Posted 11:35pm September 24
by Melissa Kronfeld
U-WIRE Washington Bureau
President Bush received a lukewarm response Tuesday from members of the international community, as he spoke before the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
The president’s speech focused on defending the administration’s actions in Iraq, as well as outlining other major struggles internationally.
In his speech, President Bush spoke on the continuing struggle within Afghanistan. He urged the international community to contribute to a requested $1.2 billion in reconstruction costs and praised the efforts that had been exerted thus far.
Bush commented on the process of peace and reconciliation in Israel. He pledged continued American support for the process. The President also emphasized the threat that weapons of mass destruction posed to the international community at large. Bush discussed humanitarian efforts as well, stressing the negative ramifications that human sex trafficking had on all nations.
On Iraq, Bush stated, “The primary goal of our coalition for the people of Iraq is self-government for the people of Iraq, reached by an orderly and democratic process.”
Bush defended his decision to invade Iraq without U.N. support. He told the nations of the world that the United States would make a commitment that would rival the Marshall Plan, which reconstructed Europe after World War II.
He also called for an increased role for the United Nations, but only in regards to the process of democratization. This statement echoed what the President had told Brit Hume on Monday night in an informal interview on Fox News. When asked about expanding the role of the U.N. in Iraq, the President told Hume that he wasn’t sure if an expanded role was necessary. He did state that the U.N. should help Iraqis in constructing a new constitution or by overseeing the electoral process when it occurs. Bush called for a greater role to be played by the member states of the U.N. rather then by the organization itself.
Bush also stated that progress in Iraq would continue at its own pace, regardless of what other nations believed. The President’s comments regarding a timetable for the transfer of power from American to Iraqi control was largely aimed at France. In an interview with a Spokesperson for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs on September 16th, the French position was expressed through their dismay of American control in Iraq. The spokesperson told reporters that power could be transferred to the Iraqi Governing Council within a one month time. President Jacques Chirac supported this view in his speech at the U.N. which directly followed Bush’s, but extended that time period to six to nine months.
Chirac also blamed the United States for the current crisis in the U.N. He stated, “No one can act alone in the name of all and no one can accept the anarchy of a society without rules.” He also accused the U.S. of shaking the very foundations of the multilateral system that had been in place since the construction of the United Nations in 1946. U.S. officials had stated that Chirac had promised not to “stand in the way” of any post-war efforts as they had in their attempts to thwart the war in the Security Council prior to the American strike.
Later in the day, Bush held a private meeting with Chirac in hopes of ironing out significant differences between the two countries. Officials attending the meeting told The Washington Post that little progress was made. Bush also met with leaders of Morocco, Afghanistan, Indonesia, and Spain as well as with U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan.