Opinion: Making it acceptable

Matt Yukanin

Matt Yukanin

By David Johnson

In the first presidential debate on Thursday, Sen. John Kerry implied that the U.S. liberation of Iraq failed what he dubbed the “global test.” According to Kerry, President Bush didn’t convince the world that the United States’s intentions in Iraq were legitimate. Kerry elaborated on this point, berating the president’s attempts at building a “true alliance” and “exhausting the remedies of the United Nations.”

Ah, the United Nations. The same organization that allows its ambulances to be used to smuggle rockets targeted at Israeli children. The same organization whose “peacekeepers” prostitute women in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The same organization that provides a meaningless forum for representatives of dictatorships to advocate tyranny.

Perhaps the United Nations isn’t the best measuring stick for U.S. citizens to compare themselves to. Yet Kerry still contends the president alienated important allies during his year-long “rush to war” (If this was a “rush to war,” what word would describe President Roosevelt’s decision in 1941 to quickly respond to the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor by attacking Germany, a nation that hadn’t attacked the United States?).

The problem is that these key alienated allies supposedly consist of France, her pet Belgium and neighbor Germany. However, the governments that represent the majority of the European Union are members of the coalition. This begs the question: Why do we need France’s approval to go to war?

We’re discussing a nation whose current president, Jacques Chirac, orchestrated the sale of a nuclear reactor to Saddam Hussein in the late 1970s. France also sold Saddam weaponry and other military technology until as recently as 2003. The French also benefited from lucrative oil contracts with Saddam. French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin recently expressed confidence that French hostages held by terrorists in Iraq would be released, because “the Iraqi insurgents are our best allies.” Let’s hope that lost something in the translation.

France’s resistance to the removal of Saddam could hardly be said to be out of some noble opposition to the use of military force. Senator Kerry’s implication that perhaps a taller, more nuanced president could bring our “allies” to the table is not only laughable but also simply incorrect. French officials stated as recently as last week, that regardless of who is elected in November, France’s policy toward the new Iraq will not change. With key allies like France, who needs enemies?

With regards to the supposedly utopian ideal of multilateralism, President Bush tries too hard. For some reason his administration seems obsessed with being liked and accepted. If he wanted to be acceptable, he could learn a thing or two from John Kerry, who flipped from hawk to anti-war candidate after Howard Dean took the lead in the Democratic primaries. Sure, we have no idea what John Kerry actually believes on the matter, but at least he made his positions more acceptable.

The United States became great because of its steadfast beliefs and values. Why put these to the “global test?”

David Johnson is a senior in business. He is a guest columnist. He can be reached at [email protected]