Bush Trashes the United Nations. (Cover Story)
Rothschild, Matthew, The Progressive
ON JUNE 26, 1945, in San Francisco, the United Nations was born, and former Secretary of State Cordell Hull won the Nobel Prize for his efforts in creating the institution. He called the U.N. Charter "one of the great milestones in man's upward climb toward a truly civilized existence." Almost six decades later, George W. Bush has done more to reverse this upward climb than anyone in the postwar period. The audacity of Bush's Iraq war maneuvers and his crude bullying threatens not only the United Nations but the dream of world governance and world peace. This dream animated Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt and hundreds of millions of people across the globe who saw the world torn asunder by the hideous wars of the twentieth century. Roosevelt called the United Nations a "world organization for permanent peace." Now in the early hours of the twenty-first century, Bush returns international relations to the raw power politics of the nineteenth century and abandons international law for the law of the jungle.
The sign was clear back on September 12, 2002; when Bush first addressed the United Nations on the subject of Iraq. So relieved were member nations that the President deigned to appear before the international body that they seemed deaf to the insulting words he was hurling at them. "Will the United Nations serve the purpose of its founding, or will it be irrelevant?" Bush asked.
At the time, even the French were praising Bush. He has resisted "the temptation of unilateral action," said France's foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin. Amr Moussa, Secretary General of the Arab League, said "the turn President Bush has taken in asking the United Nations to take up its responsibility is a good one." They apparently did not realize that Bush was engaging in a mere charade and that he was fully prepared to render the United Nations irrelevant himself.
Bush tarred the Security Council with the brush of irrelevance for not enforcing previous resolutions Iraq had flouted. He repeated the charge at his March 6 press conference: "The fundamental question facing the Security Council is, will its words mean anything? When the Security Council speaks, will the words have merit and weight?"
But Bush's insistence that the Security Council back up its resolutions is selective in the extreme. Iraq is not the only country to violate Security Council resolutions. In fact, it is not the country that violates the most resolutions. That distinction belongs to Israel, which has violated thirty-two Security Council resolutions. Turkey has violated twenty-four, and Morocco sixteen, according to Stephen Zunes, associate professor of politics at the University of San Francisco and chair of its peace and justice studies program. By comparison, Iraq has violated seventeen resolutions.
Since Israel, Turkey, and Morocco are U.S. allies, Bush has not been browbeating the Security Council to make good on its word by threatening force against these countries. And you don't hear Bush talking about gathering a "coalition of the willing" to impose regime change in Jerusalem, Ankara, and Rabat. To see how outrageous Bush's action is, consider how Washington would have felt if Russia had told the U.N. Security Council that it was going to gather a "coalition of the willing" to impose regime change on those three countries. Bush, Congress, and the pundits would be condemning Russia as a reckless and renegade country. Today, the United States is that reckless and renegade country.
Bush's essential message is, the United Nations is irrelevant if it doesn't do exactly what Washington demands. And Bush has chided the United Nations not to become another failure like the League of Nations, though the League of Nations collapsed, in part, because the U.S. Senate never ratified U.S. entry into the organization.
"Bush has made it abundantly clear that he feels the United Nations is just a nuisance," says John Anderson, head of the World Federalist Association, who ran for President as an independent in 1980. …