by Mandelaw Bageru
Let us call a spade a spade: Why Hasn’t the US Been Barred from the UN Human Rights Council?
The United Nations General Assembly voted 93-24 with 58 abstentions to drop the Russian Federation from membership on the UN Human Rights Council, based on allegations and grisly videos and photos appearing to show execution-style slayings of civilians in Ukraine by Russian troops.
While there are calls for independent investigations into those allegations, the US and NATO member state governments have been pushing the claim that Russia is committing war crimes in Ukraine including the major war crime of invading another country, the unasked question in the US media or within the UN-General Assembly is: Why hasn’t the US been kicked out of the Human Rights Council for similar war crimes that aren’t at all allegations, but are well-documented fact? Why indeed, for all the accusations that Russian President Vladimir Putin is himself a war criminal responsible for all these crimes, haven’t a number of US presidents still living been accused of war crimes?
If it was not for partisan politics, a critical look at similar crime cases could legitimately position the former US administrations to be barred from the UN Human Rights Council too. Let us take a look at the next four points:
The first and biggest is the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, when Iraq posed no immediate threat to the US. Not even close to the way Ukraine shares a 1300-mile border with Russia, Iraq had no navy, no long-range bombers or missiles, and is located 7000 miles from the nearest US border. That war, completely illegal, went unpunished, as did the people who ordered it: President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.
Secondly, the 2001 US invasion of Afghanistan. The excuse for that invasion was the claim to hunt down and capture or destroy the Al Qaeda terrorist organization which was primarily based in Afghanistan, guests of that country’s Taliban government, which claimed not to know that the group and it leader, the Saudi Arabian Osama Bin Laden, were plotting a terrorist attack on the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon. Because this was not an attack by Afghanistan, and because the Taliban was ready to surrender Bin Laden and his accomplices if offered assurances that they would not be executed — an offer the US refused — there was no justification for that invasion and for the 20-year war and occupation that followed it, whose aim shifted from pursuing Al Qaeda to ousting the Taliban from power and ultimately agreeing to allow the Taliban to recapture power.
Thirdly, the 2011 US invasion of Libya and the overthrow and murder of its leader Muammar Qaddafi was similarly a war crime, just like the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq before it. It was never sanctioned by any UN Security Council Vote. President Obama, admittedly regretted for the mistake made during his reign, because Libya posed no threat to the US, imminent or otherwise, as required under international law. In principle, President Obama, who ordered that war, is also as much a war criminal as is President Putin. At least the later invaded countries that were part of the former Soviet Union for breach of agreement by NATO’s expansionist and Eurocentric desires.
Fourthly, President Trump, with his Tomahawk missile attacks on Syrian targets and his military attacks inside Syria, is also a war criminal, as Syria poses no threat to the US, and military action against that country too has never been authorized by the United Nations. Even the destruction we see every day on the news about Ukraine pales compared to the destruction that has been inflicted by the US upon Iraqi cities like Baghdad, Fallujah, and Mosul in Iraq, or Raqqa in Syria. Since neither the US nor Russia has ever agreed to accept the jurisdiction of the World Court, none of these criminal leaders, be it Putin or Bush, Cheney, Obama or Trump will ever face a war crimes tribunal.
It should also be pointed out that while the number of civilians killed in the current Russian invasion of Ukraine, horrible as they are, are being tallied in the tens of thousands at most to date, equally, the US is directly responsible for 363,000 civilian deaths, many of them children, in the years since September 2001, most of them in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as in numerous other illegal bombings of other countries targeted in what the US government has called the War on Terror. A string of presidents has been responsible for those criminal killings but none has even been charged.
Washington has been seeking supremacy by imposing ad hoc rules and violating international law. The Biden administration attempts to impose its own so-called “rules-based international order”. From the outset, it is clear that Russia would not simply and easily submit to Washington’s will. Rather, it will only be part of an international community of equals and will not allow Russo-phobia-led Western nations to ignore its legitimate security concerns.
