OPINION

The US vs the UN

Each September the spotlight focuses on New York for the annual opening of the United Nations General Assembly, where the world’s leaders take turns speaking from the podium. This year’s meeting carries extra weight. On the agenda are proposals for radical reform of the UN, an organization created in a completely different global environment shortly after the defeat of fascism. The Bush administration cannot forgive the UN for its stance on the Iraq crisis. John Bolton, its new UN ambassador, handed over hundreds of amendments, mirroring his government’s foreign policy. They omit all mention of «respect for nature,» the Kyoto protocol, increasing Third World aid, and obliging pharmaceutical firms to manufacture cheap AIDS drugs. Bolton also insists on removing references to the International Court of Justice, prosecution of war criminals, the «right of self-determination for peoples under foreign occupation,» the use of violence «except as a weapon of last resort for the defense of national security,» and even «disarmament» of weapons of mass destruction. Personally selected by George W. Bush despite the Senate’s persistent refusal to ratify his appointment, Bolton is seen as a prominent representative of American neo-conservatism. Before his appointment he stated: «The United Nations does not exist. There is only the international community, which can only be guided by the single remaining superpower, the US.» He also noted, «It wouldn’t make much difference if we lowered it [UN headquarters] by 10 floors.» Created by Roosevelt’s America following two horrific world wars, the UN symbolized Kant’s dream of a world of perpetual peace. Bush’s America is slipping toward a chaotic, Hobbesian world forever at war, where the American Leviathan will not allow any Lilliputians to tie its hands.