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The UN - Still Relevant Even if Ineffective - The UN - Still Relevant Even if Ineffective

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The UN - Still Relevant Even if Ineffective
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The Illegal War

Much was made of Security Council Resolution 1441 by legal sycophants eager to please their political masters with convenient legal cover for their immoral invasion.

This resolution promises “serious consequences” in the event that Iraq should fail to implement Security Council demands to disarm and disclose.

Other legal opinion is that it was up to the Security Council to determine if Iraq had failed to meet its obligations, if “serious consequences” were in order and what these consequences should be – hence the requirement for a further resolution and Kofi Annan’s assertion that an invasion would be illegal with out it.

However, the very fact of an absence of the sought and not obtained UN Security Council Resolution stands as testimony that military action was not endorsed by the UN, regardless of anything in earlier resolutions.

Furthermore, all of the contrivance around legal foundation of UN Resolutions falls to nothing in view of the facts that:

  1. Hans Blix, the UN Chief Weapons Inspector, had repeatedly stated publicly that Iraq was in compliance with its obligations and
  2. Iraq was confirmed in fact, after the invasion, to have been in compliance with UN demands in having no Weapons of Mass Destruction.

It was clear to most observers among the ordinary public in February 2003 that an invasion was going to proceed regardless of what UN weapons inspectors or the Security Council had to say and is now a matter of public record that the Iraq invasion was planned in 2001,.

In the constant pressure for closer scrutiny by the UN inspections team and increasingly pedantic demands regarding what weapons Iraq should relinquish, including a long argument over conventional battlefield missiles with a range of 150 miles; there is evident a very cynical and immoral intention to use the UN processes to disarm Iraq as much as possible, leaving the Iraqi the minimum possible capacity to defend itself prior to the inevitable attack. This goes much further than the accusation by Kofi Annan’s deputy that the US was using the UN “almost by stealth as a diplomatic tool while failing to stand up for it against its domestic critics”, this is more like using the UN as a first-pass operation to disarm the intended victim. Anyone inclined to doubt that the US government would behave in such a sinister manner would do well to read a report of investigation into the sanctions applied to Iraq in the 12 years prior to the invasion of 2003 by Joy Gordon in Harper’s Magazine titled Cool war: Economic sanctions as a weapon of mass destruction [viii]. A more damning catalogue of vicious, vindictive, ruthless contrivance calculated to inflict a maximum of death and sufferings on a population, effected most severely among those most vulnerable – children under five, for purposes of political coercion, far worse than the terrorist bomber, no-one could invent in fiction. Two UN officials, Hans von Sponeck and Denis Halliday, resigned in disgust calling it “sanctions genocide”. An institution open to such abuse can hardly be effective; it clearly needs reform. However, the very fact of existence of a desire to abuse such an institution in this way only highlights the need for it and its relevance.

What is more significant than the illegality of the invasion is its immorality.

So the boorish spectacle of publicly denigrating Kofi Annan is really only theatre for the established process of democracy by deception, part of the routine devaluation of collective, cooperative efforts to maintain international peace and order in favour of the “world policeman” scenario that invests absolute power in the people who own western capitalism and who own and control the United States government.

Kofi Annan’s role as Secretary General was fundamentally an administrative one, which probably accounts for his choice of words, “a very sort of UN bureaucratic thing”, in saying that invasion without a resolution “contravenes the UN Charter” and not himself proceeding to the logical conclusion that it was therefore illegal; leaving that for others to decide for themselves.

Given that the architecture of the UN, its founding charter and various organs, was the subject of an international discussion of some years’ duration we can deduce something of the intention of it’s founders. We have a General Assembly in which all 192 member-countries are equally represented and to which the Charter delivers authority to “discuss any questions or any matters within the scope of the present Charter” and “make recommendations to the Members of the United Nations or to the Security Council”; a measure of moral force and an expression of the broader, democratic will. On the other hand we have a Security Council, which in the five permanent members, gives way to recognition of the practical realities of prevailing military and political power relations of the time and in the rotation of the other ten members seats gives a measure of broader representation in this seat of the true power, executive power, invested in the UN.

If we look at the five permanent members of the UN Security Council we can see the general representation of the world’s religious, ideological and cultural groups (in approximate Millions of population) with the secular socialist and communist societies of the Russian Federation (140) and Peoples’ Republic of China (1,300), mostly Christian Capitalist democracies of The United Kingdom and Northern Ireland (62) and the United States (309), and the humanist, capitalist democracy of France (65), a total of some 1,876 Million of the world’s people – less than a third!

The 1,100 Million mostly Hindu people of the largely capitalist but communist-inclined society of India, the 1,000 Million Africans, and the world’s 1,000 Million Muslims are not permanently represented. Given that the mostly Islamic Middle-East possesses the lion’s share of reserves of the world’s most precious energy resource is so inadequately represented in the primary executive organ of the United Nations it’s hardly surprising that we have elements of the populations of those countries who feel embittered regarding the present arrangements of the “international community” and who are courageously resisting exploitation and abuse by means other than the political and military avenues acceptable to the dominant nations.

In his report to the UN General Assembly, a document titled In Larger Freedom, Kofi Annan’s recommended expansion of the Security Council. Measures to include the member countries that are primary representative of currently un-represented, major religious, ideological, racial and cultural groups would be a major, meaningful step towards world peace and security.

However, if conditions are such that a group of nations can coalesce in a “coalition of the willing”, like a gang of unruly thugs, to entirely bypass the United Nations and its Security Council, improvements in the architecture of the United Nations and its foremost organ, the Security Council will not improve its effectiveness. In the absence of any remedy to this situation we can only expect ultimately to arrive at a very catastrophic situation that serves vividly to illustrate the relevance of the United Nations, perhaps too late.

