The left has been snookered by the U.S. invasion of Iraq, for it is deeply opposed to the war yet supports the spread of democracy and civil freedoms. It is in the interests of the world that democracy should succeed in Iraq but that the U.S. has its nose bloodied in the process.
There are few issues that have captured the airwaves in Nigeria more than the twin campaigns in favor of debt relief and against corruption. A photograph of Nigeria’s former top cop made the front pages only to be followed the next day by apologies for humiliating the man. The Senate president, the number three man in the government, got kicked out of office for allegedly helping to grease of palms of some Senators, so that a government ministry’s budget could be laced up with bogus figures. The Senate president did not go down alone. He is currently squirming in the dock with the former minister of education and some other senators. Another minister was sacked for underhand dealings in a proposed sale of government houses in the high-brow section of Ikoyi, Lagos . Many of President Obasanjo’s extended family members were scheduled to become owners of these choice quarters built with public funds.
Central to the neoliberal discourse on globalization is the conviction that free trade, more than free movements of capital or labor, is the key to global prosperity. Even many of those who are not enthusiastic about all aspects of globalization–ranging from the free-trade economist, Jagdish Bhagwati, advocating capital control to some non-governmental organizations (NGOs) accusing the developed countries for not opening up their agricultural markets–seem to agree that free trade is the most benign, or at least a less problematic, element in the progress of globalization.
Despite new offers for broader participation in Iraq’s reconstruction bonanza, the United States-convened donors’ conference on Iraq ended in stifled disappointment, with only $13 billion raised–a far cry from the $36 billion target. To dampen expectations further, up to two-thirds of the total pledges will take the form of loans, not grants. And if the Afghanistan fundraising experience is any indication, many of the pledges could still end up being just more broken multi-million-dollar promises.
The international donors meeting beginning in Madrid on Thursday, 23 October, will not come close to meeting Washington’s original goals. Initially called to pressure other countries to contribute significant amounts of money to sustain the U.S.-UK occupation of Iraq, public and governmental opposition in virtually all countries forced a radical downsizing of U.S. aims.
Well-spun by U.S. and British press handlers, the wire services announced the unanimous passage of UN Security Council Resolution 1511 as a victory for American diplomacy. And so it was, in the sense that a bald man winning a hair brush in a raffle could claim a victory.
The U.S.-driven UN resolution passed by the Security Council provides only an internationalist fig-leaf for Washington’s occupation; the occupation remains illegal and in violation of the UN Charter. The new resolution does nothing to change the fundamental problems of the U.S. occupation of Iraq–its illegitimacy, its unilateralism, and its responsibility for so much destruction in Iraq and for the on-going crisis of violence in the country.
Forget the spin you have been reading about the “failure” of the World Trade Organization meeting in Cancun. It was one of the most successful international meetings in years because it redefined how trade can benefit the poor and how the developing world can be real players in these negotiations. In fact, if policymakers and global trade negotiators were paying attention, Cancun could lead to trade talks that actually bring about fair trade, and the benefits to both the developing and the developed world that have long been promised.
Iraq is not the first country the United States has intervened in and then tried to have the United Nations try to clean up after it. Never before, however, have the consequences of a U.S. military action been so tragic for the world body and its dedicated civilian workers.