Yesterday I almost wrote a post on E.J.Dionne’s column. Outside of Paul Krugman (whose locked up behind the wall of Times Select), it was the first vigorously argumentative piece by a “progressive” commentator in recent memory. And of course by that I mean it advanced an argumentative thesis rather than a blandly centrist explanatory one. For all of their faults–and those are many–conservative commentators at least give the appearance of an argument.
Today, for instance, in the Chicago Tribune, we find the following in the context of an argument on appeasing Iran from Hoover Institute fellow Victor Davis Hanson:
> Likewise, the moral high ground today supposedly was to refer both the Iraqi and Iranian problems to the UN. But considering the oil-for-food scandals and Saddam Hussein’s constant violations of UN resolutions, it is unlikely that the Iranian theocracy has much fear that the UN Security Council will thwart its uranium enrichment.
This is a factual and a logical morass. In the first place, despite Saddam’s earnest desires, the UN successfully thwarted his plans for weapons of mass destruction. We know this because there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. There were “program related activities”, perhaps meetings whose subject was how neat it would have been to have had purchased more of them or hid them better. But there were no weapons. All courtesy of the United Nations.
The oil-for-food program, however shameful, concerns another matter altogether; it did not have to do in the first instance with the successful containment and inspection regime. It had to do with mitigating the consequences of a severe embargo. Corrupt it was, but it did not have as its goal, as Hanson confusedly suggests, the removal from power or the domestic weakening of Saddam (and so by analogy here creating fear in the hearts of the Iranian theocrats). Rather, it was well known that all such activities merely strengthened Saddam and enriched corrupt UN officials as well as others (Americans included).
So, dear Professor, if you’re going to make fun of the UN for a being corrupt and ineffective entity, make sure not to pick out one of their successes as evidence of that fact.