The Dog(s) That Didn’t Bark


I’m hoping Sameer will be able to confirm or deny this, but my guess is that President Bush’s speech to the UN General Assembly this morning was met by a chorus of yawns. At a moment when he most needed to show his willingness to recommit to international institutions and robust multilateral cooperation, he gave us more of the same. And, in case you haven’t followed the previous six Bush addresses to the General Assembly, “the same” has been almost all bad and a little good (the little good being promises to reduce agricultural subsidies and commitments to do more on poverty and health).
The only new commitment President Bush announced this year was tighter sanctions on Myanmar.
Notably, Bush had the nerve to admonish the UN to “live up to its promise to promptly deploy peacekeeping forces to Darfur.” Meanwhile, the U.S. is in arrears of over $600 million to the UN for peacekeeping and President Bush’s FY08 budget, if adopted without changes, would raise our debt for peacekeeping by an additional $1 billion.
The most interesting aspect of Bush’s speech was what he didn’t say.
He managed to get through the entire speech without once mentioning climate change. Given that Secretary-General Ban has organized this General Assembly around the issue of climate change — and Bush himself is hosting a competing summit of “major economies” on climate change later this week — the omission is huge.
The other big surprise was the absence of saber-rattling on Iran. Bush mentioned Iran once in the context of oppressive regimes, but there was no talk of Iran’s nuclear program or the threat it poses to international peace and security. Nothing in here to suggest a rationale for going to war. For comparison, check out Bush’s 2002 speech. It’s all Iraq, all the time.
This could mean one of two things. Option 1: President Bush want to give diplomacy a chance and decided that this General Assembly was the wrong place for charged rhetoric. Option 2: President Bush and his team have already decided to take military action against Iran and don’t want to waste time explaining it to the UN.
I sure hope it’s option 1.
— Scott Paul


9 comments on “The Dog(s) That Didn’t Bark

  1. söve says:

    These countries are not randomly chosen, but are the three main locations where the Bush administration claims Iran and its allies are working to topple fragile democratic governments.


  2. Kathleen says:

    Or option 3 could be:
    They don’t want to call any more attention to our intentions by “sounding belligerant”, but already have a False Flag Op in the works, so it seems like self-defense.
    After all, he’s a sneaky little dude.


  3. Steambomb says:

    Whoa! Whoa! William. You dont need a sledge hammer. Its just a nail.


  4. William Jensen says:

    I am consistently amazed that this site continues to believe that it is possible Mr. Bush might show behave in good faith in foreign policy. Forget it. He will never do anything but what he wants to do. He could give a rat’s ass about foreign relationship. And diplomacy? Have you been paying attention for the last six years?


  5. Pernicious Pavlovian says:

    Or there is Option 3. Bush hasn’t a clue where he is at or what he’s doing. Given the current track record for the Bush administration, I’m inclined towards the third option.


  6. Father Ted says:

    A chorus of yawns? Perish the thought:


  7. Dan Kervick says:

    I agree there is something rather boring and perfunctory about the speech. It doesn’t look like it was a very high priority for the White House – certainly not one designed to make a major statement. It’s just a checklist of a few standard items on the global agenda, and a report on what the US is doing. Very low profile. And the omission of climate change is striking. There isn’t even a throwaway paragraph of meaningless environmental boilerplate. It’s a big F-You to environmentalists.
    However, the speech is not entirely lacking in ground-laying for an Iran war propaganda effort. Given the recent IAEA report, it may be that the administration has decided to de-emphasize the nuclear weapons approach, and play up the human rights, “proxy war” and “terrorism” lines of attack. We have this passage for example:
    “Brave citizens in Lebanon and Afghanistan and Iraq have made the choice for democracy — yet the extremists have responded by targeting them for murder. This is not a show of strength — it is evidence of fear. And the extremists are doing everything in their power to bring down these young democracies. The people of Lebanon and Afghanistan and Iraq have asked for our help. And every civilized nation has a responsibility to stand with them.”
    These countries are not randomly chosen, but are the three main locations where the Bush administration claims Iran and its allies are working to topple fragile democratic governments. (In the case of Iraq and Afghanistan especially, these claims are preposterous, since Iran is working actively in both countries to *support* their governments, and prevent victories of their radical Sunni enemies … but oh well.)
    So we’re going to get a lot more of the “proxy war” bilge. And given the human rights theme of this speech, I suspect we are also going to hear lots of yarns over the next several months about press restrictions in Iran, speech restrictions, women forced to wear various uncomfortable forms of head gear, oppressed gays, journalists in prison, oppressed gay journalists in prison … the whole gamut. The hawks have proven themselves rather deft in the past at pushing certain liberal buttons at the opportune moment to put the finishing touches on a war coalition, and this is where they will go again.


  8. otiwa ogede says:

    More good news?….The UK Labour party is currently having its conference and the UK foreign sec, David Milliband, effectively shut the door on any speculation that the UK would be involved in any military action on Iran.


  9. ... says:

    i think option 2 is the correct one. bush and company have total disregard for the UN and are only interested in it for manipulative reasons… that was also the case back in 2002/03. leverage and getting more of it anyway they can to do the dirty deeds they do is all it amounts to.


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