Pity the EUnuchs. They're surrounded. On one side is President Bush, pulling his old reverse-Corleone ploy. On the other, there are the Iranian kakistocrats, rejecting offers of appeasement faster than the Euros can revise them. The EUnuchs hate getting caught appeasing terrorists. Especially when getting caught means getting shot up.
Ransomed Giuliana Segrena, correspondent for the Communist daily Il Manifesto, almost died on the night she was released by terrorists when her car tried to run an American roadblock on the highway to the Baghdad airport. Having paid ransom for her, and thus encouraged more terrorist kidnappings, her security escort, Nicola Calipari, in a fatal display of arrogance and impatience, apparently decided that having told some American something about being there meant he was exempted from stopping at roadblocks on the most dangerous stretch of road outside the Bronx. When the car refused to stop, American soldiers manning the roadblock stopped it the hard way, killing Calipari and wounding Segrena. Who returned to Italy to relaunch a campaign against everything America is doing in Iraq.
Italian president Berlusconi joined in the emotional outbursts, demanding investigations and punishment. Of the Americans, of course. Now, thanks to Italian Gen. Mario Marioli, second in command of coalition forces and who got Calipari and his sidekick their credentials to be in Iraq, we find that Marioli -- and, consequently, the American forces -- were unaware of what Calipari's mission was. The guys at the roadblock apparently did just as they should.
Sorry, Mr. Berlusconi. Go find another bone to chew on. The Brit parliament has been chewing on a tough one for weeks, and -- after a marathon session -- spit out (or on) the Magna Carta.
TONY BLAIR DESPERATELY WANTED a new law that makes the Patriot Act look mighty tame. Blair proposed that suspected terrorists -- on the order of the Home Secretary and without resort to the courts -- could be imprisoned or placed on other restrictions such as curfews for indeterminate periods. The Brits' problem is that their immigration laws are so absurdly liberal, it's almost impossible for them to deport even the most dangerous suspected terrorists. Blair -- facing a likely general election in May -- was intent on doing something akin to what Abe Lincoln did: suspend the writ of habeas corpus. It was an assault on personal freedom that reeked of panic.
The House of Lords allowed the bill to pass after forcing Blair into several compromises. As a result of the bill passing, ten suspected terrorists were arrested after having just been released -- including Abu Qatada, who, as the Daily Telegraph reported, was described by one judge as a "truly dangerous individual."
The drama provided me the opportunity to agree -- for the first time in many a day -- with an old liberal friend. Retired RAF Air Marshal Timothy Garden is a man of considerable rhetorical skill and intellect. Not that he is right about much of anything, mind you (and I'm certain he would cheerfully say much the same of me). Now the Lord Garden, he is one of the Lib Dems who brought about the House of Lords stalemate on the Blair bill and forced a number of compromises, including limitations on the periods of detention or restriction, and a sort of sunset provision (really a promise by the Blair government to resubmit the bill next year for another debate). On Friday, Garden e-mailed me that "I am just home from the longest session of Parliament in British history....By taking it to the eleventh hour, we got a much better law than seemed possible at the start...we remained unhappy about the low hurdle of proof that is required for restrictions short of detention. With that one caveat, we feel that we did a very good piece of work in maintaining the liberties of citizens, while not making the threat from terrorism greater." Thanks to Garden and his cohort, the principles of the Magna Carta aren't altogether dead. If only such defenses of freedom were within the capacity of our liberals. Or the U.N.
WHY DOES DUBYA WANT TO GET us bogged in the U.N. quagmire on Iran just as he did on Iraq? Using his Corleone-like negotiating strategy, the President makes offers he knows the bad guys must refuse, thinking that it will limit the EUnuchs' options and bring them into the fold for action. In that, he is decidedly wrong. He offered to drop opposition to Iran's membership in the World Trade Organization if it gave up the right to enrich uranium. W's offer was predicated on EUnuch promises to join us in taking Iran to the U.N. Security Council for sanctions if it refused the offer. The Euros rejoiced. Now that the Iranians did just as W knew they would, what has been gained? On our side, nothing. On the Iranian side, time. Much too much of it.
The EUnuchs are still dedicated to appeasement, and won't do what they promised. And what good would it do if they did? We know -- as a metaphysical certainty -- that the U.N. will do absolutely nothing to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. This isn't a shift of American policy on Iran. We don't have one. This is just a repetition of the costliest mistake W made in his first term.
The President is granting Iran the time it needs to do what he said we will not permit. That's not a policy. That's an admission that we have neither a policy toward Iran nor even a clue on how to get one. Other people have policies and ideas on how to implement them. One new idea -- for U.N. reform not to deal with Iran -- was denied attention unjustly this week.
When Kofi's high-level panel of gray eminences reported its recommendations for U.N. reform, it proposed adding several nations to the dysfunctional Security Council to make it more democratic. The most serious criticism to that approach to date (other than in this page) was displayed in a full-page ad in Wednesday's Washington Post.
It said, "The nations of the world are represented by the existing General Assembly. Yet this General Assembly amounts to nothing more than a Hyde Park Speakers Corner, a fantasy....It has no powers, no responsibilities and no respect. It provides only insults and disdain for the nations which send their representatives...without making any binding decision regarding the security and peace of their peoples....The so-called Security Council is an ugly, forceful and horrible instrument of dictatorship....The reform of the United Nations...necessitates that the powers of the Security Council be transferred to the General Assembly...that binding democratic decisions should be those of the General Assembly and that the Security Council shall only be an instrument for the execution of such decisions."
The predicate facts the ad states are mostly true. But it's impossible to come to the conclusion the ad's purchaser argues. Neither expanding the Security Council nor making the General Assembly the "lawgiver" of the U.N. will fix anything that's wrong with the U.N. or make the world one whit safer. But we must take these suggestions in the spirit they are given. For the record, ad was signed by Muammar Qaddafi.
TAS contributing editor Jed Babbin is the author of Inside the Asylum: Why the UN and Old Europe Are Worse Than You Think (Regnery, 2004).
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