The above title are the oh-so-wise words of Springfield's top news anchor, Kent Brockman, but today we have an excellent example of Kent's point. Over at Opinio Juris, guest-blogger Kevin Jon Heller has a post pointing out that more people are confident in the UN's ability to handle the Iran nuclear crisis than in Bush's ability.
While it may be true that Bush has few good options in dealing with Iran, it's hard to see how anyone can have more faith in the UN. Is Beijing going to sacrifice more than $100 billion in energy deals with Iran to give the US and the West a political victory? Will Russia alienate one of its major arms clients? And even if the UN can convince Russia and China to get on board with a serious sanctions regime, does the experience of sanctioning Iraq provide any assurance that sanctions can work? Sanctions take an exceedingly long time to have any effect on the political leadership of a country, and the more direct effects are felt by the civilian population. Additionally, sanctions create huge collective action problem that encourage widespread defection and cheating. This means that sanctions are usually just strong enough to harm the public but insufficient to achieve the intended political outcome.
Also, let's consider the UN's track record in preventing countries from developing nuclear weapons? North Korea...no. Pakistan....no. India...no. Israel...no. South Africa...no (South Africa secretly developed a nuclear weapon, but dismantled its program voluntarily). Iran...not so far. Argentina and Brazil...no (these two countries were locked in a nuclear arms race, but created an agreement that has prevented the development of NW). The only possible success story is Iraq. But, without the Israeli strike on Osiraq and the US invasion in 1991, Iraq most certainly would have had nuclear weapons. Furthermore, let's not forget the outcries against the sanctions that killed so many Iraqi civilians. It's hard to imagine the world having the stomach to impose an ever harsher sanctions regime on Iran.
So, how can more Americans believe that the UN can solve this problem? It's hard to fathom. I'm not confident that the US will be able to find a nice solution, but the UN can't even stop the Sudanese government from slaughtering its people. How will it be able to stop Iran from getting nukes? Note in such an excellent oxymoron that the poll also notes that while 67% of Americans believe that Bush won't do enough to prevent Iran from getting nukes, 69% fear that Bush will be "too quick" to use force. Idiots. This is why we should be happy that foreign policy isn't made by the more subject-to-public-opinion congressmen and senators.