The Tide is Turning: UNGA 64

EDITORIAL, 28 Sep 2009

#81 | Johan Galtung

This UN General Assembly will go down in history because of three persons: Hu Jintao, Qaddafi and Chávez, from the three Third World continents.  And Obama will be less remembered for a speech–a high school essay promising to honor the UN multilateralism his country is committed to as a UN member–than for Chávez’ comment about two Obamas, Obama 1 talking peace and Obama 2 building bases.

“With whom am I talking”?  Chávez, a professed Christian (“Jesus lived among the poor”) had Job’s problem:  is there a well-intended God behind all this cruelty?  Obama gave no concrete evidence of any real change. And Qaddafi and Chávez listed US imperial cruelty, under any president.

Nor did Yukio Hatoyama, the DPJ prime minister, toe the US line; he had his own.  But NATO allies did, in highly forgettable uninspired efforts not to challenge Their Master’s sonorous voice.

Qaddafi, long-winded and rambling, argued UN reform away from the Second World War structure with a Security Council “for the rich and the powerful” toward its abolition, or extension so as to be representative, with the African Union as member (EU has two), and the UN headquarters moved out of New York to, say, East Asia.

Chávez greeted Obama’s nuclear arms reduction, encouraging the USA to start.  A more credible Obama would have followed the brilliant US peace researcher Charles Osgood in his both-and GRIT formula bridging the unilateral-bilateral divide: somebody has to start, I accept that challenge and cut ten percent, hoping for you to follow suit, then cutting more. But Obama said nothing concrete.

He even backed off from stopping settlers.  And the Blue Dogs will kill the rest of his platform, denying him any fruit of his election victory.

And Netanyahu? He said what we all know, Wannsee, shoa, to cash in moral credit.  But that account has long been in the red.

What is happening?  A basic power shift away from the West. It is not the fist time.  Soekarno, the first president of free Indonesia, is said to have had a vision in 1928 just before Dutch colonials jailed him in Bandoeng:  “If the liong-Sai (dragon) of China works together with the nandi (cow) of India, with the sphinx of Egypt and the peacock of Burma, with the white elephant of Siam, with the hydra of Vietnam, with the tiger of the Philippines and with the banteng (bull) of Indonesia, then it is certain that international colonialism will be smashed into bits.”

In 1955, he, Nehru and Nasser organized the Bandoeng meeting and the nonaligned movement, NAM, which dampened the East-West madness.  And smashed colonialism into bits.

But the West came back as neo-colonialism, with market fundamentalism, state terrorism, military interventionism and cloning of countries through developmentism.  Take little Norway as a case: Mark Curtis in The Guardian, “Norway’s Dirty Little Secrets” (24 September 2009).  As Curtis points out:  Norway invests its huge oil income in dirty companies all over the world, tax havens, and Israeli companies contributing to the occupation of Palestinian territories.  Statoil, the huge Norwegian oil corporation, operates in corrupt countries with dire human rights records, like Azerbaijan, Angola, Iran, Nigeria.

The environment policy consists in buying carbon reductions in other countries to avoid reducing Norway’s own, which per capita is the highest in the world when oil exports and transport are counted.  To that comes Norway’s position as arms exporter no. 7 in the world, in spite of its small size.  Very far from the “peace nation” Norway pretends to be.  And there is much more, Mr Curtis, but thanks for exposing the hypocrisy hidden by Norwegian public relations activity.

With Norway unmasked there is not much left in the West.

So, Where does this take us?

There will not be any UN reform.  It is easier to make a new organization than remake an old one.  And they come as regional organizations, with their own institutions and no veto rights.

There will not be any deep multilateral Kyoto style agreement on climate.  The whole approach is wrong.  Evils are not abolished by consensus among evildoers; slavery was not abolished that way, nor was colonialism.  One country, or some of them, has to take the lead and serve as example.  It is highly unlikely that the US Congress outlaws profitable, lobby-protected, dirty industries in favor of green industry uncertainties.

But China is well on the way, far ahead of others, following Hu Jintao’s very important speech to the 17th Party Congress October 2007.  Now No. 1 in the world in producing green technology, soon also electric cars, they will not only turn greener but maintain high growth through the export of that technology.  The centers of green production are in Western China, reducing the gap between rich and poor in China.

There will not be any undoing of US torture, it will continue as the evildoers learn that they can get away with impunity, as does Goldman-Sachs financially: Obama looks to the future, not the past.

Israel will not bring their perpetrators in Gaza to justice as that would deplete the ranks of top politicians, nor will the UN Security Council hand them over to the International Criminal Court as suggested in the excellent Goldstone report: Hillary Clinton will save Israel for the 30th time with a UNSC veto.

But somewhere in the future Israeli forces will emerge that drop the geopolitics of ever-expanding zionism in favor of judaism, and seek a community with neighbors declared ready to recognize, including Iran.  And US forces will emerge that bring the USA into a 21st century, with power in the world more evenly distributed.

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 28 Sep 2009.

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