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Different Perspectives, Different Languages

September 23rd, 2003

President Bush will be giving a speech at the U.N. tomorrow to ask them to come to our aid. Previously, he went before them, and threatened that they would become “irrelevant” if they did not go along with his unilateral decision. After charging toward war without consultation with our allies, he came to them instead (claiming credit for being “diplomatic” for doing so) and essentially said, “We want your rubber stamp, but if you don’t go with us, we’re going alone anyway.” This after his famous “you’re either with us or against us” speech about a year before.

Well, they stayed back and did not come with; and Bush charged ahead with a “screw you” thrown over his shoulder at them. Even Turkey did not agree to let us so much as use their borders, despite tens of billions in bribes that Bush offered. And when Bush did go in, despite the tremendous effort and heroic fighting done by our troops, we sank quickly into the quagmire. The WMD that Bush promised were there were not, which the U.N. might have discovered had not Bush’s invasion cut short their inspections; and while the Iraqi military was not nearly the force we thought it would be and the terrorist ties were found to be false, the guerilla afterfight wound up killing more than the war itself. The Iraqi people, far from cheering and welcoming us (minus the few staged ones) as Cheney was sure they would, they more resent us and in too many cases, fight us to the death. And now we either stay and pay a tremendous cost, or we leave and allow Saddam, anarchy, or religious fundamentalists come to rule. But the U.S. is already strapped financially, and Americans, disenchanted, are likely not going to tolerate the continued burden in deficit dollars and lost lives. And the U.N.’s participation would add great legitimacy to the rebuilding of the country.

This situation has forced Bush to go back to the U.N. to ask for their help. Now, when Bush campaigned to be president, he said that other nations would respect us only if we were “humble.” But, according to reports, Bush is not going to be very humble. Yes, the U.N. can help write a constitution, and yes, they can oversee the elections. But first, the war was right (forget all those lies we told you), the U.S. will retain control (if you send troops, they must be under our command, and don’t think of coming near the power base) and will hold on to the profits (give us your money, but U.S. companies get dibs on taking it).

In other words, he’ll throw out some bones and keep the meat, while asking the U.N., whom he insulted and berated before, to get their member nations, whom we ridiculed, to send their sons and daughters to fight and die for our cause and for our profit, to clean up the mistake we made despite their warning.

The only reason the U.N. would agree to this galling presentation would be because they are caught between Iraq and a hard place: refuse to accept Bush’s demands, and Iraq could fall apart and the region could become unstable, added to the deaths and misery the Iraqis themselves would suffer. Essentially, Bush holds them hostage.

But there may be reason for Bush to worry. 82% of Germans and 72% of the French believe that the U.S. invasion has made the world more dangerous, and similar number oppose their countries’ troops going in to Iraq to help the U.S. In the face of such strong opposition, will these countries really bow down before Bush’s demands?

I have the feeling that the U.N. may eventually go in, but they’re not going to accept Bush’s terms automatically; if they do, that will be what renders them “irrelevant.” With the known arrogance of the Bush people, I would not be surprised if they refuse to compromise, but then again, with an election coming up and even the most generous polls now dropping to 50% approval, Bush could be in even bigger trouble if he doesn’t get the U.N. to come in. So the U.N. seems to hold the stronger cards; the question is, will they risk Iraqi security to call Bush’s bluff?

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