by Patrick J. Buchanan – April 9, 1998
Last fall, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights delegated one Bacre Waly Ndiaye of Senegal to investigate capital punishment in the U.S.A. And Brother Ndiaye is not pleased with what he has found.
Ndiaye flatly charges America with using the death penalty in a racist way. Informed that Americans support it, Ndiaye sniffs, “In many countries, mob killings and lynchings enjoy public support as a way to deal with violent crime and are often portrayed as ‘popular justice.’ Yet, they are not acceptable in any civilized society.”
Ndiaye apparently believes that America is not fully civilized and that our death penalty equals lynch-mob justice.
After decades of this kind of abuse, Americans are probably inured to it. But Ndiaye’s three-week junket around America raises a question: How can the United Nations be in a financial crisis if it can subsidize such nonsense?
While Ndiaye’s report can be filed under “waste, fraud and abuse,” a more ominous specter is taking shape. By July, a U.N. war-crimes tribunal may have been created, giving the United Nations the same sovereign power as was exercised at the Nuremberg trials.
This U.N. tribunal would replace the ad hoc courts set up to try war criminals from Bosnia and Rwanda. After visiting Rwanda, Bill Clinton endorsed the idea, which caused Jesse Helms to write to the secretary of state to declare himself “unalterably opposed.”
“The U.N.,” said Helms, “is not now — nor will it ever be so long as I have breath in me — a sovereign entity.”
Yet, the Senate may embrace the idea. By 93-0, it has endorsed a resolution calling for creation of a U.N. tribunal “for the purpose of indicting, prosecuting and imprisoning Saddam Hussein.” By 396-2, the House adopted a similar resolution.
“It is obvious,” says Sen. Arlen Specter, a resolution sponsor, “that taking Saddam Hussein into custody is a very complex matter and perhaps impossible without an enormous military force.” But indicting him in absentia would give us the “high moral ground.”
Sen. Byron Dorgan also wants the United Nations to declare Saddam a war criminal for using poison gas, attacking Israel and plotting to assassinate George Bush. But have the senators thought through the long-term consequences of giving judicial power to the United Nations?
If a U.N. trial of Saddam Hussein is not to be a neo-Stalinist show trial, Saddam must be allowed to make a defense. How do we respond if his defense raises the issue of Russia’s testing of anthrax and use of “yellow rain” in Afghanistan and Laos, of Egypt’s alleged use of gas in Yemen, and of the introduction of poison gas in warfare by the Allies and Germany in World War I? Unfortunately, the use of poison gas to kill enemies in the millions is a Western invention.
As for Saddam’s attempt on Bush’s life in Kuwait, what if the Iraqi dictator’s defense introduces evidence that John F. Kennedy plotted to kill Castro and the United States tried to kill Saddam himself by bombing that air-raid shelter in Baghdad?
Saddam did attack Israel with Scuds, but he might argue that Israel attacked him first when it bombed his nuclear reactor in 1981 and that Israel is in violation of many more U.N. resolutions than is he.
How would the United Nations come down between Israel and Iraq?
Lest we forget, the United Nations is not a neutral and objective body that embraces Western ideals. It is a politicized forum of nations, many of whose leaders harbor a deep animus against the United States. To grant it the sovereign power to arrest, prosecute and imprison leaders and soldiers for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity is to create a Frankenstein monster that would turn against its creator.
How would the United States respond if this U.N. tribunal demanded we turn over the U.S. Air Force pilot who bombed that air-raid shelter or the “baby-milk factory” in Baghdad? And does the United States truly need the United Nations to give moral sanction to our contention that Saddam is a “war criminal”? When did the United Nations occupy this “high moral ground”?
We forget the Nuremberg trials were compromised from the outset by having Soviet jurists sit in judgment on Germans who had been their close collaborators in attacking Poland and extinguishing freedom in Eastern Europe. That Stalinists sat in judgment of Nazis was a travesty, and in “Profiles in Courage,” JFK declared Sen. Robert A. Taft a political and moral hero for denouncing the sham.
Bottom line: We do not need the United Nations to confirm the character of Saddam Hussein, and we cannot tolerate further surrenders of U.S. sovereignty. Congress should refuse to finance this U.N. war-crimes tribunal or even recognize its jurisdiction.
Fortunately, between it, and us, there stands Sen. Helms.