- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The problem in trying to write about “the big picture” of national and international politics and events is that no matter how “big” you think your picture is, there is always a bigger one.

The smallest picture, or conventional wisdom, concerning Iraq and the Middle East today is that it has become a failed adventure by a White House clique and a president who attempted an impossible ideal.

This was not always conventional wisdom, but it was always the smallest picture.

At the beginning of the war in Iraq, President Bush — who is not celebrated for his communication skills — employed a variety of explanations to justify our actions. When he spoke of his “big picture,” he struck a favorable chord with most Americans. The war was initially quite popular.

But Mr. Bush also supplied a basket of specific assumptions, and some of these turned out to be undocumentable or false. After great initial military success, our incursion has turned into a protracted campaign, involving casualties and seemingly incessant terrorist actions. Iraqi politicians, representing three hitherto hostile factions in a country with no history of democratic representative government, have been slow to put their political house in order.

The Democratic Party, still reeling from its electoral (but not popular) loss in 2000 and failure in 2004, began gradually to abandon a long American tradition of foreign policy bipartisanship. Egged on by its pacifist base, the party has increasingly criticized or opposed the war while it is still being fought. I do not suggest that these Democrats have been unpatriotic, but I do suggest that they have been unwise. They are not looking at the big picture.

Dwight Eisenhower promised to “go to Korea,” and, after assuming the presidency, a truce was arranged. The left wing of the Democratic Party initiated protests against the Vietnam War which grew into a larger movement, forcing President Johnson to retire in 1968. But his successor Richard Nixon kept the war going. It was only in 1974 that the United States withdrew. As for Eisenhower, the truce meant keeping a large number of U.S. troops in Korea and they remain there, 53 years later.

The big picture of the world we now live in is not of a world of border-defined nations and fashionable ideologies. It is instead a world of long-developed identities, and evolving political and economic processes. Our current institutions for assisting the economic processes are not only inherently flawed because of these identities — which are tribal, religious, linguistic, and nationalistic. They are inadequate because they do not realistically face worldwide economic and political conditions.

The problem of conflicting identities cannot be legislated or simply negotiated. Real conditions must exist on which to base solutions. The United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund and other institutions created to act as mediating forces in the world are currently based on premises that are doomed to fail. These premises include an attempt to equalize and redistribute world resources and power in an artificial manner.

In short, the poor and weak want as much as the rich and strong, and they want to achieve this without real standing, that is, the representative democracy, genuinely free international trade and the necessary goods and services to compete.

The most outrageous of these institutions is the United Nations. Even after the wide publicity the U.N. Commission on Human Rights received for several of its members’ blatant disregard of human rights, it has been unable to reform itself. The very structure of the United Nations, with its one-nation one-vote policy, is a denial of the universal principal of one person, one vote. A billion people in India have the same vote as a tiny Pacific nation of a few thousand persons.

Furthermore, the United Nations was not created to be a rhetorical parliament of the world. It was created to resolve international conflicts under the leadership of the world’s largest and most powerful nations.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan — himself compromised by numerous charges of scandal and impropriety — has proposed U.N. reform that is a sham. His proposal is the apotheosis of the failed model of the United Nations as an agent of the artificial redistribution of the world’s resources and power under the false rhetoric of global political correctness. Mr. Annan has failed to provide leadership in resolving the crises of this international body. The sooner he is replaced, the better it will be for all.

Many supporters of the United Nations today see it as a vehicle for achieving world peace. But the reality is that it has become today an institution for prolonging conflicts in the world by giving totalitarian regimes cover and credibility for their crimes and violation of human rights.

America and the world need leaders, be they Democrats or Republicans, liberals or conservatives, who see the world as it is and as it can be, not a world they daydream but cannot be.

Barry Casselman writes about national politics for Preludium News Service.

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