The current reality is understandable, but not the servile and ignorant howls of US citizens calling for sanctions and criminal proceedings against Russia and its leader Putin, but not for the US government’s own war-criminal leaders who should be held to account for the far vaster war crimes that they have perpetrated in the public’s names (and falsely declaring to be in defense of our freedoms) over the last more than two decades.
If nothing else, at least the US media, which boasts of its supposed freedom, tenacity and integrity, should at least refrain from broadcasting fake news and stand bold to reference the home team’s geopolitical crimes while condemning the villain of the moment. It’s embarrassing to be a journalist these days in the US where a 1960s Pravda-like squad of lickspittle stenographers posing as reporters dutifully report on Russia’s latest crimes in Ukraine while at the same time ignoring even the current crime of genocide being perpetrated with US-supplied planes and bombs against the people of Syria and Yemen, which for years now have been targeted as proxy war grounds.
Russo-Ukraine War Emboldened Non-Aligned Nations’ to Stand on Equal Status
In principle, as per the agreement between NATO and Russia, it was clear that Ukraine was to remain neutral and not to be groomed to ever join NATO. Yet, NATO and the Biden Administration were already exclusively busy just before the February 24, 2022 invasion agitating for Ukraine’s and other neighboring nations like Finland’s and Sweden’s admission to NATO and preparing them to provide all required militaristic support to Ukraine should Russia stand on its way.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has brought many nations around the world to decide on not joining the NATO-provoked war crisis camp. Dozens of governments outside Europe and North America continue to remain reluctant to censure Russia following the NATO-Pact 30 to 1 fighting plots. Instead of urging peace, most European nations have taken the opportunity to ramp up arms supplies, feed the war machine and boost the share prices of weapons manufacturers.
Consequently, many neutral nations have refrained from joining multilateral sanctions imposed on Russia. For instance, China has tacitly supported the Russia since its February affirmation of a Sino-Russian friendship with “no limits.” A few others have backed Russia vocally. Likewise, most African and Latin American nations, preferring to remain in the non-allied nations’ camp, abstained from supporting the NATO expansionist war of malicious military industry marketing efforts. In this regard, the Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro openly declared that Brazil “will not take sides.” Indian leaders have also reaffirmed their policy of nonalignment, implying that their nation will seek to stay out of the Russo-Ukraine Proxy way pushed by the NATO alliance. South Africa, Pakistan and numerous other nations around the globe have opted to follow the exemplary neutral positions initiated by non-allied member countries.
These responses to recent Russian aggression shed light on how governments throughout what is known as the Global South are apt to behave if a new Cold War takes shape. Unless governments are threatened directly, many appear content to espouse nonalignment – a policy of avoiding strong support for the West or for its principal rivals in Moscow and Beijing.
Nonalignment may be a sensible strategy for individual countries as a way to preserve autonomy and avoid costly choices between major powers. However, I believe international peace and security will suffer if too many states refuse to take sides in cases like Ukraine.
Significance of Nonalignment
The concept of nonalignment emerged in the 1950s. It implied a refusal to join the rival Cold War blocs led by Washington and Moscow. The concept was pioneered by a group of post-World War II leaders including India’s Jawaharlal Nehru, Indonesia’s Sukarno, Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser, Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah, Ethiopia’s Haile Selassie, and Yugoslavia’s Josip Broz Tito.
Despite representing a broad range of political ideologies, they all saw nonalignment as a way to resist colonial and imperial powers, preserve independence and stay out of the Soviet-American conflict of the time.
A decade later, these pioneering nonalignment ideas led to the 1961 establishment of the Non-Aligned Movement, a loosely organized group that soon included most of the world’s countries and population. Several core principles guided the movement, including anti-colonialism, anti-imperialism, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, nonaggression and noninterference.
Yet the movement faced a dilemma from the start. Whenever the NATO-Alliance violates the core principles like sovereignty and territorial integrity, the Non-Aligned Movement members were unable to stand-up and resist such aggression as they have no military pact among themselves like those within the NATO Alliance Pact.
At times, the movement’s diverse members occasionally took strong unified stands. For example, they joined in opposing colonial rule in Rhodesia and apartheid in Namibia and South Africa. At other times, when superpower interests were more directly in play, however, nonaligned states failed to agree on when to take sides due to ideological differences among member states of nonalignment.
