The End of the Internationalist Experiment of the Twentieth Century
By Corine Lesnes
Thursday 08 May 2003
United Nations -- Not displeased to have overcome the taboo of regime change in international law, the American hawks forge ahead. Every day the UN staff can follow in the press their debates on the reform or the death of the United Nations.
"They re killing us", says one official.
The charge was lead from London by Donald Rumsfeld s Counselor, Richard Perle, with a now-famous article of March 21st in the Guardian: Thank-you, God, for the death of the UN . The war had just begun. Mr. Perle predicted that Saddam Hussein would not fall alone, but take the UN with him. "Oh, not the whole UN, he corrected. The good works part will survive, the bureaucracy for low risk peace-keeping, the word windmill. But what will die, he continued, is the myth of the United Nations as the foundation of a new international order , the liberal concept of security achieved through international law applied by international institutions .
Ever since, new daggers are planted every day. The bureaucracy of Food for Oil was accused of hiding the import of contracts secured by Russia and France since 1996 (although each contract is public). In the April 28 edition of The Weekly Standard, Lawrence Lindsay, who left the White House economic team in January, described how the UN is not as humanitarian as people think: The proof, that UN bureaucrats prevented his adoption of two children from Kosovo (the orphanage official, he insists, was, moreover, a Frenchwoman). Be reassured: Mr. Bush s former counselor succeeded all the same in adopting a baby, one whose mother had the good idea of delivering in Montenegro.
The neo-conservatives had prepared the ground for an eventual second skirting of the UN, in the unlikely event the Security Council should oppose the Bush administration with regard to reconstruction. The legal point for which Washington would need the Security Council, to lift the sanctions against Iraq, was already swept aside on the pretext that regime change had already rendered existing resolutions null and void. This argument is developed in a report published end-April by the Heritage Foundation, which recommends that President Bush limit the role of the UN in Iraq.
Universities and international relations specialists have hardly been more encouraging for the UN. In the May-June issue of Foreign Affairs, the influential State Department journal, Michael Glennon published an article which has been much photo-copied and commented upon at the UN. Iraq, he writes, sounded the end of a great experiment , the monumental internationalist experiment of the twentieth century , which aimed to submit the use of force to the domain of law . In fact, he explains, it could not have happened otherwise: as soon as the United States attained such enormous power, the fate of the Council was sealed . The author reckons that the United States will be confronted with pressures to limit the use of force . They should resist them and construct in their wake new international mechanisms for the preservation of peace and global security. In other words, another UN.
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