Socialist Worker

A UN occupation of Iraq won't be more peaceful

In the Middle East the United Nations is not seen as positive force for good

Issue No. 1870

INTENSE negotiations are taking place at the United Nations Security Council about the possibility of the UN taking responsibility for running Iraq. Many people, disgusted by the US and Britain's role, feel that it would be a good move for the UN to take over.

But in reality the plans are based upon UN troops being used to bolster the US occupation and to assist the US in its new war in Iraq. Bush might choose to have some blue-helmeted UN forces do some of the fighting and dying for him. But he does not want to surrender real control. The UN is not a neutral force, as the people of Iraq and the Middle East know only too well.

Denis Halliday, the former UN coordinator of humanitarian aid for Iraq, said after the bombing of the UN compound in Iraq last month: 'Maybe some of us here try to envisage the UN in a benign light-as a positive force for good in the world. In the Middle East this simply is not the perception that most people have. In terms of Israel and Palestine, the UN is seen as an instrument of the US, and negligent of the resolutions that have been passed but neglected by Israel. The UN is seen as responsible for neglecting the Palestinians, failing to put in peacekeeping forces between Israel and the Palestinians.

'In regard to Iraq, it's even more immediate in that it was the UN that sustained sanctions on the Iraqi people for 13 years. 'The UN has failed the Iraqi people. It has committed genocide in Iraq for many years, in keeping with the definition of genocide in the UN convention on genocide.

'The other issue in Iraq is the collaboration between the UN and the US in the country. 'Given the fact that the aggression, invasion and occupation of Iraq is illegal, outside international law, incompatible with the UN charter and not approved by the Security Council, any collaboration between the UN and the US in Iraq is wrong. 'There wasn't a family in Iraq that wasn't hurt by the sanctions. 'Many, if not all, families lost a child, cousin, father or mother prematurely and unnecessarily from bad water, lack of healthcare-all of the problems that the sanctions brought and sustained in Iraq for the last 13 years.'

The 1991 Gulf War against Iraq took place with UN backing after the most blatant manipulation, bribery and bullying of UN members by the US. The UN-authorised occupation of Afghanistan has brought chaos for the Afghan people. It is stoking up the conditions for ethnic conflict by playing different groups off against each other.

Soldiers from 31 different countries control Afghanistan. There is no democracy. Power lies with the warlords, who the occupying forces back up. The UN has always been little more than a tool of the Great Powers that have dominated it since its birth in 1945. The US, Britain, France, Russia and China have permanent seats on the Security Council, and can veto resolutions or authorise military power. Russia has carried out a brutal war against Chechyna with no real criticism from the UN. China is repressing Muslims in its north west, claiming it is fighting a 'war on terror'.

The US uses the UN when it regards it as useful for its imperialist aims. It was useful in 1991 to attack Iraq with a big coalition of states and UN support. But when that was not possible-such as in the war against Serbia in 1999-the US used NATO. At other times, as with the latest war on Iraq, the US will assemble a 'coalition of the willing' (more accurately a 'coalition of the killing') to carry out attacks.

UN troops will still mean a foreign power continuing to dominate another people's country, with all the repression and horror that brings. The US, with its massive power at the UN, will still exert control over the occupation.

The only solution that can bring peace and democracy to the Iraqi people is if they can take control of their own society. As Denis Halliday says, 'The Iraqis will want massive capital assistance to rebuild the damage of the first Gulf War, the second Gulf War and the 13 years of sanctions. 'They're going to need tremendous assistance, but they must determine who does that, how and when.' US plans to send UN troops into Iraq are a cynical attempt by a section of the Bush regime to get out of the mess they have created.

George Bush wants to force through a UN resolution that will leave the US in political control of Iraq but have other states policing the country under the banner of the UN. Some in the US want to free up forces so they can threaten more wars against other 'rogue states', like Iran, Syria, North Korea and others. A UN occupation would not be a more peaceful, democratic alternative to Iraq today.

To create that all foreign troops, whether they are UN or US dominated, and the colonial overlords that run Iraq, must get out as soon as possible.

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Sat 27 Sep 2003, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1870
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