Skip to comments.Stratfor: Bush Issues Veiled Ultimatum to United Nations
Posted on 09/12/2002 1:06:55 PM PDT by sanchmo
Bush Issues Veiled Ultimatum to United Nations
12 September 2002
U.S. President George W. Bush did as he was asked, taking his case for an attack on Iraq to the United Nations Sept. 12. But rather than allow the U.S. plan to be stalled by bureaucratic sandbagging, Bush implied a harsh ultimatum to the United Nations: Either enforce the resolutions that you passed and that Iraq has mocked for over a decade or the United States essentially will abandon the institution.
U.S. President George W. Bush Sept. 12 answered the calls of his critics at home and abroad when he presented the U.S. case for attacking Iraq to the U.N. General Assembly. Rather than proving the moral or technical need for an attack, Bush checkmated his critics by instead challenging the validity of the very institution they support in hopes of thwarting both despots like Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and perceived unilateralists like Bush.
In short, Bush challenged the United Nations to live up to the responsibility it claims or step aside.
In the year since the Sept. 11 attacks, international support for the U.S. war on al Qaeda gradually has ebbed as countries have bridled at U.S. pressure or sought concessions in return for their aid. As Washington turned its attention to a potential attack on Iraq, much of the world openly balked, arguing that Iraq had nothing to do with the war on al Qaeda. Opposition to an Iraq campaign even began to divide the U.S. Congress and the Republican Party.
After numerous attempts to make the case for an attack, as well as continued debate within the administration over whether the United States really needed international support to topple Hussein, Bush agreed to consult Congress, U.S. allies and the United Nations.
But the administration had no intention of allowing "consultations" to descend into sandbagging. Rather, Bush essentially asked the various critics, "OK, you don't like our plan, what's yours?"
The general response from Europe, the Middle East and others was along the line of "we don't have an alternative plan besides more of the same, but that doesn't mean we have to like or support your plan. And your plan still has nothing to do with the war on al Qaeda."
The United States has a problem. It needs a coalition whether it wants one or not. If it is to attack Iraq effectively, it needs access to the territory of neighboring states. If it is to hunt down al Qaeda and other militant organizations, it needs the support of other countries' intelligence services and police forces, as well as access to their financial and communications infrastructures.
Receiving no support and no alternative might have left the Bush administration on the rhetorical high ground, but it did nothing to advance the U.S. plan. Washington did not have support before consultations with other governments, and it still did not have support after the consultations.
Washington instead needed leverage. It needed an "or else." It could not be, "Or else we'll go it alone," because the United States could not go it alone, at least not effectively. Washington needed an "or else" that generated active cooperation. It appears from Bush's speech to the United Nations that Washington found the lever it needs.
During his speech Bush reframed the rationale for an attack on Iraq. The issue now is not about whether Iraq does or does not have weapons of mass destruction, nor is it about whether Baghdad supports al Qaeda, though both are still important aspects. Rather, Bush made the case that the Iraq problem is a test case for the superiority of multilateralism over unilateralism. It was a test case for the validity and viability of the United Nations itself.
He argued that the United Nations was created to bring peace, stability and security to the world and that the Security Council was created to ensure that the United Nations is not merely a venue for empty rhetoric. He then issued a simple, veiled ultimatum. If the United Nations would not or could not back up the numerous resolutions it has passed over the past 12 years -- resolutions that Hussein has brazenly flouted -- then the body is irrelevant.
Washington's "or else" is a tacit threat of a possible de facto U.S. abandonment of the United Nations. Bush's argument, in short, was that if the international community wants the United Nations to have any say in what the United States does -- to have any hope of leashing U.S. unilateralism -- then it must make the organization more than a venue for obfuscation and delay.
There remain many unanswered questions about the Bush plan for Iraq and many pitfalls should the United States be left to go it alone. But the ball is now squarely in the United Nations' court, and the question now is not merely about the future of Iraq, but the future of the United Nations.
To the UN: Please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please don't enforce the resolutions.
I'll let the free market of ideas decide which should be pulled.
Don't worry. Without US muscle the UN couldn't enforce a game of tiddly winks.
Or else, we boot the U.N. out of the U.S.?
I also believe they are rightfully always cynical, so as for one to not get such a rosey colored picture of what is going on in the world.
That being said, I see this analysis as staing Bush was quite clever in how he put the UN in the corner and is demanding they perform.
I cannot believe Bush would think that anything the UN does will meet his satisfaction. Which is a pattern we saw before with the Taliban...remember how they went from "Give up Osmama, No Way!" to "Talk to our 'Moderate Taliban'(sic) Cleric" to "All we need is more time to examine the evidence" and yet Bush never relaxed the throttle..
The Arab Nations and the UN at large have to respect that Bush means to do what he says he will do. I suspect they are all real nervous.
Be still, my heart....
I swear that was a typo and did not mean any disrespect for the scumbag or his liniege. I hope the Admin Mod does not ban me....
While not a Bircher, my expectations were very low for this speech. Due in part, to the recent news about rejoining UNESCO after Reagan ended our membership in '86. Perhaps, UNESCO is the carrot and his speech was the whip?
Gee, what would happen to Bush if he pulled out a can of whip-ass on the U.N.? I would put his picture up on my wall next to Reagan's, which is below the Saviour's.
That is very true and very appropriate. I picked up on that on my first read of the speech.
I would put his picture up on my wall next to Reagan's, which is below the Saviour's.
I would too.
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