Leftist leaders in states such as Cuba and Vietnam saw the Western powers as neo-imperial threats and sided clearly with Moscow despite joining the Non-Aligned Movement. Conservative states, such as Saudi Arabia and Morocco, tilted consistently toward Washington. Many sought relative neutrality. But all these states remained in the movement, which has no agreed standard for what degree of alignment is acceptable.
The differences among members of the Non-Aligned Movement undermined their ability to exercise collective clout, even when superpowers rode roughshod over norms of sovereignty and self-determination in various parts of the globe.
In 1979, for example, members were deeply divided over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Fifty-six voted to condemn the Soviet invasion at the United Nations, but nine supported Moscow and 26 abstained. Those numbers are remarkably similar to recent votes on Ukraine. Divisions over the Soviet war in Afghanistan weakened the Non-Aligned Movement and undercut its ability to enforce international norms and influence Soviet policy.
The movement’s relevance declined after the Cold War, as its diverse members struggled to define its role in a world no longer shaped by a Soviet-American standoff. Still, the movement has survived, and its 120 members recently celebrated the group’s 60th anniversary in Belgrade.
Revival of Nonalignment
Currently, members of the Non-Aligned Movement are awakening due to the challenging war crisis in Ukraine that still continues. For many governments in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America, nonalignment remains appealing. Most depend heavily on trade, aid and investment both from the Western powers and from China (if not also from Russia) block. Yet countries are told blatantly to choose the NATO-pact way or take the highway. Choosing sides could thus be crippling economically. That provocative danger is apparent in Belarus, which faces stiff Western sanctions for aiding the Russian war effort. Likewise, countries opposing Russia also risk debilitating energy cutoffs. In light of all these, taking sides against China in any future scenario, such as conflict over Taiwan, would be even more costly.
Yet, relative nonalignment remains absolutely attractive from a security standpoint. It enables nonalignment member governments to obtain weapons from multiple sources and limit dependence on any single power. For instance, this is true and a major factor for India, which remains heavily reliant on Russian arms, and to a lesser extent for countries like Vietnam.
Nonalignment helps keep diplomatic doors open on either sides as well. This appeals to governments wary of losing policy autonomy if they rely too much on one powerful state or bloc for political support.
For all of these reasons, nonalignment is likely to continue to be common. In fact, its strategic appeal is arguably stronger now than it was during the Cold War because of greater global integration and demand to be treated on equal footing. Unlike the 1950s, most countries now have strong economic, political and, in some cases, military linkages to both East and West. They want to be respected and treated on equal footing at the United Nations or at any other international arena.
Nonalignment is becoming a sensible policy for individual states, as well as create a check and balance of power play between NATO-Pact and CHINA and Russia. In maintaining international peace and security. Russian President Vladimir Putin has shattered the illusion that territorial conquest and great-power wars were consigned to the past, and in so doing put his fist complete definition of the principles of the Non-Aligned Movement. Reluctance to take sides in such a clear case of aggression can weaken international norms and undermine global security.
At this stage, most members of the Non-Aligned Movement have abstained voting against the Russo-Ukraine crisis devised and propagated by NATO. Also these Non-Aligned Movement nations are directly making trade deals with Russia making the war in Ukraine a burden for the United States and its core NATO-allies to bear.
In doing so, they are making it easier for the Kremlin to sustain its resistance against the expansionist NATO proxy military campaign in Ukraine. The Non-Aligned Movement member nations are sending the message that aggression and territorial expansion by NATO-Pact will not be tolerated. Furthermore, the movement’s members have profound interests in reasserting the dollar dominance in world economy. In order to bring the economic bargain on equal footing China must also bring its currency for global competitive reserve of financial banking and trade. On this issue, sober-minded researchers, scholars, analysts, and others have for months been raising ever louder alarms.
