Revolutionary Worker #1175, November 17, 2002, posted at http://rwor.org
On November 8, the United Nations Security Council approved the U.S. resolution threatening Iraq. Their resolution demands that the Iraqi government immediately submit to a harsh, invasive campaign of inspections. This vote came after eight weeks of highly publicized bickering and back-door deal making, especially between the major powers of the Security Council--the United States, France, Russia and Britain.
In a radio address the morning after this UN vote, Bush said:
"This was an important week for our country and for the world. The United Nations Security Council voted for a resolution requiring the Iraqi regime to declare and destroy all weapons of mass destruction or face the consequences.... That is the judgment of the United Nations Security Council. That is the judgment of the United States Congress. And my administration will see to it that the world's judgment is enforced."
Bush claims the U.S. threats against Iraq now have the backing of the whole world. He will wave this UN resolution at the moment he unleashes his bombers and invaders. And in his other hand, he will wave last month's congressional resolution giving him war powers against Iraq. He will claim legitimacy--and will say this war is waged in the name of the people of the U.S. and the whole world.
These are intolerable and dangerous lies. And this is a moment to be extremely conscious and clear: The UN resolution was designed to disguise moves toward war as attempts at peace. The language of the UN is designed to disguise a U.S. power grab as some act of the "world community." The new inspection teams will be sent out to organize provocations and justifications for war.
The vote in the Security Council was unanimous--15-0 in favor of the U.S./ British resolution threatening Iraq. This proves at least one thing: a ruthless, determined superpower can (for the moment at least) arm-twist 15 other oppressive governments into endorsing its madness.
However, there is no legitimacy in this war--no matter what the UN or the U.S. Congress say. The U.S. government has no right to launch this unprovoked attack on the small Third World nation of Iraq.
Their attack and takeover in Iraq would be a profound injustice no matter who formally approves it. It would be a crime against the people of Iraq--but it will also be a dangerous step in a far larger scheme affecting the whole planet. The U.S. moves in the Persian Gulf represent a power grab in a highly strategic area -- aimed at forcefully recasting the power relations and economic arrangements of the whole world.
If the shameful governments in the UN want to crown President George Bush as their Emperor--then we must make it clear that they don't speak for us or for the world. If the U.S. Congress, including those slippery pro-war Democrats, want to grovel before this frat-rat and hand him a blank check to attack Iraq-- then it is all the more reason to step up the resistance and say NOT IN OUR NAME.
UN Inspections: A Trigger for War, A Cover for Aggression
There are forces in the world who claim that this resolution "constrains" (holds back) the U.S. Some claim that the U.S. has been forced to recognize international institutions and the opinions of other powers. And some claim that the UN has given Iraq "one last chance for peace."
This was, not surprisingly, the position of the UN ambassador of France's conservative government. He said the UN Security Council vote was a victory since now the U.S. would not be acting "unilaterally." France, this diplomat said, had demanded that the U.S. government recognize the UN as a world forum and now this had been successfully done, he added.
In a wild stretch of the imagination, Syria's Minister of Information said that his government's UN ambassador had voted for this resolution to "eliminate the U.S. right to go to war against Iraq." Syria's government is the only Arab country represented on the Security Council, and it was shocking to the world and to the Arab people that Syria had voted to approve this UN resolution.
In fact the UN resolution does not "constrain" the U.S. war machine at all. The war preparations are going into place, and Bush is very clear that he feels free to launch this war no matter what anyone else says.
The heart of the resolution is a long list of provocative demands on the Iraq government, and then a hair-trigger system of launching war if Iraq violates any of these demands in any way. Since the demands are designed to be impossible to meet--this is not a plan for avoiding war, it is a plan for justifying war.
Specifically, this resolution is designed to create a casus belli --a legal excuse for war. The White House claims they don't need a new casus belli --they insist that they have the right to "preemptively" attack countries for things they might do in the future. This unprecedented theory of aggression is very disturbing to other countries--and it is hard for European and Arab governments to support such an unprovoked aggression. So this resolution was created, at the UN, as an elaborate scheme of maneuvers--designed to make a calculated, pre-planned U.S. act of aggression seem like a justified response to something Iraq is about to do.
What this resolution does not do is change the unjust nature of this war.
Iraq has just seven days from yesterday's vote to accept the resolution. By Dec. 8 it must provide a full and accurate list of its unconventional weapons programs. A new round of inspections must begin no more than 15 days later, with full Iraqi cooperation.
