``This nation is prepared to present its case against the Soviet threat to peace, and our own proposals for a peaceful world, at any time and in any forum--in the Organization of American States, in the United Nations, or in any other meeting that could be useful--(BEG ITAL)without limiting our freedom of action." (Emphasis added.)
--President John F. Kennedy, Cuban Missile Crisis, address to the nation, Oct. 22, 1962
``I'm waiting for the final recommendation of the Security Council before I'm going to say how I'm going to vote.''
--Sen. Edward Kennedy, Iraq crisis, address to the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Sept. 27, 2002
WASHINGTON--How far the Democrats have come. Forty years ago to the month, President Kennedy asserts his willingness to present his case to the United Nations, but also his determination not to allow the U.N. to constrain America's freedom of action. Today, his brother, a leader of the same party, awaits the guidance of the U.N. before he will declare himself on how America should respond to another nation threatening the United States with weapons of mass destruction.
Ted Kennedy is not alone. Much of the leadership of the Democratic Party is in the thrall of the United Nations. War and peace hang in the balance. The world waits to see what the American people, in Congress assembled, will say. These Democrats say: Wait, we must find out what the U.N. says first.
The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Carl Levin, would enshrine such lunacy in legislation, no less. He would not even authorize the use of force without prior U.N. approval. Why? What exactly does U.N. approval mean?
It cannot mean the U.N. General Assembly, which is an empty debating society. It means the Security Council.
Now, the Security Council has five permanent members and 10 rotating members. Among the rotating members is Syria. How can any senator stand up and tell the American people that before deciding whether America goes to war against a rogue state like Iraq, it needs to hear the ``final recommendation'' of Syria, a regime on the State Department's official terrorist list?
Or maybe these senators are awaiting the wisdom of some of the other nonpermanent members. Cameroon? Mauritius? Guinea? Certainly Kennedy and Levin cannot be saying that we must not decide whether to go to war until we have heard the considered opinion of countries that none of their colleagues can find on a map.
OK. So we are not talking about these dots on the map. We must be talking about the five permanent members. The United States is one. Another is Britain, which supports us. That leaves three. So when you hear senators grandly demand the support of the ``international community,'' this is what they mean: France, Russia and China.
As I recently asked in this space, by what logic does the blessing of these countries bestow moral legitimacy on American action? China's leaders are the butchers of Tiananmen Square. France and Russia will decide the Iraq question based on the coldest calculation of their own national interest, meaning money and oil.
Every senator says he wants a new and tough inspection regime in Iraq: anytime, anywhere, unannounced. Yet these three countries, whose approval the Democrats crave, are responsible for the hopelessly diluted and useless inspection regime that now exists. They spent the 1990s doing everything they could to dismantle the Gulf War mandate to disarm Saddam. The Clinton administration helplessly acquiesced, finally approving a new Security Council resolution in 1999 that gave us the current toothless UNMOVIC. France, Russia and China, mind you, refused to support even that resolution; they all abstained because it did not make yet more concessions to Saddam.
After a decade of acting as Saddam's lawyers on the Security Council, these countries are now to be the arbiters of America's new and deadly serious effort to ensure Iraqi disarmament.
So insist leading Democrats. Why? It has no moral logic. It has no strategic logic. Forty years ago, we had a Democratic president who declared that he would not allow the United Nations or any others to tell the United States how it would defend itself. Would that JFK's party had an ounce of his confidence in the wisdom and judgment of America, deciding its own fate regardless of the wishes of France. Or Cameroon.