A Few (Irrelevant) Observations on Bush’s Speech to the UN

During President Bush’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly yesterday, he referred to the recent conflict in Lebanon, saying, a “group of extremists deliberately provoked a terrible conflict in Lebanon.” He was referring to the abduction of Israeli soldiers by Hamas and then again by Hezbollah. Irrelevant is the fact that one day prior to the Hamas abduction of an Israeli soldier, Israel kidnapped two civilians, a doctor and his brother, who were then joined with the thousands of other Palestinian prisoners held without charge in Israel. The kidnapping of Palestinian civilians, then–a far greater crime–is not a deliberate provocation. Israel responded to the abduction of one of its soldiers by bombing civilian infrastructure in Gaza, including its only power plant–a war crime–and by kidnapping dozens of members of the Palestinian government. But this is not a deliberate provocation. Similarly, many Lebanese are also being held in Israeli prisons without charge. When Hezbollah abducted two Israeli soldiers, they demanded that women and persons under 18 be released in exchange for the soldiers. The abduction of those civilians was not a deliberate provocation. Nor, for that matter, is the continued illegal occupation or the building of a wall annexing major portions of the West Bank a deliberate provocation.

The “world is engaged in a great ideological struggle,” Bush said, “between extremists who use terror as a weapon to create fear, and moderate people who work for peace.” It’s good versus evil. Every act of violence they make is a crime which they commit deliberately and intentionally, evidence of their wicked, monstrous natures. But when we act with violence, it is of a benevolent nature, intended to bring peace and harmony; and any harm done is accidental and unintentional, merely a mistake, at worst, the result of poor judgment by people who are, after all, mere humans.

Bush quoted from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which “declares that the ‘equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom and justice and peace in the world.'” That the US regularly rejects this principle, as with its long-held policy of rejectionism towards any viable Palestinian state, is irrelevant.

Saddam Hussein was “a dictator who killed his citizens” and “invaded his neighbors” with US support, irrelevantly. Hussein “showed his contempt for the world by defying more than a dozen U.N. Security Council resolutions”, a mere fraction of the number of resolutions Israel has violated or remains in violation of, with US support, irrelevantly

“Some have argued that the democratic changes we’re seeing in the Middle East are destabilizing the region. This argument rests on a false assumption”–not the false assumption that the US favors “democratic changes” in the Middle East, but “that the Middle East was stable to begin with.” It’s not that the US is opposed to democracy, per se. Democracy is fine, even preferable, so long as people choose obedience to the order imposed by the US. If democracy proves to be an obstacle to imposition of that order, history has proven repeatedly, a totalitarian state under the leadership of a dictator, so long as he is a “moderate”, which is to say so long as he complies with US demands, will do.

“To the people of Iraq,” Bush said, “Nearly 12 million of you braved car bombers and assassins last December to vote in free elections,” which the US opposed at the time, but which it later took credit for, irrelevantly. This was indeed a triumph for the Iraqi people, not only in the face of internal violence, but also in the face of US pressure to postpone the elections until after the Iraqi Constitution had been written, an irrelevant fact destined for the footnotes, or dustbins, of history.

“To the people of Lebanon,” Bush said, “Last year, you inspired the world when you came out into the streets to demand your independence from Syrian dominance.” For decades prior to that, the Lebanese somehow failed to “inspire the world” for marching in the streets demanding an end to the Israeli occupation, irrelevantly. Again, the recent conflict “began with Hezbollah’s unprovoked attacks on Israel.” Again, context is irrelevant. Facts are irrelevant. Any actions by Hezbollah are a provocation, by definition, while, also by definition, any actions by Israel, no matter how much more criminal in deed or disproportionate in scope, are merely justified reactions to Hezbollah provocations. As a point of logic, it is an impossibility that Hezbollah could respond to Israeli provocations.

Bush said that the rulers of Iran “have chosen” to “pursue nuclear weapons”, without citing any evidence to support his assertion, irrelevantly. “The United Nations has passed a clear resolution requiring that the regime in Tehran meet its international obligations,” Bush claimed, falsely, but irrelevantly. The resolution notes several matters of “serious concern” with relation to reports of the IAEA, which also have stated that, despite reasons for concern, there is “no evidence” that Iran has a nuclear weapons program. Rather, the concern is that “the IAEA is unable to conclude that there are no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in Iran”, not, contrary to Bush’s implication, that it has concluded Iran is developing nuclear weapons. “Acting under Article 40 of Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations”, the Security Council set out “to make mandatory the suspension” of uranium enrichment “required by the IAEA Board of Governors in its resolution GOV/2006/14″. Both Article 40 of the UN Charter and GOV/2006/14 explicitly note that nothing within shall prejudice the rights of any nation. As a signatory of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, Iran’s right to enrich uranium for civilian nuclear power production is guaranteed and protected. The UN “Demands, in this context, that Iran shall suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities” (emphasis added); with “demands” being a euphemism, in this context, for “requests”, since the UN has no legal authority to act with prejudice to the rights of Iran under the NPT treaty. Contrary to Bush’s implication, the Security Council did not find that Iran was in violation of its “international obligations”–specifically, the NPT treaty.

“We’re working,” Bush addeed, “toward a diplomatic solution to the crisis”. “Diplomatic solution” is intended as the usual euphemism, which means the US is giving Iran an ultimatum in which it must concede to our demands.

“I’m committed to a Palestinian state hat has territorial integrity and will leave peacefully with the Jewish state of Israel,” Bush claimed. So “committed to a Palestinian state” is Bush that his administration has continued to support–financially, militarily, and diplomatically–the ongoing illegal occupation and annexation of the Palestinian territories, as well as continued Israeli aggression, including by vetoing a proposed Security Council resolution calling for a cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah in the recent conflict in Lebanon. The reason, candidly expressed by many observers, such as in the Israeli media, was that the US wanted to give Israel more time to allow Israel to “finish the job”–in other words, to give Israel more time to destroy the civilian infrastructure of Gaza and Lebanon and terrorize the Palestinian and Lebanese people through acts of collective punishment, war crimes under international humanitarian law.

“The Palestinian people have suffered from decades of corruption and violence and the daily humiliation of occupation,” which we support, irrelevantly. Israeli “Prime Minister Olmert is committed to peace,” despite having just accomplished the devastation of Gaza and Lebanon (again) and killing hundreds of civilians. But those facts, too, are most irrelevant.

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