The Security Council resolution makes provocative and unreasonable demands on Iraq that no government has ever accepted --and Iraq is ordered to accept these demands, formally and unconditionally, within one week.
Iraq is ordered to produce a list of its major weapons programs and deployments within 30 days, by December 8 --including complete inventories of biological and chemical weapons, facilities for nuclear research, and missile systems.
Iraq is ordered to allow UN inspection teams and troops to enter their country, and go anywhere they want, starting no later than December 23--including key military bases and even the residences of Iraq's president. The teams are expected to be roaming Iraq before Christmas--while U.S. planes circle overhead practicing future bombing runs.
Iraq is ordered to accept "no fly" and "no-drive" zones--to literally shut down air and land traffic wherever the inspectors go.
Iraq is ordered to provide lists of its military scientists on demand for interrogation. The resolution says UN inspectors "may facilitate the travel of those interviewed and family members outside of Iraq." It adds that these interrogations can take place without Iraqi government observers.
The resolution orders that "Iraq shall not take or threaten hostile acts directed against any representative or personnel of the United Nations or any member state taking action to uphold any council resolution." Since U.S. and British planes are included as instruments of the inspections teams and attack Iraq in the name of patrolling UN "no fly zones," this means that any Iraqi self-defense against ongoing bombings will now be an excuse for war.
Meanwhile, this resolution sets up a hair-trigger for approving U.S. military attack. The resolution threatens "serious consequences" (meaning war) if Iraq resists these demands. And the timetable for the UN inspections is structured to closely parallel the schedule of the U.S. war buildup. When the troops are in place, the UN resolution will create a framework for claiming that the long-planned attack is approved, justified and legitimate.
The U.S. government insisted on this language of "serious consequences." And everyone knows that the U.S. is prepared to say that the inclusion of these words in this UN resolution means that any attack the U.S. launches is already approved by the UN. The U.S. has agreed to participate in a discussion in the Security Council (to "consider the situation" is the resolution wording)--but the U.S. claims it does not need to have another vote for approving that war, and the UN resolution does not require another vote.
In addition, the UN resolution is purposefully vague about who, exactly, must document that Iraq is violating the UN demands. It is possible that the inspection teams can trigger a war, by simply announcing that Iraq is obstructing them. In addition, various U.S. "experts" are claiming that the UN resolution allows the U.S. government to make its own independent finding that Iraq is resisting, and for the U.S. to declare war--even if the inspectors and the Security Council don't agree.
The U.S. may, for example, declare that Iraq is lying when it hands over its list of weapons programs--and cite undisclosed "intelligence." Britain's government has already said that "significant omissions" from that list would be considered a "material breach" of the UN resolution.
Bush said after the UN vote: "America will be making only one determination: Is Iraq meeting the terms of the Security Council resolution or not? The United States has agreed to discuss any material breach with the Security Council, but without jeopardizing our freedom of action to defend our country. If Iraq fails to fully comply, the United States and other nations will disarm Saddam Hussein."
Repeatedly since this UN resolution was passed, President Bush has emphasized that it does not matter how small or petty the Iraqi noncompliance is. He said: "With the passage of this resolution, the world must not lapse into unproductive debates over whether specific instances of Iraqi noncompliance are serious. Any Iraqi noncompliance is serious..."
On TV, former inspectors give examples of previous problems that might now trigger war: A team enters a military base unannounced and demands a door be opened, and the Iraqi authorities can't find the guy with the right key at that moment. One reporter remembered that in previous inspections, the UN teams claimed that traffic jams could be considered signs of Iraqi obstruction.
In addition, this whole timetable of inspections is designed to serve the U.S. schedule for launching the war. Key U.S. military groups, including up to four aircraft carrier battle groups, are expected to be in the region by mid-December. The U.S. military wants to launch their war between Christmas and February- -to avoid fighting in Iraq's brutal summer heat.
So the UN Security Council has ordered their inspection teams, headed by Hans Blix, to make a report within 60 days of their arrival in Iraq--by mid-February. This is an extremely short timetable for inspecting a whole country--but it is plenty of time to organize provocations and unleash a war.
Finally, key parts of the demands may be impossible to meet. For example, Iraq has a huge oil and chemical refining industry--it may simply be impossible to produce a complete and accurate inventory of facilities within 30 days. "Even if the Iraqis wanted to comply, and I am not clear that they do, I doubt that they could comply with this resolution," said Denis Halliday, the former assistant general secretary of the United Nations who said the recent UN resolution included language "designed solely for a war by Mr. Bush."
In other words, this inspection system is designed to trigger war, not prevent it.
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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