Loose Canons

The Emperor of East 46th Street

Kofi Annan is making sure Mr. Bush feels unwelcome at the U.N. tomorrow. Seems he's already made the President's day.

By 9.20.04

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While the genocide against black Muslims continues in Sudan, and Iran's race to obtain nuclear arms comes near its end, the U.N.'s Secretary General has set his sights on what really matters most: calumniating against President Bush, Britain's Blair, Australia's Howard, and the rest of the leaders of the coalition that overthrew Saddam Hussein.

Last week, speaking to the BBC about the U.S.-led overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime, Secretary General Kofi Annan said, "I have indicated it was not in conformity with the U.N. charter…from the charter point of view, it was illegal." In one awkward sentence, Annan declared the Iraq war illegal, attacked the U.S. Constitution, and labeled the President of the United States an outlaw. Uttered less than a week before the U.N. speech Mr. Bush will deliver tomorrow, Annan's statement was a direct slap in the president's face. It was a political attack designed to influence the U.S. and Australian elections.

Howard's Australia thinks more highly of the U.N. than does Bush's America, so his chances of reelection are more likely to be damaged. Facing an election less than three weeks away, Howard fired back saying the U.N. was "paralyzed" and incapable of dealing with international crises. That's right, of course. But Howard wasn't Annan's principal target. Annan aimed at Mr. Bush, and our Constitution.

The Constitution gives the Congress power to declare war and makes the President commander in chief, charging him with the prosecution of our wars. Annan knows that. There is nothing in the Constitution that mentions any other entity in respect to America's sovereign right to go to war, pre-emptively or otherwise. Annan knows that, too, and the reason for it. America's government is accountable to American voters. The U.N. is not. Annan's statement is a direct challenge to the Constitution. The inescapable meaning of his statement is that the U.N. Charter overrides the Constitution and that the actions of the Security Council determine the legality of what the U.S. Congress does. If Annan wanted to precipitate a crisis over U.S. membership in the U.N., there are no better words he could have chosen.

Annan knows the principal reason the U.S. didn't join the League of Nations. It was precisely this: that the League's charter gave it war-making powers supposedly binding on its members. For that reason alone, and despite Woodrow Wilson's dreams, the Senate rejected the League's charter. The U.N.'s creators specifically avoided that, but Annan wants to reverse their intent and establish the U.N.'s sovereignty over America. He's preparing to do so if the November election turns out to his liking.

Last year, Annan announced one of his "panels of eminent persons" to review, among other things, the functions of the Security Council and recommend "reforms." He said the panel "will have to discuss questions of when preventive war is acceptable, under what rules, and who approves." That's what's important to the EUnuchs, the terrorist nations, and Mr. Annan. What rules the United States must follow -- as defined by the U.N., not the Constitution -- when chooses to prevent terrorist attacks. The panel's report was rumored to be released this month, but is now apparently delayed until December. What comes out depends on who wins the White House.

MR. BUSH HAS REACTED appropriately by ignoring Annan's statement. The president of the United States should not lower himself to debate a bureaucrat on the merits of constitutional government for the United States. Mr. Bush must be firm and at least barely polite when he delivers his speech to the U.N. on Tuesday. The President should outline what the U.N. can do now, and what the U.S. will do with or without it in the next four years.

The next presidential term will be as important as any other such period in the history of our nation. The threat of jihadist terrorism is the biggest, but not the only, threat our president will have to deal with. Mr. Bush needs to set out his view of the coming four years, and how he as president will deal with these problems. He reportedly plans to ask -- again -- for help in Iraq. He will be turned down. He would do better to not ask, and not play into Mr. Kerry's hand. Kerry wants Americans to believe that anyone who isn't named Bush can ask the U.N. for help, and get it. It's nonsense, but by asking again Mr. Bush recharges Kerry's drained batteries.

As to Sudan, Mr. Bush should call upon the U.N. to take up the challenge without more delay. The U.N. should not be debating yet another ineffectual sanctions regime. It should be calling upon its 190 other members to mount an intervention, and military mission unlimited by time, to remove the Sudanese regime and protect the people of Darfur. The U.N. should -- as I've written before -- resolve not only to intervene quickly in Sudan, but also to end the Sudanese membership in the U.N. until a new legitimate government is installed there. And it should do so without American participation.

For Iran, the President should chastise the U.N. for delaying the few measures it can take. For Iran to insist that their nuclear program is only aimed at peaceful generation of electricity is a lie worthy of the Soviets, and Mr. Bush should say so. He should make it perfectly clear that regardless of the U.N.'s decisions, America will do whatever it takes to prevent Iran from achieving its nuclear weapons ambition.

MR. BUSH SHOULD EMPHASIZE that the U.N. has -- as Annan said earlier -- reached a fork in its road, and it must do better than to follow Yogi Berra's advice to take it. The President should lay out America's challenges to the U.N. in three terms.

First, the U.N. has become what the League of Nations was, a debating society incapable of action. If it is to have any relevance to world events, it must resolve itself to do more, to decide and to act in the interests of peace. He should pose the example of the U.N.'s longstanding failure to deal with the primary issues of terrorism. The U.N. has -- since 9-11 -- failed to even agree on a definition of terrorism. While terrorist regimes are members of the U.N., how can we ever expect better?

Second, the U.N. has become an instrument of those who worship stability, even where stability is U.N. desirable. The oppressed peoples of the world can gain no hope from the U.N.'s devotion to stability because to them, stability means the continuation of slavery and even, as in Sudan, the continuation of genocide. Mr. Bush's use of that word will be good for the U.N. to hear. The pretense of U.N. legitimacy in world affairs cannot stand when it sits silent -- as it did in Rwanda -- in the face of genocide.

Third, Mr. Bush should tell the U.N. that Americans recognize that diplomacy works much better outside of the U.N. than within it. The Proliferation Security Initiative -- the quasi-military alliance now interdicting the shipment of WMD and missiles between and among terrorists and rogue nations -- is responsible for the nuclear disarmament of Libya. Mr. Bush should say that we will continue to work outside the U.N. with coalitions of nations willing to act, and that we will never fail to act against grave threats to our own security while the U.N. stands idle. Mr. Bush should tell the U.N. that when it fails to make decisions and act to enforce them diplomatically, it makes diplomacy fail. And when diplomacy fails, war is upon us. As it now stands, the U.N. is the agent of war, not peace.

Mr. Bush's speech will change nothing in the U.N.. The U.N. will not awaken to its responsibilities, it will not decide, and it will not act. But by saying -- in terms so clear that none can miss his meaning -- that America will do all those things, Mr. Bush can continue to lay the foundation for the U.N.'s successor. That new organization will be what it must: a coalition of democracies willing to act in the interests of peace and prosperity, Unhampered by the whims and caprices of the despots, dictators and appeasers who dominate the U.N. And it will be free of their faithful functionary, Mr. Annan.

TAS Contributing Editor Jed Babbin is the author of Inside the Asylum: Why the U.N. and Old Europe Are Worse Than You Think (Regnery Publishing).

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About the Author
Jed Babbin served as a Deputy Undersecretary of Defense under George H.W. Bush. He is the author of several bestselling books including Inside the Asylum and In the Words of Our Enemies. He is coauthor (with Herbert London) of the new book The BDS War Against Israel. You can follow him on Twitter@jedbabbin.