Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry's quest for accountability seems like a vampire's search for a sunny day — not truly desired. Whenever asked why he refused to support President Bush's requested $87 billion in order to fund the very war resolution for which he voted, he repeatedly argues that war should be waged "only as a last resort" or "only after exhausting all diplomatic means."
He contends that Mr. Bush was first expected to achieve these points of criteria before taking us into conflict against Iraq. Sounds reasonable up to where he stops. Unfortunately, he has never said when it becomes a last resort or when diplomatic means are exhausted. If there is no point of finality attached to a last chance given, it then becomes just another chance resulting in no opposition of consequence against the enemy. Instead, we have ensured that no matter how frequent or egregious the violation, permanently locked into place is our excuse never to hold the enemy to account. They commit an infraction — "it's cool, have another resort"; they inflict again — "no sweat, help yourself to some more diplomatic means." These arguments are bottomless wells of escape hatches designed to ensure indefinite avoidance from said point of finality. While this is very much in keeping with the UN posture of inertia, it's sadly not very presidential. In short, while leaders must allow themselves options, among them should never be the right to abandon tough choices linked to conclusions.
Now Mr. Kerry irresponsibly recommends that we rely more on the United Nations for help; Mr. Bush also seems devoid of logic on this issue — though dramatically less than Mr. Kerry. Why should either of these gentlemen wish to invest trust with an organization whose leadership has so recently and unabashedly lied on record? Following the bombshell news story that Saddam Hussein had been bribing national leaders and UN officials with $10 billion stolen from the Oil for Food program meant to aid the Iraqis by counterbalancing harm caused from sanctions, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan promised on NBC's "Meet the Press" that all involved with this program would submit to the interviews of Paul Volker, former chair of the Federal Reserve Board. Mr. Volker was to investigate UN personnel and those with whom they interacted so as to track all forms of corruption and influence peddling — regardless of any nation's representatives who might prove culpable. The following day, Mr. Annan violated that promise and said the company contractors were off limits to Mr. Volker. Outgoing Assistant UN Secretary-General Benon Sevan instructed many contractors not to speak with Mr. Volker's team unless given permission by the United Nations.
Let us be candid; we have all that's necessary to categorically discredit the United Nations beyond repair, and we're holding back. Why? I can understand Mr. Kerry's motive. He always has sponsored policies that subordinate our nation's interest to the will of other countries in exchange for their approval.
But why would Mr. Bush support a UN role in Iraq's governmental transition? Global legitimacy? What legitimacy is there to be gained from the saliently proven illegitimate? For example, newspapers, television and radio networks have announced that the U.N. Human Rights Commission has a report coming out on the human rights record of the Coalition Forces — specifically on the United States.
I know all of us eagerly await its assessment, especially since the commission is comprised mostly of human rights violating dictatorships that surely know something about this subject. It will be intriguing to witness greater UN indignation over American abuse of prisoners than there is over Muslim support of atrocities. Overt double standards are so easily picked apart. It's sad really, because in the 1960s it was such a great institution. When exactly did the United Nations start believing that claims to sovereignty and religion were licenses for practicing mass rape, mass torture of children, prisoner dismemberment, ethnic cleansing and genocide? Well, at least we'll be given an intimate opportunity to hear from one of Mr. Kerry's most ardent constituencies. Just for clarity's sake, these are not the musings of a "right-winger." I'm a centrist who supported Bill Clinton both terms — and would again. However, when it comes to the donkey and elephant choice of this election cycle, please pass the pachyderm.
Alan Nathan is host of "Battle Line With Alan Nathan" on Radio America Network.