United Ijaw * Welcome to United Ijaw on the web. Our preference is national self determination, the independence of Ijawnation as a Sovereign State. A state that promotes sustainable economic and social development, democratic principles, liberty, free enterprise, equal rights and justice. This is our story, this is our struggle. **** On Kaiama Declaration We Stand **** United Nations Under Secretary-General, Dr. Antonio Maria Costa, in Abuja condemned the theft of Nigeria's assets by past corrupt leaders. He said that kleptomaniac leaders stole more than 400 billion dollars from the Nigerian treasury between 1960 and 1999. **** IJAWNATION THINK! THINK. **** Almost $170 billion of the country’s wealth disappeared and ended in the private accounts of individuals between 1999 and 2003 alone... Priye Torulagha ****Nigeria has failed Niger Delta – Nnamani **** Resource Control: Niger-Delta governors are traitors – Evah **** Only the fear of a volcanic social eruption from below can stop barbaric behaviour by holders of political power – Gani Fawehinmi ***** “ if the Confab and Nigerians are not willing to heed to Resource Control, they will take it by force” - Oronto Douglas We Dare To Be Different.
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Strategic Factors and Options:  The management and dissemination of Information

By Priye S. Torulagha
The Ijaw Youth Council and Ijaws of Warri, especially the Federated Niger Delta Ijaw Comunities (FNDIC) and the Concerned Citizens of Warri Ijaws (CCWI) have done a marvelous job putting out critical information about what is going on in Warri.  Specifically, Chief Bello Oboko, Hon. George Tminimi, Kingsley Otuaro (Esq.), Dan Ekpebide of the FNDIC and Capt. Clery Ibojoh, Mr.  Messio German and Gandy Soroaghaye of the CCWI, the Ogele Club, the Ijaw Council for Human Rights (ICHR), Concerned Gbaramatu Kingdom Indigenes (CGKI), Gbaramatu Democratic Coalition (GDC), Chief E. K. Clark and Mr. Felix Tuodolo must be congratulated for taking the risk and time to provide factual information about the events.
This effort is unprecendented in the annals of Ijaw struggle to gain political and economic equality in Nigeria.  Before, the Ijaws would have either remained quiet or provide iinformation in an uncoordinated manner.  In fact, the inability to provide information systematically in the past contributed to the stereotypic characterization of the Ijaws as "warmongering troublemakers."  Likewise, due to Ijaw lack of an effective information distribution system, historical and legal facts have always been used by others against the Ijaws even though in actuality, the Ijaw point of view often represented the facts of the matter.  For instance, in the ongoing Warri crisis, the Itsekiris constantly point to historical and legal facts as a way to demonstrate their ownership of Warri.  It is the responsibility of the Ijaws to tell the full story of Warri, including the fact that the name Warri is an Ijaw word, meaning Wari (house).  When the British visited the vicinity, they met the Ijaws.  Since the Ijaws could not speak English and the British could not speak Ijaw, the British effort to communicate with the Ijaws failed.  However, the British personnel repeatedly pointed their hands toward the direction of the houses, the Ijaws took that to infer that may be the British personnel were talking about the  houses, so, the Ijaws kept saying "wari" each time the British pointed at the houses.   The British anglicized the word wari and it became "Warri."   Ijaw encounter with the British resulted in the anglicization of other Ijaw towns and villages.  For instance, the town of Brass in the Nembe clan is traditionally known as Twon.  When the British traders visited there and tried to communicate, they kept speaking in English and the indigenes kept saying in the Nember dialect "ibrasi" meaning leave me alone.   The British anglicized the word "ibrasi" and it became "Brass", hence, Twon is also called Brass just as Lagos is the Portuguese name for Eko. Even the word Itsekiri actually sounds Ijaw than Itsekiri.  Some Ijaw would say that it is abbreviated or shortened to sound something different from the original Ijaw word.   Thanks Dr.  Nanakumo for the explanation about the Ijaw source for the meaning of Itsekiri.
Despite the sucessful efforts to spread the information about the Warri conflict, more needs to be done.  This is an internet information age.  This means that being able to gather, control, and disseminate information to a very wide audience is very essential in any conflict situation.   It is particulary crucial for the Ijaws since they do not have a major national/international newspaper or news outlet that can be read by both national and international audiences.  The Vanguard is providing an international coverage for the other point of view.  The Ijaws are disadvantaged in this regard.  However, the limitation can be eliminated through strategic and tactical management and distribution of information.
1.  The Ijaws must recognize the fact that there are two kinds of audiences:  internal and  external.  Reaching both is critical for telling the Ijaw side of the story in any political conflict situation.   Failure to do so can lead to disinformation, misinformation, and the drawing of erroneous conclusions by others about the Ijaws.
For purpose of communication, internal audience refers to the Ijaws as consumers of information.  When information is directed at the Ijaws by any Ijaw group, the audience would be treated as an internal audience.  On the other hand, the external audience refers to both national and the international stakeholders (Nigerian citizzens from toehr ethnic group,foreign countries that are involved in the oil business in Nigeria, the citizens of those countries, the United Nations,  ECOWAS, African Union, and the multinational corporations.
2.  Based on the above, it is significant to establish communications with both audiences (internal and external) through phone calls, emails, faxes, telegraphs etc.   Email is the cheapest means to do so.
a.  The Ijaws, through the Ijaw National Council, the Ijaw Youth Council, the Federated Niger Delta Ijaw Communities, the Concerned Citizens of Warri Ijaws, and the Ijaw Human Rights etc. should endeavor to open lines of communication with all the critical stakeholders in the Niger Delta.  The stakeholders include the Ijaws and other Nigerians, the US, French, British, Italian, and Dutch governments and their emassies in Nigeria, the United Nations, ECOWAS, African Union, and the multinational oil corporations.
b.  Each time any Ijaw organization puts out an informational package, such as the series of reports often put out by the Federated Niger Delta Ijaw Communities and the Concerned Citizens of Warri Ijaw and the Ijaw Youth Council, they must also communicate such information to the stakeholders involved.  For example,  the FNDIC on August 7, 2003 released the "Being FNDIC articulation Ijaw Charter of demands on the oil companies as SPDC seeks to resume operations in Warri South West Local Government Council and its environs."  The Concerned Citizens of Warri Ijaws (DDWI) released a report titled "The Plan of the Itsekiris to Eliminate the Warri Ijaws under the supervision of the Delta State Government" on August 15, 2003.  Felix Tuodolo released a comprehensive list of atrocities commmitted against the Ijaws in
