During the last few months where issues surrounding Iraq have takencentre stage, threats by the United States on other institutions are notbeing discussed or are not being perceived. Foremost among these is the direct assault by the U.S. on the United Nations. The U.S. has, in the past, clearly articulated that the covenants and rules agreed to by the family of nations on this planet do not apply if they in any way affect domestic or foreign policy. So, forexample, when the case by Nicaraguaagainst the U.S. was decided in favour of Nicaragua at the International Court of Justice, the U.S. simply stated that the court had no jurisdiction over the matter. Likewise,theU.S.hasexempted itself fromany decision thatthe International Criminal Court maymake against U.S. citizens who areacting in anycapacity.
However, amore direct assault by the Bush administration on the UnitedNations is currently in play. Here the U.S. is offering only two solutions tothe current situation in Iraq for consideration. The first option is tohave the UN sanction a military attack on Iraq. The second option is for the
U.S. to commit the attack if the United Nations does not have the “spine” todo so. Considering the first option, one must remember that the fundamental tenets of the Charter of the UnitedNations call for peaceful resolution to conflict. Specifically, Articles 2.3 and 2.4 state:
2.3. All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.
2.4. All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat oruse of force against the territorialintegrity or political independence ofany state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.
Certainly, as has been articulated bynumerous commentators, there are anumber of peaceful avenues with respectto disarming Iraq. These options, ofcourse, would require the cooperation ofthe governments and corporations whichwere known to have supplied Iraq with the knowledge and technology to wage chemical warfare andtodevelopbiological warfare and nuclearcapabilities.Thislistincludes81companies in Germany and 24 in theU.S., all of which required export permits from their respective governments. These permits wereapproved at a time when the U.S. StateDepartment, European Union and UN investigators had determined that Iraq had used chemical warfare and weredeveloping both biological and nuclear weapons (go to the Science for Peace web site forreferences). Indeed, if Iraq was in violation of the NuclearNon-Proliferation Treaty,certainly the U.S. was also, both inits failure to eliminate its nuclear arsenal and in aiding Iraq in developing it own.
Thus, we see that the U.S. is attempting coerce the UN to settle the dispute by non-peaceful means where it is clear that such an action would reduce international peace and security. Such an action would make the UN irrelevant as an instrument ofinternational order and peace.
The alternative to the UN waging war is thatthe U.S. will proceed without a UN mandate.
This second option again creates a situationin which the UN is irrelevant. The SecurityCouncil cannot censure the U.S. nor can it restrain the U.S. since the U.S. has veto power over any decision. Even if the U.S. representative was asleep during such a vote, there would be no possibility of acting to disarm and/or sanction the U.S. given itsoverwhelming military dominance and thethreat of nuclear annihilation of anyone who would attempt to threaten the U.S.
Thus, I believe we are facing a significant change to the world system that was developed after World War II. That system has always conferred a level of decision-making or power on nations proportionate to the level of their military power; now that military power is even more highly concentrated – largely in the hands of a single nation – the possessor of this power is using and abusing that power unchecked. The only possibility of opposing international military ´rule of might’ imposed by a single nation lies in the people of the world opposing such actions, starting by preventing a war against Iraq. Given the global opposition to this aggression, a unique moment in history exists where the people of the world can prevent another war in which the heavily-armed take the resources of other nations by the dubious virtue of the ability to kill effectively.