Published Oct 17, 2011 8:23 PM
From: Workers World
While demonstrations against austerity were going on in so many places, an unusual thing happened at the United Nations on Oct. 4. Both Russia and China cast vetoes against a resolution introduced by the governments of four European imperialist countries — Britain, France, Germany and Portugal — that would have opened the door to economic sanctions on Syria.
Only nine of the 15 members of the Security Council voted for the measure. Brazil, India, South Africa and Lebanon all abstained. The U.S. was the main force behind the resolution but did not formally sponsor it for fear that would stiffen opposition to the measure. Nevertheless, this effort to justify sanctions on Syria became “a diplomatic failure for the West,” in the words of the New York Times. (Oct. 5)
Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said she was “outraged” over the vetoes.
Back in the day when there was a Soviet Union, vetoes by both sides were much more common. Since then, however, it has been the U.S. that has exercised its veto most frequently — voting five times since 2004 against Security Council resolutions that mildly criticized Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians, for example.
The U.S., Britain and France hold the record for double and even triple vetoes, according to Professor Stephen Zunes of the University of San Francisco. Zunes says there have been 23 double vetoes by the U.S. and Britain and 13 triple vetoes by the U.S., Britain and France, all imperialist countries with huge economic interests in Africa. Most of these vetoes, he pointed out, were in regard to sanctions and related matters involving South Africa, Namibia or Rhodesia in the 1970s and 1980s. (IPS, Oct. 5) The imperialist vetoes were an attempt to deny support for the national liberation struggles in these horribly repressive colonial settler-states.
So Rice’s “outrage” over this double veto by Russia and China is hypocritical, to say the least.
The U.S. ruling class is once again using the issue of “human rights” as a cover for its schemes for regime change in the oil-rich Middle East and North Africa.
Just last March, Washington was able to get a resolution through the Security Council that supposedly was to save lives in Libya. U.S. Ambassador Rice said creating “no-fly zones” over that country was to “protect Libyan civilians.”
The countries that vetoed the current resolution on Syria had only abstained on that vote, which allowed it to pass. That resolution was then used as justification by the U.S. and NATO to launch a full-scale air war against the Libyan government, freeze billions of dollars of its assets, and lavish money on the mercenary army that they call the “rebels.”
After nine months of devastating aerial bombardment to assist their mercenaries’ ground offensives, NATO still has not been able to overcome the Libyan people’s resistance.
In casting their vetoes this time, both China and Russia, determined not to repeat their earlier mistake, referred to how the vote on Libya had been used as justification for war.
What does all this mean for the Syrian people?
The Secretary General of the National Committee for the Unity of Syrian Communists, Qadri Jamil, led a delegation of Syrian progressives to Moscow on Oct. 10 to thank Russia for its veto preventing foreign interference in Syrian affairs.
Jamil said, “Noninterference opens the road for peaceful ways of resolving the crisis and carrying out reforms by Syrian means and gives the people’s movement an opportunity to get what they want.” (Ria Novosti, Oct. 6)
Also in the delegation was Ali Haidar, leader of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party. “A lot has been said about Syria, but it does not reflect the real situation. We operate in all provinces of our country and we know what is going on there,” he said. He denied that the double veto of the U.N. resolution helped the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. “The veto of the Security Council resolution is a shield for the people’s movement,” Haidar said.
Whatever influence these groups may have in Syria, this is a far superior position to that taken 10 years ago by the Iraqi Communist Party when the U.S. threatened invasion. That party failed to oppose the imperialist intervention that overthrew Saddam Hussein, only to impose a neocolonial regime on that country.