c.  So far, it appears that most of the reports have been directed at the Ijaws.   This is good but the external audience too must be reached.   This means that when the Ijaw National Congress (INC), IYC, the FDIC put out any articulated information package, the information should not only be distributed to the Ijaw audience but also to others in a concurrent manner.  In the Warri case, the information should be sent to the Itsekiri, Urhobo, Delta State Government, the Delta House of Assembly, the National Senate, the National House of Representative, the presidency, the Arewa Consultative Forum, the Afenifere, the Igbo, the military establishment, one or two Nigerian websie, the American, French, Italian, Dutch governments and embassies, the United Nations, ECOWAS, and the African Union through their websites or email addresses.
3.  Why a wider distribution of information is necessary?
a. A wide coverage is necessary to deter misinformation and disinformation.
b. It is necessary to do so in order to educate the stakeholders about the Ijaw side of the story.
c.  It is necessary to do so in order to ensure an extensive documentation of the facts.  The Ijaws have been lacking in the documentation of their existence. 
d.  It is necessary to do so in case a political crisis leads to a military confrontation.
4.  Managing and countering historical, archaival, and legal evidence:   It should be noted that the Ijaws began the effective documentation of their ethnic, cultural, and historical facts late in the game.  The lateness is connected to the educational marginalization in which they were subjected to by various power-wielders in the country.  The Ijaws started to go to school in large numbers after the creation of Rivers state.  Before then, they were very few university educated Ijaw citizens.  Thus, the need to build or gather documentary evidence in support of the Ijaw situation and experience started very slowly.  One could recall a project carried out by the Rivers State Council for Arts and Culture to compile and document all traditional cultural practices, religions, games, dances, masquerades, historical and archeological facts in 1974-1975 throughout the state.  It was during this time that many Ijaw areas received systematic documentation.   At this stage of the documentation game, many ethnic groups had already created volumes of documented archival, historical, and legal works to support their suppositions. 
a.  Nevertheless, when presented with historical or archival or legal challenges in any matter, the Ijaws should never panic for lack of a counterbalancing documentary evidence.  There are ways to handle such documentary evidence, as the Itsekiris have been doing to support their claims.
b.  Vigorously challenge any evidence gathered or documented during the colonial  and immediate post-colonial periods of Nigerian history or law.
The reason being that during the colonial period, the British favored some ethnic groups more than others.   The ethnic groups that did not challenge the colonial system  received extensive political, educational, governmental, economic, and historical rewards.  Ethnic groups that vehemently opposed the colonial system were penalized through political, educational, governmental, economic, and historical marginalization.   The favored ethnic groups received favourable historical support of their claims, legal rulings, and political support.  The Ijaws and some other ethnic groups were penalized by jaundiced political, administrative, and legal rulings because they opposed the colonial arrangement with all their might.  Thus, the marginalization of the Ijaws began with their opposition to the colonial system.
An excellent example of favoritism displayed by the British was the division of Nigeria in such a way that the North is larger than the South.  Geographically, the imbalance between the two regions of Nigeria is very absurd, yet, politically, it is accepted as a reality.  The Middle Belt would have been part of the South.  It can be said that the British rewarded the North for its less aggressive oppositon to British colonialism.  The British would have done a better job of equalizing the two regions after amalgamating them in 1914.
Other colonial powers applied the same tactics to divide and sow enmity between African ethnic groups.  The conflict between the Tutsis and the Hutus today are directly connected to the favored status given to the Tutsis in Rwanda and Burundi.  The Hutus are forced to fight in order to get a fair share of the political goods and services, just as the Ijaws are forced to fight in order to have a fair share in the Nigerian system.  
In post colonial Nigeria, the Ijaws were subjected and continue to be subjected to the colonial tactics of marginalization.   This is why the power-wielders balkanized the Ijaws so that they can never muster enough political effort to achieve their goals.   For example, the Ijaws were one of the early groups to demand the creation of states in Nigeria.  They are the last to receive any state of their own.  Those who opposed state creation in the 1960s are the greatest beneficiaries of state creation today.
c.  Do not be cowed by court decisions or legal rulings on issues of territory in Nigeria.  The reason being that during both colonial and post-colonial periods, legal rulings have always been influenced by the political circumstances.  In other words, those who exercise political influence have never been found guilty of any offense.  It is always those who do not have political influence that are subjected to the rules of the law.  As a result, it is the powerless who are always sent to the prisons while the powerful have always escaped the punishment of the law.  In Nigeria, any ethnic group with a sizable influence on government, is likely to win any land case against a powerless ethnic group.  This being the case, in Nigeria, the courts have a tendency to decide cases based on the political configurations of those in power.  For instance, a Nigerian court tried and found Chief Ken Saro Wiwa guilty of a crime he did not commit and hanged him without giving him an opportunity to appeal.  The Nigerian Supreme Court did not waste time to rule in favor of the federal government over the offshore/onshore resource control issue because the judges were influenced by the political wielders of power in the country. 
d.  Government actions in Nigeria are greatly influenced by those who wield power.  For instance, before the Warri crisis escalated into a full blown war, a number of commissions were instituted to look into the Warri matter.  They issued recommendations on how to resolve the issues, yet, the Delta State Government has not been willing to initiate the recommendations.  Why? Because those who wield political influence in the state do not want to chnange the status quo in Warri.
