GlocalEye is Muqtedar Khan's Column on global affairs. It seeks to understand the simultaneous impact of globalization and localization.
Editors: This is a self syndicated
Dr. Muqtedar Khan is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Adrian College in Michigan. He earned his Ph.D. in International Relations, Political Philosophy, and Islamic Political Thought, from Georgetown University in May 2000.
Dr. Khan's column has appeared in The Wall Street, Dawn International (Pakistan), Daily Times (Pakistan), Outlook India (India), The Muslim Gazette (India), Nagasaki Post (Japan), The Daily Telelegraph (London), Manila Times (Philippines), Jordan Times (Jordan), Aljazeera (Qatar), The Daily Telegram, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Examiner, Detroit Free Press, Detroit News, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Muslim Democrat, I Theglobalist.com, Beliefnet.com, Arabies Trends (France), Al-Mustaqbal (Lebanon), Lebanon Daily Star, and many other periodicals world wide.
the UN vetoes the US,
President Bush is
determined to attack Iraq. It is also clear that if he cannot convince, he
will bully the international community into compliance with his wishes.
First Bush and now Powell have threatened that UN Security Council by
stating that “it risks irrelevance” if it fails to join the US. Their
argument runs as follows:
Iraq is in “material
breach” of UN Security Council resolution 1441 and therefore unless the
UN immediately goes to war against Iraq to impose this resolution, it will
lose its international influence. If the UN vetoes US military action, it
will become irrelevant because Washington is determined to attack Iraq,
with or without the UN.
The irony, hypocrisy
and absurdity of this position seems to escape most American commentators.
The US is determined to go along with International Law if it concurs with
it or else the US is determined to break international law to impose
international law (1441)! If the US violates any UN resolution how is its
position different from that of Iraq’s. Both will be in breach of UN
Apparently the UN’s
relevance is contingent upon its subservience to US policies. How can the
administration ignore that in the eyes of many Americans (65% according to
a recent Los Angeles Times survey) a UN approval is necessary. For Tony
Blair, who is supporting the war on Iraq in spite of 80% opposition from
the British public, British democracy and his own people are irrelevant
but the UN still matters as even he --- the lion hearted poodle – is
reluctant to accompany Bush on this new crusade.
seem to be under the illusion that America is world community. Yes, the US
is the sole super power; it has zillions of nuclear bombs and great stacks
of chemical and biological weapons and hundreds of thousands of missiles
and planes and can kill the entire human race many times over. Sure it has
power. But America is not the world. Even if America thinks the UN is
irrelevant, there are over 2oo countries who know that today in this
unipolar world the only thing that stands between America’s weapons of
mass destruction and them is the UN.
Thousands of innocent
Iraqi civilians will die by the smart weapons that the Bush administration
is so eager to launch at them. Right now only the UN stands between them
and the US.
Even if the US attacks
Iraq, the Iraqis who survive will still have the UN to thank for the extra
months (oh no! weeks not months) that they got to spend with their near
and dear ones. Who can predict where America’s smart bombs will land. In
Belgrade they landed on the Chinese embassy, in Afghanistan on a wedding
party. Will the UN ever be irrelevant to a father who could hug his child
for a few extra weeks? We know that American lives are worth far, far more
than those of the miserable Iraqis, Madeline Albright told us that when
she justified sanctions which killed half a million Iraqi children. But to
an Iraqi, her family matters and the UN is as relevant as the future of
her dear ones.
In spite of its
rhetoric, the Bush administration recognizes the relevance and
significance of the UN in a world so intricately interdependent. That was
the principal reason why they went to the world body. Bush did not go to
the UN as a charitable gesture to the world. He has already expressed his
total disregard for “others” and his determination to do whatever he
thinks he needs to do.
He went to the UN for two things – legitimacy and post war reconstruction support. The American economy is on downward spiral. The federal and state budgets are in deficits, unemployment and debt is on the rise. America cannot afford to spend billions of dollars to rebuild Iraq and plant democracy there as it promises. It needs the EU to help pay for Iraq’s reconstruction.
all it needs legitimacy in this war to enjoy multilateral support in the
war on terror. If the Bush administration thinks it can thumb its nose at
the world and ride its hobbyhorse, it will have a non-multilateral world
and an “irrelevant UN” in the real war on terror that it must fight
regardless of what happens in Iraq.
Moreover if the UN
capitulates to the US it will be seen as just another Tony Blair. It will
lose its significance. By opposing the sole super power the UN will gain
in prestige and significance for the rest of the world.
The US has prevented
the UN from enforcing several resolutions against Israel for decades, has
that made the UN insignificant? Sure the UN cannot enforce its writ unless
the major powers motivated by self-interest act in concert. But one thing
is for sure the UN can give or strip a country’s international actions
of their legitimacy. It can make American actions illegal or legal in the
eyes of the international community. If the US attacks Iraq against the
will of the UN, it will be against the will of the world and illegitimate.
In a civilized world
the UN will remain significant as long as it represents world opinion. It
is not the US that determines its relevance, but a shared global vision of
peace and international legal and humanitarian order that makes it the
beacon of hope and harmony that it is. If we choose to part ways with this
global vision, it is we who stand to lose, and not the rest of the 5.75
billion people on this planet.