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The United Nations on the sidelines
By Charles Bloomer
As President George W. Bush has taken his explanations and ideas regarding the war on terrorism to the American people, one suggestion has been consistently missing: The involvement of the United Nations. The only reference to the UN that the president has made has been his expectation for the United Nations to help with post-war nation building in Afghanistan.
President Bush has not seen the necessity of including the UN in the United States' response to the terrorist attacks of September 11. Unlike his father, who used the United Nations to enhance the credibility of US actions in the Gulf War, President Bush has, to a large degree, ignored the UN and does not seek their sanction or permission in his conduct of the current war.
Of course, the current president is working under a different set of conditions than those his father encountered. This time, the United States has been attacked and thousands of innocents have been killed. There is no need for the United States to get permission to act in self-defense against those who have caused us harm, and have threatened to harm us again. Common sense tells us that we have the right to protect ourselves from further attacks, to destroy or incapacitate those who wish to do us harm.
So far, the United Nations has been effectively out of the limelight, despite its attempts to gain attention. A statement by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan shortly after the attacks tried to re-establish some credibility to the UN by stating that any action by the United States against terrorists would only be legitimate if sanctioned by the UN. The Bush administration ignored the comment.
In another attempt to rein in the US and its war on terrorists, the UN has expressed concern over comments by the US that the US reserved the right to extend the military campaign against other countries that harbor terrorists. In a letter to the UN Security Council, the US ambassador to the UN, John Negroponte said, "We may find our self-defense requires further action with respect to other organizations and other states." Some members of the United Nations are understandably concerned that the US may come after them. All of the countries on the State Department's list of terrorist states, or supporters of terrorists are members of the UN.
President Bush has been right to keep the UN on the sidelines. Despite the gratuitous awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the UN and Kofi Annan, the UN has nothing to offer to our war against terrorism. The United States does not need UN approval to pursue those who attack the US. There is no credibility to be gained from an organization whose members consistently oppose the United States, an organization where a majority of member states are not liberal democracies, an organization whose members include states that the US State Department considers active supporters of terrorism Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria.
What legitimacy is to be gained from a United Nations that recently, since the September attacks, voted to include Syria on the UN Security Council? Why should the US seek approval from an organization whose concept of fighting terrorism "intended to make the lives of terrorists more difficult" is to call for an international convention? Kofi Annan said that the convention would "provide a common legal framework to pursue the fight and struggle against terrorism." What the Secretary General fails to grasp is that a "legal framework" already exists: Self defense and national security.
President Bush has made an intelligent decision to pursue the fight against terrorism based on America's national security needs. The national security decisions of the United States should not be turned over to any other organization, but should be made by those who have the best interests of the United States in mind. As the United States acts to protect itself, the actions and opinions of the United Nations are increasingly irrelevant.
The United Nations can sit this one out. If they are smart, they will stay out of the way. As President Bush said, "You're either with us, or you're on the side of the terrorists."
Charles Bloomer is a Senior Writer at Enter Stage Right. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. © 2001 Charles Bloomer
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