Therefore, when any person or group presents an evidence of a legal ruling on territorial matters, argue against it by presenting the traditional and historical facts on the ground and the political circumstacnes which affected the decision in the case.
e.  Be wary of doucmented historical facts emanating from both the colonial and the immediate post-colonial periods.  Historical facts are often manipulated to provide a supportive evidence for those in power or have influence.   For example, African History textbooks mirrored the political agenda of the colonial powers during and immediately after the colonial period.  As a result, it was considered an historical fact that Mungo Park discovered the Lower and mouth of the River Niger and Stanley Livingstone discovered the Victoria Falls.   For a long time, scholars accepted this evidence until someone questioned the idea.  If Park and Livingstone had actually made those discoveries, it therefore meant that no human beings had ever existed around the mouth of the Niger River and the Victoria Falls.  Of course, the African people have lived in those places for centuries.  Consequently, the historical facts about the Niger River and the Victoria Falls were inaccurate.
For centuries, it was accepted by scholars that Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas.   This view is now being vigorously challenged.   In Zimbabwe, the old African stone civilization was portrayed as non-African by those in political power in Rhodesia.   Concerted efforts were  made by Rhodesian historians and archeologists to characterize the civilization as either Arabic or European.  They believed that black Africans could not intellectually have been able to develop such an advanced society.  Thus, historical facts, are like legal facts.  They are colored by the political views of those in power.  Consequently, do not allow evidence based on the law or history to persuade you from telling your side of the story.
If the British favored some ethnic groups against others, their historians were very likely to paint historical pictures that favored ethnic groups that the British preferred.  After independence, the trend continued with the politically dominant groups influencing the historical and geographic facts of the country.
5.  Pictorial Evidence:  To counteract the propaganda that the Ijaws are aggressive warmongers who are bent on killing innocent people. the FNDIC and the CCWIs should not fail to document pictorially the destruction that have been visited upon the Ijaws by Isekiri militants and Nigerian troops in the latest confrontation.  There is no doubt that the recent clash was well planned and choreographed before the onslaught against innocent Ijaws.  
Thus, when an information package concenring Warri is written or put together, pictures of destruction should also be included.  Send the pictures, in addition to the reports to the stakeholders throughout the world.
6.  Use of Maps as evidence to lay claim to a piece of territory:  Do not be cowed by maps produced during the colonial and early post-colonial periods of Nigerian history.   The reason being that the maps were produced by colonial authorities with the assistance of those they put in power.  In the immediate post-colonial period, maps were produced to favor those who exercised political influence.  Hence, some towns and villages are more likely to appear on the maps than others.  The fact that some towns and villages are listed and others are not listed does not mean that the unlisted towns and villages did not exist.  The Bakassi Peninsula provides a very clear case of  political influence affecting the drawing of maps and the location of towns, villages, and territories.  Nigeria's lack of interest in Bakassi before oil was discovered is now forcing the Efiks, Ibibios, Ogojas and other Nigerians who live in the enclave to suffer due to geographical marginalization and missteps.
a.  It should be noted that since the Ijaws did not have political influence in Nigeria, it was not uncommon for Nigerian geography textbooks in the 1960s to portray Ijaw territory as
unihabitable wasteland.  Infact, the stereotyping of Ijawland by contemporary Nigerians followed decades of geographical disinformation.  One could recall while attending school in Calabar, a geography textbook which displayed a picture of an Ijaw fishing camp as a typical Ijaw town.  This writer argued vigorously that the picture in the geography textbook was not a correct portrayal of an Ijaw town and was almost punished.  Now, it is much clearer while a frantic effort was made by Ijaw detractors to paint a very negative picture of the Ijaws.  The lack of development in the Niger Delta is directly connected to the falsified information in some of the early geography textbooks.
b.  It is a fact that any map anywhere in the world is always filled with names of towns and places that are connected to the powewielders in that part of the world.  This is why some names are listed and others are not.  This is why some regions, provinces, towns, and villages are listed while others are not.
Therefore, do not accept any map as a finality of the evidence available to proof or disproof any fact.
7.  Documentation of Facts:  The Warri crisis should serve as a learning experience over the importance of documenting one's historical, territorial and cultural experiences and facts.   From now on, writing among the ijaws should become a major hobby.  Write about anything and publish the information anywhere possible.
Ijaw writers, commentators, and analyststs should endeavour to publish their writtings in both Ijaw and non-Ijaw websites.  For instance, Feli Tuodolo's "The Ijaw Victims of Official Terrorism," The Ijaw Council for Human Rights "The Many Worrying Wars of Warri: Silence and Inaction is Collusion." Ogele Club's "Message to the State Governors of the Niger Delta Region," Benatari's articles on the Obasanjo's foreign policy connections and his recent article "Ijo Ancestral Tradition," the famous Dr. Alagoa's series on Ijaw History, Dr. Nanakumo's letter "Ijaw/Itsekiri Crisis - Fundamental Questions and Answers" etc should also be published in nonIjaw websites.  This will enable non-ijaws to read more about the Ijaw situation, feelings, and views about things in the country.   The webmaster@NigerDeltaCongress.com and the webmaster@gamji.com will publish any informational article.
Every piece of Ijaw information should be published and documented.   A comprehensive write-up on Warri is needed.  The members of the Political Task Force and the Research Task Force can work togehter to put a major paper on Warri.
8.  Selling Lands:  The Warri crisis should teach the Ijaws a lesson about the need to be careful before selling their lands unnecessarily for cash.  As a deprieved ethnic group, selling a piece of land is like giving away one's most precious good.  It is very easy to become landless in one's own territory if land is sold carelessly due to the need for money.   Currently, there is pressure to sell land in Okirika, Kalabari, Yenagoa, Kolokuma, Ogbia, Epie-Attissai, Ekpetiama, Gbaran, Kabou, Shagbama, Bomadi, Warri etc.   Think of the future before exchanging money for precious lands that might come to harm the people.
Keep up the good works.
Priye S. Torulagha

