Chaplain Speaks on UN
UN is coming under pressure from President Bush and ridicule by
CNN’s staff. President Bush’s pronouncements reveal
the thinnest respect for the UN as an international institution.
CNN’s Jack Cafferty, of “American Morning,” opined
that UN stands for “Usually Nothing.” While we may be
thankful even for what little restraint President Bush is showing,
I think we have reason to be alarmed about the superior, dismissive
attitude our President and Jack Cafferty are taking toward the international
community. The President of the United States and a commentator
on CNN each have a “bully pulpit” from which they have
enormous influence on the formation of public attitudes. The message
from those pulpits to Americans seems to be that the UN is an alien,
feckless, inept institution which frustrates American will and wisdom.
The President and Mr. Cafferty may need to be reminded that the
UN is not “them,” but “us,” and that we
are a signatory to the UN Charter, and therefore have specific legal
responsibilities as a member of that body. This is not the time
to disparage the UN.
We are justly proud that America is “a nation of laws and
not of men (sic).” Should we not wish for and work for the
same among nations? President Bush’s announced doctrine of
unilateral “preventative defense,” with which he is
pressuring the UN, is so far out that is not even anticipated in
the Charter. Chapter VII, Art 51 certainly permits unilateral action
by member states which are attacked. But this new doctrine goes
far beyond that. The United States appears to be threatening to
assert hegemony over other states toward a Pax Americana. Another
President, Abraham Lincoln, “was prepared to believe that
America was earth’s ‘last best hope’— not
as the world’s economic colossus or imperial hegemon but as
an exemplar of what politics, with all its limitations, can accomplish.”
(Jean Bethke Elshtain, “Abraham Lincoln and the Last Best
Hope,” Frist Things 97 ). Working with the world community
is slow, and sometimes frustrating, as our political processes are.
But that work is the better way to a better future. I hope the American
people will resist this new doctrine and insist that the United
States take its rightful place among the nations, responsibly working
within the imperfect institutions we have at hand.