MADRE Factsheet: Analysis of Bush's Speech To UN

by Yiffat Susskind; September 18, 2002

“Our principles and our security are challenged today by outlaw groups and regimes that accept no law of morality and have no limit to their violent ambitions.”
Conservative commentator Samuel Huntington has pointed out that many people worldwide consider the US to be “the single greatest external threat to their societies” (Foreign Affairs, 1999).
Under Bush, the US stands in violation of international law for its bombing of Afghanistan and ongoing bombing of Iraq (violating Article 51 of the UN Charter); its treatment of the Guantánamo Bay prisoners (violating the Geneva Convention); and for its “first strike” nuclear weapons doctrine (violating the UN Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty).
Bush has declared his willingness to commit another grave breach of international law by bombing Iraq without authorization from the Security Council.
The Bush Administration has also undermined the US Constitution by declaring the War Powers Act (requiring Congressional authorization to launch a war) irrelevant.
As for “violent ambitions,” Bush’s are indeed limitless. In June 2002, he described his doctrine of “pre-emption:” “the military must be ready to strike at a moment’s notice in any dark corner of the world.” Who are the targets? “All nations that decide for aggression and terror.”
And the US has the power to back up its threats. Its military budget dwarfs that of all other countries combined; and US troops are stationed in 148 of the world’s 188 countries.

“By refusing to comply with his own agreements [Saddam Hussein] bears full guilt for the hunger and misery of innocent Iraqi citizens.”
According to UNICEF and the World Health Organization, US-led sanctions against Iraq have killed over one million people, half of them children under five.
In 1991, the US bombed the civilian infrastructure of Iraq, including bridges, roads and facilities that protected the water supply of 22 million people.

“…sanctions were maintained after the war to compel the regime’s compliance with Security Council Resolutions.”
Every US administration since the Gulf War has stated that sanctions would be maintained even if Iraq cooperates with the UN: “Iraqis will be made to pay the price while Saddam Hussein’s in power. Any easing of the sanctions will be considered only when there is a new government” (Robert Gates, National Security Advisor to Bush I).
The US position actually undermines Security Council resolutions by nullifying any incentive for Iraqi compliance.

“Iraq likely maintains stockpiles of VX, mustard and other chemical agents…the regime is rebuilding and expanding facilities capable of producing chemical weapons.”
The keyword is “likely.” Credible analysts such as former chief UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter maintain that the military threat from Iraq is exaggerated. They point out that since the Gulf War, Iraq has been largely disarmed and that it lacks the delivery systems (e.g., long-range missiles and rocket launchers) to turn chemical agents into “weapons of mass destruction.”
Iraq’s possible stores of chemical and biological agents are courtesy of the US, which supplied Baghdad with stock for anthrax, botulism, E. coli and other deadly diseases throughout the 1980s.
If Bush is concerned about chemical and biological weapons, he should stop manufacturing and selling them. The US has much larger stockpiles of such weapons than Iraq or any other country.
Bush has rejected a UN draft agreement to enforce a biological weapons ban, refused to sign the chemical weapons treaty and (like Saddam Hussein) refused to grant UN chemical weapons inspectors full access to US laboratories.

“[Iraq] retains physical infrastructure needed to build a nuclear weapon… And if an emboldened regime were to supply these weapons to terrorist allies, then the attacks of September 11 would be a prelude to far greater horrors.”
Retaining the infrastructure “needed to build” a nuclear weapon is not the same thing as building it. None of Bush’s references to Iraqi nuclear capability demonstrate that Iraq possesses or plans to use nuclear weapons.
By contrast, George Bush has ordered the Pentagon to draw up plans for dropping nuclear bombs on seven countries. The US is the world’s leading producer of nuclear weapons and the only country in the world to ever drop a nuclear bomb.
Raising the specter of Iraqi cooperation with “terrorists” is a cynical scare tactic. Attempts by US intelligence agencies to link Baghdad to al-Qaeda in the wake of 9/11 quickly proved groundless. There remains no evidence of Iraqi collusion with international terrorism.

