Monday, June 19, 2006

Who needs it anyways? 

Last year president Chavez gave a speech at the United Nations in New York where he claimed the organization was obsolete and should be replaced. Yet less than a year later Venezuela is actively campaigning for a position on the U.N. Security Council. That campaign has become something of a tug of war with the U.S. engaging a lot of high level arm-twisting as outlined in this article:

In another sign of the growing animosity between Caracas and Washington, the US is lobbying South American countries in an effort to prevent Venezuela from being named to a two-year term on the United Nations Security Council.
The Los Angeles Times reports the US is concerned that Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez could interfere with plans to step up pressure on Iran. Under current UN rules, Latin American countries are entitled to choose the country that would fill the rotating seat for the region. Venezuela has been actively campaigning for the seat.
...the Bush administration is urging Latin American countries to vote for a US ally, Guatemala, instead, warning that the populist government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez cannot be trusted on crucial issues such as Iran's nuclear program, given its "disruptive and irresponsible behavior" in international organizations.
Behind the scenes, US officials have been applying pressure, even to close allies, Latin American diplomats say. For example, Washington has agreed to sell F-16 fighter jets to Chile, but are warning that Chilean pilots will not be trained to fly them if the government supports Venezuela's Security Council bid, the diplomats said.
One Latin American delegate interviewed by the Times said that no one in the region wants to choose between the US and Venezuela, but that the US has told countries that "this is a top priority."
First, it is interesting to note how, well, “gringo” this threat is. God forbid some military contractors lose sales, so no matter what the U.S. will sell F-16s to Chile. It just won’t train any Chilean pilots how to fly them!!!

But that is not the real point here. The real question is why is Venezuela even seeking a Security Council seat? What is to be gained from it?

I have to say, I agree with Chavez’s comments of last year that unless the U.N. is radically transformed the organization is worse than worthless. It’s not just that the organization doesn’t do much to make the world a better place. It’s that it actually enables the world’s hyper-power to make things worse.

The U.N. is not a democratic collective of countries where everyone gets an equal say and vote. The five permanent members of the Security Council are effectively running the show as they can veto any action they don’t like. But as undemocratic as that is, even votes in the General Assembly are hardly free and fair. No votes are secret and any country that crosses the U.S. on an important vote risks cuts in aid, elimination of trade benefits or even worse. Not to mention the U.N. has no real military power of its own so nothing that isn’t supported by the U.S. will ever happen.

All of this means that the U.N. hasn’t done anything to resolve longstanding injustices and problems no matter how many resolutions it passes. Just ask the Palestinians. But that isn’t the worst of it. The worst it the U.N. provides cover and legitimacy for the imperial actions of the U.S. The U.N. provided cover for the first Gulf War of 1991. It provided cover for the dismemberment of Yugoslavia. And most recently, and worst, it has provided cover for an illegal take over of a sovereign state, Iraq, but another country, the United States. Even if the U.N. neither voted for nor participated in the invasion its numerous and overly vague resolutions (ie, “severe consequences”) provided the intellectual cover that the U.S. government very much wanted to legitimize its war moves.

Given this the question that comes to the fore is why do countries of good faith, like Venezuela, even participate in this charade? At the end of the day, even with a Security Council seat, they will have no real power to effect change – the permanent members, and in particular the United States, will do what they are going to do. And by being part of the organization Venezuela will be giving it the legitimacy it doesn’t deserve.

Rather than seeking this Security Council seat Venezuela should call a spade a spade and withdraw from the U.N. That makes this case one where Venezuela will more likely win by losing.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?