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John Passant

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September 2009



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The United Nations: Gaddafi is right

Ignore the way he spoke; much of what Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi said  in his speech to the United Nations about the UN was both sensible and defensible.

Gaddafi tore up the UN Charter. I would too. 

This is a document of lies about democracy, peace and security and universal rights; rights that the imperialist powers trample over every day.

Gordon Brown in speaking after Gaddafi’s said he had come to defend the UN Charter, not to tear it up.  He called on all nations to support its universal principles.

Perhaps Britain and the other members of the Security Council – the US, China, Russia and France – could begin by doing just that. 

It is not the poor and oppressed nations who invade other countries and kill millions; it is not the poor and oppressed nations who enslave Africa and many other parts of the world in poverty; it is not the poor and oppressed nations whose militaries threaten the world; it is not the poor and oppressed nations who imprison Palestine; it is not the poor and oppressed nations who threaten us all with nuclear annihilation.

Here’s one quote from Gaddafi’s speech, a quote that most people can agree with:

Superpowers have interests and they use the power of the United Nations to protect their interests. The third world is terrified and being terrorised and living in fear.

Gaddafi’s point was that the UN  is the plaything of the big powers.  When these robber baron nations agree (for example over Afghanistan) then they mount joint imperialist wars against the oppressed nations. 

When they disagree (for example over Iraq) the imperialist powers act unilaterally.

Either way the end result is a world living in fear – fear of imperialism and its soldiers, drones, mass killings and the misery and the poverty they inflict.

If the choice is between the principles of the UN or their own imperial interests, the major powers choose their own interests every time. 

Let’s take the UN commitment to peace and security.

The five permanent security council members have used this as a smokescreen to launch war after war since the UN was established. 

Gaddafi named a few.  Korea, the Suez canal, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan were at the top of his list.

He called for an investigation into these wars, with a view to prosecuting those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

There is nothing remarkable about this. 

Any decent international human rights lawyer not caught up in the imperialist project can tell you that every US president since the establishment of the UN charter is a war criminal. 

But given the fact that the US military is as big as the next sixteen nations combined, you just cannot prosecute them.

But it is not only ‘direct’ imperialist wars that we should consider.

As Gaddafi pointed out, since the establishment of the UN there have been 65 wars. That’s just over one a year.

Almost all of them are the consequence of imperialism, especially the rivalry between the major imperialist powers.

Gaddafi called the Security Council – made up of the five major imperialist powers and some elected nations – the Council of Terror. 

He’s not quite right there because that gives the impression that these major powers act in concert.  They don’t often do so because their interests don’t often coincide.

But they are the council of terrorists. 

The US, often with Britain and sometimes with France  in tow,  has killed tens of millions around the world and displaced hundreds of millions to protect its pre-eminent role in the global economy and extend its Empire.

The British and French brutally established their colonies across the globe.

Russia, in its state capitalist days, held Eastern Europe in its grip. Now it rules Chechnya and parts of Georgia brutally through puppets and troops.

The Chinese occupy Tibet and terrorise national minorities like the Uighur.

In the long term the Chinese pose the major threat to the American empire so US foreign policy is dominated by its attempts to both encircle and engage the Chinese ruling class.

It is this clash between imperialisms which is the driver for war in the world today. Until working people in those countries overthrow their imperialist rulers there can be no peace.

Even most of the current wars are caused by imperialism or are proxies for imperialists fighting for influence and power. 

Afghanistan is in part a US  attempt to encircle China.

The invasion of Iraq with its million dead and millions dispossessed was mainly about the US controlling the flow of oil from the Middle East to China and showing the rest of the world that the US was the most powerful military power in the world. If you don’t obey us you could end up like Iraq. 

Gaddafi also called for the will of the member nations to prevail over those of the five imperialist powers on the Security Council.

Again, there is nothing remarkable about this.  It is perfectly legitimate to call for the democratisation of the UN.

It won’t happen because the UN is the creature and plaything of imperialism, not its master.

Lenin called the League of Nations, the precursor to the UN, a unification “on paper only; in reality it is a group of beasts of prey, who only fight one another and do not at all trust one another.” 

He called it a Thieves’ Kitchen, a “piece of fakery from beginning to end; it is a deception from beginning to end; it is a lie from beginning to end.”  

The same is true of the UN. 

The  predilection of the Thieves’ Kitchen for war since 1948  just shows this reality.

Gaddafi also called for the West to pay $7.7 trillion in compensation for its past and present stripping of the wealth of Africa.

Again, there is nothing remarkable about this.  Early capitalism was built on the labour of slaves and their trade. 

The spread of capitalism to Africa saw its wealth and productive base stolen or destroyed.

Capitalism’s wealth is built in part on that destruction. Imperialism condemns Africa to a lifetime of poverty. The UN perpetuates that.

A humane society would take steps immediately to organise production to satisfy the human needs of all – including our  billion African brothers and sisters – to food, running water, housing and energy.

Such a society is only possible through the democratisation of production, that is through democratic working class revolution.

 The West, and its mendicant media, will make fun of Gaddafi.

