Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Double insult

The United States has developed a famously schizophrenic attitude toward the United Nations. The attitude needs adjustment.

When it suits President Bush's foreign policy brain trust, it pokes a finger in the eye of the U.N., calls it names and refuses to be a part of its thinking (such as rejecting a U.N. inspection team report that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction). Or, it goes running to the U.N. for help when go-it-alone policies leave the United States with too much of a political and military burden in Iraq.

Now the White House has reverted to its petulant mood regarding the U.N.

First, it wants to send John Bolton to the U.N. as our ambassador—a man known to be angry, vindictive, uncooperative and who considers the U.N. a collection of dimwitted fools. The intent is to (a) rid Washington of a liability by (b) dumping him on an organization for which President Bush has no respect. We are expected to believe that Bolton's bull-in-the-china-shop mentality will "reform" the U.N.

Second, as added insult, the president, his vice president, his secretary of state, and all his top brass have found "scheduling conflicts" to boycott the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the U.N.'s founding, which is this weekend in San Francisco.

Instead, Bush is sending an obscure U.S. representative in an obscure U.N. agency to represent him.

There are times when a president who tries to belittle others ends up looking a lot smaller than his intended victim.

The Bush team may not like the U.N., but until it finds a better way to keep war-prone humanity talking instead of fighting, it should support the intent and the spirit of the U.N.

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