Utopia in the Rearview Mirror

This past weekend, I flipped on the television to check the news on Iraq. There on the screen was chief UN arms inspector Hans Blix being interviewed on MTV -- yes, MTV. In the interview, the man responsible for disarming the deadly Iraqi regime said, "I'm more worried about global warming than I am of any major military conflict." Really? The danger to the environment is greater than the issues of war and peace? I almost fell off the chair. That's comic opera. And, in a nutshell, it sums up why the United Nations (UN) has outgrown its usefulness. The UN was born in one of those great utopian moments, when all the nations of the world pledged to work together for peace and order. There's no denying the good things that the UN has done in humanitarian areas like childhood immunization and working with refugees. But social work isn't the biblical standard by which government and government-like institutions are measured. The biblical criterion is the restraint of evil and the preservation of peace and order. Almost from the outset, the UN's efforts in this area have been undermined by what New Republicpublisher Martin Peretz calls the UN's "Rube Goldberg" structure. When North Korea invaded the South in 1950, the UN was able to respond only because a Soviet boycott on an unrelated matter kept Moscow from using its veto -- a mistake that others learned from later. In the past few months, we witnessed how a few committed obstructionists can prevent the UN from addressing a genuine threat to international order and security. Even its attempts to enforce a peace treaty already agreed to by the parties have met with mixed results. While UN peacekeepers have played a constructive role in parts of the Middle East, peacekeepers obeying orders from Kofi Annan, the current secretary-general, stood by doing nothing while genocide was going on in Rwanda and Bosnia. Even worse than its structure is the UN's essentially utopian worldview. Men like Blix have what theologian Reinhold Niebuhr called an excessive trust in human nature and the power of good intentions. You see this worldview at work when Blix told Associated Press that he doubted that Hussein would use chemical or biological weapons against American troops out of deference to world opinion. A man who can say something like this does not understand human nature. For people like Blix, every tyrant, thug, and maniac is somebody who can be persuaded to do the right thing. The history of Saddam's regime tells a different story. As a result, Blix is incapable of understanding the tragic need for force and coercion to restrain evil. Even worse, he doesn't recognize evil when he sees it, worrying about the environment instead. And this is the man we are supposed to believe about Iraq's disarmament? No, thanks. I will put my trust in a president who has a realistic worldview, who sees human evil and knows what needs to be done to restrain it. The UN may come to its senses, beginning with shaking off its utopianism. I'd welcome that. But if not, if Hans Blix represents the UN of the future, then it will go the way of the League of Nations, another group that did not understand the tragic necessity to use force against tyrants. And I, for one, will not mourn its passing. For further reading and information: George Will, "UN Absurdity," Washington Post, 13 March 2003, A23. Martin Peretz, "United We Fall," The New Republic, 3 March 2003. "Hans Blix: Caught between Iraq and a Hard Place," MTV interview with John Norris, 12 March 2003. "Waiting Game," by the editors of The New Republic, 17 March 2003. Edith M. Lederer, "Blix believes Iraq won't use chemical weapons," Anchorage Daily News, 18 March 2003. Winston S. Churchill, "My Grandfather Invented Iraq," Wall Street Journal, 16 March 2003. David W. Moore, "Public Approves of Bush Ultimatum by More Than 2-to-1 Margin," Gallup News Service, 18 March 2003. "Security in Dangerous Times" -- In this "BreakPoint This Week" special broadcast, Edwin Meese III brings his experience and faith in Christ to bear on issues of terrorism today. Meese was U.S. Attorney General during the Reagan administration and currently is a distinguished fellow holding the Ronald Reagan Chair in Public Policy at The Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. This CD also includes a speech, "Just War Tradition and the New War on Terrorism," by Wilberforce Forum board of reference member Dr. Jean Bethke Elshtain.


Chuck Colson



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