- The Washington Times - Monday, September 2, 2002

"If in the judicious determination of the members of the United Nations they feel they are not welcome and treated with the hostly consideration that is their due, the United States strongly encourages member states to seriously consider removing themselves and this organization from the soil of the United States."
News of the recent death of Ambassador Charles M. Lichenstein brought to mind these forceful words, spoken by him to the United Nations in 1983: "We will put no impediment in your way. The members of the U.S. mission to the United Nations will be down at dockside waving you fond farewell as you sail into the sunset."
Mr. Mr. Lichenstein's suggestion that the United States would not mind parting ways at least geographically with the increasingly anti-American United Nations electrified Americans 19 years ago.
His triumphant Americanism was enthusiastically embraced by a public still smarting from U.S. foreign policy debacles in Vietnam, Iran and elsewhere. A slight, middle-aged man, Mr. Lichenstein was a real-life hero in the John Wayne mold.
"I received thousands of letters," he told The Washington Post a year later. "People stopped me on the streets of New York, they honked their horns, and shouted, 'Right on!' Practically every cop in Manhattan South gave me the high sign."
The incident that made Mr. Lichenstein famous is worth recalling as America prepares for our expected strike on Iraq. Some urge our president to act only if he obtains the support of the U.N. Security Council. This is a point on which Mr. Lichenstein would, one can expect, emphatically disagree.
The U.N. Charter prohibits the use of force to seize territory or to impose a colonial-style government. Chief among U.N. goals is international peace and security the same purpose the United States has for attacking Iraq. The United States has no intention of seizing Iraq's land, or making Iraq a colony.
The Bush administration does not need further approval from the Security Council to attack Iraq within the bounds of international law. The United Nations already explicitly granted the United States the authority Mr. Bush now is urged by some to seek.
After Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, President George Herbert Walker Bush received Security Council authorization to remove Iraq from Kuwait and to restore peace and security. The former has been accomplished; the latter has not. U.S. and British military action has continued since then; not a peep has been heard from the Security Council about revoking allied authority to act.
What Mr. Bush may now be contemplating is an escalation of military activity with the intention of ending a need for it once and for all. Nevertheless, it's fortunate we do not need the U.N. to recertify its support for military action. We cannot rely upon it, something Mr. Lichenstein, a small, spry man, understood and proclaimed to the world from a seat in the U.N. General Assembly.
Countries voting in the U.N. General Assembly rarely support U.S. interests more than half the time. Foreign leaders condemn us routinely. In the current case, for instance, China, a Security Council member, has ruled out the use of force to oust Saddam. "China does not agree with the practice of using force or threatening to use force to resolve this issue,'' said Chinese Vice Premier Qian Qichen. The unelected Chinese government is not, however, shy about the use of force against its own citizenry.
Considering himself qualified to guide U.S. foreign policy, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal told the BBC: "It has never been shown in history … that anybody removed from the outside and another person put in instead has made for the stability of the region. What makes us so gullible as to think we know what is better for the Iraqi people than the Iraqi people themselves?''
The United States tends to leave the nations it has previously defeated more democratic and more stable than they were before. Iraq, of course, is no more democratic than House of Saud-controlled Arabia.
The head of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, Take Yamasaki, personified the quip "with friends like these, who needs enemies?" claiming Japan should oppose us because we are friends: "If the U.S. attacks alone it will produce distrust of the United States throughout the world. As an ally, we should oppose this."
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and his conservative political opposition call U.S. military plans for Iraq a mistake. Two-thirds of Britons and three-quarters of the French do not support escalated U.S. military action. However, the United States repeatedly has taken responsibility for international security to the world's benefit, suffering criticism while doing so.
As Mr. Lichenstein observed: "Frequently when the United States is charged, we respond, and none of our allies does. It gets them off the hook. They say, 'That's the United States' problem.' " The war on terror is our problem. If other nations withhold support, we must wave them a fond farewell and proceed as we think best.
In 1983, President Ronald Reagan said Mr. Mr. Lichenstein's chastisement of the United Nations had "the hearty approval of most people in America." Without knowing what the future holds, it is useful to remember Mr. Mr. Lichenstein's admonishment as it may once again be necessary for the United States to answer the call alone.

Amy Ridenour is president of the National Center for Public Policy Research. Distributed by UPI.

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