Sunday, October 03, 2004

Passing the Global Laugh Test

I mentioned the other day how John Kerry has given the Right much ammunition with his glib debate "victory" last week. One such item is the matter of preemption and that mysterious "global test".

The concept was introduced when John Kerry was asked by debate moderator Jim Lehrer if there was a situation under which he, as president, might use preemptive military force. Kerry said yes, he might use such force, but-- and there is always that "but"-- such a situation would have to pass a "global test", in which Americans understand "...fully why you're doing what you're doing and you can prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons."

In the past day or so, Richard Holbrook-- presumptive Secretary of State in the event of a Kerry presidency-- has been trotted out to the media to explain what this "global test" is all about, and why the United States should permit it's security to be subject to the approval of foreign governments. When asked what would happen if international approval was not forthcoming, Holbrook assured us any legitimate need for preemptive military action would be "self-evident". That was his actual phrase, self-evident.

So I offer the following hypothetical situation:

Suppose some third-world dictator, who supported terrorists both financially and logistically, had a history of development and use of chemical and biological weapons, had invaded two of his neighbors, had attempted to develop nuclear weapons and continued to do so, had funded suicide bombers in other countries, and had actually met with and had cooperative agreements with terrorist organizations that specifically targeted United States citizens and interests. Further suppose this hypothetical dictator had even attempted the assassination of a former United States president.

Not Saddam Hussein, mind you, but some hypothetical third-world dictator.

Let's further suppose the United Nations had already tried to put a lid on this guy with numerous resolutions and sanctions, all of which he defied and undermined with impunity.

Now the President of the United States-- John Kerry, perhaps-- decided this dictator represented a strategic threat to the United States because one of the terrorist groups with which the dictator was affiliated actually attacked the United States, killing thousands of our citizens.

Not that this hypothetical dictator had actually participated in that attack, but he did have a long-standing cooperative relationship with this terrorist group and other terrorists with similar anti-American aims. And this hypothetical President decides the dictator must be de-fanged once and for all, to eliminate any future threat and to deny terrorist enemies possible sanctuary or support. That is, the President of the United States decides to preemptively eliminate a strategic threat.

That hypothetical President decides to get international cooperation and takes his case to the United Nations, demanding the UN disarm this thug, "or we will". The United Nations agrees to a final ultimatum and issues a resolution, perhaps very similar to UN Resolution 1441. It calls for the dictator to acquiesce to the United Nations' terms at once, or face "serious consequences". The President makes it clear to the world this means the use of military force to remove that dictator from power.

The President takes his case to Congress and that body gives him authorization to use military force at his discretion. The Constitution is satisfied and we are ready to go to war.

Yet, in spite of all diplomatic efforts and reason, the dictator simply defies the United Nations and the United States yet again. Apparently he does not sense, or does not care about, a credible threat of force. Now that hypothetical President decides to bring the matter to a head with the United Nations. He asks the UN Security Council to formally endorse the use of military force to enforce the resolution and he offers to head a coalition of international forces to invade and disarm the hypothetical dictator immediately.

Suddenly, one or two members of the Security Council decide to oppose the enforcement of that ultimatum resolution. It turns out they have a huge financial interest in the continuance of that dictatorship, the removal of whom will surely cause them to lose billions of dollars of income. And they decide, however selfishly, that their national interests are more important than the interests of the United States.

Besides which, one of these United Nations holdouts has personally promised that hypothetical dictator it will do whatever it can to prevent the United States from taking military action. Further, that one nation actually shipped UN-outlawed weapons to that dictator after the ultimatum resolution was passed.

Of course, this case is indeed hypothetical. I mean, is such an outrageous situation even possible? Is this even a believable scenario? Well, if it is, then is the passing of the "global test" now self-evident, as Richard Holbrook says it would be?

If that hypothetical President Kerry were to find himself in such a situation, would he go ahead with the preemptive force, or would he succumb to the financially conflicted interests of another nation?

John Kerry cannot answer that question. No matter his response, he would be laughed out of the race.

Yet, it must be asked.


Blogger z. donaghue said...

I just wanted to say that I really appreciate your writing and look forward to all of your postings.

5:48 PM  
Blogger Roger Snowden said...

Thank you. Feedback of any sort is rare, especially with a low-volume blog such as this one. I hope you continue to enjoy-- and please share the secret with your friends!

1:59 PM  

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