United Nations: camouflage for Desert Storm

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It’s a tragedy of the Gulf war that so many in the U.S. antiwar movement saw no alternative to Bush’s blitzkrieg other than the U.N. economic sanctions against Iraq. And even so many who favor total U.S. withdrawal from the Mideast thank that the solution to the crisis there—in the Gulf and in Palestine—will come though U.N, peace negotiations.

These activists mistakenly believe that the U.N. is a forum for all nation, negotiating equally on questions of international importance,

This illusion provided Bush with a handy fig leaf while he prepared to level Iraq.

U.N. impotence against U.S. aggression. But what’s the U.N.’s record against other aggressions, those of U.S. client states and the U.S. itself?

Three examples:

• Southern Africa, early ‘60s. The U.N. declares South Africa’s occupation of Namibia, like Iraq’s occupation of Kuwait, illegal. Washington then pursues “constructive engagement” with Pretoria for 25 years. The apartheid regime meanwhile plunders Namibia and uses it to stage war on neighboring Angola. No U.N. action.

• Israel invades Lebanon, 1982. It cluster-bombs Beruit. Presides over massacres of Palestinian refugees. Twenty thousand dead. U.S. vetoes all Security Council measures to end the carnage. No action taken.

• U.S. invade Panama, 1989. Two thousand killed. Hundreds dumped in mass graves. Drug-money-laundering banker Guillermo Endara installed as Washington’s puppet in place of the unreliable drug-runner Noriega. U.N. condemns the invasion and does nothing.

A real international solution. The plundering nature of capitalism precludes equality among nations. Lenin and Trotsky recognized this 70 years ago when they denounced the League of Nations as an imperialist forum for “mediating” the continuing subjugation of the rebellious colonial world. The same denunciation applies today to the U.N.

Lenin led in forming the Communist Third International (Comintern) in 1919 as a counterweight to capitalist “internationalism” as expressed by the League. His idea was to further the class war and over- throw of capitalism in all countries. This would have paved the way for a worldwide socialist federation of states and real equality among nations. After Stalin wrecked the Comintern, Trotsky formed the Fourth International to keep this process alive.

The demand is being voiced for U.N. negotiations to resolve the Gulf and Palestinian crises. We can insist that the U.N. arrive at justice for the Palestinians in Palestine- possible only in a socialist bilateral state-but let us not be surprised when the U.N. fails even to achieve a Palestinian state in the Occupied Territories as demanded by the PLO.

Let the U.N.’s failure spark the demand among radicals for a mass international socialist organization to finish the job the Comintern started. Will the Fourth International step forward as the vehicle?

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