictment but not you as an individual. I’m sure my choice of words was not the best. It often isn’t when I spout off. Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa.

    Overall, we once again see situations from a rather distant perspective.

  13. No worries… we both use inflammatory language fairly liberally.

    You are correct that there is a built in racism against people who are not white Europeans.

    More thoughts on this later…

  14. Jane and Chris,

    Thank you for the comments and points.

    >>Can one nation legally take preventive military action (ie. that which would prevent an attack on said nation) against another sovereign nation without the consent of the UNSC.
    My default answer is quite simple. No.>yes, of course the mass graves are there… but the issue is whether it was happening again, or ongoing, or whether it would happen in the future. With the no-fly zones and the autonomous Kurdish territory in effect the Saddams forces were effectively shut out.

  15. In my post above I used double brackets to separate quoted text from my comments and it looks like the software had difficulty parsing the brackets. The first quote ended with Chris’s word “No.” The second began with the single bracket and the word “yes” and ends where it ends. Here are my comments:

    1. The League of Nations in the 1920s defused a number of tensions around the world when the great powers acted in concert. But it did nothing in the 1930s to oppose Japanese, Italian, and German actions that violated the League covenant. If one of the democratic powers had chosen unilaterally to go to war with Japan or Italy or Germany in the 1930s, I don’t see how it would have been illegitimate to do so in the absence of League authorization. The real question then and now is whether the consequences of unilateral action are more damaging to world order than the consequences of inaction.

    2. The no-fly zone in Iraq applied to airspace. I don’t believe it permitted Allied warplanes to attack Iraqi ground forces unless they fired on Allied warplanes first. The Shia south was quiet after 1991 because the Shias knew that Saddam’s ground forces could return. Saddam’s secret police operated there continuously.

    I would think that a government guilty of mass murder would forfeit its right to exist whether the murder was ongoing or not. The problem is that intervention to prevent or punish such atrocities has to be consistent and not selective if the principle is to have any meaning.

    The problem with the Bush foreign policy is not its unilateralism (which might be defensible in certain cases). The problem is its larger effort to preserve a world order in which unilateralism may sometimes be necessary.

  16. David Billington

    “The problem is its larger effort to preserve a world order in which unilateralism may sometimes be necessary. ”

    Do you mean preserving a world order where it is possible to exist as the sole super power (the US)? I’m not sure of your meaning but it is certainly an interesting statement.

    I believe we are in the beginning stages of a fundamental change in world order. Can’t be avoided if Asian power grows economically at its current rapid rate and seriously competes for resources with those Western powers accustomed to taking the lion’s share of the pie.

  17. Do you mean preserving a world order where it is possible to exist as the sole super power (the US)? I’m not sure of your meaning but it is certainly an interesting statement.

    The problem is that the Bush policy is trying to uphold a world order based on sovereign nation-states while at the same time infringing the sovereignty of nations that try to acquire dangerous technology. I’m afraid this is like trying to plug leaks in a dam that can no longer hold back water.

    Unilateralism may be justified as a temporary means of building a better world in which unilateral action is no longer necessary or possible. But a unilateralism that has to be exercised over and over again to prop up a world order that doesn’t solve the underlying problem (national security) seems to me very doubtful in the long run.

    I agree with you about the economic change that is coming. I think (or at least hope) the great Asian powers will join with us in a stronger global security framework in the next decade or two. Otherwise nuclear tensions in Asia might spin out of control.

  18. Your comments are both bleak and encouraging. What other world order can we have if not based on sovereignty of nations?

    And containing sovereign nations that consolidate the balance of power with viable nuclear weapons will be similar to living with a time bomb when some of those nuclear nations, by their statements and actions, are paranoid and fanatical in the extreme…a bleak prospect and bringing a longing for the good old days of the Cold War and MAD.

    I agree that unilaterism will exhaust itself if over-utilized. However, I’m encouraged that with the EU’s help, one or two of those volatile situations looming before us will be reconciled with a combination of diplomacy and threats of “regime change”. Iran I believe can be changed internally if the world remains patient and determined. N Korea? A true delimma.

    A partnership with China and perhaps, India, is an encouraging thought and one to be sought with perseverence. However, we compete with Europe for such an alliance and must make very smart moves if we are to gain an advantage.

  19. Your comments are both bleak and encouraging. What other world order can we have if not based on sovereignty of nations?

    Nations have accepted obligations in the last sixty years that limit or share some aspects of sovereignty. World order is really a matter of degree. I’ve tried to outline a new basis for international order on my website here:


    Past experience suggests that a new advance in security will not occur unless there is a new world war to demonstrate its necessity. My hope is that we won’t need that.

  20. David

    Thanks very much for the link to your website. I haven’t read your most recent essay yet entirely as I’ve been away for the weekend but I will in the coming days. Thanks for sharing your most interesting ideas on international relations.

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