2003-02-20 / Arts & Entertainment


©2003 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

Our Ununited Nation

You can feel it building: the all American resistance to the idea of the United States attacking Iraq without the blessing of the United Nations. We don’t want to do it. It isn’t only ac-tivists who regularly march in the streets carrying placards for or against something. It’s average, everyday Ameri-cans who voted for George W. Bush and still approve of him as their Pre-sident.

There are a lot of things that are hard to understand about Bush’s position — or maybe "swallow" would be the better word. The President has cho-sen to ignore the fact that the UN in-spectors haven’t found any major wea-pons in Iraq. We’re saying, "We know you have them. We demand you cooperate with the UN inspection team." But why would Saddam "cooperate" by telling inspectors where they are? The word "cooperate" doesn’t make sense.

It is apparently so easy to make chemical weapons like deadly anthrax in a small laboratory that it’s difficult to catch anyone doing it. They can move their operation by truck or trailer to another location in hours. The inspectors must have known this when they went in. Why did they go looking, then? It makes the inspectors look inept, or Saddam Hussein look innocent.

Hiding the facilities that might produce nuclear weapons is more difficult, and if Iraq was making nuclear weapons, the inspectors would have found them.

Even if Iraq does have major wea-pons, there’s no evidence that Saddam would dream of using them. If Iraq attacked Israel, often mentioned as a target, it would be like inviting the end of Iraq as a nation. The United States would react as though New York had been hit. Politicians and generals wouldn’t feel any inhibitions about obliterating Baghdad. They would have the support of the American people — which they don’t have now.

The nagging worry now is that President Bush and Donald Rumsfeld have set in motion a military juggernaut that is hell bent for Iraq, no matter what. Before we drop one bomb, the war has cost billions. It would be hard to stop this runaway freight train headed for Baghdad — but not impossible. It might also be cheaper to aban-don the weapons and equipment we’ve shipped to the region than to bring them back.

No one mentions the fact that we have all the nasty weapons we accuse Iraq and North Korea of having. No one suggests we destroy our vast store of biological killers. No one is demanding that a UN inspection team be allowed to take an inventory of the weapons we have in sufficient quantity to wipe out all mankind. We assume everyone knows that, because we’re the good guys, we won’t ever use them.

This war we’re headed for has had a negative effect on our already poor economy. Things are bad and getting worse. The price of oil dominates how much everything else costs. The most ardent haters of George W. Bush are accusing him of planning the attack on Iraq so the United States can take over the country’s oil. You have to dislike President Bush more than I do to believe that.

Americans have never been friendly toward the United Nations, but some kind of organization that represents the national interests of the several hundred countries in the world is vital to civilization’s survival. We single-handedly destroyed the world’s first at-tempt to organize such a group after World War I when we refused to join the League of Nations. We’re in the position now of emasculating the UN by attacking Iraq without its support.

There has been life on Earth for more than 3 billion years. Mankind has only been dominant on the planet for something like 100,000 years. Pro-gress has been slow but we’ve made some. There’s no guarantee that life on the planet will not revert to what it was before we organized it the way it is today. Destroying the UN by ignoring it would be a step in that direction.

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