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The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad by Fareed Zakaria
Polyarchy by Robert Dahl
The Nazi Seizure of Power by William Sheridan Allen
Terror and Liberalism by Paul Berman
The Moon Is Down by John Steinbeck
The Case For U.N. Legitimacy
President Bush gave his big address to the U.N. General Assembly today. In it he attempted to lay out the reasons why the next theater to be opened in the "war on terror" should be Iraq. Overall I thought it was a good speech. He made a great link between the legitimacy of U.N. resolutions and Iraq's power. First, he meticulously went through each Security Council resolution that has been brushed aside and disregarded by Iraq and used it to show that Hussein did not respect the U.N. Bush tried to say that if the U.N. wants to fulfill its charter pledge and its pronounced goals it has an obligation to stop Hussein from thumbing his nose at weapons inspectors. However, despite his respect for U.N. resolutions, he made it clear that the U.S. would not stand around and wait for the U.N. to decide if it wanted to be a part of stopping Iraq.
Bush was saying that the universal goal is the enforcement of previous U.N. resolutions and the U.S. would be the bearer of the enforcement responsibility and if the U.N. would like to maintain its integrity it would be wise to give its approval and join the fight. Here is a key section of the speech that underlines the administration's policy towards a U.N. blessing:
"My nation will work with the U.N. Security Council to meet our common challenge. If Iraq’s regime defies us again, the world must move deliberately, decisively, to hold Iraq to account. We will work with the U.N. Security Council for the necessary resolutions, but the purposes of the United States should not be doubted. The Security Council resolutions will be enforced, the just demands of peace and security will be met, or action will be unavoidable, and a regime that has lost its legitimacy will also lose its power."
Bush did an excellent job of showing that the U.N. must be decisive if it wants any lasting legitmacy. To allow Hussein to disregard resolution after resolution is to show that the U.N. is a joke when push comes to shove. Bush seems to be using the Iraqi example to test the courage of the U.N.:
"The conduct of the Iraqi regime is a threat to the authority of the United Nations and a threat to peace. Iraq has answered a decade of U.N. demands with a decade of defiance. All the world now faces a test, and the United Nations a difficult and defining moment. Are Security Council resolutions to be honored and enforced, or cast aside without consequence? Will the United Nations serve the purpose of its founding, or will it be irrelevant?"
I like the approach the Bush administration took towards the U.N. While U.N. support would not ultimately be essential to any military action in Iraq, challenging the U.N. to act was a well calculated move. Hopefully the U.N. will answer this challenge and assume some semblance of authority. Bush will act either way. Let's at least confine the administration with multilateral cooperation instead of brash unilateralism.
It was cloudy today; even the weather was uncertain as to what the day ahead would yield. A sense of caution accompanied the passing of the day. What would happen? How would people act? What would be different? What has changed in the past year? No one knew. We have had a year to contemplate and reflect. How would today be any different than the 365 other days that have passed since we last saw innocence and normalcy as a part of the American experience? How would we treat this dreaded anniversary, this "September 11," that has so entwined its way into our collective vocabulary? How would September 11 feel a year later?
This morning was cloudy in Gambier, Ohio. Unlike almost every other day of this year's September, the 11th felt different; as it should of course, but the mood was not of sullen contemplation as much as nervious caution. A day like this had never happened on this scale before. A year after the last great attack on American soil, at Pearl Harbor, the nation was gripped by war and the present was what held the nation's attention and emotions. Not today. No, today's anniversary day was new to America. It was new to everyone.
When I awoke the day was waiting. I looked outside and the day seemed gloomy. A morose calm hung above the morning holding its breath until the tension broke. As I walked outside and towards Middle Path the town was unusually quiet. Even the squirrels and birds seem to understand the solemnity of the day.
As I walked through town to the dinning hall everyone I saw appeared as if they were trying to carry on with everyday affairs as normal, yet their outwards emotions told a different story. A level of thoughtfulness carried each to his or her motives and in turn to an introverted mood of reflection. Little eye contact was made. Few acknowledgements were given, few hellos exchanged. Interpersonal caution dominated the morning mood.
At breakfast a larger than average number of people sat alone, perhaps to contemplate their feelings of sadness, anger, regret and confusion. The usually loud and bustling Pierce dinning hall was in a state of uneasy paralysis. A hush dominated over all other sounds. Long, lost stares into the distance were not an uncommon sight at this September 11's breakfast.
