Bush made his case on Iraq to the United Nations, but didn’t win any new allies. Now what?

Sept. 23 — One year ago, George W. Bush stood in front of the green-marble podium inside the United Nations to issue a stark challenge to the rest of the world. Iraq, he said, was a mortal threat to the U.N. and to peace. “All the world now faces a test, and the United Nations a difficult and defining moment,” he warned. “Will the United Nations serve the purpose of its founding, or will it be irrelevant?”

BY MOST MEASURES, the U.N. flunked the Bush test. The Security Council spoke of serious consequences, but refused to support the war. In the president’s terms, the U.N. was now irrelevant.
Yet there was President Bush again on Tuesday, standing by the same green marble. On the sidelines, his diplomats were pressing for U.N. help to rebuild Iraq while Bush made his own case. Rather than irrelevent, the United Nations he described in his speech is doing “vital and effective work” in Iraq. According to the president, the U.N. is now even united about its “fundamental principles” including global security and human rights. “So let us move forward,” he urged.
Maybe the president missed the speeches delivered before he reached the podium. But they hardly sounded as if the United Nations and the Bush administration agree at all about those fundamental principles, or, for that matter, about world security.
The day began with Kofi Annan, the U.N.’s secretary general, launching an unusually aggressive attack on the very basis for going to war in Iraq—and the Bush administration’s foreign policy in general. Without mentioning Iraq or the United States by name, Annan condemned the notion of pre-emptive strikes, saying they could lead to “the unilateral and lawless use of force.”
“This logic represents a fundamental challenge to the principles on which, however imperfectly, world peace and stability have rested for the last 58 years,” he warned.