Wednesday, October 18, 2006

UN as a US toy

Once again the United States and Britain are on the warpath. Once again they are using the United Nations to pave the way for pre-emptive action. In 2003 Iraq was the target – this time North Korea is in the firing line. Three years ago, the charade of weapons inspections and sanctions gave the US/UK cover as they prepared the invasion and occupation of Iraq. The secretary-general, Kofi Anan, stayed silent. Now the UN has authorised foreign navies to stop North Korean ships in international waters to search for goods covered by last weekend’s Security Council resolution. Although they voted for the resolution, China and Russia say they won’t stop ships. But the Americans have no such qualms and have despatched a fleet to the region.

The North Koreans have declared the resolution an "act of war". So the scene is now set for a provocation aimed at driving North Korea further into a corner, and ultimately providing the pretext for a US attack. Thank you the UN for coming up with such a recipe for disaster. The major capitalist powers who control the Security Council will always use and abuse the UN in line with their interests. They will block any attempt to hurt their "friends". So India and the military dictatorship of Pakistan can keep their nuclear weapons because they are allies in the so-called "war on terror". Israel can retain hers too, of course. But North Korea is considered too dangerous to possess nuclear weapons and considered by the Bush regime as part of the "axis of evil", which is a bit rich coming from the present, lawless incumbents of the White House.

The UN’s double standards are truly breathtaking. For example, the General Assembly has passed no fewer than 65 resolutions on Israel’s repression of the Palestinians. What has the UN done to enforce them? Precisely nothing. The UN is silent while Israel imposes collective punishment on Gaza and the West Bank, destroying power supplies, kidnapping and assassinating Palestinian political leaders at will. So much for the article in the UN Charter on the rights of countries to self-determination. It remains a dead letter as far as the Palestinians are concerned. In recent years, the UN has taken to promoting the alleged virtues of the global market economy, trying to persuade the transnational corporations that they should direct their activities towards helping the 600 million children who live in families surviving on less than a $1 a day. The UN set development goals at a major conference around the millennium. Recently the UN admitted that since then the number of hungry people in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia has increased by tens of millions. Nearly 1 billion people live now in urban slums because the growth of the urban population is outpacing improvements in housing and the availability of productive jobs. Whichever way you look at it, the UN as it is presently constituted is simply a waste of space as far as the hungry and the oppressed of the world are concerned.

Paul Feldman, communications editor

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