The legal advice that led to this situation rested on the notion that Security Council resolutions 687 and 1441 of respectively 12 and 2 years prior and explicitly in relation to a different matter (the situation between Iraq and Kuwait) can be taken to represent the position of the United Nations Security Council regarding the present, different situation (alleged support for terrorism, possession of chemical weapons, clandestine pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability and a readiness to attack the UK). The falsity of this contention is clearly self-evident in that a new Security Council resolution explicitly endorsing action to address the current situation could not be obtained. The Security Council clearly did not support invasion. Also, given that UN weapons inspectors had repeatedly asserted that Iraq was in compliance with resolutions 687 and 1441 (and as was demonstrated to be correct after the invasion), there was no justification for action, even based on these dated resolutions.

Still more, reliance on resolution 1441 providing for “serious consequences” in the event of “non compliance” it’s very clear, as has been argued by experts on international law, that it was a matter for the Security Council to decide if Iraq was in fact, “non-compliant” and if so, what the “serious consequences” should be and in the absence of decisions by the Security Council the actions of the “coalition of the willing” obviously amounts to rogue behaviour on the part of irresponsible hooligans.

Still worse, when we come to consider that the motivation for this rogue action taken outside the wishes of the United Nations (at both the General Assembly and Security Council levels) has been clearly shown, by the way the invasion and occupation have unfolded, with the looting of the Iraqi treasury and museums, privatisation of oil resources into foreign ownership, destruction of energy and water and other utilities and institutions and so on, that it was not about liberation of the people, making the country safe for democracy or improving world security against terrorism – all this was ostensible and transparent – but rather, it was to break and dominate the nation, steal its resources and establish strategic political and military advantage in the region for the invaders. These matters compound the magnitude of what is already a serious crime against international law.

Consequences of Failure

The majority of people worldwide were clearly opposed to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. In all of the western democracies whose governments have supported and participated in the war this was a reflection of the failure of these democracies to adequately and accountably give expression to the will of their electorates.

What support (or complaisance) does exist in these countries for, not only the war in Iraq but also the war in Afghanistan and the nebulous “war on terror” is principally dependent on the notion of a “virtuous America” worthy and fit for the role of “world policeman”. This is a deception that began with the primary lie of WW2, namely that “the US saved Europe and the world from Hitler and the Third Reich”. But this was almost entirely the achievement of the Soviet Union by its defeat of Operations Barbarossa (1941) and Northern Light (1942), overcoming the Siege of Leningrad and victory in the Battle of Stalingrad and other battles on the occupied Soviet territory. The war on the Eastern Front went on for four years with enormous cost to the Soviet Union. The most recent western estimate of Soviet military deaths is 7 million with some 20 million Soviet civilian lives lost and the cost to the German side being some 4.3 million. Three Soviet armies fought the Battle for Berlin and the Germans finally surrendered to a Soviet commander in May 1945. So while not to denigrate the achievements of the Normandy landings and the battles of the western front it’s the height of deceptive propaganda to assert, imply or otherwise carry off the false impression that the United States “saved Europe and the world from Hitler and the Third Reich”. And yet, I myself was in my mid-forties before I was disavowed of that deception, having, like most people of my age and context, learnt most of my WW2 history from American-dominated television.

These illusions are perpetuated and sustained today by an entertainment media and a news media that contains no less of fiction, full of exaggerated moral angst, superficial moralising and false pretension to reverence for integrity, freedom and democracy, all of which are fed to the American masses to sustain a pitch of patriotic fervour. This propaganda is also selectively dumped on the foreign media market to sustain the illusion worldwide. Concurrently with the “virtuous world policeman” fabrication is the ongoing effort to disparage and discredit the UN, principally with the strategy to equate ineffectiveness with irrelevance.

The corporations that own these news and entertainment media monopolies also own the political parties and government institutions of most western capitalist democracies. For the people who own western capitalism, unrestricted access to and control of the world’s natural resources rests on the political and military domination of the governments and commercial and financial institutions of the world. This can only be achieved by investing all power in the nationalist flagship of capitalism, the US, not by sustaining a democratic international institution based on justice and law that would otherwise give fair voice to all peoples, cultures and ideologies.

A leap from the reality that the UN is lacking in effectiveness to the conclusion that is irrelevant could be an error for humanity that may take centuries to overcome or even prove fatal. We must recognise the relevance of the UN and its consequent importance and we must recognise the necessity to act to improve its effectiveness.

Most of those who, without regard to the inhumanity, murder, suffering, destruction and long-term environmental damage it dispenses, support the rogue behaviour, imperialism and hegemony of the “virtuous superpower” mentality do so believing that they are beneficiaries when in fact, they are misguided victims. Childishly waving flags of patriotic fervour, obsequiously aligning with the superpower, heedlessly serving its instruments, belligerently asserting its spiritual authority, egotistically presuming its racial supremacy or foolishly espousing a Malthusian rationale they recklessly join the parade that marches contrary to their own interests, reduces the size of the pie and relinquishes most of their own slice to the piper who leads the parade.

Humanity has everything to lose with the possible failure of the UN. It’s a highly relevant international institution and as a foundation for international law and order, justice and security and human rights it’s all we have. We need to work together to make it effective. That begins with bringing to book those who abuse it in ways that violate international law.

[i] The UN Charter

[ii] Caruba article

[iii] Sherri Muzher article:

[iv] DeWeese article

[v] Greg Reeson article

[vi] Nile Gardiner:

[vii] BBC Interview:

[viii] Joy Gordon article

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