The United States and Post-Saddam Iraq:  The Emerging Supremacy of United Nations Authority in the World.

By Priye S. Torulagha

An argument can be made that the United States has unwittingly, through Persian Gulf  War II, immensely helped to increase the authority and respectability of the United Nations in the world.  As a result, it can further be argued that the United Nations has finally become a “world government.”  All sovereign nation-states, regardless of their size or power, would now be accountable for their actions at the United Nations, whether they like it or not, because the concept of state sovereignty is gradually diminishing.  To fully comprehend the stated position, it is necessary to briefly explain the historical background and the American reaction to the organization, culminating in the Persian Gulf War II and the aftermath.

The Establishment of the United Nations

As the Second World War gradually deescalated, discussions about setting up an international system that would help to prevent future wars began to take place among the allied powers (US, Britain, Russia,) and their citizens.  This was necessary to replace the League of Nations which collapsed following aggressive military actions carried out by Italy in Ethiopia, Japan in Manchuria, and Germany in Europe in the early and late1930s.   Among the Allied Powers, the United States was the biggest contributor to the founding of the United Nations.   Its public and private institutions and organizations, such as the Commission to Study the Organization of Peace (1939), Commission for Just and Durable Peace, the Declaration on World Peace, A Universities Committee on Postwar International Problems, the Council on Foreign Relations, the League of Nations Association, the Americans United for World Organizations, the Foreign Policy Association, the US Chamber of Commerce, the Committees of the American Federation of Labor, the US State Department, etc. helped tremendously to spur the US to organize the Dumbarton Oaks Conversation in Washington DC in August 1944.  The US, Britain, China, and the Soviet Union attended ( Bennet, 1977, pp. 34-39). 

In a subsequent meeting in Yalta on February 1945, President Teddy Roosevelt of the United States, Prime Minister Winston Churchill of the United Kingdom, and Secretary General Josef Stalin of the Soviet Union met.  The most important decision reached at Yalta involved the acceptance of proposals made by the United States during the Dumbarton Oaks Conference over the voting formula in the Security Council.  A third conference, the United Nations Conference on International Organization was held in San Francisco, USA, on April 25, 1945.  Fifty-five states attended the conference, including less powerful and developing countries.  The Big Powers and the smaller states argued and jostled to strengthen their positions.   Eventually, the Charter of the United Nations was signed on June 26, 1945 by representatives of the participating states.  The United States was the first country to ratify the UN Charter.  The charter became effective on October 24, 1945 after the required number of ratifications had taken place (Ibid, p.44). 

The goals of the United Nations can be summarized as follows: (1) maintain peace and security, (2) promote international economic and social cooperation, (3) promote respect for human rights for all peoples, (4) develop friendly relations among nations, (5) serve as a center for harmonizing the actions of nations, (6) establish justice and respect for international law, (7) take measures to strengthen peace, (8) promote other international organizations and integration and (9) foster tolerance, togetherness, and peace among neighbors.

As a major backer of the United Nations, UN’s headquarters was sited in New York City.  The US agreed to pay the largest percentage of the assessment fees levied against member states to fund the UN.  Hence, the US continues to pay 25%, Japan 15.6%, Germany 9.1%, France 6.4%, Britain, 5.3%, Italy 5.3%, Russia 4.3%, Canada 3.1%.  Some countries pay as little as $13,000 per year.  Cumulatively, the Big 8 (US, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Russia, and Canada) are responsible for 73.7% of the entire United Nations budget (Rourke, 1999, p. 245).  In addition, the US also pays about 31% for peace-keeping operations.

State Sovereignty and Ideology

As soon as it was formally approved, two major issues – state sovereignty and ideology besieged the UN.   Member states became fearful of losing their sovereignty to an all powerful potential “world Government.”  They were also forced to become ideological as the two greatest powers at the end of the Second World War (the United States and the Soviet Union), started the Cold War.  The Cold War resulted in the division of the world into the Eastern and Western spheres or the Communist and the Capitalist Worlds.  The Cold War lasted from 1947 to 1991, ending with the collapsed of the Soviet Union (Rourke, 2000, pp. 34-36).

While the ending of the Cold War has reduced ideological confrontations, the issue of sovereignty is still a major concern of the nation-states.   They fear that the United Nations would usurp their right to make decisions concerning their national security.   Even the big powers are worried of the United Nations authority to make binding laws and resolutions.  Concerned about their sovereignty, member states of the organization have always been cunningly diplomatic in their support of the UN.  They support UN resolutions, regulations, and laws when those acts are intended to have effect on other nations but detest strongly when the same acts are enforced against them.  For example, the United States did not shy away from invoking UN resolutions to force Iraq to comply with conditions or restrictions imposed on its weapons of mass destruction program, but it refused to accept the Kyoto Accords that were passed in December 1997 in Japan.  The Kyoto Accords required the industrialized countries to cut down on the level of global warming gasses (GWG) (Sit, 2001, April 12).  While it does not want its own sovereignty to be trampled upon by the United Nations and other international treaty obligations, the US does not shy away from pressuring the UN to take action against Iran over its secretive nuclear program.  The US wants Iran to comply fully with the obligations of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty by allowing its nuclear facilities to be inspected by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  France campaigned vigorously against the Second Persian Gulf War and condemned American unilateralism.  President Jacques Chirac said that the war against Iraq “shook the multilateral system,,  The United Nations has just been through one of the most grave crises in its history” (CNN.COM, September 23, 2003).   The French reaction against United States unilateral action against Iraq is a diplomatic overstatement, since France does not hesitate to act unilaterally in Africa to protect its national interests.  In fact, France continues to treat Francophone Africa as if it is still a French colonial zone.

As a major founder of the UN, it is easy to assume that the US would always be favorable to an increasing UN role in the world.  This is not necessarily the case, as the US, like other nation-states, does not want the UN to interfere in its strategic interests.  Thus, the US has never been very comfortable dealing with the UN, even though in the post-Cold War era, it is the most dominant nation-state in the world.  The US seems to view the UN as a rival or a competitor that must be put in its place or avoided.  As the UN gains universal popularity, it is becoming a super-state government with authority much far and beyond that of the states.  In short, UN policies, resolutions, legal treaties, and decisions are increasingly binding on the authority of the states.   In other words, the authority of the UN is increasingly becoming supreme, even though sometimes, states are not necessarily expected or obligated to adhere to UN rulings on matters.  As one of the two greatest powers during the Cold War (1945-1990) and now the only remaining world power, the US finds it difficult to accept the authority of the United Nations since the organization depends so much on the capability of the United States to carry out its security council functions.   The relationship between the two is paradoxical in the sense that the UN depends greatly on the power of the United States to implement its resolutions and functions while at the same time, expecting the US to succumb to its authority.

Threatened by the possibility of losing its sovereignty,  American foreign policy makers have always been very careful in courting the UN.  As a result, American interaction with the organization has tended to be shaped and influenced by domestic party politics between the Democrats and the Republicans.   It appears that whenever Democrats control the White House, there is less fear of the US losing its sovereignty.  The Democrats tend to feel more at ease working with the United Nations to solve global problems than the Republicans.  The warmness toward the UN goes way back to President Woodrow Wilson, who, after the First World War, helped to establish the League of Nations.   A universalistic approach to solving world problems could also be found in the foreign policies of Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John Kennedy, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.  In short, the Democrats represent the idealistic wing of the American foreign policy machinery.

On the other hand, the Republicans have never felt comfortable working with the United Nations.  As a result, they have always tended to emphasize an independent or a bilateral approach in dealing with the world.  They strongly believe that the US must either work unilaterally or at most, bilaterally, to safeguard American strategic interests and sovereignty.  Therefore, with the exception of former Presidents Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, and George Bush Sr., Republican leaders have tended to act unilaterally or at most bilaterally.  They also believe in carrying a “big stick and speaking harshly,” if “speaking softly” does not work, to enhance American strategic interests anywhere in the world.  Evidently, the Republicans can be described as realists who believe that the US should pursue its strategic interests without any interference from the United Nations.  President George Bush Jr., unlike his father, is following the traditional Republican approach, typified by President Ronald Reagan, in dealing with foreign relations.

Due to the seesaw battle between the realists and idealists, toward the UN, the US Congress has repeatedly refused to release money due for UN payments.  Those who oppose the UN argued that the organization is a bloated bureaucracy and the fat must be cut through reforms before any US money should be given to the organization.  The realists believe that the US is over-assessed since it pays 25% of the organization’s core budget.  They want the assessment reduced from 25% to 20% on the core budget and from 31% to 25% on the peace-keeping budget (Rourke, 1999, p. 149).  They also believe that most member-states of the organization are antagonistic to the United States.   Due to the perception that most countries are hostile to American interest, the US threatened to leave the International Labor Organization on November 5, 1975 (Bennet, p.250).   It actually left the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1984 and is only trying again to rejoin it (Toyama, May 2, 2003). On the other hand, American idealists believe that the US should work with other nations through the UN to bring peace, stability, and socioeconomic development to the world.  Tired of the American indecision and uncooperative attitude, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien commented “We are tired of UN bashing and it is especially irritating when it comes from those who are not paying their bills” (Time, October 30, 1995, p.74).   The US, has demonstrated through various actions, as shown below, an unwillingness to cooperate fully with the United Nations, when its national interests are at stake.

US Opposition to UN Efforts

During the crisis in the Congo Leopoldville (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo), in the early 1960s, the US and the UN did not agree.  Dag Hammarskjold, the Secretary General of the UN wanted a greater UN military involvement to stop the conflict, while the US tactically supported a lesser UN involvement since it was opposed to the ruling prime minister,  Patrice Lumumba (Rourke, 1999, p.  244).  Eventually, both Lumumba and the UN secretary general died in mysterious circumstances, during the conflict. 

2.  The US is opposed to the Kyoto Accords.  The Accords are designed to reduce pollution standards throughout the world so that green house effect would be curtailed.  The US argued that the Accords put too much pressure on the US economy since it would affect American business operations severely.

3.  The US is also opposed to the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC).  It expresses concern about the possibility of having American soldiers held liable for possible human rights violations in conflict situations.  It argues quite convincingly that since US forces are all over the world to maintain peace and security, its forces should be allowed to operate without the fear of being tried for war crimes in the event of violations.  It further argues that its detractors could easily use the ICC to tarnish its image by incessantly dragging it to court.   Recently, it cut off foreign aid to countries that are supportive of universalizing the jurisdiction of the ICC.  The US even threatened to block funding of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) headquarters, located in Belgium.  The reason being that Belgian laws permit anyone to file charges against any other person or nation-state or organization for war crimes, regardless of where the crimes were committed.  The US is concerned that such a permissive legal environment could allow anyone to file charges against the US or US soldiers in Belgium for war crimes.  After applying so much pressure to exempt its forces, the US secured “another year of immunity from prosecution from the ICC at a vote in the United Nations Security Council” (BBC News, June 16, 2003).    

