Annual ritual at the United Nations

Hollywood movies of the 1950s often depicted Africans as savages showing semi-clad men dancing around a fire while their “dinner” –” a white explorer –” was tied to a post before being barbequed. In the movies, the white man was rescued by other whites before the savages could roast and devour him. Such racist depictions have since given way to more subtle forms but attitudes have not changed much. It is, however, another ritual, enacted by men, and some women, claiming to be civilized, that we must consider. Each September, heads of state from around the world flock to New York for the opening session of the United Nations General Assembly. While New York may be located in the US, the self-proclaimed leader of the “civilized world,” it easily surpasses in savagery anything the Hollywood-depicted Africans could ever be accused of. It is not merely crimes perpetrated by individuals but also by executives of major corporations that affect the lives of millions of people globally. Yet one would be hard pressed to find any mention of such criminal behaviour when heads of state take the podium at the UN.

This year’s annual ritual was little different although US President Barack Obama adopted a slightly different tone even if there is no change in US policies from those of his predecessor. Obama talked about a collective effort to address climate change as well as berated Iran and North Korea for their nuclear programs without admitting US refusal to abide by its nuclear treaty obligations. The UK, France and other Western countries followed suit. There was no mention or acknowledgement of Israel’s nuclear stockpiles or its horrendous crimes against the Palestinian people, most notably in Gaza about a year ago. The US is the biggest polluter in the world yet it wants others to clean up the mess. Perhaps this is what it means by collective effort and responsibility!

Western rulers talk in moralistic tones about adhering to international law and the UN charter but seldom follow their own advice. Iraq was invaded and occupied on a pack of lies yet there is no mention of putting US officials on trial for war crimes. The US and its allies are guilty of such other horrible practices as torture, rape and murder. Abu Ghraib, Bagram and Guantanamo Bay as well as scores of “ghost” prisons testify to the barbarity of their collective behaviour yet they prattle about the rule of law and the will of the “international community.”

This year, the UN also had an unexpected guest: Colonel Muammar Qaddafi of Libya. This was the Libyan leader’s first appearance at the UN in his 40-year rule. While the Western media ridiculed him for his rambling speech, Qaddafi made some interesting points including a demand for $7 trillion in restitution to Africa for slavery as well as the West’s robbery of its resources. He also mentioned the inherent injustice of the veto wielded by the permanent five in the Security Council. Who gave the US, Britain, France, Russia and China the right to decide how the world should be governed? In reality, most decisions are made by the US and Britain, often to the detriment of the rest of the world. The US is the biggest offender in defence of Zionist Israel despite its appalling record of human rights violations of the Palestinians as well as continued occupation of their land in violation of Security Council resolutions.

It is such hypocrisy that irks the rest of the world. When President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad highlights Zionist atrocities, he is immediately branded an anti-Semite and accused of threatening to “wipe Israel off the map.” This lie is peddled so often, both by the corporate-owned Western media as well as Western governments that ordinary people are left in the dark about what the Iranian president has actually said. He has called Zionism a racist ideology. It is. He has called for the dismantling of the Zionist regime, like the apartheid regime in South Africa, and demanded that a referendum be held in Palestine in which all the original inhabitants –” Muslims, Christians and Jews –” should participate to determine the kind of state and system they want. Clearly, the Zionist invaders from Europe and North America find such a reasonable proposal a threat to their exploitative policies hence the vicious campaign of lies and distortions against President Ahmedinejad. But this campaign is wearing thin as people start to see through the lies being spun about Israel’s benign nature, especially in view of the horrendous crimes it perpetrated in Gaza.

During President Ahmedinejad’s UN speech, when American, British, Canadian and Israelis delegates walked out, other delegates felt offended at the immature behaviour of the Western trio and their illegitimate Zionist offspring. Attitudes are changing at the UN but unless the inherent injustice of veto is removed, there will be no peace in the world. The West’s collective record disqualifies it from wielding such power regardless of the annual ritual at the UN.