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Saturday, February 15, 2003

Not-So-United Nations

Yesterday was the big day at the United Nations, big enough to fill most of the news coverage for the rest of the day. Some called the report of Chief U.N. Weapons Inspector Hans Blix to be "shocking", but you honestly can't be all that surprised by a guy who doesn't want to be held accountable for starting a war, whether he might personally be for it or not. I thought he gave a pretty honest and straightforward report, and maybe the only real surprises of the day were the rounds of applause following the statements made by the representatives from France and Russia. Anti-war seems to be a popular stance right now, and if it weren't for things like guns and missiles and armies, especially in the hands of people who might use them, I think that even the strongest hawks would agree that not having wars is a good thing. Too bad the world doesn't necessarily work that way, and some will always turn to violence as a means of solving their problems. It seems that the majority of people around the world think the inspections are working and are encouraged by Iraq's improved (yet not complete) cooperation. Even if you're anti-war, you have to realize that Iraq's cooperation is most likely due to those 160,000+ U.S. troops standing at the Iraqi border. Could our military be powerful enough to get Iraq to disarm without firing a shot? Teddy Roosevelt's "big stick" is at it again...

I was a bit disappointed yesterday that following the reports from the U.N. weapons inspectors that the news coverage switched to analysis and commentary and not on all of the comments made thereafter. (Maybe I should have checked out C-SPAN...they probably had it.) Syria went first, and MSNBC was kind enough to put some captions with the picture to indicate what was being said, but none of the translation was heard. MSNBC indicated that the ambassador from Syria was talking about Israel's non-compliance with past U.N. resolutions, and given the problems in that part of the world I think it would have been interesting to hear his side of the story. People riding the fence often do so in an attempt to get the best view of both sides.

So even though I titled this post "Not-So-United Nations", don't think I don't like the process that was on display yesterday. The debate is a good one, and it could shape international diplomacy efforts for years to come. There has been quite a bit of talk about the Security Council's "power" and "relevancy" if they fail to "forcefully enforce" their resolutions, and maybe only time will tell how that will sort out. As pointed out on MSNBC's Hardball last night, the key player at this point may be Britain's Tony Blair - as a leader of a strong European country and the United States' greatest ally, he is in the best position to negotiate a compromise. I think highly of Blair as a world leader, and I hope he can pull it off, regardless of whether that means force is used or not. I really think the "United" in United Nations needs to mean something, just like it does in "United States of America". That doesn't always mean that decisions are made to please the majority, but it should mean that decisions are made together.

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