4.  The US has been looking for a way to forego its compliance with some aspects of various nuclear arms limitation treaties signed with the former Soviet Union.   The arms limitation treaties were intended at gradual reduction of nuclear arms as well as the de-escalation of the possibility of a nuclear war.   Due to the fact that the US is desirous of establishing an operational star-war defense system, it withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) of 1972 (The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, 2002).   The Russians and other countries are fearful that a fully operational star-war system would alter the balance of thermonuclear power in favor of the United States and thereby offset the defensive concept known as Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD).  The Russians are convinced that if the US goes on with the star-war system, a new nuclear arms race could be reignited since other countries would be forced to play catch up with the United States.

5.  The confrontation between the US and the United Nations took a dramatic turn during the debate over whether to use force to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in 2002.  It should be recalled that after the Persian Gulf War I of 1991 in which Iraq was decisively defeated, Saddam Hussein signed an agreement in which Iraq promised to totally destroy its “weapons of mass destruction” (WMD) as well as the programs that supported such weapons.  To make sure that Iraq complied with the agreements and various resolutions, the United Nations sent weapons inspectors to Iraq to inspect and supervise the destruction of any WMD.  The UN inspectors were thrown out of Iraq over a dispute involving the US and Iraq.  The US wanted an intrusive investigative regime to make sure that Iraq did not hide its WMDs while Iraq felt that the US was using the inspectors to spy on the country.  Eventually, the UN inspectors were forced to leave Iraq.  Then, as a threat of war increased in 2002, Iraq changed its mind and agreed again to allow the UN inspectors to resume their investigative work.   The inspectors were readmitted into Iraq to continue searching for WMDs around December 2002.

At this time, the US grew impatient, insisting that it was time to enforce UN Resolutions against Iraq by force.  As France, China, Russia, Germany and other members of the world community insisted that the UN inspectors should be allowed to continue searching for WMDs, the US and Britain produced intelligence reports indicating that Iraqi’s weapons of mass destruction “posed an imminent threat and that Saddam’s government had close links to al Qaeda – the terrorist network run by Osama bin Laden” (CNN.Com./World, 2003, September 18).   The two countries produced additional intelligence reports indicating that Iraq had the capability to launch weapons of mass destruction at a moments notice.  Likewise, the two countries added that Saddam’s regime was no longer tolerable due to its past brutalities against its citizens and those of its neighbors.  The charges included the fact that Saddam had launched aggressive wars against Iran in the 1980s and Kuwait in 1990 and used biochemical weapons against the Iranians and the Kurds in the 1980s.   The two countries then justified the use of preemptive war as way to safeguard their national security.

6. Based on the reasons given above, the US and Britain insisted that Iraq must be disarmed by force since the inspectors were not effective in detecting and eradicating the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.   As the threat of war increased, the UN inspectors were pulled out of Iraq on March 18, 2003.  Eventually, in disagreement with the United Nations and other members of the UN, US and Britain launched preemptive attacks against Iraq on March 20, 2003 and drove away Saddam Hussein from power in April 2003.   Since the US and Britain fought the war without the support of the UN, the Persian Gulf War II is often described by many people in various countries, especially, in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East, as a ‘war of aggression’.   Likewise, US and British presence in post-Saddam’s Iraq is viewed universally as an “occupation” even though the US and its supporters refer to it as “liberation.”

As soon as President Bush declared the war ended in early May 2003, the issue of whether the UN should be invited to participate in the reconstruction and the stabilization of Iraq was seriously debated among Americans and the international community.  In the US, the democrats supported the need for UN involvement while the Republicans opposed UN involvement. The president and most Republicans vehemently opposed any role for the UN. They insisted that the US fought the war alone and it should be solely responsible for rebuilding Iraq. This accounted for why most of the contracts for the reconstruction of Iraq were initially awarded to American companies.  A report indicated that “The USAID has tendered eight civilian contracts for the postwar reconstruction of Iraq since January 31 to a select group of US companies…No foreign companies were invited to tender” ( The AFP, March 24, 2003). Even Britain, the closest US ally in the Iraqi conflict, had to plead with American officials in order to have a piece of the reconstruction pie.   It also accounted for the American creation of the Iraqi Ruling Council, made up of twenty-five handpicked Iraqi leaders from various parts of the country.

The Second Persian Gulf War lasted for a very short duration due to the blitzkrieg manner in which the United States and Britain conducted it.   Despite the great military success, the two countries appeared to have underestimated the financial cost of stabilizing and reconstructing Iraq.  They also underestimated the political cost of trying to effect a regime change without authorization and support from the UN.  It should be recalled that the First Persian Gulf War was fought with the tacit support of the United Nations.  President George Bush Sr. did not go to war until the international community was fully informed and persuaded.  He also did not launch attacks until the very last moment, after having given Saddam Hussein enough time to voluntarily withdraw from Kuwait.  Therefore, the First Persian Gulf War was considered a ‘Justifiable War” by all, except Saddam Hussein, because all the conditions necessary for fighting a justifiable war were met before action proceeded.  Consequently, over thirty countries, including Arabic and Islamic countries, participated in the effort to drive Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait.  In the Second Persian Gulf War, due to lack of UN mandate, even traditional American allies like Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Germany etc. stayed away and refused to support the war openly.  The Arab League drew a resolution when the members met in September 2003, saying “that all Arab states are against any attack – whether against Iraq or any Arab state” (MSNBC News, 9/5/02). By failing to garner support from the United Nations, the US unknowingly or mistakenly created a political situation which rendered its political and military actions questionable in Iraq.  

