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05/05/2003 Archived Entry: "Hospice Walk"

Two cartoons caught my eye....Check Out by Ann Telnaes, and Planning for a Free Iraq by Joel Pett.

The coming conflict between the US and UN over the latter's sanctions against Iraq will be a fascinating snapshot of the UN's true face.

The sanctions -- including Oil for Food -- were imposed against a regime that no longer exists and they now serve to exert UN control over Iraqi oil, to provide a bargaining chip against the US, and to create misery for the Iraqi people. If the purpose was humanitarianism, as always stated, there could be no reason to continue imposing them on Post-Saddam Iraq. The UN has already dug in its heels on removing the sanctions, as the US has requested, and is hinting that a key factor in its co-operation will be the process by which oil contracts are approved. France, Russia and Germany all want to keep their lucrative contracts and BNP wants to keep collecting its fees for processing the oil money. Money, power, social control, political leverage...that's the naked face of the UN. This is not to exonerate the US. In the context of Iraqi oil, the best stance toward the two contending super-powers is "a curse upon both your houses!" If they come into direct conflict over such an intractable issue, the US will quite possibly leave the UN and it is not clear to me whether the UN can survive that exodus in a meaningful manner. I would shed no tears at the collapse of the UN but it would have the unfortunate side effect of leaving the US with no cohesive counterweight of real size and scope. The EU will protest any actions that directly impacts its own interests or members but it is unlikely to take a firm stand on future developments in North Korea, for example. The only kind word I have for the UN is the role it plays as a barrier to New American Empire.

Brad and I spent yesterday afternoon out in the crisp sunshine, providing ham radio communications for a fund-raising walk held to benefit a local hospice for elders. I teamed up with a St. Johns Ambulance volunteer and we paced the walkers, who were so enthusiastic that some of them just kept going right past the turn-around point, which -- in their defense -- was not obvious. (Next time we will station a communications person at that juncture.) The organizer had to jump in her car and track them down; I waited until the strays got back on the path and assumed "the drag" -- the last place in line...not that the chaotic formation could be called a "line." Because the walk was entirely along a waterfront with small boats, diving birds, Sunday fishermen on a pier, bobbing ducks, it was very relaxing. Brad stayed with the organizers at the starting point and I relayed the progress of the last walkers back to him, until he became restless enough to begin the walk himself in order to check on people straggling back, chatting and laughing. Fortunately, there were no injuries, no need for assistance, no complaints. What a lovely day it was!

Best to all,

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