The Perils of the U.N

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), March 5, 2004 | Go to article overview

The Perils of the U.N


Byline: Andrew Sullivan, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The perils of the U.N.

The Bush administration has yet to respond to the NBC News claim that it let mass-murderer Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi slip through the net in 2002. Zarqawi subsequently has been responsible for hundreds of deaths in Iraq, and elsewhere since, and is the main suspect in the horrifying carnage at Shi'a shrines earlier this week. NBC correspondent Jim Miklaszewski reported the following:

"In June 2002, U.S. officials say intelligence had revealed that Zarqawi and members of al-Qaeda had set up a weapons lab at Kirma, in northern Iraq, producing deadly ricin and cyanide. The Pentagon quickly drafted plans to attack the camp with cruise missiles and airstrikes and sent it to the White House, where, according to U.S. government sources, the plan was debated to death in the National Security Council."

There were further missed attempts to target Zarqawi. Why did the Bush White House pull a Clinton and fail to pull the trigger? The only current answer is that a strike into Iraq in 2002 would have derailed diplomatic attempts to put together the coalition for removing Saddam Hussein. I do not know the truth of the matter.

But if that is an explanation, it's yet another indicator of the very difficult limits that the U.N. process put and still puts on a war against terror. War against terrorists does not have the luxury of 19th century gentlemanly timetables. It is sometimes impossible to line up diplomatic support before a window of opportunity passes. Sometimes, of course, there are difficult balances to strike - an immediate opportunity might derail a larger strategy. But the president's main case for his own leadership in this war has long rested on his determination to act swiftly and decisively, regardless of world opinion, if vital interests are threatened. It seems he didn't do so in this case. Hundreds of Iraqis felt the consequences of inaction earlier this week.

PC watch

A lovely politically correct editing slip marred an opera review in the Los Angeles Times recently. The original sentence read that Richard Strauss' operatic epic "Die Frau Ohne Schatten" was "an incomparably glorious and goofy pro-life paean." Fair enough. But you can't have the epithet "pro-life" in the Los Angeles Times. So the sentence was changed to "an incomparably glorious and goofy anti-abortion paean."

There is no reference to abortion in the opera. The paper was therefore forced to run not one but two corrections on Feb. 25. The writer rightly insisted that the paper exonerate him personally from the idiocy.

It reminds me of the occasion when a newspaper decided to remove all usage of the word "black" from its copy when referring to African-Americans. It was deemed too offensive a term. …

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