Column: Enjoying a gorgeous spring

careyWhile complaining about UN bashing, or Putin’s greedy grasp, or whatever else may be aggravating us, we must rejoice and give thanks for the remarkably beautiful weather we in the northeast have enjoyed during the Passover/Easter season. Such a relief after an unpleasant winter!

Seldom have the daffodils or forsythias been more brilliant in their golden hues. And now the magnolias in their majesty are bursting forth, to keep company with the delicately purple cherry trees. Soon the dogwoods, pink or white, will join the beauty parade, as azaleas startle the eye with their brilliance and apple blossoms dance in the breeze.

UN bashing aimed at veterans

The American Legion is a veterans’ organization I have proudly belonged to, though inactively, since 1946 when the Navy gave me an honorable discharge. I read the Legion’s magazine with pleasure every month. Except, that is, for one article in the May issue that just arrived.

The article is entitled Road to Hell and alongside the title is a gruesome photo showing dozens of skulls said to be from the Rwanda massacres. This ghastly imagery is apparently intended to show what kind of atrocities armed intervention by U.S. forces might be used to prevent. The question dealt with in the article is who can authorize the use of U.S. force to stop evil actions like genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

The author’s assertion is the principle known as “R2P”‑short for responsibility to protect‑approved in UN circles, would take away from our government the authority to decide when U.S. force may be used to protect and give that authority to any of several agencies the author lists. His list includes the UN secretary-general, the International Criminal Court and, incredibly, CNN.

Here is how the author puts his argument: “Good intentions aside, the United Nations R2P doctrine would take the decision of U.S. intervention out of our hands.”

The author is listed as a member of the Board of Editors of the American Legion’s monthly magazine. Whatever background he may have in international law or in the role of the United Nations is not disclosed. Nor is the reader told why he would want to go to such lengths to bash the UN, such lengths as claiming the International Criminal Court might have some authority over U.S. use of military force, or even that CNN might also be empowered to direct the use of our country’s armed forces.

The ultimate absurdity in the article is the assertion that CNN could somehow decide for us how and where to use our military might. CNN, of course, can influence American and other public opinion, and public opinion can influence our government’s decisions, but to suggest CNN calls the shots is hyperbole stretched way beyond the limits of credibility.

Here is more of the author’s UN bashing: “First, R2P taken to its logical conclusion will increase the heavy burden on a shrinking U.S. military while decreasing America’s freedom of action and independence.”

He does not explain how our option whether or not to intervene could burden our military, unless we were to choose to incur such a burden. No one could impose such a burden on us against our will.

Then the author proceeds to create “a second problem with R2P…who at the United Nations, the ICC, the EU or CNN decides what justifies an R2P intervention?”

This language raises problems of common sense.

The ICC, which the author does not identify as the International Criminal Court, has nothing whatever to do with deciding whether we should intervene militarily. The EU is the European Union, which similarly has no control over our decisions. As for CNN’s connection with our military choices, even to mention it calls in question the seriousness of the discussion.

As the author winds up, he batters down an open door with this incontrovertible assertion: “Why the United States intervenes militarily…should be determined by the president and Congress. It’s not the U.N. secretary-general’s prerogative.”

Shouting this obvious truth from the housetops does not require a gratuitous kick in the shins of the secretary-general to go with it.

I hope my fellow American Legionnaires will see through the haze the article creates and understand that, of course, our government and it alone decides and will continue to decide whether and when to call upon our military.