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Inside the Asylum By: Jamie Glazov
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, August 04, 2004


Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Jed Babbin, the former deputy undersecretary of defense in the administration of President George H. W. Bush. A contributing editor of The American Spectator Magazine and a contributor to National Review Online, he is the author of the new book Inside the Asylum: Why the United Nations and Old Europe Are Worse Than You Think (available from the FrontPage Bookstore for a special offer of $19.95).

FP: Mr. Babbin, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview. It is a pleasure to have you with us.

Babbin:  It's my pleasure entirely. 

 

FP: Tell our readers why you have titled your book “Inside the Asylum.”

 

Babbin:  One definition of insanity is doing the same thing in the same way again and again and expecting different results.  By that definition, the UN is an asylum, and America is one of the inmates.  We keep trying with the UN but the result is always the same:  we become stuck in a quagmire of diplomacy.  The point is that the UN's mission -- as seen by many of its members - is not to solve threats to peace, but to constrain the United States from pursuing its interests.

 

FP: Could you give us a little glimpse into the outrageous Oil-for-Food program that you discuss in your book?

 

Babbin: The program itself wasn't outrageous, but what the UN and Saddam did with it was.  The program was the only way Saddam was supposed to be able to sell oil.  He was to use the proceeds to purchase food and humanitarian supplies (such as medical supplies) to benefit the Iraqi people.  But the Iraqis managed to bribe many -- in the UN bureaucracy and -- apparently -- in UN member governments with the oil sales.  At least ten billion dollars were stolen, and much of the food and medical supplies that were bought weren't fit for human consumption.  As I explained to the House Energy and Commerce Committee last week, the UN is not even allowing us to see its internal papers.  Imagine if an American company pulled that stunt. The leadership would be marched off to jail, quick time. 

 

FP: Inside the Asylum tells the story of how France and the United Nations have cost American lives in Iraq. Please give us the general theme.

 

Babbin: President Bush has established a policy of pre-empting terrorist attacks on the United States.  To be successful in pre-emption, we must retain the advantage of surprise.  Terrorists move quickly, and can easily disappear before our forces arrive if they have a warning.  The UN provides that warning.  We went into Afghanistan without so much as a "by your leave" to the UN, and we dealt with the Taliban decisively.  As we did in Iraq, if we spend months fiddling and diddling in the UN, pre-emption cannot work. 

 

In fact, the UN quagmire is the antithesis of pre-emption.  We have to choose between them.  In Iraq, we played the UN game for six months.  Zarquawi -- the head al-Qeda operative in Iraq -- was there no later than September 02.  We gave him six months to plan the insurgency that is now taking American lives. France is one of the principal malefactors in the UN quagmire. But there is worse, much worse.  We know now that France was selling arms to Saddam during the UN arms embargo, and that these arms were used against American troops. On top of that, France was passing intelligence information we allowed them to share right to Saddam.  They'd done the same thing in Bosnia.

 

FP: The French are pathetic. What exactly is their problem? Has anti-Americanism become so pathological in France that they would rather side with despots and religious fascists than be on our side for democracy?

 

Babbin: The French are congenitally uncooperative, but that's not half the problem. They have sunk into a level of decadence unseen since Madame Guillotine made her first appearance in 1792.  Where we see terrorist regimes -- such as Syria -- they see trading partners.  The whole thing boils down to their anti-Americanism.  France sees the world as a zero-sum game.  For them to grow, they think, we have to diminish.  What they refuse to see is that no matter how strong we are individually, we are stronger when we work together. 

 

FP: Why do you think anti-Americanism has become such a large force in the world?

 

Babbin:  First off, I don' think anti-Americanism is as big as many in the media say it is.  To the extent it exists, and it clearly does, there are several reasons.  First, in large parts of the Arab world, it's convenient to blame us for their self-generated problems.  Next, in Old Europe, there is the fear of history.  They don't see that an American superpower is different from a sole European superpower. The last time they had one it was Nazi Germany.  It's partly fear, partly jealousy, and partly ignorance.  And if you look at other parts of the world -- such as the far East -- you have nations such as China and North Korea which are significant enemies.  To say they're "anti-American" is merely repeat their reason to exist: to deny freedom to their own peoples and those who come under their influence.

 

FP: Tell us a bit about the Arab world’s “self-generated” problems that they end up blaming on us.

 

Babbin: There are many Muslim nations with governments that aren't despots -- Turkey comes to mind -- but none in the Arab world.  The arab governments -- Saudi Arabia chief among them -- mire their people in a 12th-century mindset which doesn't fit in the modern world.  Schools teach religious hatred rather than science, people are denied basic rights, and where freedom doesn't thrive, nothing else does either.  The principal problem is that their system requires that Church and State not be separated; to the contrary, it requires that religious dogma determine political policy.  It's easy to blame someone more successful than you for your own problems.  It's hard to see that you have a home-grown problem.  But it's harder still to see that the reason for your problem is the decision to have religion determine what your government does.

 

FP: Mr. Babbin would it be fair to say that the U.N. is our enemy? Some of its branches aid terrorists directly, don’t they?

 

Babbin:  The UN isn't our enemy; many of its members are.  Of the 191 UN members, fewer than 50 allow their citizens self-determination and fundamental rights. The rest are despots, dictatorships, terrorists and rogue regimes. And yes, some UN agencies hire terrorists knowingly, and some UN peacekeepers allow terrorists to share their campsites and facilities.  How can we tolerate this from an institution that we pay billions of dollars to every year?

 

FP: Tell us your view of the UN's many "commissions" (i.e. on human rights) and who administers them.

 

Babbin: Most of the UN's "commissions," investigations and other programs are pretty harmless.  They all regard the US treasury as the common heritage of mankind, and think of new ways to raid it.  This is how we get so many proposed treaties thrown at us, such as the disastrous "Law of the Sea" treaty which Mr. Bush has inexplicably sent to the Senate for ratification. 

 

So long as we refuse to sign up to these treaties and agreements, the commissions are of no concern.  Some, like the "World Summit on the Information Society", are pernicious.  They're in the process of attempting to seize control of the internet, stifling free speech.  Some, like the "Human Rights Commission," are vastly worse.  In May 2001, the US was thrown off the Human Rights Commission while Sudan (which allows chattel slavery) was put on it.  The HRC runs a lot of subprograms around the world that coddle terrorists and object to free nations defending themselves, as the Israelis are doing with the anti-terrorist wall.  When you have such a commission run by nations such as Libya, Cuba and China, this is what you'll get.

 

FP: You mention Israel’s anti-terrorist wall. What do you think of how the U.N. handles anti-Semitism? 

 

Babbin: It handles it quite nicely, encouraging and rewarding it at every opportunity.  If you mean how does it resist anti-Semitism, the answer is very poorly, and only on the occasions when the US or Britain get to speak.

 

FP: Why do you think there has been such a sharp rise in anti-Semitism, and especially on the Left?

 

Babbin: It's hard to say.  The rise in Europe is linked -- as always -- to economic decline.  But there's more. The Europeans are terribly frightened by the influx of Muslim immigrants.  Most of the attacks on Jews in France, for example, are by disaffected Muslim youth who have brought their anti-Semitism with them, and whose inability to assimilate over French cultural barriers has left them outcast from society.  That France and other European nations are growing more tolerant of anti-Semitism is a reflection of their own fears. 

 

FP: Tell us about the dominance of the Arab and Muslim states at the U.N.

  

Babbin: They aren't dominant because of who they are.  Their close allies, such as France, Russia and China make them so.  Because of that influence, the UN has no legitimacy in the war against terrorists and the nations that support them.  Since 9-11, the UN has claimed control of fighting terrorism by making the Security Council -- the only UN body whose resolutions have the force of law internationally -- a committee of the whole to fight against terrorism.  But the UN has since failed to agree on a definition of terrorism. You can't fight something you can't identify.  The Arab states, backed by the Eunuchs of Old Europe, have blocked any sensible definition of terrorism, leaving the UN paralyzed on the whole issue.  It would be very funny if it weren't so damned serious.  

 

FP: What are your views on the World Court?

