Monday, July 24, 2006

A Farcical Take on the UN

A reposting from my Slate Fray alter ego, HopefulCynic. In response to an article by the usually good John Dickerson, Good Shit: Why Bush Should Swear More. Elaboration (and fixed links) to come. For now:
Mr. Dickerson should certainly already know that the UN is most often hampered by the large amount of influence the US exerts, hampering many good perogatives even as it pushes others. Bush saying "I should tell Kofi..." is a telling phrase. Kofi Annan was made to eat his hat in the matter of Haiti (the US, from a fair few reports, was not a purely helpful partner [] there, for penance in his opposition to the US' position on Iraq. (And indeed, the more cautious approach advocated by many in the UN (see, i.e., France []) seems to have been warranted given the aftermath, the foreseeable [] lack [] of threat [] and "WMDs" [].)

The UN can and should expect more monetary support and more from "Old Europe", but the fact is the US holds the pursestrings, and in many (but not all) cases, it essentially holds the UNs metaphorical balls in its hands. Clearly an intermediary between us and Syria and/or Lebanon would likely be advisable given our current popularity in the Middle East, but there was no implication given that the UN had rebuffed Bush's idea, but rather that he hadn't pushed it yet. And without the power of the US, the UN is a paper tiger (sadly, in that it depends so heavily on one country that isn't overly fond of it), so them telling Syria and Hezbollah to "cut this shit out" clearly won't happen before given the unambiguous imprimatur of the US, and likely some extensive pressure given the UN's (to my mind) more even-handed position towards Israel and its antagonists and attackers. (See my former avatar [] and AM-2's [] take on the UN and US rel'nship more generally.)

And it's disturbing, though utterly surprising, to me that Bush and Dickerson both failed to mention the very valid other side to this: Hezbollah clearly attacked and provoked Israel; Israel clearly has a right to defend itself, but: is any scale of response acceptable? And would it be in any other ally? Clearly, somewhere between "nothing" and "using the nukes it doesn't officially have" is where the most reasonable response for Israel lies. So those (like Bush and most of the media establishment) who brush off Israel's reponsibility for proportionality are essentially saying that anything between a nuke (or several) and nothing is ok. This utterly callous stance is a large reason we're not seen well in the ME, or indeed, in many other parts of the world.

Between our utter lack of concern for civilian lives in the Middle East, or more accurately, our utter lack of effective concern (saying you're trying hard is not the same as addressing failures and flaws in the trying), and the havok WE have created in Iraq, we have sent a clear message to the Arab and Muslim "street" that we don't care about their puny little lives in the scale of larger conflicts supposedly in their name, and that we will invade and occupy their states at will, our broken promises and unfulfilled visions in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestine, that not only will armed resistance and, frankly, terrorism stymie us, but that it is perhaps the only way to stop us from doing what we will in their sovereign states or neglecting valid calls for help.

Hezbollah is not going to "cut this shit out", nor is the "street" in Lebanon going to stop supporting them, before they see some proof that collaboration with the US in this Bush era will bring some advantage, some hope, some lasting commitment, rather than forgotten promises, [] chaos, and death [].

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