President Bush returned to the United Nations yesterday for the first time since the U.S. invaded Iraq without UN backing. This time he called for international assistance in the reconstruction of Iraq and to defend Washington’s Iraq policy.
On Iraq, Bush rejected proposals by France and Germany for power to be quickly transferred from the occupying U.S. and British forces back to the Iraqi people. Bush said the transfer must be “neither hurried nor delayed.” Bush also defended the invasion saying “Iraq’s former dictator will never again use weapons of mass destruction.”
A Washington Post analysis found Bush’s address left many unanswered questions including: How quickly would the United States grant sovereignty to the Iraqis? Would the administration grant any decision-making role to the United Nations? Or does the administration simply want assistance without giving up much in return?
The Bush administration’s policy of preemptive attack came under criticism from both Secretary General Kofi Annan and French President Jacques Chirac. Chirac said: “The United Nations has just weathered one of its most serious trials in its history… respect for the [UN] Charter, the use of force, were at the heart of the debate. The war, which was started without the authorization of the Security Council, has shaken the multilateral system.”
Annan added about preemptive attacks QUOTE “My concern is that if it were to be adopted, it would set precedents that resulted in a proliferation of the unilateral and lawless use of force with or without justification.” Although Annan did not specifically refer to the United States, the New York Times reported he gave the impression that he believed Washington was endangering world peace with its foreign policies.
The Washington Post reported Annan and Chirac’s addresses received enthusiastic reaction while Bush received tepid, almost perfunctory applause for Bush’s presentation. A lead editorial in the Post was headlined “A Failed Speech.” Slate.com headlined their coverage “Bush to World: Drop Dead.”
Analysts predict support from the international community will be far less than Washington hoped. One diplomat told the New York Times QUOTE “The situation in Iraq is getting more difficult every day and so is the atmosphere at the United Nations.”
A federal appeals court yesterday ruled California’s recall vote can go ahead as originally planned on Oct. 7 reversing another court order that would have delayed the election until March.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which called for the delay because some voting districts will still be using faulty voting machines, announced it would not appeal yesterday’s decision.
The court unanimously ruled that federal court’s “cannot lightly interfere” with state elections. In addition the court noted that hundreds of thousands of Californians had already voted by absentee ballot.
Meanwhile Republican legislator Darrell Issa, who bankrolled the recall, said he would urge Californians to vote to keep Governor Gray Davis in office if both Republican frontrunners State Senator Tom McClintock and Arnold Schwarzenegger remain in the race. Issa said the two Republicans would split the GOP vote and give the election to Democrat Cruz Bustamante, who Issa described as worse than Davis.
For the second time this months, the U.S. military has arrested one of its own at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba where it is holding over 600 detainees captured in Afghanistan and elsewhere. The Pentagon announced yesterday Senior Air Force Airman Ahmad Al-Halabi faces 32 criminal charges related to spying. Al-Halabi, who worked as a translator, is being charged with giving classified information from the prison to Syria. On Sept. 10, Army Chaplain James Yee was arrested but charges have not been filed yet.
Iraq’s U.S.-appointed Governing Council yesterday banned the Arab satellite television stations al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya from covering the council’s news conferences and entering government ministries for two weeks. The Council said the stations had committed “irresponsible activities” that threaten the country’s “democracy and stability.”
In other Iraq news, two commuter buses in Iraq were bombed today killing a 17-year-old and injuring at least 12. CNN reports the bombs for U.S. military vehicles.
Meanwhile the Associated Press is protesting the treatment of one of its photographers in Iraq after U.S. soldiers detained the journalist and his driver for three hours in 110 degree heat. They were handcuffed and denied water and use of telephone.
In other news, award winning Los Angeles Times Foreign correspondent Mark Fineman died Monday at the age of 51 after suffering a heart attack yesterday in Baghdad where he was working.