Reprinted from Global Research
Although President Barack Obama said he opposes "endless war" and "America's combat mission in Afghanistan may be over," he announced that the 9,800 US troops presently there will remain. Obama had previously stated that he would cut the US force in half, but he has decided to maintain the current troop level until 2017.
Seventy years after the founding of the United Nations, armed conflict, especially US wars that violate the UN Charter, continues to plague the world. In 1945, the UN Charter was created "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war." It forbids the use of military force except in self-defense after an armed attack by another state or when approved by the Security Council. Yet the three most recent US presidents have violated that command.
Bush, Clinton and Obama Circumvent the UN
In October 2001, George W. Bush led the US to attack Afghanistan, even though Afghanistan had not attacked the United States on 9/11. Nineteen men, 15 of whom came from Saudi Arabia, committed a crime against humanity. Bush's invasion of Afghanistan did not constitute lawful self-defense and the Security Council did not approve the use of force. The US war on Afghanistan has replaced Vietnam as America's longest war.
Two years later, before he invaded Iraq and changed its regime, Bush tried mightily to secure the imprimatur of the Security Council. Although the council refused to authorize "Operation Iraqi Freedom," Bush cobbled together prior Security Council resolutions from the first Gulf War in an attempt to legitimize his illegitimate war. Bush's war on Iraq was a disastrous gift that keeps on giving. It has resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths, led to the rise of ISIS, and dangerously destabilized the region.
John Bolton, Bush's temporary UN ambassador (a recess appointment since the Senate would never have confirmed him) infamously declared, "There is no United Nations. There is an international community that occasionally can be led by the only real power left in the world, and that is the United States, when it suits our interest, and when we can get others to go along." Bolton added, "When the United States leads, the United Nations will follow. When it suits our interest to do so, we will do so."
Indeed, Bush's predecessor could have helped prevent the genocide in Rwanda. But instead, Bill Clinton prevented the United Nations from acting to stop the killing of 800,000 people in that country. Clinton's secretary of state, Madeline Albright, called the UN "a tool of American foreign policy."
Barack Obama and his counterparts in France and Britain secured a resolution from the Security Council approving a no-fly-zone over Libya in 2011. But the three powers engaged in forcible regime change, ousting Libyan president Muammar Qaddafi. This went far beyond what the resolution authorized. That action has also contributed mightily to the current instability in the region.
The Libya resolution mentioned the emerging doctrine of "Responsibility to Protect." This doctrine is contained in the General Assembly's Outcome Document of the 2005 World Summit. It is neither enshrined in an international treaty nor has it ripened into a norm of customary international law. Paragraph 138 of that document says each individual state has the responsibility to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. Paragraph 139 adds that the international community, through the United Nations, also has "the responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, in accordance with Chapters VI and VIII of the UN Charter, to help protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity."
But the United States and its allies have not utilized the Responsibility to Protect doctrine to protect the people of Gaza from massacres by Israel, most recently in the summer of 2014.
An Institution Created to Maintain the Power of WWII Victors
The objective of the victorious powers of World War II in creating the UN system was to make sure they would continue to control post-war international relations. The League of Nations, which the US had refused to join, had failed to prevent fascism and the Second World War.
In 1942, the United States, the Soviet Union, Britain, and China -- four of the permanent members of the Security Council (later joined by France) -- had met at Dumbarton Oaks, near Washington DC. They hammered out the framework for the UN. A few months before the founding UN conference, the US, Britain and the Soviet Union met at Yalta in the Crimea and made important decisions about the post-war world, including the structure of the UN.
The United States made certain that the founding conference would be held on US soil, and it took place in San Francisco. In order to ensure that the US choreographed the meeting, the FBI spied on foreign emissaries and even on the US delegates themselves.
Stephen Schlesinger noted, "The US apparently used its surveillance reports to set the agenda of the UN, to control the debate, to pressure nations to agree to its positions and to write the UN Charter mostly according to its own blueprint."