Let’s cut through the bullshit. 

Gaddafi was right. The UN is part of the problem, not the cure.

 When we see George W Bush, Tony Blair and John  Howard, along with the new crew of criminals like Obama, Brown and Rudd, in leg irons at the Hague then and only then will we know that there is justice in the world.



Comment from Justin
Time September 25, 2009 at 11:20 am

hah! this has given me the biggest laugh I’ve had in weeks! Yes, taking advice from a nice old despot like Gaddafi, what a hoot! Next thing you’ll be saying that poor old Robert Mugabe is simply a victim of the West – well there is probably 14 million Zimbabweans who would disagree, as there would be plenty of Libyans who would also laugh to hear you praising Gaddafi!

This whole article is just gold, I may print it out just to cheer myself up on cold rainy days…!

Comment from SOL
Time September 25, 2009 at 11:57 am

Justin :
I read your comment & could’nt find any supporting argument – only peanut-gallery heckling . You are lowering the tone of the blog , mate

Comment from John
Time September 25, 2009 at 12:00 pm

Thanks Justin. I don’t see anywhere in my article where I support the dictatorship. In fact that is more an accusation you can throw at Gordon Brown and Barack Obama than me.

I fail to see what Mugabe has to do with the argument. It’s like me suggesting Obama is in the pocket of the Saudi Arabian dictatorship – ludicrous.

I look forward to the day when working people sweep all the dictators of the world away, both those whom the US supports and those whom it opposes. How about you?

Perhaps instead of abusing me, you might like to do something original for a change and address the ideas in the article such as the UN being the plaything of imperialism.

However I doubt dealing with ideas and participating in rational debate are your forte.

Comment from David Jackmanson
Time September 25, 2009 at 3:22 pm

Surely Gaddafi is just posturing as well though? He’s been snuggling up to the people he just denounced over the last half-a-decade.

It reminds me of Arab leaders denouncing Zionism (which deserves to be opposed, not just denounced) as a way of diverting public dissent from themselves. I can’t help thinking that any real revolution would get rid of a dictator like Gaddafi just as much as it would get rid of the capitalist leaders.

Comment from John
Time September 25, 2009 at 5:43 pm


I am not sure if Gaddafi is posturing or not. I suspect that, as the person painted as the most evil of the evil in imperialism’s eyes at various stages there may be some real feeling in what he says, as well as an attempt to relate to the Arab and others masses who suffer the consequences of US imperialism daily.

I think the comment about anti-zionism is apt, and may well be the case here too with Gaddafi.

But I don’t think that is the important issue.

To me the point is to take what he says as the starting point for a socialist analysis of the UN.

And as I said in the post above, I am for revolutions sweeping away dictators like Gaddafi, the House of Saud, Mubarak and so on. These may or may not end up being working class revolutions.

I see Gaddafi as a capitalist leader by the way. I don’t know much about the structure of capitalism in Libya but suspect it is some variant of state capitlaism. Other readers might like to inform the discussion on that. But that takes us a little away from the UN and its role.

In any event I am not quite sure what distinction you are drawing or making about revolution sweeping away Gaddafi as well as the capitalist leaders.

Comment from David Jackmanson
Time September 25, 2009 at 10:13 pm

John, I guess I’m just making the point that even though there’s some truth in what he says, we have to distinguish between real popular movements and attacks on capitalism that dictators make for their own cynical reasons. It’s easy to denounce and tear up the UN Charter, it’s a lot harder to genuinely change society.

I’ve seen Australians walking around in T-shirts with Chavez’ face on them, for instance, which to me goes too far. I think there’s a danger of getting excited by people who are disliked by the capitalist leaders and trappping yourself in a position where you can’t criticise them, no matter how far they stray from revolution.

Comment from John
Time September 25, 2009 at 11:10 pm

David, I agree with your comments. That doesn’t stop socialists from making the arguments that Gaddafi put on to the agenda to win people to our revolutionary position, or influence their thinking for future social struggles.

Did you read the piece I posted by Mike Gonzalez about Venezuela? Again I have to agree about T shirts with Chavez, but the Gonzalez piece was interesting because it identified trends and forces within Venezualan society which had the potential to sweep the old order and the new nascent ruling class away.

I am certainly not getting excited by Gaddafi or have illusiosn in him. I merely use his comments to discuss what I think the analysis of the UN should be.

And all in all I think my analysis of the UN is adequate.

Comment from Arjay
Time September 25, 2009 at 11:33 pm

The UN is just part of the problem like the World Bank who are both selfserving institutions,that trap poor countries into debt.They loan money to corrupt regiemes who then squander it on Western consumerables but fail to recognise that real weath exists in your own population,hence we have the proliferation of debt slavery,expressed from tolled roads,expensive housing to a failed medical system.

How is it that the largest Island on the planet with one trillion GDP with the smallest pop per hectare has so much poverty?

Comment from Benjamin Solah
Time September 29, 2009 at 2:34 pm

Totally agree with you John. The UN is a real sham. All of these powers do horrible things so why would it be logical to think they can be a force for good when they all get together?

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