Michael Totten

The UN and Avoidance Behavior

Andrew Sullivan on Wesley Clark:

Let’s put the best gloss on Wesley Clark’s ever-shifting position on the Iraq war and glean a coherent case within it. He would have voted for the Congressional Resolution – but only as a way to increase pressure for a diplomatic solution through the U.N. But wasn’t that Tony Blair’s position? Blair had all along preferred the U.N. route. He and Bush won an amazingly unanimous vote on the first resolution. He almost burst every blood vessel trying to get the Security Council to agree to the second. He wanted unanimous U.N. support precisely for the reasons Clark says he did as well – so as to avoid war.

Nice try, Andrew, but come on. Wesley Clark and Tony Blair do not share the same views on Iraq.
There is no alternate universe where George Bush or Tony Blair hoped Saddam Hussein would behave himself so he could stay in power. Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction and his flouting of UN resolutions were part of the legalistic case for war, but had nothing to do with the real reason for war. The real reason, as almost everyone knows, was to kick-start political liberalisation in the Arab Middle East.
If Wesley Clark opposes liberation and democratic nation-building for Iraqis, he needs to be confronted about it head-on. It does no good to pretend the Americans, British, Russians, or French took any of the arguments they made at the UN seriously. Every country on the Security Council hid its true agenda behind legalistic fig leaves.
The same goes for nearly everyone who talks and writes about it. Most pundits and politicians who discuss the diplomatic scrap at the UN use the whole charade to make disingenuous arguments or as an excuse to avoid making tough decisions. Would Bush and Blair have accepted any action by Saddam short of suicide or exile as capitulation? Not likely. Would the UN fetishists actually have surrendered to a French veto? They don’t say. And since the French were never given the chance to veto, the whole sideshow provides a convenient excuse for avoidance behavior.
Wesley Clark changes the subject from Iraq to the UN. He can’t get away with that. No one should encourage him by doing the same.