The UN-General Assembly’s Double Standards
Since there is clear concern over the General Assembly’s subjectivity, double standards and politicization, member nations have started to boldly come out and reject the attempts the Eurocentric dominance in the assembly. The UN has been too slow to act, and too much of the interstate system has pushed for escalation of conflicts, not negotiation. In fact, those who live in houses of glass should refrain from throwing stones at others without noticing their own failures and weaknesses. The General Assembly’s Double Standards makes a mockery of the procedures of its Human Rights Council.
Thus far, the 30 European member countries of NATO usually come out masking themselves under mantel of the Human Rights Council and address the UN General Assembly with the spirit and the condescendence of imperialist powers, dictating to others what to do or how to do it.
The UN has failed to do anything substantive about the conflict in Yemen for nearly a decade now. As usual, Washington is 100 percent committed to the defense of Saudi Arabia against Yemen’s Houthis. Incidentally, there remains an urgent need for independent and impartial monitoring and investigations into all alleged violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law, and human rights abuses, by parties to the conflict.
The recent General Assembly resolution against Russia simply relies on NATO-pact’s brute force, with the NATO-sponsors’ ability to have a majority in the General Assembly using all kinds of tricks. Further, the resolution is openly political and violates the division of labor envisioned by the UN-Charter. Many NATO member European countries are now increasing arms spending and investing resources in more and more dangerous weapons. The United States has just approved its biggest-ever defense budgets. All these acts are provocative rather than bringing peopce.
The UN- Security Council and its Eurocentric Favoritism
As it stands currently, Work on Security Council reform is devalued when attention is paid to issues problematic to only one group of countries. The only way to remedy what ails the Security Council is to make it more representative, credible and legitimate by including more underrepresented voices, including from developing countries and Africa. African States attach great importance to Security Council reform to make it more accessible, accountable, democratic, representative and effective, and to better reflect the current geopolitical reality. In 2008, the Assembly unanimously agreed that all five aspects of Council reform, including the question of veto, would be decided in a comprehensive manner; no single cluster could be addressed in isolation. Yet, when a group of pro-reform Member States, including several nations in Africa and India, moved a similar initiative nearly a decade ago, they were accused of promoting a piecemeal approach. It is therefore ironic that the same Member States who argued against “piecemeal” reform, are now supporting a piecemeal initiative which ignores the root cause of the problem. He expressed hope that other efforts addressing Council category of membership and working methods would be treated without double standards.
Ukraine’s Role as The Spring-board of NATO’s Expansionist Game
Washington cares less about Ukrainian independence and sovereignty than Russia. Its primary interest in this particular territory is its strategic geopolitical location right next to Russia. Its other interests are focused on the resources and markets a Ukraine under US influence could potentially offer. Of course, the latter also helps explain Russia’s determination not to let NATO assimilate Kyiv as the capital of Ukraine. If Washington was truly interested in the freedom of the Ukrainian people, then, it would call for a resolution granting autonomy to the eastern Donbass region of Ukraine, where a war for that region’s secession from Ukraine has been waging since at least 2014 when the US/NATO sponsored color rebellion overthrew the elected government in Kyiv. The Russian speaking population here deserves to be granted its independence just like the other 15 Soviet nations. They are tiered of Russo-phobic prejudiced rules. Obviously, the US-leaning government that Washington wants to preserve is being assisted regardless of the just and fair decisions for these two republics of Eastern Ukraine; a government first installed by US and NATO intelligence that may represent Ukrainian hopes, but certainly does not represent Ukrainian independence. Only the Ukrainian people can determine that and their voice is both muffled and mixed. Democratic socialists, unabashed capitalists looking towards the EU, families with old money stolen from the people after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, fascists whose legacy includes killing thousands of Jews and collaborating militarily with the Nazis, and millions of workers and farmers—these are the people of Ukraine. In principle, it is the last demographic, which should have the greatest say in their nation’s future. However, if the rest of the world is any indication, their voice is the last to be heard.