“Are Security Council resolutions to be honored and enforced or cast aside without consequence?”
Good question, George. Let’s ask key US allies, like Turkey and Israel, which have long stood in violation of multiple Security Council Resolutions and enjoy overwhelming support from the US. (The US response to Israel’s defiance of the Security Council is $3 billion a year in funding).
The US itself is not in violation of Security Council Resolutions because it can veto any proposed resolution that is not to its liking. Thus, the US has vetoed more Security Council resolutions than any other country in the world.

“Free societies do not intimidate through cruelty and conquest.”
The US has bombed civilians indiscriminately (Afghanistan, Serbia, Iraq, Sudan);
attempted to assassinate heads of government (Congo, Cuba, Libya, Iran);
subverted democratic elections (Greece, Guatemala, Chile);
blockaded civilian supplies of food and medicine (Nicaragua, Iraq, Cuba);
supported policies of rape, torture and mass killing (Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador);
and backed regimes responsible for the world’s worst human rights violations (Indonesia, Zaire, Iran, South Korea, Israel, Philippines).

“Saddam Hussein attacked Iran in 1980 and Kuwait in 1990. He’s fired ballistic missiles at Iran and Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Israel. His regime once ordered the killing of every person between the ages of 15 and 70 in certain Kurdish villages in northern Iraq. He has gassed many Iranians and 40 Iraqi villages.”
Most of Saddam Hussein’s atrocities were committed while he was a close US ally and trading partner.
The US sold Iraq military hardware and biological and chemical weapons equipment even after learning that Iraq used illegal chemical weapons against Kurdish civilians (in the Halabja massacre of 1988). US intelligence agencies believe that the massacre was carried out with US-made helicopters.
Only in 1990, when Saddam Hussein disobeyed the US with his unauthorized invasion of Kuwait, was he converted from a key asset to a “rogue leader.”

“These nations can show by their example that honest government, respect for women and the great Islamic tradition of learning can triumph in the Middle East and beyond.”
“Honest government?” Bush owes his presidency to a stolen election. Key members of his Cabinet and Bush himself are implicated in the shady dealings of corporations including Enron, Halliburton and Harken.
“Respect for women?” Bush banned federal aid to international family planning programs that offer abortion counseling and closed the White House Office for Women’s Health Initiatives and Outreach.
“Tradition of learning?” Bush cut federal funding to libraries by $39 million and sought to eliminate a federal program that gives free books to poor children. His proposed tax cut for the richest 1% of the population is 128 times more than what he proposed to spend on federal reading programs.

“By heritage and by choice, the US will make that stand. And, delegates to the United Nations, you have the power to make that stand, as well.”
Bush’s closing remark was a prime example of what Michael Moore refers to as the president’s “bite me” foreign policy. Here, Bush bluntly informed the world that the US will pursue its war against Iraq with or without authorization from the United Nations.

“The conduct of the Iraqi regime is a threat to the authority of the United Nations and a threat to peace.”
Here’s what Bush thinks of the authority of the United Nations: Since taking office, he has scrapped more international treaties and violated more UN conventions than the rest of the world has in 20 years.
Under Bush, the US has opposed the Kyoto protocol on global warming, boycotted a conference to promote the comprehensive (nuclear) test ban treaty and ripped up the anti-ballistic missile treaty. Bush refuses to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child or sign the treaty to ban landmines. The US walked out of the 2001 UN World Conference Against Racism and virtually ignored the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development. And Bush is the only President in history to “unsign” a UN treaty – the Rome Treaty creating the International Criminal Court.
As for being a “threat to peace,” there’s little doubt that Bush’s “war on terror,” which violates international law, the US Constitution, international human rights instruments and principles of international cooperation and collective security, is the single greatest threat to peace in the world today.

In light of the grave and gathering danger posed by the Bush Administration, we hereby call on the United Nations to declare the United States to be a “threat to peace” under Article 39 of the United Nations Charter. The Security Council, acting under Article 7 of the Charter, must countermand this threat.

In the event of a US veto of the Council’s “enforcement action,” we call on the UN General Assembly to invoke its Uniting for Peace Resolution of 1950 and assume the Security Council's mandate of enforcing international peace and security.

To quote the “president” of the United States, “Will the United Nations serve the purpose of its founding, or will it be irrelevant?”

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