Colliding Paradigms
Posted by aogWednesday, 24 September 2003 at 09:34 TrackBack Ping URL

Via Orrin Judd we have the text of President Bush’s recent speech to the UN. I strongly recommend reading it. It’s well written and develops the themes that have so frequently gotten lost in the rancor over the prosecution of WWIV. I found it quite stirring. I compliment Bush on getting up and saying it to the UN and the world.

What strikes me as interesting is some of the invective hurled at Bush about the speech. Judd cites Fred Kaplan in Slate:
Has an American president ever delivered such a bafflingly impertinent speech before the General Assembly as the one George W. Bush gave this morning? […]

Otherwise, Bush’s message can be summarized as follows: The U.S.-led occupation authority is doing good work in Iraq; you should come help us; if you don’t, you’re on the side of the terrorists.

I think that Kaplan has written a very perceptive critique. I presume that it was intended as criticism but I read it as praise. If there is some group of self-important egotistcal tyranophiles which is more in need of some impertinence thrown in its face than the UN General Assembly, I am unaware of it. Kaplan’s summary of Bush’s speech is quite correct as well. Kaplan obviously sees this as a bad message but I think it’s a message that needs to be said, over and over. There is a global war going on, WWIV, between the forces of self-ordered societies and despotism. There can be no compromise, no middle ground and nations will have to choose sides. Right now the primary battle is in Iraq. The creation of a self ordered, civilized state there will greatly advance what I consider the side of good, while a defeat wil lbe a victory for the forces of chaos and oppression. The Coalition of the Willing has shown what side it fights for. Now it’s time for other nations to show what they favor. But I think it’s clear what’s really important to the General Assembly. Kaplan lays it out:
Here were the world’s foreign ministers and heads of state, anxiously awaiting some sign of an American concession to realism — even the sketchiest outline of a plan to share not just the burden but the power of postwar occupation in Iraq. And Bush gave them nothing, in some ways less than nothing.
What was important to the General Assembly? The course of the war, the price of liberty or the fate of the Iraqi people? No, none of those things, only power. Their power. Their slice of the action. If you want to grasp the moral bankruptcy of the UN, there it is, laid out in a single paragraph.