The entire global population watches as the dispute between US and Russia heats up. Russia moves troops around its territory. Washington insists Moscow has no right to move those troops near Russia’s border with Ukraine. The Pentagon is moving some of its forces closer to Russia’s borders: into Poland, Latvia, Lithuania among others. Meanwhile, Kyiv continues to take its orders from Washington—which helped create the current political reality there when it openly intervened in the electoral process in 2014 as part of its expansion eastward via NATO after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The US fittingly insists that Cold War-style regions of influence are a relic of the past and that countries should be able to choose their own alliances. In other words, the US should be able to expand its empire wherever it wishes, regardless of the fact that this is a threat Russia or China. For obvious reasons, Moscow disagrees with this wishy-washy NATO unequal political stand. The current debate over Ukraine is not about freedom for the Ukrainian people, but also about Moscow expanding its influence into Europe at Washington’s expense. A prime example of this struggle is the Nordeast-2 natural gas line that enables Russian energy firms to transport and sell their resource to Germany and other European nations at a much cheaper rate than US energy firms can sell their product in the same markets.
Then, there’s NATO. The naked fact of NATO’s continued existence reveals much about its true intent. NATO is a tool of US empire; a military means to keep the European nations in the alliance under the Washington D.C.’s dominion. Just like the one time ‘Monroe Doctrine’ is unofficially to Latin America, NATO is also to Europe. Masquerading as a benevolent protector and equal alliance of nations, its true purpose is to engage other European NATO member nations in Washington’s pursuit of hegemony. While Washington continues to pretend that NATO exists to defend freedoms that only the United States can dispense, NATO continues to be part of the US empire’s armed wing with its intent to squeeze Russia and China not to stand on equal footing on the global arena. This is truer now than at any time since the 1980s, when the Reagan White House moved nuclear missiles into Europe despite massive protests.
In the world of imperial politics, Russia has two very legitimate points: (1) NATO needs to end its expansion; if not, then, (2) Russia has every right to move its troops around its territory and host war games anywhere on its territories. After all, not only does the US have its military deployed in hundreds of countries around the world, it also hosts war games in countries that border its top two rivals—Russia and China. Furthermore, many of the troops deployed in Europe are there in part to intimidate Russia. Since Washington has so far refused to either stop NATO’s expansionist moves or pull back its missiles and other armaments from targeting Russia. In retaliation to this move, on its part, Moscow is threatening to place some of its missiles in Cuba and Venezuela.
The current NATO-provoked Russo-Ukraine political quagmire is nothing but, widespread geopolitical madness. It is well-known that nationalism is just like religion. It provides identity and it provokes conflict. It is also a very far-reaching term which includes both right and left wing factions and fantasies. Out of sheer ignorance, It manifests fear and phobias against one another.
The history of Ukraine is filled with such stories of its nationalist struggles. Many, if not most are tales of reactionary and royalist dreams of a kingdom where only true Ukrainians live, but there are many others that speak of anarchist, Nazis, and communist utopias of peace and equal rights for all residents freed of foreign domination. When two elephants fight, it is always the grass that dies. Obviously, the people of Ukraine are fighting battles in which they are in the end taken hostages to whoever wins the fight.
The ever continuing NATO’s attempt of arming Ukrainians for a proxy war against Russia is cynical and manipulative and paves the way for an expansion of the war far beyond Ukraine’s borders into Poland, Finland and Sweden. Relatively, a ceasefire should be decided to ask all forces to halt the war while the warring sides and their sponsors come to the negotiation table to end the ongoing armed conflicts.
The motivation for this war resides in the desire to control resources and territory, directly and otherwise. Those Ukrainians desiring independence from Russia are seeing that desire being manipulated by Washington and local politicians with their own designs. Those desiring independence from the new Kiev government are experiencing a similar scenario. The two republics should be given the right for referendum to decide their fate. The longer the war continues, the more it will be influenced by Washington and Moscow. And the more blood will be spilled.
This is a perilous and dangerous time. Watching the horror play out and then preparing for more conflicts in the future will not ensure any of the upcoming climate crisis, poverty crisis or food supply emergency concerns to be peacefully addressed. The old colonial powers have failed to sustain stability and peace. At the end of the day, it’s up to all of the non-aligned nations to build and support movements that can chart another global course for peace, security and justice for all.
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