UN-A Vital Cog in the War Machine

Revolutionary Worker #1186, February 9, 2003, posted at http://rwor.org

27 January 2003--AWTW News Service. Will the United Nations Security Council stop Bush from unleashing a war of mass destruction against Iraq? The short answer is no.

On January 27 the UN inspectors gave the Security Council a report on their discoveries after two months of scouring Iraqi military facilities, laboratories, private homes, mosques and chicken farms. Instead of a "smoking gun," they found only 11 old, empty chemical warheads. Saddam Hussein had let the inspectors go anywhere they wanted and talk to anyone. All that chief biological and chemical weapons inspector Hans Blix could muster against Iraq in his report was that it had not provided "full transparency" by turning over information on weapons Iraq claims not to have and about which Blix's men have not found any evidence. Blix's colleague, Mohamed ElBaradei, the chief atomic weapons inspector, reported that Iraq had no nuclear weapons programme. When the report was first leaked, enraged Bush circles attacked the UN team, calling them "the so-called UN inspectors" as if they themselves were hiding Iraqi weapons up their sleeves. But then the White House decided to make the best of the situation. If nothing had been found, they argued (with Blix snivelling agreement), that only proved that Iraq is hiding something. This is a new low in legal standards, even for the United States, where people are routinely put to death on the basis of false evidence, as the governor of Illinois himself recently admitted.

The UN ended up agreeing to give the inspectors until February 14 to come up with a new report. But what they might or might not turn up will not matter and was never the point. Colin Powell, the man reputed to be Bush's most "reasonable"-minded co-conspirator, has already pronounced judgement: "Inspections will not work."

That is indisputably true--the inspections could never "work" in the sense of achieving the US's aims in Iraq, what it calls "regime change," which means the replacement of Saddam Hussein by a more pliant puppet or US General Tommy Franks himself. Their aim is to install direct rule over Iraq reminiscent of how Britain ruled India. That has been the politics of this war--the outcome it seeks--since Bush first announced his intentions. The American press is talking seriously about stationing 100,000 US troops in Iraq for years to come.

But in another sense the inspectors and the UN process have "worked"--they have given the US a chance to claim that it tried to resolve the situation by peaceful means, without placing the slightest obstacle in Bush's murderous path. Even the European powers most vocally opposed to Bush, France and Germany, have done absolutely nothing to prevent this war and everything possible to perpetuate the whole UN charade.

When the US first submitted to the Security Council the resolution to send the inspectors, France at first refused to go along with it. At that time France said the resolution was a trick because it could easily be interpreted as an authorization for the US to launch the war whenever it wanted. France argued that only if the resolution explicitly required a second UN vote before any war could the US be prevented from doing as it pleased. But France and Germany ended up accepting Resolution 1441 anyway. Now, as predicted, Bush is arguing that indeed Resolution 1441 is all the US needs to go to war. This leaves France and Germany threatening to oppose a second resolution explicitly authorizing war--when the Bushites have announced that they have no intention of seeking such a resolution.

UN Resolution 1441, approved by every member of the Security Council, sanctioned Bush's basic principal that third world nations like Iraq have no rights that the imperialist powers are bound to respect.

It stripped Iraq of all national sovereignty. It accepted as its starting point Bush's big lie that Saddam Hussein represents more of a threat to the people of his country, the region and the world than Bush and the other big powers themselves (and Bush's nuke-wielding stand-in, that great "man of peace" as Bush called him, Ariel Sharon). "All the Europeans do think that Saddam Hussein has to be disarmed," European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solanas said January 26. "The position of the European Union is not far from the position of the United States."

All the permanent members of the Security Council have their own nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. The US has used nuclear weapons twice, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. On January 26, the White House categorically refused to rule out that it would use them again against Iraq. Yet the UN decreed that these powers can decide what weapons Iraq (and by implication any other weak country) will be allowed to have. Then it sent in the inspectors to make a public spectacle of trampling on and humiliating Iraq's national dignity.

Of course, in the name of God-given, all-conquering American "sovereignty," Bush never offered the UN and the European countries the chance to veto his war. All they could do at the UN was to veto a resolution. But they have not even done that much.

Why? To varying degrees, they oppose Bush's plans to make the US the absolute master of the Middle East and thus in a position to dictate to the people there and the European countries dependent on Middle Eastern oil as well. But they are afraid of being left out totally when it comes to dividing up the spoils after the war. They will settle for half a loaf rather than none. US government officials warned once again just before the inspectors' report that France risks being "marginalized" from the post- Iraq war Middle East. If France's TotalFinaElf wants to pump oil in Iraq, which holds the world's second largest oil reserves, it had better not make Bush too mad now. The same threats have been made against Russia (which stands to lose huge amounts of money owed it by Saddam in addition to its oil investments) and even China, which has a seat on the Security Council and its own stakes in Iraqi oil even though it is far from a member of the imperialist club. What is at stake for the European powers is much more than oil money. They risk being frozen out of the exploitation of the third world wherever the US has direct control. This is an alliance they can't afford to be left out of.

The US's close allies in its "coalition of the willing" are an international band of predators: the UK, the former colonial power in Iraq, seeking to obtain through a junior partnership with the US what it could not keep by its own military means; Spain, ruled by the political heir to US-backed fascist dictator Francisco Franco, a country increasingly thriving on Spanish penetration of Latin America while dependent on the US to enforce the robbery of the Latin American peoples; and Italy, where Berlusconi governs in coalition with the successor party to Mussolini's fascists, with historic interests in and designs on the Middle East that cannot prosper without US guns.

But Bush's European opponents are no less predators in their conduct in the oppressed countries of the world. Even more starkly, while talking peace they are facilitating and preparing the war.

It would be very difficult for the US to wage this war without using Germany as a staging area for American troops and air missions. But Chancellor Schroeder has declared the US's 60 air bases, army bases and other forward facilities it enjoys in Germany untouchable. In fact, German troops have been assigned to "protect" the 116,000 American soldiers stationed there. From what? Antiwar demonstrations? Germany is also helping out in other ways, such as flying AWACs military surveillance aircraft over Turkey to cover the US invasion force's flanks, and taking over from the US in leading the occupation of Afghanistan outside Kabul, freeing up the US for other adventures. German Green Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer talks as if he opposed US war plans, but he is doing everything in his power to prevent Germans from doing anything about it.

France's President Jacques Chirac may issue threats about UN resolutions, but in the previous weeks he told his French armed forces to mobilize for possible participation in the war and sent the nuclear aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle to the Middle East to facilitate French intervention. At the January 27 Security Council meeting, French Foreign Minister de Villepin said that the question was whether or not a war with Iraq would have the "legitimacy" of UN backing. In other words, if the US accepts giving France what American officials called "a seat at the table" when it comes time to divide up Iraq, it will willingly take part in the bloodbath.

Looked at in this light, the two week delay the UN Security Council members agreed on for the next report is not really about a new round of inspections but a new round of behind-the-scenes diplomatic horse trading while the US completes its troop build up in the Gulf.

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