U.S. Hopes U.N. Can "Legitimize" Colonialism

May 10, 2004

Every day, the Iraqi resistance grows and the U.S. war of aggression is condemned by wider sections of world public opinion. Facing this situation, the U.S. government is trying to overcome its political isolation by turning more towards the U.N., hoping to find a way to put a "more legitimate face" on its colonial occupation and war.

Special U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has been shuttling back and forth between Bush and various political figures in Iraq trying to find a formula for a "transitional government." Brahimi himself says his mission is "to find a way of making the process viable and credible" (NYT 4/28/04). For its part, the Bush administration says: "We're in synch with Brahimi" (State Department spokesman quoted in NYT, 4/28/04). And why not. The "transitional government" will have no real authority; the power will remain 100% in the hands of the U.S. Paul Bremer, the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, has already issued an edict declaring that U.S. troops will remain in Iraq indefinitely and that any Iraqi troops will be directly under the command of the U.S. On May 4, General Abizaid, the U.S. commander for the Middle East, announced that troop levels would remain at 135,000 until at least the end of 2005 and that, at any time, the number could be increased. Secretary of State Powell has publicly admitted that the sovereignty of Iraq will be "limited." In other words, the U.N. is being used as a cover, a way to deflect public opinion, even while the U.S. occupation and war continues.

John Kerry and the Democratic Party hope that by intoning the words "United Nations" even louder than Bush, they can deceive public opinion and divert the anti-war movement better than Bush. For months, the Democrats have been calling on Bush to bring more U.N. and NATO troops into Iraq even while insisting that "primary responsibility for security must remain with the U.S. military" (from Op-Ed article by Kerry published in the Washington Post).

The U.S. government is more than willing to use the U.N. if it dances to the U.S. war drum (last year, the U.N. Security Council gave its official sanction to the U.S. occupation). At the same time, the U.S. has repeatedly underlined that it will never cede any authority to

U.N. policies which run counter to U.S. imperialism's interests. What is more, it must be kept in mind that only the U.N. Security Council has the authority to deploy troops and that the Security Council is dominated by five big powers - including the U.S., Britain, France, Russia and China - each of which have the power to veto any action not its liking.

In other words, either the U.N. will be used as a tool of U.S. aggression or the U.S. will continue its aggression alone.

When one scratches the surface of the calls for U.N. intervention, one frequently hears the argument that "there will be chaos if the U.S. just pulls out completely. The Iraqis aren't ready yet; they need to be taught the ways of democracy." This is simply another variant of the chauvinism of George Bush, a replay of the tune which the colonizers and slavemasters have always sung to the colonial peoples: "you are not yet ready for freedom; we are enslaving you in order to civilize you," etc., etc. The struggle in Iraq is not about creating a "kinder and gentler" occupation. It is not about the relative role of the various imperialist powers in the colonization of Iraq. It is a struggle of the Iraqi people against U.S. imperialist aggression and occupation. It is a struggle for independence, sovereignty and freedom.