Bush criticizes UN for its reluctance to support war

Nicole Kurker-Stewart

As a follow-up to last week’s article regarding Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan’s statement that the United States-led invasion of Iraq was illegal, this article will focus on Bush’s response and the consequences of this declaration. In a recent speech to the UN general assembly on Tuesday, September 21, Bush said that the mission in Iraq “enforced the demands of the world,” because there was a need to “fight radicalism and terror with justice and dignity.” He further went on to say that the US-led coalition helped rid Iraq of a “criminal dictator” who had consistently been avoiding UN resolutions for over a decade.

Bush went so far as to implicitly criticize the UN for its reluctance to support military action. He said, “Eventually, there is no safety in looking away, seeking the quiet life by ignoring the struggles and oppressions of others.” Bush mentioned the recent death of dozens of children in Russia and afterward said, “Civilized nations are in this struggle together, and all must fight the murderers.”

At the opening of the assembly, Annan said, “The rule of law is at risk around the world… No one is above the law.” He went on to criticize Bush’s policies by referring to the treatment of detainees in Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad as “disgraceful abuse.” Bush did not comment on this statement, but did proceed to ask the UN for help with the reconstruction of Iraq.

This request for help marks a change in policy. A year and a half ago, Bush did not care about the UN. At one point, he said, “By failing to authorize the use of force in Iraq, the UN is flirting with irrelevancy.” But now, however, events show the United States’ rush to war without backing has left us in need of all the help we can get. A UN delegate said this help must come “not only from Iraq, but from the surrounding nations as well to maintain order.” Without the UN, the United States is the only superpower and in such a position would be solely in charge of keeping order in the world. Said one delegate at the general assembly, “Unilateralism has left the US overstretched and unable to respond meaningfully to events in the world.” In other words, a strong United Nations is necessary.

In response to Bush’s actions and comments, presidential candidate John Kerry has said that Bush’s policies make the world a more dangerous place. Bush in turn said that “A free Iraq in the heart of the Middle East will be a decisive blow against [the terrorists’] ambitions in that region.” In a recent poll taken after the latest declaration by Annan that the US-led war in Iraq was illegal, the United States currently stands 49% in favor of Bush as the next president and 42% in favor of Kerry. This does not represent a significant change from previous percentages.