The lack of UN support beclouded the American and British military victory and thereby laid the conditions for the germination of resistant efforts against the US/British presence.   Angry Iraqis, Islamic militants, Baathist party members of Iraq’s former regime, the Al Qaeda etc. are allegedly reported to have gathered and continued to gather in Iraq to create problems for the coalition forces and the rebuilding effort.   Hence, since the end of the war, guerrilla attacks are reported to go on daily, especially in the “Sunni Triangle” of Iraq.   Rarely a day goes by without an American soldier either being wounded or killed.  The militants are also targeting anyone or any organization that appears to cooperate with the coalition forces.   For example, Akila al-Hashemi, a member of the Iraqi Governing Council, died of her wounds after being attacked.  In August 19, 2003, a suicide bombing of the UN Baghdad headquarters led to the death of 22 people (Simpson & O’Brien, September 25, 2003).   Likewise, a bombing of a Shiite mosque led to the death of over 80 people.

US Policy Reversal on Iraq

The US has finally realized the enormity of trying to stabilize, reconstruct, and democratize Iraq single-handedly.   Consequently, it is reversing its policy on post-Saddam Iraq.  The following reasons accounted for the policy reversal.   First, since there is no time limit on how long the US will remain in the country, there is so much uncertainty concerning the future of Iraq and US/British presence.  Second, the financial and political costs are frighteningly going to be high due to a lack of a no end game.  Third, due to militant resistance, the original plan based on using Iraqi oil money to reconstruct the country might not necessarily come to pass as oil pipelines are regularly blown up to stop the economic stabilization effort.  Fourth, American forces are stretched too thin.  Fifth, the goals of stabilization, reconstruction, and democratization could impact the US economy in a negative manner since they require extensive financial expenditure in Iraq.  It is estimated that the US spends about a billion dollars a month to maintain the American presence in Iraq.    

Having realized the exorbitant costs of the Iraqi project, in terms of money, manpower, materiel, and politics, the US now wants other countries to assist in the stabilization and reconstruction effort.  It is calling on allies and other countries to voluntarily share the burden of securing Iraq.  Other countries are interested in doing so, but they insist that they can only participate in any reconstruction scheme in Iraq through the United Nations.  In other words, they want the approval of the UN before venturing into Iraq, either to provide forces or money.  They also want the UN to lead the stabilization and reconstruction effort and not the US (Dalton, September 10, 2003).  The US insists on being the leading power in the country since it was responsible for effecting a regime change and has the largest number of troops.

Due to the international demand for UN involvement, the US finally went to the United Nations to seek authorization for universalizing the Iraqi project.  Rodney Dalton ( Ibid.) noted “ Now, despite the toppling of Saddam Hussein, the Bush administration is knocking on the UN Security Council’s door, which makes a change from threatening to huff and puff and blow it down.”   The US is working diplomatically to draft a resolution that would be acceptable to the Security Council members so that other countries can support the Iraqi effort.  Secretary General Koffi Annan wants the UN to be involved, hence, he “has asked foreign ministers of the five permanent Security Council members to meet in Geneva on Saturday to seek a compromise on the U.S. calls for international support to help increase security and speed reconstruction in Iraq (Russell & Abdellah, September 9. 2003).  On September 23, 2003, President Bush Jr. officially visited the UN to ask for a resolution that will enable other countries to get involve in Iraq.  This is a 360 degree turn about in American attitude, from a vehement opposition to UN involvement to a request for an official UN involvement.


The implications for the US about turn are many and far-reaching:

1.  Traditional US allies have refused to participate in the reconstruction effort.  They believe that the US has no legal mandate to be in Iraq.  Consequently, they cannot risk their own national interests by participating in an operation not authorized or supported by the UN.  There is no exit strategy.  This means that the US is going to be in Iraq for a while.  The military cost of trying to stabilize the situation is unbearable for a single country.

2.  It has shown that no single power can dominate the world without paying a gargantuan price politically, psychologically, financially, and militarily.  Going back to the Egyptian, Macedonian, Roman, Chinese, Mayan, Mongolian, Ghanaian, Spanish, British, French etc. empires, it is very clear that no single country can dominate the world for any length of time.  

By acting unilaterally, the US found itself alone in Iraq. The pressure on the overstretched US military forces is tremendous.    Prime Minister Tony Blair is paying a very high political price in Britain for participating in the Second Persian Gulf War.  

3.  It has finally made the UN the supreme authority in the world.  No other political authority can compete with the UN.   This transformation is engendered by the moderately powerful and less powerful nation-states which do not want any single country to dominate the world system.  President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil said that the reconstruction of Iraq “can only be overcome under the leadership of the United Nations – leadership not only in re-establishing acceptable security conditions, but equally in guiding the political process toward the restoration of Iraqi sovereignty as soon as possible (CNN.COM, September 23, 2003).  President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa expressed a smilar feeling when he said “The poor of the world expect an end to violence and war everywhere. For us, collectively, to meet these expectations, will require that each and every one of us, both rich and poor – commit ourselves practically to act “ (Ibid.).They want the UN to be the counterbalancing political weight against any would-be-world-power.  Consequently, it is understandable why the French, Germans, Africans, Asians, Latin Americans, and Middle Easterners prefer the UN to take the lead in rebuilding and stabilizing Iraq and not the US.

4.  The United Nations has become a world government in which all states are obligated to adhere to its principles, resolutions, and, and laws.

5.  Any nation-state that refuses to comply with the decisions of the United Nations is most likely to be ostracized politically, economically, legally, and morally.   Rhodesia, South Africa, Indonesia, Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya etc. learned through hard political and economic lessons the futility of opposing UN decisions.  The United States is learning that despite being the world’s most powerful nation, it cannot arbitrarily make decisions about the world without the support or approval of the UN.

