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Vive La France

Obviously the French are awful and rude and cycle around with brie dripping out of their pockets and eat sparrows for breakfast, but they are currently doing one thing right: they are standing up to the US.

Charlie Skelton

3 October 2003

America has just issued a re-draft of a resolution concerning the political future of Iraq.

According to John Negroponte, the US ambassador to the UN: "We have incorporated into the revised text language that details an expanded and explicit role for the United Nations, especially in the political transition process." Which means, in real terms, nothing whatsoever. They've tweaked some words. Put in some phrases like "temporary nature" and "evolving structures" but the function of the resolution hasn't changed. In the words of Reuters: "The main purpose of the new resolution, as before, is to transform the military operation into a UN-authorized multinational force under American command."

All that America wants from the UN is, as usual, the rubber stamp for its plans.

Herve Ladsous, the French Foreign Ministry spokesman, wasn't impressed: "Our first impression is that our concerns are only reflected in this revised project in a very limited measure and that this revised project does not incorporate the change in approach that we are advocating..."

Emyr Jones Parry, the British Ambassador to the UN, is as happy as Larry at the new resolution. In the re-draft, he claims, the UN have been offered a "very clear role" (those ghastly empty words again). The French Ambassador agrees bitterly, saying that it "leaves the United Nations in a secondary role”.

Yet again, the Americans are trying to tweak the UN into submission: buttering them up with bombast, without ever ceding control. Remember the language that was being used before the war - it was all about the UN having a "clear and defined role" - and the UN being fobbed off with a "special representative" in Baghdad, which sounded nice, but needless to say the position came with no *independent* power over the administration of Iraq; and the awful truth is that when the Special Representative to Iraq, Sergio de Mello, was killed in the car bombing of the UN headquarters, the UN's influence over the running of Iraq was hardly lessened - because it hardly exists.

Whatever influence the UN does have in Iraq is being directed towards American ends. This, think some, is why the UN headquarters was blown to bits. Denis Halliday, the former UN Assistant Secretary-General and UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq, in an interview with the Sunday Herald, observed that: "The West sees the UN as a benign organization, but the sad reality in much of the world is that the UN is not seen as benign. The UN Security Council has been taken over and corrupted by the US and UK, particularly with regard to Iraq, Palestine and Israel."

James Petras, writing in the magazine 'Canadian Dimension' in August argues the same point:

Operating under Resolution 1483 passed by the Security Council on May 22, 2003, de Mello was assigned eight areas of activity, all of which had to do with the 'reconstruction' of the country especially in the political sphere. De Mello was active in enticing tribal leaders, conservative clerics as well as exile prodigies of the Pentagon to form the junta, with the proviso that the US colonial governor approved all of its members, and that all approved the US invasion and occupation. In effect de Mello organized a powerless collection of self-appointed elites who had no credibility in Iraq or legitimacy among the Iraqi populace, to serve as window dressing for US colonial rule. Once the US approved junta was in place, de Mello travelled throughout the Middle East trying to convince neighbouring countries that the US 'creation', opposed by the majority of Iraqis was a legitimate and representative 'transitional regime'. De Mello's main argument was that the US appointed junta was a 'governing' and not merely 'advisory' body, an argument that convinced nobody, least of all the US officials handing out contracts to Halliburton Corporation and organizing the privatization of Iraqi oil and certainly not the US military terrorizing and shooting innocent Iraqi civilians.

In short, if the UN operates in a subservient role to the US in Iraq, then what is the point of it operating there at all? If the UN is to have a function in the world, to have any kind of meaningful authority, then it has - quite simply - to be in charge. It can't stand there meekly, holding America's coat. Kofi Annan should drop the coat and get angry. He needs to bust some balls. John Negroponte's first of all. Followed by Emyr Jones Parry's.

Hold them in one hand, give a light twist to the sac, then squeeze - never for a moment losing eye contact.

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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