Monday 6 February 2012

Syria: And the UN

Thinking about the previous post.

President George W.Bush never had much time for the UN. He didn't think much of its power, its history or its purpose.

"Are Security Council resolutions to be honoured and enforced or cast aside without consequence? Will the United Nations serve the purpose of its founding or will it be irrelevant?"
George Bush asked the council, in 2002.

This was his speech before the UN that later resulted in the adaptation of the now infamous resolution 1441. We forget that George won that resolution to send in much more powerful weapons inspectors and all the rest, unanimously. All 15 members of the UN security council voted in favour. And Syria was on that security council.

George W. Bush, incredibly, may have been right. The UN was, and is, a self interest club, where the top dogs jealously guard their power. China's place as a member of the 5 permanent members of the UN security council, albeit deserved today, was just an accident. Or at least an anomaly.
China was granted a place at the victors of WW2 table by President Roosevelt because the USA had long had a love affair with China. They were always hoping to have a powerful ally on the far side of the pacific.
The other permanent members disagreed. Britain especially so. China was weak, military insignificant and fighting a civil war. But the USA argued that so was France, and they were getting a seat. Anyway, who else was there? Germany and Japan were the two most likely to have got on if they hadn't just been completely destroyed in the recent war. India was still {just} a part of the British empire, not even an independent nation. Canada/Australia/New Zealand had small economies and tiny military compared to the superpowers. So China it was.

All the fuss about Tony Blair and the second resolution for war. Who was he really asking permission from? Those democratic bastions of enlightenment China? Russia? Zimbabwe? Nigeria? Libya? Saudi Arabia? Saint Kitts and Nevis? Blair needed the decision from the UN to legitimise his own push for war.
Bush didn't really care. He'd got an agreement that Iraq was not following instructions and that was good enough for him. He didn't need anything more from the UN. Some memoirs say he didn't seek any more either. It was all Tony's idea to try for that second, failed, resolution.
George was content to have a few allies sending in medical teams or marching bands. The US was going in whatever the UN said. Because to President Bush and his team the UN was a waste of time. Just something for the newspapers to get all worked up about.

The recent decision of the security council to veto even the very mild 'asking President Bashar Assad to stand down and allow a coalition government to begin talks' shows the UN in a very bad light.
If nations cannot agree to even ask the question, not apply sanctions, note, or threaten invasion, just to begin looking for a way to end the violence, then what hope is there of the UN doing anything about anything?

In George Bush's last speech to the UN in 2008 he "Called on the UN to enforce sanctions against Iran and North Korea over their nuclear programmes...A few nations — regimes like Syria and Iran — continue to sponsor terror. Yet their numbers are growing fewer, and they’re growing more isolated from the world."

Its beyond ridiculous that the latest UN Security veto has made one of the least popular, least correct on any issue, people in the western world, George Bush jnr, appear to possibly have had a point.


alan said...

The USA wanted to invade Iraq. Period.

The US was hoping the UN inspectors would prove Iraq had WMD's and therefore legitimize an invasion.

The UN inspectors were initially given the full support of the CIA and other intelligence agencies (sat imagery & analysis).

Suddenly the US pulled all support away from the UN inspectors, who then could not prove WMD sites had been dismantled.

Mossad came of the aid of the UN inspectors and provided the much needed imaging & analysis support.

The UN inspectors & Mossad came to the conclusion that Iraq had decommissioned all of its WMD's.

The US did several end runs around the UN to try and make the invasion legal.

There is good evidence that the US (under Bush at least) had complete contempt for the UN.

I assume, BQ, that you have not read the Project for the New American Century. Which, to crudely summarize, documented the USA's divine right to rule the world.

Its easy to complain about the UN, but the invasion of Iraq came at an extremely heavy cost in human life. Over 1 million Iraq's were killed in the process. ~100,000 due to military action and roughly 1 million due to the collapse of civil order, infighting, lack of heathcare etc.

So to summarise. The reasons to invade Iraq were a known lie. Removing Saddam from power turned into a blood bath. Doesnt that support the case of the UN? and show Bush was, at best, a fool?

Nick Drew said...

Newsnight helpfully followed up on the Russia / China thing last night

The usually quite good Mark Urban didn't have much to offer

the Russian pretty much said: it's all very silly (or perhaps, you are all very silly) and your resolution was impractical anyway, and we are not particularly supporting Assad anyhow, and after a bit more time in the smoke-filled room we will let you have a resolution, maybe next week

Bill Quango MP said...

Alan: I'm not trying to imply that the US went to war in Iraq for any reasons other than their own. There is more than enough documentation, The point was more that they felt they had no real need to justify their actions to the UN. In Britain the UN took on an almost divine status, way beyond law..
The very word of God.

I was pointing out that in reality the UN is a club of maybe only 40 countries out of 240 odd where an election could reasonably assured to be fair.

rwendland said...

Trouble is the United Nations Security Council function under the Charter is "the maintenance of international peace and security", ie disputes between states. Getting involved in civil wars, and regime-change, is political stretch by some members, outside its remit really.

My recollection for including China is, largely, they wanted an Asian UNSC member. The other four were 3 (arguable 2.5) European states, and a european oriented American state. The UN Charter says UNSC membership should have "equitable geographical distribution", so the fifth had to be Asian or African, and given India was not an independent state then, China was the obvious one.

Budgie said...

I visited the UN building in the 1970s. I was amazed even then at the blatant 'revolutionary' marxism (small 'm' to include Trotskyists, Maoists etc etc) on display. The acme of humanity was apparently someone like Che Guevara. It reeked of evil statism and inhumanity. I have no reason to think it has changed.

James Higham said...

That love affair with China manifesting itself in Nixon's time.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it just the Sunni and Shi'ites Muslims at each other's throats, as they have been for 100s of years? You can't have a resolution about how many angels fit on a pinhead!