When Kofi Annan steps down as U.N. secretary-general later this year, Tony Blair should replace him.
This is fantasy U.N. I’m playing, mind you. He’s never been on anyone’s list of diplomatic names for the slot and restrictions on permanent Security Council members would keep him from the top slot anyway. But he’s just the kind of voice the world body could use right now.
During his exit speech at the recent U.K. Labour-party conference, the British prime minister fought back directly against those who call him George W. Bush’s “poodle” because of his support for the war on terror. He said, “This terrorism is not our fault, we didn’t cause it. … It’s not the consequence of foreign policy, it’s an attack on our way of life.” Blair believes that those who would attack innocent Londoners on their way to work are certainly evildoers — and is not afraid to say so.
The job of U.N. secretary-general has been described as that of “a global conscience.” I know I want my global conscience to really understand what’s going on in the world today and to not be content to let tyrants and anti-Semites drive the U.N. agenda, as has happened so often in the Annan years.
I’ll be honest. I’m forever making dramatic suggestions to the United Nations, ones they aren’t ever likely to consider, ridiculous things like: You should mean what you say. You should not put flagrant human-rights violators in human-rights watchdog positions. Your secretary-general should be held accountable for corruption and abuse on his watch. (A few years ago, I even suggested that George W. Bush, post-presidency, should become secretary-general.)
But outlandishness is my point. The United Nations needs something dramatic. Along these lines, another great choice for secretary-general would be the former prime minister of Spain Jose Maria Aznar. When Muslims reacted violently to recent remarks of Pope Benedict XVI, Aznar was clear: “We are living in a time of war. … It’s them or us. The West did not attack Islam, it was they who attacked us.”
Were it not for men like Aznar, Blair, and Bush, Saddam Hussein would still be in power. What did the United Nations do about Iraq? American Enterprise Institute fellow Michael Rubin, who spent extensive time in Iraq, painted a good picture of the attitude Kofi “I Can Do Business With Saddam Hussein” Annan’s United Nations had toward that regime. In 2004, Rubin wrote: “On Jan. 25, 2003, 29-year-old Adnan Abdul Karim Enad jumped into a U.N. inspector’s jeep, screaming ‘Save me! Save me!’ As television cameras rolled, U.N. security guards dragged him from the vehicle and handed him to Iraqi soldiers. The same day, an Iraqi government worker forced his way into the U.N. compound, pleading for protection. U.N. guards evicted him. Hans Blix, then chief weapons inspector in Iraq, criticized the Iraqi asylum-seekers, saying they should find ‘more elegant ways’ of approaching U.N. staff.”
But there we were, going through meaningless resolution after resolution, until finally some member states — one in particular — took it upon themselves to act. Speaking to the United Nations in September 2002, President Bush said: “The conduct of the Iraqi regime is a threat to the authority of the United Nations, and a threat to peace. Iraq has answered a decade of U.N. demands with a decade of defiance. All the world now faces a test, and the United Nations a difficult and defining moment. Are Security Council resolutions to be honored and enforced, or cast aside without consequence? Will the United Nations serve the purpose of its founding, or will it be irrelevant?”
Tony Blair understands how important it is that the United States play a key leadership role in the world. He recently wrote, pushing back against rampant European anti-Americanism, that “the danger with America today is not that they are too much involved. We want them engaged. The reality is that none of the problems that press in on us can be resolved or even contemplated without them.”
As we face the continued threat of Islamic fascism, nuke-developing madmen in Iran and North Korea, and atrocities in Darfur, the corrupt U.N. bureaucracy needs a voice that will challenge it, one who knows there are good guys and bad and which ones are which. The United Nations could do worse than Tony Blair, and probably will.
— Kathryn Jean Lopez is the editor of National Review Online.
Copyright 2006, Newspaper Enterprise Assn