Friday, March 21, 2008


Deterring Democracy Copyright © 1991, 1992 by Noam Chomsky. Published by South End Press.
Chapter 6: Nefarious Aggression Segment 9/14
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5. The U.N. Learns to Behave

The United Nations came in for some unaccustomed praise. Under the headline "The UN's coming of age," the editors of the Boston Globe hailed "a signal change in the history of the organization," a new mood of responsibility and seriousness as it backed U.S. initiatives to punish the aggressor.39 Many others also lauded this welcome departure from the shameful pattern of the past.

The salutary change in U.N. practices was attributed to the improved behavior of the Soviet enemy and the U.S. victory in the Cold War. A Globe news report states that "Moscow's quick condemnation of the [Iraqi] invasion freed the UN Security Council, long paralyzed by superpower rivalry, to play a critical role" in responding to the aggression. Times correspondent R.W. Apple writes that Washington is "leaning harder in its policy-making on the United Nations, now more functional than in decades because of the passing of the cold war." A Times editorial hailed the "wondrous sea change" as the U.N. finally gets serious, silencing "most of its detractors" and allowing President Bush to pursue his noble effort to create a "new world order to resolve conflicts by multilateral diplomacy and collective security." In the Washington Post, John Goshko reviewed the background for this "rare moment for the United Nations," which "is suddenly working the way it was designed to," "transformed" into an agency for world peace "after years of being dismissed as a failure and a forum for Third World demagoguery" during "the long Cold War rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union and their allies." The original conception of the U.N. as guardian of a peaceful world "was thwarted from the outset by the bitter Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. In those early years, the images of the United Nations that became engraved on the world's consciousness were of grim-faced Soviet ambassadors casting vetoes or storming out of Security Council meetings," while the new Third World members "turned the [General] Assembly into a forum for frequently shrill, anti-Western rhetoric." "Then, about two years ago, a change began to set in as the result of the détente-oriented changes in Soviet foreign policy." The Post's leading political commentator, David Broder, added his imprimatur:

During the long Cold War years, the Soviet veto and the hostility of many Third World nations made the United Nations an object of scorn to many American politicians and citizens. But in today's altered environment, it has proved to be an effective instrument of world leadership, and, potentially, an agency that can effect both peace and the rule of law in troubled regions.
A critical analysis of Administration policy in the New York Review by George Ball opens: "With the end of the cold war and the onset of the Gulf crisis, the United States can now test the validity of the Wilsonian concept of collective security -- a test which an automatic Soviet veto in the Security Council has precluded for the past forty years." In a BBC report on the U.N., editor Mark Urban says: "Time and again during the Cold War, the Kremlin used its veto to protect its interests from the threat of UN intervention. As long as the answer was `Nyet,' Council debates remained adversarial." But now "the Soviet attitude is quite different," with the economy facing collapse and "with a leader who believes in cooperation."40

We are to understand, then, that superpower rivalry, Russian obstructionism and the persistent Soviet veto, and the psychic disorders of the Third World had prevented the U.N. from meeting its responsibilities in the past.

These themes were sounded in dozens of enthusiastic articles, all with one notable feature: no evidence was adduced to support what are, apparently, to be understood as self-evident truths. There are ways to determine why the U.N. had not been able to function in its peacekeeping role. It is only necessary to review the record of Security Council vetoes and isolated negative votes in the General Assembly. A look at the facts explains quickly why the question was shelved in favor of self-serving political theology.

The U.S. is far in the lead since 1970 in vetoing Security Council resolutions and rejecting General Assembly resolutions on all relevant issues. In second place, well behind, is Britain, primarily in connection with its support for the racist regimes of southern Africa. The grim-faced ambassadors casting vetoes had good English accents, while the USSR was regularly voting with the overwhelming majority.41 U.S. isolation would, in fact, have been more severe, were it not for the fact that its enormous power kept major issues from the U.N. agenda. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was bitterly and repeatedly censured, but the U.N. was never willing to take on the U.S. war against Indochina.

The U.N. session just preceeding the "wondrous sea change" (Winter 1989-90) can serve to illustrate. Three Security Council resolutions were vetoed: a condemnation of the U.S. attack on the Nicaraguan Embassy in Panama (U.S. veto, Britain abstained); of the U.S. invasion of Panama (U.S., U.K., France against); of Israeli abuses in the occupied territories (U.S. veto). There were two General Assembly resolutions calling on all states to observe international law, one condemning the U.S. support for the contra army, the other the illegal embargo against Nicaragua. Each passed with two negative votes: the U.S. and Israel. A resolution opposing acquisition of territory by force passed 151 to 3 (U.S., Israel, Dominica). The resolution once again called for a diplomatic settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict with recognized borders and security guarantees, incorporating the wording of U.N. resolution 242, and self-determination for both Israel and the Palestinians in a two-state settlement; the U.S. has been barring such a settlement, virtually alone as the most recent vote indicates, since its January 1976 veto of this proposal, advanced by Syria, Jordan, and Egypt with the backing of the PLO. The U.S. has repeatedly vetoed Security Council resolutions and blocked General Assembly resolutions and other U.N. initiatives on a whole range of issues, including aggression, annexation, human rights abuses, disarmament, adherence to international law, terrorism, and others.42

Go to the next segment.

39 Editorial, BG, Aug. 8, 1990.

40 Pamela Constable et al., BG, Aug. 20; Apple, NYT, Aug. 21; editorial, NYT, Sept. 24; Goshko, Broder, WP weekly, Sept. 3; Ball, NYRB, Dec. 6; BBC "Newsnight," Nov. 29, 1990, circulated by M.T.S. (Defence Information), Newton-le-Willows, Merseyside.

41 From 1970 through 1989, the U.S. vetoed 45 Security Council resolutions alone, 11 others with the U.K., four with the U.K. and France. Britain had 26 negative votes (11 with the U.S., 4 with the U.S. and France). France had 11 (7 alone) and the USSR 8 (one with China). Records obtained by Norman Finkelstein. In 1990, the U.S. added two more vetoes: on Panama (see chapter 5, note 19), and on Israeli abuses in the occupied territories (May 31). Thus 58 "Noes" from 1970 through 1990.

42 See chapter 3, section 4; chapters 2, 5; my article in Z magazine, January 1990. For further discussion, see Necessary Illusions, 82ff. and Appendix IV, sec. 4; Norman Finkelstein, Z magazine, Nov. 1990; Cheryl Rubenberg, Arab Studies Quarterly, Fall 1989; Nabeel Abraham, American-Arab Affairs, Winter 1989-90. KEYWORDS terrorist democracy elections cia mossad bnd nsa covert operation 911 mi6 inside job what really happened wtc pentagon joint chiefs of staff jcs centcom laser hologram usa mi5 undercover agent female sex exploitation perception deception power anarchy green social democratic participation japanese spy black-op false flag gladio terror.

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