 

Babbin: The International Court of Justice, as it's called, is a politico-legal sham.  Half of the judges come from nations such as China, Jordan, and Egypt where the rule of law is unknown.  Only 7 of the 15 come from free nations.  It's a political sham because - as demonstrated earlier this month in the case against the Israeli terrorist wall -- they seized jurisdiction when they clearly lacked it.  Their enabling law says that when a party -- i.e., a member nation that is part of the case -- objects to the court hearing it, it cannot.  But it did in this case, with predictable results.  The Court condemned Isreal's wall for the undeniably negative effects it has on Palestinian freedom of movement.  But it did so without regard to Israel's right to self-defense, and even said -- without facts to support its declaration -- that the wall was unnecessary to Israel's security.  Like every other UN appendage, the ICJ is entirely political, and much more interested in enhancing its own authority than in resolving disputes peacefully.  

 

FP: Let’s return to the asylum. It is clear that the U.S. must no longer tolerate it. But what should “not tolerating” the asylum entail?

 

Babbin: It's as I describe in "Inside the Asylum."  America is a superpower.  That means -- contrary to what some right wing whackos say -- we can't just walk out of the UN and slam the door behind us.  We need to gradually create a political climate in which the democratic nations of the world (most of which are as tired of what British historian Paul Johnson described to me as the "...viciousness and incapacity of the UN" as we are) can come with us without their leaders committing political suicide.  We need to continue to do what President Bush is already doing:  take the really important issues away from the UN, work with ad-hoc coalitions of the free nations to solve them, and leave the UN to wither away.  Gradually, as democracies get used to working with us in these ad hoc coalitions, a successor to the UN will form around them.  It will be what the UN was supposed to be and isn't:  a forum for nations of goodwill to meet and cooperate in peaceful solutions to many of the world's problems.  

 

FP: So are you hopeful that this scenario will occur? Will the U.S. be able to lead a collation of free nations and will the U.N. eventually “wither away”? Will it be able to do so if the Democrats win the election? Do you think Kerry understands the poison of the asylum?

 

Babbin: I am hopeful that President Bush will be reelected and that he will continue to do what he's doing now.  He's created the model for the replacement for the UN in the Proliferation Security Initiative.  In it, we've been joined by ten nations (for Heaven's sake, even France) in a quasi-military ad hoc alliance which is interdicting the shipments of WMD and nuclear materials among rogue nations and terrorists.  It's working exceedingly well, and is the principal reason for Libya's decision to disarm its nuclear program.  This model, if applied to other significant problems, takes them out of the purview of the UN and removes the constraints imposed by non-democractic members and bureaucrats. 

 

If Mr. Kerry wins, there's no chance we'll reduce our presence in the UN.  To the contrary, he has said that he'd return to the UN within 2 weeks of inauguration.  He has also said he'd abandon the preemption of terrorism.  His policy would be, "get shot first and ask questions later."  Mr. Kerry clearly doesn't understand the problems of the UN, or is all-too-willing to ignore them.

 

FP: Thank you for joining us Mr. Babbin. It was a pleasure. Why don't you leave us with some concluding thoughts?
 
Babbin: Thank you Jamie, it was a pleasure to join Frontpage Interview. For some parting words, let me say the following:
 
The threat of global, state-sponsored terrorism is an existential one for America.   Terrorists and the nations that sponsor them cannot be talked out of their ideology or their hate. No peace can be negotiated.  When I heard Teddy Kennedy speaking at the Dem Convention the other night, he was blathering about a world yearning to be at peace again.  Too bad much of the world now doesn't want peace:  they want to war against us by any means they can.  We have to return the favor. The upcoming election will be the most important one since 1980.  We have to choose between Mr. Bush and his faith in America and Mr. Kerry and his faith in the UN and Old Europe.  I hope that "Inside the Asylum" helps educate people about the reasons why Kerry's approach will fail quickly and dramatically.
 
FP: Thank you Mr. Babbin, we'll see you again soon.
 
*Inside the Asylum is available from the FrontPage Bookstore for a special offer of $19.95.
 

Jamie Glazov is Frontpage Magazine's editor. He holds a Ph.D. in History with a specialty in Russian, U.S. and Canadian foreign policy. He is the author of Canadian Policy Toward Khrushchev’s Soviet Union and is the co-editor (with David Horowitz) of The Hate America Left. He edited and wrote the introduction to David Horowitz’s Left Illusions. His new book is United in Hate: The Left's Romance with Tyranny and Terror. To see his previous symposiums, interviews and articles Click Here. Email him at jglazov@rogers.com.


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