|They still don't get it
In its April 21 edition the liberal weekly magazine, the Nation, presents a
panel on strategies for the US antiwar movement.
discussion illustrates how little effect the monumental events of the past
months have had on US leftist intellectuals. David Cortright, who convenes
the panel, outlined in August of last year a popular strategy to "Stop the
War Before It Starts." Given the announced intention of the Bush
administration to invade Iraq, Cortright and others promoted Iraq's
disarmament by the United Nations as the means to head off the impending US
war. Major political campaigns were initiated in the US to promote the UN
weapons inspections. Bishop Tutu at the huge February 15th rally in New York
City demanded, "Let inspections work!" This strategy was widely supported in
the US peace movement as the most realistic perspective to stop the US war
But not only did the UN disarmament program not produce peace, it played a
critical role in legitimizing the Bush administration's "Weapons of Mass
Destruction" hoax. With Resolution 1441 the United Nations Security Council
unanimously denounced Iraq's failure to prove it did not possess WMD, and
demanded a return of weapons inspections. This UN Security Council mandate
against Iraq was effectively used by the US administration to escalate the
diplomatic isolation of Iraq. After two months of unfettered access within
Iraq and finding no evidence of functioning biological or chemical weapons
programs, the UN's chief weapons inspector Hans Blix declared that Iraq had
still failed to comply. Who can ever forget the UN's Mr. Blix demanding Iraq
destroy rockets that exceeded the UN established limits by five miles, as an
immeasurably greater and deadlier arsenal of weapons gathered in the Persian
Gulf to attack Iraq. The broadly promoted faith in the United Nations'
disarmament scheme as a counterweight to the US war drive proved a cruel
betrayal of the people of Iraq.
In the chilling passage below David Cortright reveals his response to the
Bush war agenda.
"We support the disarmament of Iraq, North Korea and other nations regarded
by the international community as potential proliferators. We favor vigorous
UN weapons inspections to verify disarmament."
"The policies we have supported for the peaceful disarmament of
Iraq--rigorous inspections, targeted sanctions and multilateral coercive
diplomacy--can and should be applied universally to rid the world of weapons
of mass destruction. Nations that refuse to comply with verified disarmament
requirements should be subjected to targeted sanctions and coercive
diplomatic pressures from the UN and other regional security organizations."
Cortright is not in solidarity with the people of Iraq or the world
threatened by US imperial power. In his scheme for disarmament he
conveniently fails to point his attention to the most obvious proliferator
and user of weapons of mass destruction. Beneath the thin veneer of this
pacifist jargon lies an enthusiastic support for US diplomatic, economic and
military aggression. In the wake of the invasion of Iraq we favor
multilateral coercive diplomacy! We favor sanctions! We favor vigorous
inspections! For Cortright the violation of the sovereign rights of the
people Iraq by the United States and the United Nations Security Council
should be applied universally.
The demand for the UN return to Iraq
While some of the panelists reject some of Cortright's politics, they all
express agreement with the notion that "the antiwar movement must insist ...
that the UN be re-introduced as a peacemaking body." This continued support
of the United Nations is the most depressing evidence yet, that the
"leaders" of the US antiwar movement have not developed even the most rudimentary
understanding of the war on Iraq.
Anyone who promotes the UN as a venue for Iraqi freedom, or Iraqi health, or
Iraqi sovereignty is either ignorant or consciously covering up the
twelve-year history of UN-sanctions against Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of
Iraqis have lost their lives because of UN sanctions. The UN intervention
was so bad in Iraq that three top UN officials resigned. First Denis Halliday
in 1998, the first administrator of the Oil-for-Food program, the supposedly
"humanitarian" program designed to cover up the theft of Iraq's oil by the
United Nations. The next year, his successor, Hans von Sponek resigned,
along with the head of the World Food Program, and they too characterized UN
sanctions in Iraq as genocide. Those who advocate the UN as the
rainbow-after-the-storm for Iraq can only do so by consciously ignoring the
record of the United Nations intervention in Iraq.
The UN as a peacemaking body in Iraq? What happened to the troops assigned
to the UN demilitarized zone between Iraq and Kuwait? With the arrival of
military forces in Kuwait intent on violating the sovereignty of Iraq these
peacemakers were ordered by Kofi Annan to pick up and leave their posts! On
the "humanitarian" front, the UN began pulling out its administrators from
Iraq weeks before the invasion abandoning millions of Iraqis dependent on UN
administered food programs. Now the people of Iraq again face the prospect
of economic strangulation and starvation, which in the aftermath of the 1991
war, proved just as deadly, but more persistent than exploding US ordinance.
Iraq today faces a combined assault of US military forces and a broad array
of sharks intent on getting a piece of the reconstructing Iraq racket. Both
will cynically converge around the banner of using Iraq's oil money to save
the suffering people of Iraq. The UN Security Council has restarted the Oil
for Food Program under Kofi Annan's direction, thereby reasserting its claim
over Iraqi oil revenues and ensuring Iraq remains the largest single
employer of UN staff people. The US capitalists, international banking institutions
and the UN agencies all have ambitious (and to a certain degree competing)
plans for Iraq. The US military administration of Iraq is intent on proving
its commitment to the poor suffering people of Iraq, by spending Iraq's
money on any and all programs deemed necessary by these imperial humanitarians. As
we are continually reminded, Iraq is not like Afghanistan, it has something
Along with the demand for the immediate withdraw of Coalition occupation
forces, the international antiwar movement should stand with the people of
Iraq against this feeding frenzy of international capital circling Iraq. We
stand against the theft of Iraq's oil at the point of a gun by Bush & Co.
and call for an end to Iraq as a cash cow for the United Nations. We demand
respect for the sovereign rights of the Iraqi people.
Campaign to End the Sanctions