« Plagiarism is bad | Main | Same old slander »

March 17, 2003
A Fisking

I'd appreciate any feedback. This is my first real shot (in public, anyway) at a real fisking. But, well, "see the hill - take the hill."

From http://www.commondreams.org/views03/0314-05.htm

The Forgotten Power of the General Assembly
Perhaps because it is eminently forgettable?
by Robert Fisk
Who else?
For 30 years, America's veto policy in the United Nations has been central to its foreign policy.
Well, no. Enlightened self interest has been central to American foreign policy. The UNSC veto is merely a hammer in our national toolbox.
More than 70 times the United States has shamelessly used its veto in the UN, most recently to crush a Security Council resolution condemning the Israeli killing of the British UN worker Iain Hook in Jenin last December.
Shamelessly? I'm rather proud of the fact that my country uses its power to stand up for the only real democracy in the region. (Yes, yes, I know what you're thinking - "What about Turkey?" Well, France and Germany notwithstanding, it's really more a part of Europe these days.)
Most of America's vetoes have been in support of its ally Israel. It has vetoed a resolution calling for the Israeli withdrawal from the Syrian Golan Heights (January, 1982), a resolution condemning the killing of 11 Muslims by Israeli soldiers near the al-Aqsa mosque (April, 1982), and a resolution condemning Israelis slaughter of 106 Lebanese refugees at the UN camp at Qana (April, 1986).
I'd take these resolutions a bit more seriously if there were similar resolutions condemning Palestinian terrorism, Hamas rocketing of Israeli towns, and all the various times that Israel's neighbors have engaged in aggressive wars the sole purpose of which have been to eliminate Israel and the Israelis.
The full list would fill more than a page of this newspaper.
Of course it would. On the Left, volume always trumps rationality.
And now we are told by George Bush Junior that the Security Council will become irrelevant if France, Germany and Russia use their veto?
That's about the size of it, yep. You see, there's a difference here: Iraq with WMD is a danger to the region and the world. The only danger Israel presents the region, the world, and morons like Fisk is the danger of dying in an apoplectic fit, foaming at the mouth.
I often wonder how much further the sanctimoniousness of the Bush administration can go.
I think the word he was looking for was "sanctimony"....
Much further, I fear.
As far as it has to go. But not as far as I wish you would go.
So here's a little idea that might just make the American administration even angrier and even more aware of its obligations to the rest of the world.
Obligations to the rest of the world? Our sole obligation to the rest of the world is to not make parking lots and strip malls out of it - just so long as no one threatens us or our friends. Live and let live implies reciprocity; so does a threat to our national well-being.
It's a forgotten UN General Assembly resolution that could stop an invasion of Iraq, a relic of the Cold War. It was, ironically, pushed through by the US to prevent a Soviet veto at the time of the Korean conflict, and actually used at the time of Suez.
This kind of implies that we could use it ourselves to circumvent a French veto, does it not? I'm sure that's not what Monsieur Fisque means, but let's find out....
For UN resolution 377 allows the General Assembly to recommend collective action "if the Security Council, because of lack of unanimity of the permanent members, fails to exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security".
This sounds better and better....
This arcane but intriguing piece of UN legislation - passed in 1950 and originally known as the "Uniting for Peace" resolution - might just be used to prevent Messrs Bush and Blair going to war if their plans are vetoed in the Security Council by France or Russia. Fundamentally, it makes clear that the UN General Assembly can step in - as it has 10 times in the past - if the Security Council is not unanimous.
It is better - it means we can render the Security Council and the General Assembly irrelevant both at the same time. I'm all for it.
Of course, the General Assembly of 1950 was a different creature from what it is today.
You don't say.
The post-war world was divided and the West saw America as its protector rather than a potential imperial power. The UN's first purpose was - and is still supposed to be - to "maintain international peace and security".
A purpose in which it has failed most egregiously.
Duncan Currie, a lawyer working for Greenpeace,
Now there's a resumé I want to see crossing my desk... on its way to the garbage can. Though seeing as he's with Greenpeace, maybe I'd just crumple it up and toss it in a river.
has set out a legal opinion, which points out that the phrase in 377 providing that in "any case where there appears to be a threat to the peace, breach of the peace or act of aggression", the General Assembly "shall consider the matter immediately" means that - since "threat" and "breach" are mentioned separately - the Assembly can be called into session before hostilities start.
Gentlemen (and I use the term merely out of my own parentally-inspired courtesy, not because I believe the UNGA is actually comprised of gentlemen), you have about 12 minutes to get to your collective act together.

