The Current Crisis

The Last International

Thanks to the U.N. and M. Chirac, internationalism is kaput.

By 3.18.03

Send to Kindle

Washington -- Perhaps it is too early to mention the obvious. Yet as our special ops soldiers crawl through Saddam's hinterland, targeting his defenses, mapping out routes for our troops to overwhelm him, there is a lull in the war. It is not too early to review what the popinjays of "internationalism" have wrought. "Internationalism" is the nonce enthusiasm of the United Nations and lesser international bodies that presume to reign over the world in the Twenty-First Century, regulating lesser bodies (legally constituted governments) and providing "collective security" for all. As the bloody failure of "internationalism" in Bosnia signifies and the bloodier neglect typical of "internationalism" shouts aloud from places such as Rwanda, "internationalism" is mostly gasconade and claptrap

Internationalism has only delayed the inevitable, to wit, the military enforcement of treaty obligations on Saddam Hussein. In the end posturing diplomats of dubious character are no match for brute dictators of violent character. And so military force has been sent in. Actually our Air Force and special ops have been at work for some time. A handball buddy of mine who flew Marine helicopters during Gulf I talks of how in the prelude to that war he flew specially-trained Marines into the desert reaches around Saddam's trenches. During the day these fellows would cover themselves in sand and wait under the desert sun. At night they would dust themselves off and map out areas free of land mines for our forces to pass through en route to the Iraqis' vital parts. Then my friend would fly in and take them back to base for a warm bath and a cool beer.

Maybe this time around M. Chirac would like to fly out into the desert for a little sun with our Marines. As we review the achievement of the internationalists at the United Nations, this towering fatuity of Gallic pretense has got to get full credit. The French president revealed the United Nations for the sham that it is. No serious diplomatic venture facing serious disagreement among the nations of the world will ever be undertaken there again. Henceforth, as the venerable historian Paul Johnson has opined this week in the Wall Street Journal, "we shall see much more of this kind of diplomacy…in which deals are struck on a bilateral or trilateral basis to suit the needs of the moment." The national interests of sovereign states are real. The ceremonious dithering of "internationalist" bodies such as the United Nations and even the European Community are ruses to cover the schemes of second- and third-rate powers.

France is a second-rate power. Chirac has wanted to extend his influence furtively against that of the United States and of the UK, which he now hates. What is more, he has hoped to secure influence in the Arab world and perhaps by keeping the Coalition of the Willing out of Iraq to hide from the world the evidence of French and German arms traffic with Saddam's brutes. In so doing he has seriously damaged the prestige and usefulness of the United Nations and he has done the same for the European Union, a score or more of whose members and prospective members stand with Washington and London. There will now be an "agonizing reappraisal" of these institutions, to lift a phrase coined in 1953 by Secretary of State John Foster Dulles. Ironically he coined the phrase after another French leader, Pierre Mendes-France, frustrated creation of the European Defense Community or EDC as it was then called.

Some twenty years ago those who follow international affairs started to hear about the Western Powers' hopes to limit the spread of nuclear weaponry to lesser nations. Soon a wider array of weapons were to be controlled, chemical and biological weapons. Surely the topic received much solemn oratory at the United Nations. For my part, I always wondered about the prospects for limiting weapons that were becoming easier to produce and to traffic in. In 1981 and 1982 the serious nations in the international power game began developing treaties to limit the traffic in components that could be put to strategic use by would-be nuclear powers. The Reagan Administration's Missile Technology Control Regime was an example, but putting the treaty into practice was fraught with difficulty. Many pieces of technological gadgetry could be used for peaceful and for lethal purposes. How does one argue Brazil out of buying such gadgets? Obviously the problem is even graver with a nation so lacking in good faith as Iraq or North Korea.

The years of trying to deny Iraq such "dual-use" technology are historic evidence of precisely how difficult it will be to stop the proliferation of what we now call weapons of mass destruction. The dithering of the United Nations over the last six months is more dramatic evidence. The findings our troops will soon be making of Saddam's disregard for conventions against the spread of these lethal weapons will reveal to the world in vivid detail just how great the challenge peace-loving nations such as the United States and the United Kingdom face in the years ahead. "Internationalism" is finished, but what enforcement mechanism can the civilized count on now?

Like this Article

Print this Article

Print Article
About the Author
R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. is the founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator. He is the author of The Death of Liberalism, published by Thomas Nelson Inc. His previous books include the New York Times bestseller Boy Clinton: the Political Biography; The Impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton; The Liberal Crack-Up; The Conservative Crack-Up; Public Nuisances; The Future that Doesn't Work: Social Democracy's Failure in Britain; Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House; The Clinton Crack-Up; and After the Hangover: The Conservatives' Road to Recovery.