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USA vs UN

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NEW YORK - April 4, 2019

The US has felt its weakness in comparison with its Russian and Chinese competitors, and now it has decided to return to long-forgotten ideas. In terms of foreign relations, it decided to abandon the liberal model of the world order and returned to the doctrine of exceptionalism. However, focusing on its exclusivity, the US questions its own engagement with the Security Council, thus it opens the way to the deconstruction of international law and the end of the United Nations. Such actions cause confusion and alarm among Western Europeans, while Russia and China foresaw these events and prepared for them.

The negative attitude of the US towards the United Nations has been building up over the years. Under the Reagan presidency, the US ceased to transfer its contributions to the UN budget, stopped participating in UNESCO, and expressed dissatisfaction with the fact that the organization was critical of a number of manifestations of American policy. Under Bush Sr., and especially under Clinton, there was some warming: The US began to pay its debts to the UN budget and abolished the previously imposed ban on the participation of American forces in UN peacekeeping operations.

The coming to power of the Bush administration once again aggravated US relations with the United Nations and several other international structures. Rumsfeld called for an end to US participation in UN peacekeeping operations. In 2002, Bill Clinton withdrew his signature from the Rome statutes - the statutory document of the International Criminal Court. In March 2003, Richard Pearl published an article in Britain’s the Guardian under the eloquent headline "Thank God, the UN is dead."

The ex-ambassador to the United Nations under Bush Jr. and present advisor on national security under President Trump, John Bolton also opposes the UN special powers. In his opinion, the situation when someone can force his country to take on any obligations is unacceptable. So the five powers that are the permanent members of the Security Council in New York form a world-wide directorate which defines the law of nations… but they cannot oblige the US to do anything.

In principle, there is nothing new in this position. Washington has always demonstrated such "exclusivity." Nowadays, It has reappeared in a very particular international context. And this position will undoubtedly shake up the existing world order.

If you look deeper, we will see that the US’s “exclusivity” is based on the myth of the “pilgrim fathers”: the Puritans, who in England were considered dangerous fanatics and were persecuted for it, found refuge first in the Netherlands and then in America, where they arrived on the Mayflower in 1620. They built there a new "democratic state," a "Light on a Hill," designed to uplift the world. That is, the US, in its view, is an “example” for others, and their mission is to convert the world, according to the will of God.

Of course, historical realities are very different from such a picture, but no one is interested in reality.

For two centuries, every US President, without exception, has used this historical falsification. Based on this thesis, they:

-  negotiate, sign and accept agreements while leaving various reservations and conditions that allow them to avoid the consequences of non-implementation of these agreements within the country;

-  they claim that they are the ones who follow "God's will," while their enemies go against this will and, therefore, the responsibility for the same actions is different (double standard);

- do not recognize any international jurisdiction in relation to internal affairs.

This attitude has always been puzzling. But Europeans did not make any effort and did not even try to understand the peculiarities of the thinking of others. For example, they believe that the US abandoned the Paris Climate Agreement because Trump is obscurant. But he is not. In fact, this is Washington’s constant position. The 2015 Paris Agreement was preceded by the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which Washington also did not recognize. Moreover, the United States very strongly urged all other countries to take part in the Kyoto Protocol. The US itself did not enter. Why? Because it imposed conditions on itself.

President Clinton tried to negotiate reservations, but the UN rejected them. Then he signed the Protocol and sent it to the Senate for ratification. The latter unanimously rejected it, providing an argument for a new tour of such negotiations. It should be understood that the rejection of any international legal provision affecting domestic law does not mean that the United States rejects the very idea of this agreement or that it would make no effort to do so. They simply do not allow interference with domestic legislation.

Exceptionalism means that the US is "a nation like no other." They consider themselves an example of democracy and refuse to be equal with others, which on this basis cannot, in any case, be considered democratic. During the Cold War, the Allies diligently did not notice this cultural characteristic, because the US was the leader of the world order, and the opponents did not care about it. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the world became unipolar. The Western system received a new impetus for development and this topic was not discussed. And today, when the entire capitalist system is in the deepest crisis, it is this cultural characteristic of the policy of the world hegemon that is destroying the existing system of collective security.

