Selective Enforcement and Hypocrisy
by Kim Petersen
March 18, 2003
The British concession deadline has come and passed. In fact the superhawks had their own little tête-à-tête in the Azores on the deadline day: 17 March. This extended deadline day was offered as a British concession to recalcitrant UN Security Council members to induce agreement to a second resolution. It was not, and it was not perceived as, a concession because all knew that all the pieces of the military weren’t in place yet. (1) The communiqué from the Azores was one more day; that's it. This was the feeble final attempt for a second resolution to mollify the anti-war sentiment in all countries and thereby spuriously legitimate waging war. It seems that the five member nations of Angola, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Chile, Guinea, and Mexico were not overly cowed by the bombast of US President Bush and his hawkish poodles. The second resolution attempt is seemingly history. France, which threatened to use its veto, has been especially signaled out for the wrath of the superhawks.
The deadline is passed and the superhawks have relinquished attempts to eek out a nine-member majority on a second resolution vote. They had planned to latch on to this as a symbolic victory and denounce the "irresponsible" use of any veto; however, it seems clear that even the symbolic victory was outside their reach. Paradoxically enough, one doesn't recall the British contemning the slew of American vetoes (over 100 since 1972), most of which were cast to protect Israel, as irresponsible. Some of these vetoes bear repeat scrutiny. The US has vetoed such resolutions as:
In 1981 the US vetoed a resolution to affirm “the right of every state to choose its economic and social system in accord with the will of its people, without outside interference in whatever form it takes.” The devastations wrought on those states that seek an alternative to the Washington Consensus are myriad. (2) Later that same year a resolution urging “negotiations on prohibition of chemical and biological weapons” and in 1982 a resolution calling “for the prohibition of chemical and bacteriological weapons” were both vetoed by the US. This is in flagrant contradiction to the resolutions being so doggedly pursued by the US. Hypocrisy comes to mind. This conviction was adduced by the 1987 US veto of a resolution opposed “to the development of new weapons of mass destruction.”
Also in 1982 a resolution declaring “that education, work, health care, proper nourishment, national development are human rights” was vetoed. In 1986 the US vetoed a call for all governments to adhere to international law. In 1987 measures to combat terrorism were vetoed. This came following the earlier War on Terror declared by President Reagan. The incongruency is stark here. The US itself was judged to have been guilty of terrorism by the International Court of Justice in 1986.
Support for meddling in the affairs of other states in 1979, and in 1989 the acquisition of territory by force were not to be thwarted by opposing resolutions. The US foray in to Iraq is not blocked by these resolutions; not that Mr. Bush would care much. (3)
Mr. Bush's patience has been tried enough. The game is up. Even the proffered Canadian compromise deadline of 28 March is history. (4) The Canadians presented their proposal as a compromise but it could only be considered a biased one -- biased to the superhawks's deadline. The Canadian compromise lengthens the deadline by a measly 11 days. This falls far short of the six months sought by the French and the months UNMOVIC chief Hans Blix said was required to complete the job.
It must lead many to ask why is it anyway that there were no deadlines in the resolutions in the first place? The Iraqi people have suffered 11 long years under a genocidal sanctions regime. Suddenly there is a demand for a short deadline after which the Iraqis will be subjected to the “Shock and Awe” of a massive bombardment.
So why is it that UN Security Council Resolution 1441 takes precedence over all other violated UN Security Council Resolutions? By what criteria did Mr. Bush arrive upon the overwhelming need for enforcement of UN Security Council Resolution 1441, which is really in response to UN Security Council Resolution 687? Certainly, although Mr. Bush laments the 12 years that Iraq has been in non-compliance, chronological considerations are not too important. Morocco, with its occupation of Western Sahara, has been in contravention of UN Security Council Resolution 380 since 1975. A referendum on Kashmir has been required by the UN Security Council for 55 years. Turkey defies resolutions on its invasion and division of Cyprus. Then there is the ongoing illegal Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip since 1967. In terms of longstanding violations, other countries clearly bear attention before Iraq.
So maybe rather it is the imminent threat to peace and security that is the major criterion in determining which resolution to enforce. Certainly the current border tensions between Pakistan and India are an imminent threat as is the ongoing violence in Indian Kashmir. There is no imminent threat in the Occupied Territories; it is rather ongoing violence that sees stone-wielding Palestinian youths die regularly and disproportionately against the might of the Israeli military Goliath.
Israel, which is also in defiance of UN Security Council Resolution 687 requiring disarmament of its weapons of mass destruction, takes its whopping lead in the parade of US client states flouting UN Security Council Resolutions and is instead rewarded with billions of dollars in US aid and advanced weaponry. The absurdity is astounding. An invasion of Iraq is doing the Israeli dirty work. There is no escaping the sheer hypocrisy of US policy in the Middle East. (5)
So maybe the important criterion is an imminent threat to the US. Mr. Bush has been heard rabbiting on about the threat of President Saddam Hussein to Americans, as if this one tin-pot tyrant, himself, was a threat to the world superpower. Mr. Bush has declaimed on many occasions that Mr. Hussein has weapons of mass destruction and that he will give them to the terrorists. These declamations are contrary to his own CIA. (6)
Mr. Bush is on a mission from God and nothing will be allowed to get in the way. Innocent Iraqi people, international law and its institutions, and world opinion be damned.
Kim Petersen is an English teacher living in China. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
(1) Kim Petersen, “When a Concession is not a Concession,” Dissident Voice,
(2) Noam Chomsky, Profit over People: Neoliberalism and Global Order (Seven Stories Press: 1999).
(3) Anonymous, “Vetoes: A list of resolutions vetoed by the USA 1972-2002,”
ZNet, 15 March 2003:
(4) CBC Online Staff, “Canada's Iraq plan raises interest at UN,” CBC, Tuesday, 4 Mar 2003: http://cbc.ca/stories/2003/03/03/nmeet030303
(5) Kim Petersen, “Why Israel is relevant vis-a-vis Iraq: The Politics of Hypocrisy,” Dissident Voice, 15 February 2003:
(6) Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, “Memorandum for Confused Americans: Cooking Intelligence for War,” CounterPunch, 15 March 2003: http://www.counterpunch.org/vips03152003.html