Blog Roundup #66

A sampling of United Nations related blog commentary

Crooks and Liars: “Britain has angered John Bolton, America’s combative ambassador to the United Nations, by breaking ranks with him over the need for reform. Britain has rebuffed a Bolton move to join him in refusing to pass the organisation’s 2006 budget until member states approve wide-ranging management reforms: “Privately, British diplomats express surprise that he has not made greater efforts to cultivate them or build alliances. “You’re either with him or against him,” said one.” That’s the Bolton we all knew and the one Bush had to force on the UN. He doesn’t have the necessary skills to bring reform to the table, but rather a heavy fist that divides and separates. Not a good tool as you can see.”

Tapped (Ezra Klein): “Gareth Evans, former prime minister of Australia and current head of the highly regarded International Crisis Group, has a welcome op-ed in this morning’s Los Angeles Times about civil conflicts and atrocities. The reason for the drawdown in hostilities, Evans argues, is international peacekeeping, which has become vastly more widespread and efficient than ever before. Its reputation, however, has not improved commensurately with its record, largely because its successes have averted the sort of high stakes negotiation dramas that attract television cameras.”

Tiger Hawk: “President Bush believed that it was important for the United States to invade Iraq and replace its regime. There were a great many arguments in favor of this policy, most of which were made by the Administration in one form or another before the war. One of the arguments was a legalistic one — that Saddam’s government was, by virtue of its alleged present development and possession of WMD, in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions. It was important to some people, including some Democrats and Tony Blair, that the UNSC endorse the war, or that it be unreasonably vetoed. Colin Powell went to the United Nations to make a legal case for a UNSC stamp of approval, not to make the best geopolitical case for the removal of Saddam Hussein. The geopolitical case did not depend on existing WMD, and still doesn’t. But the intelligence that appeared to show Saddam’s WMD programs were central to the administration’s advocacy in front of the United Nations, so it is neither surprising nor shameful that it omitted all the various footnotes and hedges that have surfaced in the last thirty months or so. Do you want our President to share all our doubts and qualifications with the world? I certainly don’t.”

Booman Tribune: “John Goetz has been working on the Curveball story for a long time now. It is published today in the Los Angeles Times. I am proud to say that I did what I could to help him and his partner Bob Drogin with this. This story is a massive piece of the jigsaw puzzle that only now is beginning to be solved for the benefit of the understanding of the American people as to why they are now at war in Iraq. Some samples from the article: “…On Feb. 8, three days after Powell’s speech, the U.N.’s Team Bravo conducted the first search of Curveball’s former work site. The raid by the American-led biological weapons experts lasted 3 1/2 hours. It was long enough to prove Curveball had lied. U.N. teams also raided the other sites Curveball had named. They interrogated managers, seized documents and used ground-penetrating radar, according to U.N. reports. The U.N. inspectors “could find nothing to corroborate Curveball’s reporting,” the CIA’s Iraq Survey Group reported last year.”

Daniel Drezner: “The Financial Times reports that the United States has made a new concession over Iran’s ambiguous nuclear program: “In a major concession towards Iran’s nuclear programme, the US on Friday gave its public backing to a proposal by Russia and the European Union that would allow the Islamic republic to develop part of the nuclear fuel cycle on its own territory. The shift in US policy “revealed after talks between President George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin, the Russian leader” came despite a report from the UN nuclear watchdog that lent credence to US and European claims that Iran is trying, or once had ambitions, to develop nuclear weapons.”

Dogooder: All Africa: “In a major volte face, President Robert Mugabe’s government has accepted United Nations (UN) assistance for the provision of shelter to thousands of victims of its controversial Operation Murambatsvina scattered in and around the country. The government’s change of heart, coming a month before the arrival of another special UN envoy to assess the humanitarian crisis triggered by the widely condemned clean-up exercise, follows this week’s forcible removal of hundreds of people that had been sleeping in the open in Mbare after the demolition of slums six months ago.”

Uncooperative Blogger: “Iran Has Plans To Build a Nuclear Bomb – From an article in the News Telegraph: “Iran has admitted obtaining designs that could help it make a nuclear bomb, the United Nations nuclear watchdog said yesterday in a confidential report. The IAEA report said documents bought by Iran on the black market included designs “on the casting and machining of enriched, natural and depleted uranium into hemispherical forms.” Experts said the casts are used in atomic weapons.” What have I been saying folks? Iran plans on building the Islamic Bomb. This is not even open to debate any longer, they are enriching Uranium and they have purchased plans to build a bomb. Do we have to wait until they actually use it to do something about it??? That is the last straw. Bush has to act, and act soon. No more talking, or EU discussion the time to act is here!”