Theatre of the absurd

Oliver North

9/26/2003 12:00:00 AM - Oliver North

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- For those who enjoy politics as entertainment, events this past week provided a great deal of amusement. In California -- or "CullyForNeeUh," as it is better known these days -- the Oct. 7 recall election is back on. Just when it looked like former Secretaries of State James Baker and Warren Christopher would ride into "CullyForNeeUh" on horseback, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned its own panel of judges who had, just the week before, blocked the election from taking place next month.

Then there was (and remains) the incessant media hype about Hillary Rodham. It seems the Fourth Estate is bored to tears with Doc, Sleepy, Grumpy, Dopey and the rest of the dwarfs running for president on the Democrat side -- so they are stalking Hillary, watching her every move and parsing her every word. For what its worth, Hillary says she is not running. William Jefferson Rodham, however, is reportedly trying to change her mind.

One candidate who is running, with help from the Rodham Clintons, is Gen. Wesley Clark. The general took months to decide if he was a Democrat or a Republican. Then he took time to decide if he really wanted to run. Then he agonized about when to announce. He finally got in the race, insisting he can provide the country with decisive leadership.

That decisive leadership was on display the first day of the campaign when, after spending months criticizing the decision to remove Saddam from power, Clark decided he was in favor of the war and would have voted for it had he been in Congress. Wait. Scratch that. The next day, he re-decided he was against the war again.

Then there was the circus at the United Nations annual General Assembly session in New York. President George W. Bush was scheduled between U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and French President Jacques Chirac, as if the United States represents the halftime entertainment act to be kindly indulged before the real players get back to running their New World Order.

The pessimists, pundits and papers all bemoaned the fact that President Bush's remarks drew little applause from the members of the U.N. General Assembly. That's true, but none of them took time to analyze why.

Bush spoke of the evil of terrorism and the urgent need to defeat it and those who sponsor, support or tolerate it. He could not have been more clear.

"Events during the past two years," Bush explained, "have set before us the clearest of divides: between those who seek order, and those who spread chaos; between those who work for peaceful change, and those who adopt the method of gangsters; between those who honor the rights of man, and those who deliberately take the lives of men, and women and children, without mercy or shame."

Any government that supports terror, Bush said, is "complicit in a war against civilization." Those are strong words, with which all reasonable people should agree. But the reason his words denouncing terrorism did not receive applause at the United Nations is because they were delivered to representatives of nations like Libya, Iran, Cuba, Syria, North Korea, Sudan -- all state sponsors of terrorism and members in good standing with the United Nations. Libya and Syria even hold vaunted positions as the head of the U.N. Human Rights Commission and on the Security Council, respectively.

Staring terrorists in the eye and putting them on notice that their days are numbered, as Bush bravely did, is what Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle astonishingly called "a missed opportunity."

Kofi Annan has spent the last year arguing that no country may take action to defend itself "without the unique legitimacy of the United Nations." He has argued with President Bush in recent months that a "vital role" for the United Nations in rebuilding Iraq is not good enough -- the United Nations must be in charge.

But when pressed about what kind of a presence the U.N. should have in Iraq, Kofi revealed the truth -- he and his troops don't want to leave their New York penthouses to go to Baghdad to help the Iraqi people rebuild their country.

"We need a secure environment to be able to operate," Kofi demanded. Hopefully, while he was in Washington, Paul Bremmer requisitioned some champagne, caviar and satin sheets to accommodate the U.N. in Iraq.

When he had his turn at the podium, French President Jacques Chirac declared that under the "leadership" of the U.N. Security Council, the war against terrorism "is well in hand." Then he went on to demand: limitations on national sovereignty; more mandatory contributions for U.N. operations; a tax on gross national product -- which, for the United States, would amount to $70 billion annually; international taxes on wealth; the creation of a "United Nations Environmental Organization"; the creation of an "International Financial Facility" -- the equivalent of a Global IRS -- and increased authority for the Security Council.

Instead of cleaning up the mess in "CullyForNeeUh," maybe the Terminator should be sent to the U.N. headquarters in New York.