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Hans Blix: U.N. Can Survive U.S. Assault

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.commondreams.org/views04/1130-27.htm Published Tuesday, November 30, 2004 by the Toronto Star U.N. Can Survive U.S. Assault In the end, American
    Message 1 of 2 , Dec 1, 2004
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      Published Tuesday, November 30, 2004 by the Toronto
      U.N. Can Survive U.S. Assault
      In the end, American attempts to discredit world body,
      security council will fail
      by Hans Blix

      The results of a review of the functioning of the
      U.N., conducted by a panel appointed by the
      Secretary-General Kofi Annan, will soon be on the
      table. That there is a need to discuss an array of
      questions is not in doubt � but the fact that the most
      powerful member of the organization shows disdain for
      it is not exactly conducive to a positive
      intergovernmental debate.

      We learned before the invasion of Iraq that in the
      view of the U.S. administration, the security council
      had the choice of voting with the U.S. for armed
      action � or being irrelevant. A majority on the
      council did not allow itself to be pushed into
      supporting the action, and the invasion took place.
      Many saw this as a loss of prestige for the council
      and as a crisis for the U.N.. In one way it was, and
      is. Institutions such as the security council are like
      instruments to be played.

      If members choose not to play or are completely out of
      tune, no marching music results. It is only when the
      construction of the instruments is found deficient or
      outmoded that repair is meaningful.

      The refusal last year of a majority of the security
      council to follow the tune that the U.S. wished the
      council to play can also be seen as the saving of the
      council's authority and respectability. How would the
      world look at the council today if it had endorsed an
      armed action to eradicate weapons of mass destruction
      � that did not exist and whose evidence was often
      concocted, even forged?

      Today most countries and most people consider the
      action launched in Iraq a grave error or worse, and
      much of American public opinion � perhaps even a
      majority � shares this view. Yet the new U.S.
      administration seems to take victory in the
      presidential election not only as support for strong
      positions and actions against terrorist threats
      (probably a justified interpretation), but also as
      support for its decision to launch the war on Iraq and
      for its disdainful attitude to the U.N..

      It is as if the U.N. had insulted the U.S. The
      Republican convention that renominated George Bush
      erupted in applause when the vice-president said that
      Mr. Bush would "never seek a permission slip to defend
      the American people". Fine, except that Iraq was not a
      threat, not a growing threat, and probably not even a
      distant threat.

      We also see an intense and large-scale campaign of
      vilification, depicting the U.N. as "corrupt" because
      the oil-for-food programme � instituted and supervised
      by the security council and its most powerful members,
      including the U.S. � enabled Iraq, the buyers of Iraqi
      oil and the sellers of products to Iraq, to siphon off
      money and pass it on illegally to Saddam Hussein's

      The fraud, although widely suspected and estimated at
      about a billion dollars a year in the media, was not
      easy for the program administration to track down and
      prove. The council and its members saw it with open
      eyes just as they saw the billions that flowed to
      Saddam from oil exports to neighbouring states. The
      program functioned as a reasonably effective break
      against the import of weapons and dual-use items,
      which was its major objective. Today it serves as a
      campaign platform against the U.N.. So long as the
      current climate remains, it is doubtful if any
      meaningful discussion about U.N. reform can be

      It has been suggested that in the review of the
      functioning of the U.N., an effort should be made to
      examine the circumstances in which the use of force
      can and should be authorized. Some would wish to see a
      greater use of the council's power to hold members to
      their duties to protect their own citizens: to
      intervene by force, if necessary, in situations of
      genocide, as in Rwanda or Darfur. Others want to
      search for a reformulation of article 51 of the
      charter, in order to give some room for pre-emptive
      action. I am not optimistic about charter amendments
      in either case, nor am I sure that they really are

      I also think it unlikely that any agreed language
      could be found that explicitly allows members to use
      force pre-emptively or preventively without
      authoriZation of the security council. It is more
      likely that an answer to the problem will slowly
      emerge through precedents. It is also important, as
      Kofi Annan has noted, that the security council
      actively considers and monitors threats posed by
      possible weapons of mass destruction, giving all
      members the feeling that the issue is taken seriously
      and that there is a readiness to take joint action,
      where there is convincing evidence of a threat that is
      significant and near in time.

      The security council remains potentially a vital
      institution. The Iraq war has demonstrated the
      handicap that followed from not acting with its

      For greater legitimacy, the security council needs to
      represent a large part of the world's population,
      hence a need for the presence in the council of the
      most populous countries in all continents. One
      argument, not infrequently advanced, I find totally
      objectionable: that those states that pay the greatest
      contributions to the U.N. budget should merit a seat.
      The seats should not be for sale.

      Hans Blix is the former U.N. chief weapons inspector.
      This is an edited excerpt from a speech given last
      week at the University of Cambridge.

      � 2004 The Toronto Star
    • Ram Lau
      And I wonder why the liberal media ignored Blix and the speech altogether. I think I m just dumb. Ram
      Message 2 of 2 , Dec 1, 2004
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        And I wonder why the "liberal" media ignored Blix and the speech
        altogether. I think I'm just dumb.

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