Re: Iraq/US: Contempt for the United Nations

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Posted by Tony zango from ? ( on Monday, September 16, 2002 at 2:45PM :

In Reply to: Iraq/US: Contempt for the United Nations posted by andreas from ( on Monday, September 16, 2002 at 1:38AM :

Is greed part of the evolution? is it part of the human nature?




: September 13, 2002

: Iraq and the US:
: Contempt for the United Nations

: by Adam Jones

: On September 12, U.S. President George W. Bush addressed the General Assembly of
: the United Nations. He was there to make the case for vigorous action against
: Iraq. Bush told delegates that the U.N. had been born in "the hope of a world
: moving toward justice, escaping old patterns of conflict and fear." He then reeled
: off a list of Saddam Hussein's transgressions against Security Council
: resolutions. Hussein's actions, the president said, proved "his contempt for the
: United Nations." "Are Security Council resolutions to be honored and enforced or
: cast aside without consequence?" Bush asked. "Will the United Nations serve the
: purpose of its founding or will it be irrelevant?"

: Much the same question could have been asked in 1986, and was asked by a few
: dissident voices. In June of that year, the International Court of Justice (also
: known as the World Court)--the leading institution for the adjudication of
: international law--issued its verdict in the case of Nicaragua vs. the United
: States.

: The U.S., under President Ronald Reagan, had spent the first half of the 1980s
: waging a massive campaign against the revolutionary Sandinista government of
: Nicaragua. U.S. strategy included direct attacks by CIA operatives, and tens of
: millions of dollars in support for the U.S.-created and -trained "Contra" rebel
: forces.

: The World Court found that the U.S. actions constituted "an unlawful use of force
: .... [that] cannot be justified either by collective self-defence ... nor by any
: right of the United States to take counter-measures involving the use of force." A
: good argument can be made that the court was, in fact, convicting the United
: States of international terrorism, which the U.S. Congress has defined as "any
: activity that ... appears to be intended ... to intimidate or coerce a civilian
: population ... [or] to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or
: coercion." The court ordered the United States to pay reparations, estimated at
: between $12 billion and $17 billion, to Nicaragua.

: All of this was, of course, irrelevant to the course of actual events. The United
: States had announced, as soon as the World Court accepted jurisdiction in the
: case, that it would boycott the proceedings and not recognize the verdict. Two
: weeks after that verdict was issued, the U.S. Congress voted an extraordinary $100
: million for the "Contras," thereby expressing its determination to pursue the
: terrorist campaign regardless of international law and global public opinion.

: It is true that the U.S. did not have to worry about ignoring Security Council
: resolutions, as Saddam Hussein has done over the last decade. As a permanent
: member of the Council, the U.S. can simply veto any resolution it dislikes.
: Shortly after the World Court decision, Nicaragua appealed to the Security
: Council, with a motion calling on all states to respect international law. The
: U.S. killed the resolution (the vote was 11-1, with 3 abstentions). Nicaragua then
: took its case to the General Assembly, where it secured a 94-3 vote demanding that
: the U.S. respect the World Court's verdict. The Assembly, though, had no way of
: enforcing the resolution, given the U.S. veto in the Security Council.

: "From these events," wrote Noam Chomsky in 1988, "we perceive with great clarity
: the self-image of American elites: the United States is a lawless and violent
: state and must remain so, independently of such nonsense as international law, the
: World Court, the United Nations, or other international institutions ... Meanwhile
: starry-eyed ideologues pay their tributes in awed and reverential tones to our
: unique commitment to the rule of law."

: In 1990, the Sandinista government of Nicaragua was defeated in elections and
: replaced by a coalition headed by Violeta Chamorro. That government agreed to
: abandon Nicaragua's claim for compensation, in return for a paltry $60 million in
: U.S. aid to assist with the program of economic privatization and "shock therapy"
: then being imposed on Nicaragua's long-suffering population. This did not,
: however, affect the World Court's verdict, which still stands. It serves as a
: lonely reminder of the U.S.'s "unique commitment to the rule of law"--unique, that
: is, in the U.S.'s determination to preserve its immunity from the rule of law.

: On the same day as President Bush's speech to the General Assembly, The Washington
: Post published an article about Nicaragua's plight today. It noted that the
: country is now the second-poorest in the western hemisphere, after Haiti. The
: dramatic improvements in nutrition, health care and literacy associated with the
: Sandinistas' first years in power were crushed by the U.S.-led terrorist campaign,
: and further "rolled back" after the U.S.'s favoured politicians took power in
: 1990.

: Violeta Chamorro was succeeded, in 1996, by Arnoldo Aleman. Aleman, according to
: the Post article, now stands accused of looting more than $100 million U.S. from
: the country's scarce resources during his six years in power. He had been vocally
: supported by the United States throughout the period of his alleged thievery. As
: the Post put it: "Aleman was long a protege of the United States, which focused on
: his staunch anti-Sandinista credentials rather than the mounting evidence that he
: was fleecing his country."

: Nicaragua's new president, Enrique Bolanos, inherits the automatic U.S. support
: given to any conservative politician in the Third World who conforms to
: Washington's agenda, at home and abroad. But even he seems unable to wring much in
: the way of assistance out of the United States. With a loan of $100 million,
: Bolanos says, "I could work wonders." This is approximately equal to the money
: that Arnoldo Aleman is said to have stolen from his people, with enthusiastic U.S.
: support. It is a small amount compared to the hundreds of millions of dollars that
: the U.S. devoted to overthrowing the Sandinista government in the 1980s, and a
: tiny fraction of the billions owed to Nicaragua under the World Court verdict.

: Nonetheless, it appears doubtful that the money will be provided, even as a loan.
: "I'm not sure that just giving him [Bolanos] $100 million is going to solve his
: problems," said an anonymous U.S. official. George Bush, meanwhile, was telling
: the U.N. General Assembly of America's "commitment to human dignity," and its
: "joining with the world to supply aid where it reaches people and lift up lives."

: This cynical record--of trampling international law, ruining a small Third World
: country perhaps beyond recovery, and then looking elsewhere while starvation and
: misery reign in the aftermath--should be borne in mind when we listen to the Bush
: Administration's lectures on Saddam Hussein and Iraq. It is hardly a coincidence
: that many key personnel associated with U.S. policies toward Central America in
: the 1980s--policies that directly contributed to the deaths of hundreds of
: thousands of people, in Nicaragua and throughout the region--have returned to
: power under George W. Bush. (Think of Otto Reich, Elliott Abrams, and the former
: ambassador to Honduras, John Negroponte--today, U.S. ambassador to the United
: Nations.) There is no reason to expect that the commitment of these figures to the
: rule of law, and that of others within the Bush Administration, will be any less
: selective this time around.

: The world community should not allow its agenda to be dictated by a U.S. regime
: that sees international law and the United Nations as useful weapons to be used
: against designated enemies, but nuisances to be ignored in conducting its own
: foreign policy.

: Adam Jones is professor of international studies at the Center for Research and
: Teaching in Economics (CIDE) in Mexico City. He is editor of the forthcoming
: volume, "Genocide, War Crimes, and the West: Ending the Culture of Impunity" (Zed
: Books). Email:

-- Tony zango
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