'war cries' get louder
NEW YORK- A new war in the Middle East seems inevitable. Perhaps
only a political miracle can prevent such a military catastrophe.
The war cries were even louder last week when the US Congress - comprising
the House of Representatives and the Senate - overwhelmingly voted
in favour of authorising President George W. Bush to use military
force against Iraq.
the vote came at about the same time the Nobel Peace Prize Committee
named a former US President, Jimmy Carter, winner of this year's
peace prize for his dedicated efforts to promote peace in several
politically troubled and war-ravaged countries in Africa, Asia,
the Middle East, Europe and Latin America. Carter, who was president
from 1976 to 1980, was always hailed as a man of peace and a president
with high moral standing. But morality and peace do not win votes
in a country where the military industrial complex is one of the
most powerful lobbies.
a one-term president who lost to Ronald Reagan, a Republican president
who is now the political role model for Bush.
presidency followed the agonising years of the Vietnam war that
shell-shocked a nation which vowed never to send its soldiers to
battle except in the defence of its own territorial borders and
war in the Middle East- like the war in Vietnam - has once again
split public opinion in the US. A massive peace rally in New York's
sprawling Central Park last Sunday was an indication of the strong
opposition to the war.
The New York
Times reported "that those old enough to know said that the
Central Park rally drew a larger crowd than similar gatherings in
the mid-1960s by those who did not want the US to get further involved
the fact that some of the major beneficiaries of the war would be
giant oil companies such as Exxon and British Petroleum, one demonstrator
carried a sign which read: "Exxonerate" and "BPrepared."
The demonstrations and public opinion polls show the wide gulf between
mainstream America and the political establishment.
Now that Bush
has Congressional authority, the only other thing needed to legitimise
a war with Iraq is the blessings of the UN Security Council. But
Bush has made it very clear that he is willing to ignore the world
body if it refuses to give him the authority he is seeking. With
the US Congress out of the way, the focus now shifts to the United
For over two
weeks now, the United States has been holding closed door negotiations
with the remaining four veto-wielding members of the Security Council-
Britain, France, China and Russia- trying to force a resolution
sanctioning a military attack on Iraq. But the negotiations have
bogged down primarily because France is insisting on two resolutions:
the first one laying down stringent conditions for arms inspections
inside Iraq, and a second one authorising the use of military force
if and when Iraq refuses to cooperate with UN arms inspectors.
The US is insisting
that there should be only one resolution, which will permit Washington
to automatically invade Baghdad if Iraqi President Saddam Hussein
reneges on his pledge to cooperate with UN arms inspectors. Bush
says that one of the reasons for the proposed attack is Iraq's defiance
of the Security Council and its refusal to implement some 16 UN
resolutions, including one demanding the return of all prisoners
of war and renouncing involvement with terrorism and terrorist organisations.
But a new study
by Stephen Zunes, associate professor of politics at the University
of San Francisco, and Middle East editor of Foreign Policy in Focus,
shows that countries other than Iraq are currently violating more
than 90 Security Council resolutions. "The vast majority of
these resolutions are being violated by allies of the United States
that receive US military, economic and diplomatic support. Indeed,
the US has effectively blocked the UN Security Council from enforcing
these resolutions against its allies," he said last week.
a list compiled by Zunes, Israel is in defiance of 31 Security Council
resolutions (and more than 70, if General Assembly resolutions are
included), Turkey has refused to implement 23 and Morocco 18. All
three countries have received billions of dollars in American military
and economic aid over the last two decades.
the United Nations legitimately authorise the use of military force
against a country that violates or defies Security Council resolutions?
John Burroughs of the Lawyers' Committee on Nuclear Policy says
that many countries have defied UN and Security Council resolutions
under very similar circumstances. But the United Nations has not
used force against them.
resisted UN condemnation of apartheid over decades. India and Pakistan
have failed to comply with a recent Security Council resolution
demanding that they end their nuclear weapons programmes.
Burroughs said, India has ignored a Security Council resolution
calling for a UN-supervised plebiscite in the disputed territory
of Kashmir. And Israel has been one of the worst offenders- and
a serial violator of Security Council resolutions.