Roger L. Simon

Symbols of Transformation

Buddha1.jpgWe all remember 9/11, seared in our memories as it is, most of us anyway, but my wife Sheryl reminded me tonight of some other moments that shattered our perspectives in recent years, transformed us to one degree or another. One of those was the horrific destruction the Bamiyan Buddhas of Afghanistan by the Taliban. It was a difficult act for modern people to wrap their heads around, coming as it did from the most primitive human behavior. I post it here as a reminder of the forces that confront us, what they stand for.

Another, seemingly much smaller event, was the case of a twenty-nine year old Iraqi man, Adnan Abdul Karim Enad. You probably won’t remember the name, but you may remember him. He was the fellow who tried to clamber ‘into a UN inspector’s jeep on January 25 [2003] clutching a notebook and screaming “Save me! Save me!” in Arabic. A UN inspector sat motionless in the front seat as Iraqi guards pulled the 29-year-old man out of the car and carried him away by his arms and legs.’ The italicized quote comes from James Bone of the London Times who was shocked by the incident, as many of us were, as the man’s relatives evidently were. This marked the beginning of my disaffection with the United Nations, of my wondering which side they were really on. My confusion, and ultimately disgust, only increased when the revelations of Oil-for-Food appeared. Bone went on to describe the reaction of Hans Blix to the event:

Hans Blix, the chief UN inspector, appeared flummoxed when questioned about the case this week but said that he would consider raising it in his talks tomorrow in Baghdad.

He said the inspectors did not know the identity of the man pulled from the vehicle and were awaiting a report on the incident from the Iraqi authorities. The UN had not taken any other steps to ascertain whether the man might have been an Iraqi scientist or otherwise in possession of information he wanted to share with inspectors about Iraq’s secret weapons programmes.

“I’ve just talked to our security chief in Baghdad . . . and he said there was nothing in the booklet he seemed to be carrying,” Dr Blix said. He added that Iraqi scientists could find “more elegant ways” of approaching UN inspectors.

More elegant.

Like Blix.