In his Cincinnati address, before an audience of 700 hand-selected yea-sayers, President Bush pushed once again his third foreign policy doctrine: the UN must enforce its resolutions or become irrelevant leaving the correction of world problems to the Emperor of the only world super power, George the “Wunderkind.” Since he was unable to provide any substantive evidence that would necessitate war with Iraq, the ostensible purpose of this speech, he had to rely on a rationale with substance. Indeed, Iraq has not complied with 16 UN resolutions and, therefore, must be forced to comply, with military force if necessary.
But Bush forgot to mention that almost all the resolutions are years old deflating the immediacy of their enforcement now; that other nations including the US and Israel have not complied with UN resolutions; that the business of enforcement is the responsibility of the UN membership, not the prerogative of a single nation, super power or not; and that opening the door to resolution enforcement requires equity of treatment against all nations that have defied the UN. Extending logic that far would negate the purpose of Bush’s talk, to convince the uninitiated that war is necessary.
This man has no shame. Having delivered the same meaningless message to the UN on the 12th of September, he reiterates this beefless argument in his Cincinnati address to the citizens of America as he rushes to war stealing the Constitutional right of Congress to declare war and turn America from a peaceful nation to the preeminent warmonger in the world.
Consider the hypocrisy of the President’s address to the UN concerning Iraq. His blistering diatribe against Saddam Hussein, delivered as he prepares America to launch yet another war against an Arab state, not only enunciated the latest Bush Doctrine (the enforcement of UN resolutions against rogue states that defy them) but accused Saddam of flagrant acts against humanity while hypocritically ignoring his administration’s support for a regime that makes Saddam look like the Archangel Michael, the regime of Ariel Sharon in Israel. Consider the points of grievance the President raised against Saddam and apply them to Israel.
1. Iraq invaded Kuwait: Israel has invaded and has occupied territory owned by Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine against international law and countless UN resolutions dating back to 1948. Israel occupied most of the cities in Palestine before May 1948: Tiberias, Haifa, and Jafa in April, and Beisan, Safad, and Acre in May. Israel now occupies 8 of the 9 principal cities in the Palestinian territories. Unlike the aggression in Kuwait, the US did not lead a coalition of nations against Israeli invasion and, consequently, the land now under Israeli dominance approximates 78% of the land formerly owned by the Palestinians. Ironically that resolution provided only 55% of the territory for the Israeli state.
2. Iraq was poised to continue their march to seize other countries and resources and has failed to comply with UN imposed commitments following the Iraq War of 1991: Iraq did not continue its march because of the 1991 war; Israel, however, did march against other countries in 1967 and has continued to defy UN resolutions to withdraw from those illegally occupied lands. Even more brazenly, it has established over 30 settlements since Sharon became Prime Minister, not counting those created before him, with populations now exceeding 400,000, all against international law. No coalition has attempted to stop Israel’s aggression and occupation nor has the President raised this defiance of UN resolutions as a threat to peace nor has he demanded that Israel comply with international law and cease occupation of illegally obtained land and remove the illegal settlements from Palestinian territory.
3. Saddam has defied the UN by not complying with 16 UN resolutions: Israel has defied the UN by not responding or complying with 68 resolutions not counting the resolution imposed two weeks ago. The resolutions charged Saddam with repression of his people, especially minorities, and this threatens international peace and security in the region. Israel has been asked to “stop violating human rights in the Arab territories, desist from destroying homes of the Arab civilian population, and respect and implement the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Geneva Conventions of August 1949.” Israel’s defiance amounts to sadism, it even taxes the Humanitarian supplies brought in to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people who are forced to stay inside their homes because of Israeli imposed curfews. Resolutions of like wording, including citation of torture, imprisonment, and wanton destruction of homes, continue to be issued by the UN even now; and Israel defies every one of them.
4. Iraq has failed to return prisoners in numbers reaching approximately 600: Israel has refused to allow the return of over one million Palestinian refugees to their homeland despite UN resolutions demanding that they do so.
The conclusion drawn from this defiance by Iraq is, according to the President, “a threat to the authority of the United Nations and to peace.” Replace Iraq with Israel and the President’s allegation carries more substance.
Despite the fact that Iraq no longer occupies territory owned by another state; despite the fact that its present military is considered to be one third the size and power it maintained in 1991; despite the fact that the UN inspections removed up to 90% of its weapons capability by 1998; despite the fact that it does not possess nuclear weaponry while Iran and Israel do, the President demands that Iraq disarm unconditionally. Yet Israel has nuclear capability, has the fourth largest military operation in the world, has actively occupied Palestinian territory while killing women and children in the vain attempt to stop suicide bombers thus showing its willingness to be an aggressor even if it means mimicking the destruction of innocents caused by extremist groups like Hamas, and causes as a result the instability in the mid-east that has overflowed into the terrorist acts visited upon the US: but the President says nothing!
Perhaps if Israel does what the President demands of Iraq, peace will come to the mid-east: return stolen property, cooperate with the international community to resolve the issues that divide, allow free movement of reporters throughout the territories so that a new openness and accountability will blossom, and create and abide by a constitution that guarantees freedom and equality for all who live within the state. Then perhaps the statement made by the President would have credibility: “Free societies do not intimidate through cruelty and conquest the world must move deliberately and decisively to hold Israel to accountthe Security Council resolutions will be enforced ? the just demands of peace and security will be met. And a regime that has lost its legitimacy will also lose its power.”
Can there be any doubt that the President’s new Doctrine applies more credibly to Israel than it does to Iraq? Should the UN not demand that he level these charges equitably? What other resolution is there?
William Cook is a professor of English at the University of La Verne in southern California. He can be reached at: cookb@ULV.EDU