Ion Mihai Pacepa has an important piece today on PJMedia, “Wake Up Panetta: UN, U.S. Have Opposing Interests.” In these days of multilateral muddling and leading from behind, Pacepa cuts to the core of a vital question about our freedom: Whom does the U.S. government serve?
Does the U.S. government find the legal basis for its actions within the framework of its own constitution? Or should it look for authority to the multilateral UN?
To many of us, the answer might seem clear. The U.S. government does not serve the UN. It serves the people of the U.S. It is of, by, and for them.
But the Obama administration has repeatedly sought to subordinate its policies to the UN, exalting the UN’s component lobbying blocs, its bureaucratically driven enthusiasms and its despot-infested high councils, as the arbiters of some utopian notion of global justice. On these grounds did the White House choose to justify its intervention in Libya, once the Security Council had given the nod; on these grounds does the White House rationalize hanging back after a year of carnage in Syria, because Russia and China will not play ball in the Security Council. Is it on these grounds that the U.S. should decide what role it will play in a promising but profoundly dangerous 21st century?
When Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta began grappling with these matters while testifying about Syria March 7 to the Senate Armed Services Committee, he slid all over the place. Under questioning by Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Panetta began talking about the need for the U.S. to find a “legal basis,” should it want to pull together an international combat operation. Sessions asked: “Who are you asking for the legal basis from?”
Panetta replied, “Obviously, if the U.N. passed a security resolution, as it did in Libya, we would do that.” … He went on to say more in this vein, but let’s stop the tape right there. Because that’s the point at which Pacepa was so horrified that he took to his keyboard. Pacepa is a former top intelligence official of the monstrous former Ceausescu regime in Romania. In 1978, he defected to the West, becoming the highest-ranking intelligence official ever to have defected from the Soviet bloc.
He brought with him a wealth of information about what really went on at the UN. In his article today, he details the deliberate schemes with which the Soviet bloc manipulated and exploited the UN to damage and try to subvert the free world. He knows. For years, he was part of it. Pacepa has also observed the UN in action today, still swollen with the legacy of the Soviet past, while providing new conduits for forces deeply unfriendly to America and its allies, notably Israel. Based on a powerful argument, and appalling facts, he concludes that “The peace and freedom of the world depend on the power of the United States, not on the UN bureaucracy, as was always the case.”
To this I’ll add that while the UN employs a great many labels that sound similar to America’s system of freedom and justice under law — the UN has “votes,” it holds “elections,” it has various chambers and councils — it is nothing like the system bequeathed to Americans by their constitution. When U.S. citizens want to hold their government accountable, or change its course, there are ways to do that. There are real elections, there are public hearings, there is a system of justice administered by a government that is accountable to the people. Whatever the flaws — and yes, they are many, and unfortunately, witness Panetta’s confusions, they are multiplying. But there is a real shot at obtaining justice, and — if we heed the warnings of a Pacepa — defending and keeping our freedom.
If America’s government answers to the UN, however, then where do you — the individual — go when the UN gets it wrong, tramples your freedom, casts its lot with its constituent majority of unfree nation-states, or arrives by the murky and amorphous process of “consensus” at some decision damaging to America and its allies? What lever do you pull? In what election do you vote? To what court do you appeal? The obvious answer is that you go to the U.S. government, you vote, speak, or write –as does Pacepa — and ask America’s elected officials to act in the interest of America, not of the UN. Of course, the catch-22 is that this answer will only serve as long as the U.S. government answers to its own citizens and constitution, not to the UN.
As for the broader world scene, there seems to be an endless desire for some cosmic system of justice, some global authority that will soothe away disputes, turn profound differences of principle into a “dialogue of civilizations” over coffee in Rio or Geneva, and set right — like some divine hand — what so many national governments seem to endlessly get wrong. That’s the grand vision that seems to animate so much faith in the UN, while the glaring flaws are endlessly dismissed under the argument that “the UN may be imperfect, but it’s all we’ve got.” No, actually, it isn’t all we’ve got. The UN has its uses as a talking shop, but as a center of power, it is perilous. The UN is a collective, lending itself to exploitation by its least scrupulous players — dictators and crooks who need not answer to any electorates. For America to seek at the UN a guiding standard of justice, or a “legal basis” for defending its own interests, is to offer up American freedom to the tyranny of the UN collective. Better to lead, from in front, with America’s interests and constitution foremost, and to whatever extent the UN might follow — for better or worse, the world does pay attention to real leaders — so much the better.