Diplomats are renowned for carefully choosing their words so as not to leave the wrong impression or unnecessarily ruffle feathers. That's particularly true at the United Nations, where diplomats from all over the world practice the gossamer art of persuasion and manipulation through the muffled language of diplomacy.
But U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan abandoned the pretense of diplomacy Sept. 15 by firing off a very undiplomatic word to describe the Bush administration's decision to free Iraq: ''illegal.'' Goaded by a BBC interviewer, Annan said of the war: ''From our point of view, from the 1/8UN 3/8 charter point of view, it was illegal.''
Undoubtedly, legal scholars could get lathered up about what the UN charter says and how exactly to define the term ''illegal.'' But that's not really the point here. Illegal is a loaded word. It implies criminality. ...
Had the U.S. not acted in Iraq, the U.N.'s threat of ''serious consequences'' if Saddam Hussein didn't disarm would have amounted to what almost all U.N. threats amount to nothing. ...
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