Francis A. Boyle
504 E. Pennsylvania Ave.
Champaign, IL 61820 USA
(personal comments only)
From: Boyle, Francis
Sent: Tuesday, January 04, 2005 8:25 AM
To: 'AALS Section on Minority Grps. mailing list' ('AALS Section on Minority
Grps. mailing list')
Subject: U.N.: Uniting for Peace against Bush & NeoCons (Feddies too)
Copyright 2005 U.P.I.
All Rights Reserved
January 3, 2005 Monday 4:02 AM EST
LENGTH: 941 words
HEADLINE: Outside View: Making peace with the U.N.
BYLINE: GREG GUMA
DATELINE: BURLINGTON, Vt., Jan. 3
It's time for another round of that perennially popular political game --
bash the United Nations. Critics frequently complain about the world body's
irrelevance (actually code for a reluctance to rubber stamp whatever scheme
the United States is hawking) but the recent revisiting of Saddam Hussein's
manipulation of the Oil-for-Food program has prompted fresh cries for the
resignation of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Annan's real crime has little to do with corruption or weak U.N.
oversight, however. What really riles his opponents are occasional comments
implying that the Bush policy of pre-emptive war has set a dangerous
precedent, and may even violate international law.
Like others who have challenged the current U.S. administration, he has
been judged guilty of independent thought. In Bushworld, that is always
grounds for dismissal
For the "America makes the rules" crowd, the mere mention of
international law is enough to launch a rhetorical assault. The basic thrust
of the neo-conservative movement is that global rules, and the structures
supporting them, are a nuisance at best and, in most cases, merely a cover
for anti-U.S. forces to hamstring the mission of the world's only
Since 2000, the International Criminal Court and Kyoto Protocol, not to
mention the Geneva Convention, have been targeted as, in some way or other,
antagonistic to U.S. interests. That President George W. Bush's choice for
attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, called the Geneva Convention "quaint"
and "obsolete" -- in the context of the al-Qaida detainees -- underlines a
basic contempt for the global consensus that has evolved over the last half
Beneath the snide commentary -- including the twisted notion that having
the United Nations in New York has been an act of generosity -- lurks a
nagging insecurity. What most U.S. policy-makers know, but rarely
acknowledge, is that one of the only things standing between the United
States and massive global condemnation is its veto power in the U.N.
Security Council. Basically, this means the United States can block any
proposal it doesn't like, and then blame the United Nations for failing to
Still, no matter how loudly the anti-U.N. crowd screams -- from calling
for the United States to hold back on dues to lobbying for withdraw -- this
global forum isn't going away. And its agenda, however flawed the execution
at times, is actually more consistent with the views of most people, even in
the United States than the Bush league's cowboy unilateralism. For most
people, respecting human rights, protecting the environment, and working
within a framework of international standards makes more sense than leaving
these matters to the player with the most money and biggest stick.
Reform at the United Nations is certainly needed, beginning with the
Security Council. Resentment has been growing against the idea that major
decisions should be made by the five veto-wielding permanent members of the
council -- the United States, Great Britain, France, China and Russia.
Arguing that the so-called "Big Five" are no longer the only players that
deserve a permanent seat at that table, Brazil, Germany, India and Japan,
among others, are making a case to join that group.
During a recent visit to Japan, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder
insisted that countries eyeing a permanent seat should have the same veto
power as the current five. He even invited two unspecified African nations
to make a bid. The United States backs Japan as a new permanent member, but
hasn't made it clear whether that includes veto power. Japan says it is
willing to forego that privilege.
Schroeder also noted that Berlin and Tokyo contribute about one-third of
the United Nations' budget and "must secure the United Nations' ability to
tackle the enormous challenges of security and stability."
Francis A. Boyle, professor of international law at the University of
Illinois, argues that the U.N. General Assembly needs to invoke its own
"Uniting for Peace Resolution" -- which superseded Security Council action
in 1950 on the crisis in South Korea -- against the Bush administration and
sanction it for international legal nihilism. "Otherwise, the United Nations
will go the same way the League of Nations did in the late 1930s, when it
failed to act against (dictators such as) Hitler, Mussolini, Tojo and
Stalin," he argues.
Another proposal worth considering is to require two permanent member
votes for a veto. That would eliminate the ability of any one country to
block action. At some point, even Great Britain will tire of being a U.S.
But if the neo-cons persist in attacking the U.N. secretary-general for
the mistakes or corruption of a few -- as if the Bush crew isn't vulnerable
for its "catastrophic success" in Iraq and Halliburton shenanigans -- let's
replace Annan with someone who is sensitive to U.S. concerns, yet respected
around the world. The obvious choice, one already being discussed in fact,
is Bill Clinton.
Now, that would be a dramatic global response to the recent U.S.
elections. The "Black Helicopter" crowd would have a field day, but it would
become a lot tougher to sell provincial hogwash.
( Greg Guma edits the Vermont Guardian, a statewide weekly
(vermontguardian.com), and Toward Freedom. He can be reached at
(United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by
outside contributors who specialize in a variety of issues. The views
expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In
the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)
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