With the recent conflict in Iraq and the rebuilding process currently underway, many of us have become more familiar with the international body known as the United Nations. The United Nations came about after the second World War and seemed like an excellent endeavor: nations of the world joining together to discuss things in a diplomatic fashion, solving problems with words instead of guns … wow, makes you feel warm and fuzzy all over, doesn’t it?
Unfortunately, as many of us saw in the months leading up to the war, the United Nations seems to have failed at these objectives and many others in the ridiculous display we all saw in the apparent litmus test for international legitimacy, the U.N. Security Council. In this instance and others, the U.N. Security Council reminds one of an excessively understanding father with an out of control child, always saying, “You’d better not do that again, or you’ll be punished!” Of course, the punishment never comes, just another warning that it will come, and the child continues to misbehave.
The child I am speaking of, as you might have guessed, was none other than the Disneyland of the Middle East, Iraq. A bastion of human rights! The pinnacle of peace and amiability! Iraq’s former leader, Saddam Hussein, had defied U.N. resolutions and sanctions for over a decade, with little if any repercussions. Around 18 resolutions in all were passed by the U.N. Security Council during that time demanding compliance, but Saddam would never comply. What’s worse is, in this final resolution before the war, numerous countries on the Security Council and outside of it were perfectly content with letting this behavior continue, seemingly not caring what this ambitious “child” with a horrible track record could and might do.
I think we have failed as a planet to properly educate people in basic mathematics. I mean, I certainly learned my times tables and how to add and subtract when I was young, but it seems so many others have not. You see, even though between 40-50 countries supported the U.S. position, those opposed to the war got out their TI-83 calculators and determined that the only way the “international community” could legitimately sanction the U.S. position was if nine of the 15 members of the Security Council supported it, and without their approval, the U.S. position would be “unilateral,” which means one-sided, or decided by one party. This amazed me, because the majority of the U.N. Security Council is composed of countries that are placed there randomly (like teenie weenie Cameroon and Ghana), and any one of the five permanent members, such as France, could kill a resolution with a veto. Yet this was somehow the only “multilateral” forum. The last time I checked—isn’t 40 a greater number than nine? Ah, the importance of a good education.
Sad to say, this is just a small example of the tomfoolery of the United Nations. Right before the war, it was determined by the United Nation’s rotation methods that Iraq—yes, Iraq—would chair the Conference on Disarmament during its May session. The same Iraq whose leader had gassed near 100,000 of its citizens with illegal weapons would lead the world in making it a safer place! But the United Nations didn’t stop there. The communist country of Cuba, which refused to let human rights inspectors from the United Nations into its country to investigate known abuses, was placed on the Human Rights Council at the United Nations, which, ironically, the U.S. was kicked off of, and countries like Sudan, who have legalized slavery, still sit on.
Any rational person, I would think, would think twice about leaving any worthwhile issue up to the United Nations after the revelations of the last several paragraphs, but I regret to say that these are only the minor problems of the United Nations. Many people are not aware of the passiveness of the United Nations, when millions of people in the past few decades were murdered through genocide, raped and tortured. As these people suffered, the United Nations sat by and did nothing:
A report was delivered to General Romeo Daillaire that the Tutsi ethnic group was being registered, and this was a prelude to a plan to kill 1,000 of them every 20 minutes. The General warned Kofi Annan (currently secretary general), the head of U.N. peacekeeping operations, of this, and suggested disarming the Hutu militias who posed the threat. Annan ordered Daillaire not to take action and not even to protect his informant, but to simply inform other governments about the situation. On Feb. 10, 1994, the U.N. Security Council (which is currently discussing the Iraq situation) was informed about the situation and chose to do nothing. Because nothing was done, the genocide began, and over 800,000 Tutsis were slaughtered.
The town of Srebrenica was one of many of the "safe areas" placed under U.N. protection in 1993. As Bosnian Serb forces attacked, the United Nations denied its own peacekeeping forces military backup, and without any resistance, the United Nations allowed Bosnian Serb forces to overrun the town and carry out the systematic, mass executions of more than 7,000 Bosnian Muslims. The blame now is placed squarely on the United Nation’s policy of appeasement, which had encouraged the Bosnian Serbs.
Saddam was responsible for the deaths of over 1.5 million people. By his order, Iraqis were regularly tortured, crucified, raped and killed. Since the fall of the regime, mass graves and torture chambers have been discovered all over the country.
I would encourage you to remember these things if ever such a situation as the war in Iraq should arise again. Know from the past that if there is ever a crisis in the world, the United Nations will be sure to talk, and only talk, about it.
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