Memo To: Robert L. Bartley, WSJournal
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: The UN Human Rights Commission
When I saw a sketch of Colin Powell in your lead editorial today, with a line “State surrenders” under his name, I knew you would be treating your readers to a disquisition on the United Nations Human Rights Commission: “And so it has come to pass that the torments of the world’s most unfortunate men, women and children will be monitored not by the U.S., but by the likes of Sudan, China, Libya, Algeria, Syria, Vietnam and Cuba. The latter are all members in good standing of the U.N. Human Rights Commission, from which the U.S. was ousted last week.”
How can this be? After all we’ve done for them, isn’t Uncle Sam appreciated by the rest of the world? Haven’t we been a good “monitor” for the “most unfortunate men, women and children” of the planet? How come the Europeans offered four candidates -- the U.S., Sweden, Austria and France -- for the three seats allocated to the West? They should have known that the rest of the world would have voted against the U.S., even though we are great monitors!!
Well, to tell you the truth, Bob, I think it is mostly your fault, that is, the Journal’s. Yes, you had help from President Bill Clinton and the leaders of the two political parties. But you know, better than most, how ideas have consequences. And so have bombs. You are one of the primary purveyors of ideas on Earth, being the editor of the Journal's editorial page these past 29 years. You should have noticed over the last several years that the Clinton administration, goaded by the hawks in the Republican Party, has been dropping bombs all over the place. If the Journal had even once said something about all the killing we have been doing, in the name of “monitoring,” I would not have been able to conclude that it is all the Journal’s fault.
The Cold War has been over for a decade, but here Uncle Bully can’t figure out that there are no more physical threats to our safety out there. So we bomb Serbia and we bomb Kosovo. We bomb the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade and make believe it was a mistake. We bomb an aspirin factory in the Sudan, on a tip the Sudanese are making weapons of mass destruction, and then discover the chemicals found in the grass around the plant were weedkillers. How many killed? What was the collateral damage? I wonder if Timothy McVeigh knows how many were killed at the aspirin factory and if any were women or children.
And what about Iraq? Didn’t you know Saddam Hussein was fighting the Islamic fundamentalists in Iran at our bidding during that long bloody war. Surely you knew he asked our permission before he invaded Kuwait to get back his oil fields, Iraq having gone bankrupt to save the Emir of Kuwait from the Ayatollah, only to have the Emir steal oil from Iraq. You could look it up. The United Nations, for goodness sakes, is only a 20-minute subway ride from the Journal. They could have told you that more than a million and a half Iraqi civilians have died since the end of the Gulf War, because it has been the unstated policy of the United States to maintain the embargo until Saddam is dead or all the people of Iraq are dead, whichever comes first. I don’t think anyone ever asked you directly, if it was worth 1.5 million lives, to maintain the embargo, but 60 Minutes' Lesly Stahl asked Madeleine Albright that very question when she was UN Ambassador, holding the monitor’s stick. “Yes indeedy,” she said. For the last several years, if instead of harping on Bill Clinton’s morals you had complained about his bombing of Iraq every time he needed to wag the dog or pick up a few points in the polls, I would have been impressed. Instead, Uncle Bully seems to suit you just fine.
Nor does it take much effort for a powerful newspaper like the Journal to find out what is going on in the Sudan. It is easy to write an editorial about how there is a “slave trade” in the Sudan, how “Northern Muslims are enslaving Southern Christians.” -- which means these crazy poor countries must be crazy, giving Sudan a seat on the Human Rights Commission, and kicking out Uncle Sam. Tell me truthfully, have you ever thought of picking up a telephone and making some calls, to find out about “slavery in the Sudan?” If you had, you would have discovered there is a civil war in Sudan, between north and south, and each army is “enslaving” workers captured from the other side. And this ain’t no Muslims vs. Christians war, or 2 million southern Christians would not have fled the south to make their way to Khartoum, in the north. Something else is going on in Sudan, Bob, but our “monitors” are not doing a very good job figuring out what. So the UN has decided to have us sit in a corner, with a tall pointy hat, for being a “bad monitor.”
Why am I putting so much blame on you, Bob, my old friend? Why not just blame “the Establishment,” which is the nicest way I could do it? It is because blaming the status quo is useless. The status quo has a vested interest in seeing the world remain the same, as much as possible, because the deals have been cut and any perturbation might mess them up. I need a proxy for “the Establishment,” someone who speaks for it, even though there is no signature on the Journal’s editorials. I could have chosen Howell Raines for my proxy, the editorial-page editor of the NYTimes, and he might have done just as well. But he’s only been at his post for ten years, while you’ve been there almost thirty. And he has all sorts of burdens that limit his freedom of intellectual movement, not the least being the neo-Keynesian economic model that transmits its poisons throughout the undeveloped world via the IMF and World Bank.
Of course, there was a time when you would take a poke at the IMF and World Bank, but now that they have become direct and active agents of Uncle Bully, your hands are tied. Remember me telling you how the IMF/World Bank had destroyed the Yugoslavia Federation with their “shock therapy.” Like Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milosevic used to be a good guy in our book, a multiculturalist. Now our government, through Secretary of State Colin Powell, has advised the new government in Belgrade that IMF monies would be withheld from them unless they turn Milosevic over to the NATO-sponsored Hague Tribunal to be tried as a war criminal. I take it we now are advising the new democratically elected government in Belgrade that unless they release the Albanian “freedom fighters” (terrorists) held in Serbia, they won’t get IMF aid.
You see what I mean? There are just too many reasons for me to beat up on you today, as much as I would rather be celebrating a fundamental turn in your editorial policies. Of course we could always threaten to bomb our way back onto the UN Human Rights Commission, but how much more pleasant it would be if we were invited back, to a seat of honor.