It should be noted that there are two other states that have something close to the American doctrine of exceptionalism--Israel and Saudi Arabia.

In this context, it would be interesting to consider the situation with the recognition by the US of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

A bit of history: As a result of the six-day war (1967), Israel occupied the Golan Heights belonging to Syria. Resolution 242 of the Security Council, "emphasizing the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war," ordered "the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict."

In 1981, the Knesset unilaterally decided to violate this resolution and annex the Golan Heights. The Security Council responded with resolution 497, which states that “the Israëli decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction, and administration in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights is null and void and without international legal effect"..For 38 years, the UN has failed to enforce these resolutions, but they remain immutable, and the United States has always supported them.

However, on March 26, the United States recognized the Golan Heights as Israeli territory, that is, they legitimized the seizure of territory by war. Going to this step, they gave up their votes in the Security Council regarding the Golan Heights for the past 52 years and the principles laid down in the UN Charter. However, this is the first time that the United States has abandoned its votes in the Security Council.

Washington argues its decision by taking note of the real state of affairs. The Golan Heights were occupied by Israel in 1967, and since 1981 it has ruled them as its own territory. That is, due to American exceptionalism, the real state of affairs of a God-fearing ally of the United States prevails over international law, which is set out by unscrupulous partners.

Then Washington notes that giving back the Golan Heights to Syria, which in its eyes is nothing but a criminal organization, is bad, and it’s very fair to help an Israeli ally. According to the doctrine of exceptionalism, the United States, “a nation like no other ” has such a right, and they have such a mission.

However, today the US’s leading position in the world has weakened. They are openly challenged by China, Russia, and even Venezuela. At the same time, the previous world order does not provide them with exceptionalism. In order to maintain their dominant position, they concentrate on the part of the world that they still control. With Trump coming to power, the US managed to slow down its recession. But on the domestic political arena, a real war broke out with the forces representing the interests of global financial elites. Trump was forced to make a deal with the Deep State (as evidenced by the appointment of Elliott Abrams and the withdrawal of the charge of collusion with the enemy brought by prosecutor Robert Muller), in order to stay in power. The system, which for a long time ensured the exceptional position of the United States in the world, continues to collapse.

US President Woodrow Wilson was, no doubt, the architect of the League of Nations at the end of the First World War. But this organization was based on the equality of states, according to the ideas of French statesmen Aristide Briand and Leon Bourgeois, and therefore came into conflict with American exceptionalism. This is why the US never became a member.

And the United Nations, one of the architects of which was President Roosevelt, united a democratic assembly of states and a world directorate — the Security Council, inspired by the system of governance according to the Congress of Vienna (1815). This allowed the US to participate in this organization, which they did.

Today, the US is no longer able to exercise authority over Russia and China, and for now, there is no point in dealing with these two powers. Therefore, they want to withdraw from the UN.  

On this occasion, many experts and politicians fall into hysterics and shout loudly about the need to preserve the old world order. The most interesting thing is that they themselves perfectly understand the impossibility of this, but continue to repeat their mantras. But it would be better to ask why these two systems turned out to be so shaky: The League of Nations was based on equality of states, but not on equality of peoples, and the United Nations tried to impose universal morality, ignoring national differences. Now it is necessary to develop a new model. And the contours of this model are already visible.

In fact, the world is moving towards not creating a third international organization after the League of Nations and the UN, but towards dividing the world into several zones organized according into different legal models. The US, however, remains the leaders of one only of these zones. The second such zone will be formed by the countries included in the so-called “Eurasian partnership.” Unlike the Cold War period, when it was almost impossible to move from the East to the West and back, but both blocs accepted the single legal system of the United Nations, the new system would divide the world into zones of influence, where, in general, capital, labor, and goods could flow but they will be organized according to different legal models.

Author: USA Really