Labor Advocate Online

Careful What You Ask For
UN Is No Force For Peace

by Bill Onasch

The Kansas City Iraq Task Force—the principal local organizer of mass protests against the Iraq War before the invasion—is mobilizing a demonstration June 22 around the slogan "U.S. Out—U.N. In." I, of course, wholeheartedly support the first part of that slogan. But I am strongly opposed to the second.

Many well-meaning peace activists believe the United Nations is, or at least could be, a force for world peace. This illusion ignores the mission, functioning and history of this world body.

The UN was established by the victors of World War II. Most of the real decision making was vested in the Security Council. Five major powers were made permanent members of the Security Council and were granted veto power over any Council decision.

The UN record for promoting peace has not been a good one:

•It was the UN—inheriting "mandates" given to colonial powers by its failed predecessor, the League of Nations—that originally approved the partition of Israel/Palestine. 55 years later the chances for lasting peace in that area have never been so remote.

•It was under the cover of the UN that the United States fought a bloody, inconclusive war in Korea.

•UN "peacekeepers" arrested the leader of the independent Congo, Patrice Lamumba, and turned him over to the Belgian-backed mercenaries who murdered him.

•The UN actively intervened, with 38,000 troops, in the civil war that led to the dismemberment of Yugoslavia.

•The UN was responsible for enforcing twelve years of unconscionable sanctions that brought so much death and misery to the people of Iraq before the war.

•It was the UN that forced Iraq to agree to humiliating encroachments on its sovereignty in the vain attempt to appease Bush/Blair.

The UN has always done the bidding of the major powers. On those rare occasions when there are serious tactical differences among those powers, such as occurred around Iraq, UN decisions are simply ignored or brushed aside.

Some who opposed the war did so because they thought Bush’s unilateralism was ill-advised and would have supported the war had it been sanctioned by the UN.

We were willing to work with those forces in a common front against the invasion. But our philosophy is far different. We opposed the war because it violated Iraq’s right to self-determination; because it advanced the interests of the ruling rich and harmed the interests of workers both in Iraq and in this country.

We would have opposed the war just as vigorously if it had been fought under the UN flag and we would oppose a UN occupation as strongly was we condemn the present U.S. presence.

It cannot be excluded that Bush/Blair may yet seek UN participation in their rule of Iraq. The peace movement should be in the forefront of protest against any such move.

We urge peace activists to rethink and reject their call for UN occupation.

All foreign troops should get out of Iraq and leave the determination of Iraq’s future to the peoples of Iraq. All the sanctions should be lifted. Material aid, with no political strings attached, should be provided to rebuild Iraq. And the world labor movement should assist—but not try to dominate—the building of an independent, democratic, effective labor movement among the workers of Iraq.

Our slogans should be:

End the Occupation!
U.S./Britain Get Out!
Everybody Else Stay Out!

June 15, 2003