Based on past performance, I don't think the UNGA could agree to a meeting time before combat begins, much less agree to a resolution in that time.

These "breaches", of course, could already be alleged, starting with the American air attack on Iraqi anti-ship gun batteries near Basra on 13 January this year.

Well, let's go just a bit further back than that, shall we? How about the hundreds of times Iraq has fired on US and UK aircraft in the no-fly zones over the past 12 years? Any one of those was sufficient breach of the 1991 armistice to justify resumption of hostilities. It is due only to the forebearance of the US and its allies (and possibly the fecklessness of the Clinton administration) that until now no serious action has been contemplated.

Do not call Clinton's impeachment-avoidance cruise-missile expenditure exercise "serious action". That was perhaps the most pointless use of military assets since Prince Oswald the Incurably Stupid led his soldiers into combat against the scourge of athlete's foot - and lost.

The White House - and readers of The Independent, and perhaps a few UN officials - can look up the 377 resolution at www.un.org/Depts/dhl/landmark/amajor.htm

"Don't believe me" - OK - "look it up for your selves." No, I'll give it a miss. The UN is defunct as a serious organization, and they can go back to their real duties of hosting cocktail parties and tearing up parking tickets. I just wish they would do so in Paris or Brussels instead of New York.

If Mr Bush takes a look, he probably wouldn't know whether to laugh or cry. But today the General Assembly - dead dog as we have all come to regard it - might just be the place for the world to cry: Stop. Enough.

I think Robert Fisk is the one crying. Just can't stand to see the Good Guys win one, I guess. Well, he can stop his whining soon and shortly move on to fabricating US-inflicted-atrocity stories - which I expect by the end of the week.

Update: linkage from Trevalyan and the Emperor - I'm flattered!

Posted by Russ at 07:02 AM, March 17, 2003 in Nat'l Security

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference A Fisking:

A "Cherry" Fisking from The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler
The TacJammer tries on Fisking for size and who else to perform your First Frontal Fisk on than the Fisk [Read More]

Tracked on March 17, 2003 08:29 AM


Pretty good, but I think you need more invective. It was a little too nice to old Fisque. I mean, how can you talk about him without at least one "a**hat", or "f---wit"? Unless this is a family blog.
But I still like it.

Posted by: Veeshir at March 17, 2003 10:39 AM

Good. Very good. Needs a bit more sulfuric acid, though. That is a damnably thick Fisk skull, y'know. :-)

Posted by: Spatula One! at March 17, 2003 10:44 AM

Ya, this is a family domain. I own and operate it, but my extended family is free to jump in.

I consider my self-imposed "harsh language limit" to be more conducive to creative verbal assault - but you may see an "asshat" here from time to time.

I hope nothing worse escapes my keyboard, but I am an Army veteran, and know a thing or two about harsh language.

Posted by: Russ at March 17, 2003 10:48 AM

Just found your site....Love It...I spent a little time with 313th and 519th at Bragg. We had the TLQ 17 and ULQ 19...TRQ 32 as well, but you couldn't push em out of 130. But they could push you..Great Site...

Posted by: Russ at March 17, 2003 12:45 PM

(deep bow) I'm honored, sir...I think. You are talking about my site? :-)

Posted by: Spatula One! at March 17, 2003 03:36 PM

Great job, by the way.

But my main question is, if I'm reading this right, that Fisk thinks this mechanism can empower the UN to stop US action.

The question thus raised is, how many tanks does this thing have. Because unless the UN is about to militarily stop us -- like it could -- it doesn't amount to jack shit.

Posted by: Ken Begg at March 17, 2003 05:17 PM


Yes, that's what Fisk was trying to say. But it works both ways, such that it could be used to override a Frnch UNSC veto - if I read the article correctly (not a safe assumption, given the fact that I haven't slept lately - damn this 24-hour news cycle!)

Posted by: Russ at March 17, 2003 06:20 PM

Well, the first thing that the UN would have to do is call the US, as we provide most of the military that backs it up. Then they have to convince us to use the arms against ourselves, which I am sure we would be glad to do since the UN is so right and all ;-)

Posted by: Dan at March 17, 2003 10:11 PM