6.  The concept of preemption as a defensive military strategy has been discouraged from becoming an acceptable national option for nation-states.  It should be recalled that the US decided to wage war against Iraq on the basis of preemption.  It argued before the war that it has a right to strike first as a way of stopping Iraq from launching weapons of mass destruction against the US and its allies.  In criticizing preemption, Secretary General Koffi Annan stated, “This logic represent s a fundamental challenge to the principles on which, however imperfectly, world peace and stability have rested for the last 50 years. My concern is that, if  it were adopted, it could set precedents that resulted in a proliferation of the unilateral and lawless use of force, with or without credible justification (CNN.Com, September 23, 2003).

States would now have to think very deeply before resorting to preemption as a means of safeguarding and enhancing their national interests.  People are not comfortable with the notion of preemption due to its similarity to aggression.   In other words, there is a very thin line between preemption and aggression.  When preemption fails to achieve its political and military goals, it immediately becomes an aggression.   This is why the US presence in Iraq is viewed by the United Nations and many countries as an “occupation,”  instead of “liberation.”      

The overall implication being that the US, after decades of directly and indirectly opposing and lashing at the UN in many ways, has mistakenly justified the preeminence of the United Nations in the world’s political system.  If the greatest country on the face of earth could not legitimize its military actions without gaining the support of the UN, it means that the era of a world government has finally arrived.   The UN is now the supreme authority in the world and anyone or state that opposes it would live to regret later. 

It is not an exaggeration to say that the authority of the UN has grown immeasurably.  When the UN today characterizes any state as a “lawless state,’ that state is stigmatized for a long time.  Libya can testify to the danger of violating UN laws, resolutions, and treaties.   After refusing to accept responsibility for series of actions, it finally agreed to pay damages to the families of victims who perished in plane explosions carried out by alleged Libyan agents.  Even South Africa had to succumb to the pressure of the UN to change its apartheid system.  Now, the US has learned not to ignore the UN in carrying out its strategic goals. There is indeed a serious cost for violating the world body.  When the International Court of Justice ruled in October 2002 that the Bakassi Island belongs to Cameroon, Nigeria reacted furiously in opposition, then bowed to honor the ruling by negotiating with Cameroon (Lacey & Banerjee, October 11, 2002).   Mr. Charles Taylor’s descent from power in Liberia began as soon as he was indicted by the UN’s Special Court in Sierra Leone.  Iran is gradually feeling the pressure being put by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to discourage it from producing nuclear weapons.   The agency warned Tehran “that it must come clean about its nuclear ambitions otherwise it will be reported to the United Nations Security Council, which could impose sanctions” (CNN.Com, October 2, 2003). 

American realists, through their persistent opposition to the UN and wholesome support for American unilateralism, have inadvertently helped to temporarily defeat themselves and thereby strengthen the role of the United Nations and the politics of multilateralism.   American idealists and globalists are laughing their way to intellectual victory over the direction of American foreign policy via Iraq.

Political and military leaders who are used to abusing the rights of their citizens politically, economically, environmentally, and legally should watch out.  They could be dragged to the United Nations to face charges.   In the nearest future, the posssibility of individuals suing their states and leaders through international legal channels of the United Nations system might become a normality as the UN continues to expand its auhtority.

 Welcome to the United Nations, the Government of the World.



AFP,  (March 24. 2003).  Britain presses US for share of work rebuilding Iraq.  Online:  http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u/afp/2003-324/wl_mideast. 3/24/03

BBC News Europe. (June 16, 2003).  War crimes court swears in prosecutor.  Online:  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europ/2994724.stm  6/17/03

Bennet, A. L. (1977).  International Organizations.  Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey:  Prentice-Hall, Inc.

CNN.Com./World.  (September 18, 2003).  Blix attacks Iraq weapons ‘spin’. Online:  http:////www.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/meast/09/18/sprj.irq.blix.bush/index.html. 9/18/03.

______________  ( September 23, 2003).  World leaders speak out over Iraq.  Online: http://www.cnn.com/2003/US/09/23/sprj.irq.int.un/index.html.  9/24/03.

______________.  (October 2, 2003).  Defiant Iran begins nuclear talks.  Online:  http://www.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/meast/10/02/iran.nuclear/index.html. 10/2/02.

Dalton, R.  (September 10, 2003).  UN’s new role in Iraq.  The Australian.(Online)  http://www.the/ australian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,7218049%5E2703,00.html. 9/9/03

Lacey, M. & Banerjee, N. (October 11, 2002).  World Court rules for Cameroon in prolonged oil-land, border dispute with Nigeria.  New York Times,  Online:  Http://www.globalpolicy.org/wldcourt/icj/2002/1011bakassi.htm. 10/04/03.

MSNBC News. (September 5, 2002).  Arab unify against attack on Iraq.  Online:  http://www.msnbc.com/news/80216.asp?pne=msn.  0/502.

Rourke, J.T. (1999).  International Politics on the World Stage.  7the edition.  Dushkin/McGraw-Hill.

Russell & Abdellah, (September 9, 2003).  Iraq minister makes debut but attacks go on.  Reuters.  Online:  http://reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=topNews&stroyID=3413889.  9/9/03.

Toyama, A. ( May 2, 2003).  We expect the US to rejoin the UNESCO.  Kyodo, News Service. Online:  http:www.unesco.or.rplmeuro/news/rejoin.htm.  10/4/03.

Simpson, I. & O’Brien, F.  (September 25, 2003).  Black day in Iraq as U.S. seeks help. Reuters.  Online: http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=topNews&storyID..  9/25/05.

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Time, October 30, 1995

The United States and Post-Saddam Iraq: The Emerging Supremacy of United Nations Authority in the World


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