Democracy & Governance

Showdown and Compromise at the UN

Bismarck’s dictum that people who want to appreciate treaties and sausages should not watch them being made applies to Security Council resolutions as well. The U.S. is set to win Security Council support for a resolution on Iraq and is already calling it victory.

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Good Cop, Bad Cop at the UN

Resolution 1441 is more an alternative “legal” road to war rather than an alternative to war itself. Extrapolating from Saddam Hussein’s previous behavior, the Security Council resolution will lead to war as surely as a position of unilateral U.S. belligerence. The Iraqi ruler will need an unprecedented political and psychological makeover to eat the copious and indigestible helpings of humble pie that the UN resolution prescribes being shoveled down his maw.

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A War Avoided?

Perhaps a war has been avoided. The United Nations Security Council’s unanimous passage of an historic resolution gives UN weapons inspectors “unimpeded, unconditional, and unrestricted access” to anyone and anywhere in Iraq that their search for weapons of mass destruction (WMD) might lead them. The resolution gives Iraq a “final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations.” Resistance is futile. Saddam Hussein has been given seven days to confirm his intention to comply.

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The “Buy American” Aid Package

The recent White House proposal to aid impoverished countries if they drop trade barriers and open their markets is likely to substantially accelerate the misery index in Latin America and Africa, the main targets of the $5 billion plan.

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Calling All Realists

The abortive “Earth Summit” in Johannesburg is already fading from our overtaxed memories. Indeed, as I write this, the conference of the week is COP8, the Eighth Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. And it may be a whole lot more important than Johannesburg, if only as a marker, a way to date another death of innocence. For COP8 comes only days after Al Qaeda, in its latest blast of apocalyptic warfare, destroyed a pair of Balinese discos, and with them hundreds of lives. We should not forget, those of us who follow the game of global environmental policy, that Johannesburg’s final preparatory conference was also in Bali, and only a few short miles away.

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United Nations Security Council Resolutions Currently Being Violated by Countries Other than Iraq

(Editor’s Note: In its effort to justify its planned invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration has emphasized the importance of enforcing UN Security Council resolutions. However, in addition to the dozen or so resolutions currently being violated by Iraq, a conservative estimate reveals that there are an additional 88 Security Council resolutions about countries other than Iraq that are also currently being violated. This raises serious questions regarding the Bush administration’s insistence that it is motivated by a duty to preserve the credibility of the United Nations, particularly since the vast majority of the governments violating UN Security Council resolutions are close allies of the United States. Stephen Zunes,  University of San Francisco professor and Middle East Editor for Foreign Policy in Focus (online at www.fpif.org),compiled the following partial list of UN resolutions that are currently being violated by countries other than Iraq.)

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Bush’s United Nations Speech Unconvincing

The last time–and only time–the United States came before the United Nations to accuse a radical Third World government of threatening the security of the United States through weapons of mass destruction was in October 1962. In the face of a skeptical world and Cuban and Soviet denials, U.S. ambassador Adlai Stevenson presented dramatic photos clearly showing the construction of nuclear missiles on Cuban soil. While the resulting U.S. military blockade and brinksmanship was not universally supported, there was little question that the United States had the evidence and that the threat was real.

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Contagion Effect Taking Hold in Latin America

Washington and the IMF badly underestimated the regional contagion from the Argentine disaster. It is now spreading along both financial and political channels, threatening more defaults and challenges to U.S. regional hegemony. Financial markets view Uruguay and Brazil as headed for default. Uruguay’s foreign reserves have fallen this year by more than half. Despite a hurried $3 billion IMF loan in June, risk premium on Uruguayan government bonds still hovered around 13%, with Moody downgrading the sovereign bonds and the foreign currency liabilities of the country’s banks to near junk levels. After Brazil in June drew $10 billion of its $15 billion IMF standby to stanch capital flight, accompanied by messages of full confidence from IMF Executive Director Horst Koehler and U.S. Treasury Secretary O’Neill, Brazilian dollar bonds still carried a 15% risk premium and a Standard & Poor B+ rating–on a par with Senegal and Jamaica.

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