The walk to class showed the beginning of a calm to the uneasiness of the day. The sun was slowly climbing out from behind the dreary blanket of clouds that had obscured the day. Once in class I prepared for another day of notes. Another day of indifference curves, inflation indexes and substitution effects. But this time, as I wrote the date on the page, it all felt different. I was writing "9-11-2." How weird. The day that everyone spoke of all year, the phrase that pundits, politicians, and everyday citizens alike threw into every day usage, that day is today. Today is September 11. Wow. That's worth a ponder or two.
At noon a "rememberance" event was scheduled to commemorate the day. It all seemed so fabricated to me. As students stood on the lawn waiting for the speakers to begin and the organized emotional moment to grip their consciences with thoughts of a year past, the uneasy caution that permeated the morning was fading away. As it did, the clouds of the morning receded and the sun brightened this late summer day. Seemingly without the guidance of the students and professors in attendance, the day became a spectacular one of bright rays, cool breezes and utter perfection.
This September 11 had found itself in the hearts and minds of Kenyon. The soft-stepping of the morning's gloom gave way to an afternoon of closure, unified reflection, and a sense of emotional security. The sun shone and the shadow of the past year gave way. This September 11 was something new. It was beautiful today.
This time Bush isn't even trying to say one thing and do another. This time, with Iraq, he's only going to do another.
On monday Bush told (via Oliver Willis) some European leaders that the post-Hussein Iraq would be left up to international whims. While the attack on Iraq seems to be some sort of unilateral show of muscle, the aftermath, the part that should be most crucial to lasting security, has been disregarded as someone else's business. What is going on in this administration? First Afghanistan is left for the warlords, and now Iraq is scheduled to be abandoned after the bombs fall. Where is the responsibility? America is not a bully. It should not act as one. If we're going to take Iraq's lunch money, let's at least buy them a good lunch.
This administration's attention span is possibly the shortest of all time. Whatever happened to the "dead or alive" bin Laden posters? Is Al-Qaeda really gone? Shouldn't we worry about eradicating that network before we take on an actual established, and recognized state? Before we start the big battle, let's at least finish the small one.
America, be the kind bully. If you're going to take the Iraqi lunch money, which seems inevitable, at least get them a good sandwich.
The New Republic's latest issue is largely a series of articles about the changes, and lack there of, that have taken place since September 11 of last year. In one reflective article on the horror that was that day, the author spoke of how one image has summed up his view of both the dismay and shock of that day, and of the resolve of the American spirit that the image symbolizes. In his article, entitled "The Fall," Leon Wieseltier writes,
"I gasp at the sight of the picture that frightened me almost out of my mind when I saw it in the paper a year ago. Here it is again, the size of a page, and in color. It is the photograph, taken by Richard Drew of the Associated Press, of the man falling to his death from the north tower. His head faces the earth, his feet face the sky, but there is no earth in the picture and no sky, there is only the striped geometry of the "exoskeleton" of the building in the background, still intact in its spurious attitude of invincibility. The lines of the façade look like ladders without rungs. The tower is half in shadow, half in light, and the man is dropping between the shadow and the light...
...There is no sign of his velocity. His physical integrity is extraordinary. He is standing in the world but the world is upside-down. He does not appear to be wounded. He seems composed, a stoic in the air, except for the tails of his white shirt, which hang from his trousers like snapped wings. His hands are smartly at his side, his legs look as if they are marching. It is almost possible to make out his face. It is an African American face, a full, tender face. I do not see panic on the man's countenance. I see thought. I shudder that he may have been thinking. I do not impute philosophy to his face, only mindfulness. I suspect that his eyes are open. His direction is clear."
As I have said before here and here, the hardest part of the Afghan portion of the "war on terror" has not begun. Before the U.S. moves on to an unrelated war in Iraq, the aftermath of Afghanistan must be dealt with. In today's Chicago Tribune Steve Chapman worries that,
"[s]ometime in the last 12 months, the Bush administration let its attention be diverted from the country that spawned the worst terrorist act in our history to a nation that had nothing to do with it. Before it has really begun to rebuild Afghanistan, the United States government is moving toward a war that, if successful, would give us the additional responsibility of administering Iraq. Afghanistan has gradually become yesterday's problem, a tedious chore that just doesn't excite George W. Bush like marching to Baghdad."
Its easy to start a war and annihilate an enemy if you are the U.S., but it is another to finish the job and create a sustainable nation of prosperity. Short American attention span has again failed a troubled nation. Before we move on to Iraq, let's find and destroy bin Laden, create a safe Afghanistan from border to border, and show the world that we care about someone else's future welfare instead of just our own. Afterall, our self-interested motives play a significant part in why our enemies loathe us. Let's finish the job and earn America some praise for our ability to finish. Everyone knows we can topple a regime, but we have yet to prove our long term commitment to nation-building. Let's give it a try.
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