|Another League of Nations
By ANTHONY WESTELL, Toronto Globe & Mail, Saturday, September
21, 2002 – Print Edition, Page A19 . More
about Anthony Westell
The United Nations now faces an impossible choice and is in grave
of going the way of the League of Nations -- reduced to irrelevance
President George W. Bush has made it clear beyond reasonable
he is going to make war on Iraq, with or without the support of the
Nations. If the Security Council, despite the public reluctance of
members, passes the authorizing resolution Mr. Bush demands, it will
seen as a mere American puppet; if it refuses, Mr. Bush will
contemptuously brush it aside.
In either case, it will be clear for all to see that the United
without power or influence when U.S. interests are involved -- and
most of the time in most of the world.
It may survive as an international welfare agency, but not as
organization to keep the peace.
That's roughly what happened to the League of Nations. Under
idealistic leadership of U.S. president Woodrow Wilson, the League
out of the First World War with the idea that it could prevent future
But when the conservative U.S. Congress refused to sign the treaty
membership, the League, which was established in 1920, became a mere
talk shop that could do nothing to block the road that led to the Second
Attempting to correct that mistake, president Franklin D. Roosevelt,
the Second World War, led the United States into the United Nations,
which was founded in 1945 to promote peace and economic development.
But there has always been a powerful block of right-wingers in
Congress, and on the right wing of the Republican Party, opposed to
U.S. involvement in international organizations.
These people used to be called isolationists because they wanted
the United States out of foreign entanglements. Now, they are
unilateralists, which means the United States will do as it pleases
sinful world. They now have their champions in the White House and
Defence Department. President Bush, Vice-President Dick Cheney,
Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and many others in the Bush
administration are declared unilateralists.
The United States is by far the strongest power in the world and
unilateralists are determined to keep it that way. No other power must
permitted to challenge U.S. interests -- including the United Nations.
that means the United Nations withering into irrelevance, so much the
better from their self-serving point of view. There will be open rejoicing
the right wing of the Republican Party, and any tears at the White
will be of the crocodile variety.
Iraq will be one victim of Mr. Bush's war, the United Nations will
another, with more victims to come as the unilateralists seek
to conquer in the name of American morality and the need for oil.
Anthony Westell, former Ottawa bureau chief of The
Globe and Mail and past senior
associate at the Carnegie Institute for International Peace, is
editor of The Literary Review of Canada. to
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