Bush's "wimpification" of the UN (or, St. Petersburg's G-8 summer outing)

It’s both remarkable and incredible how Bush treats and demeans the United Nations. Of course, things wouldn’t have to be that way if the head honcho there – Kofi Anan – consented to have the United States call all the shots. It would certainly make things more pleasant and bearable for Mr. Anan.

Heck! If all these incompetent parasites, as this institution is painted to the American citizenry by the ruling neocons, stayed docile and understood this nation’s lofty mission, Americans wouldn’t be badmouthing them. In fact, Bush might even be willing to retrieve Ambassador Bolton and put him back in the kennel; or, at the very least, keep him muzzled… perhaps even forcing him to shave that menacing, comical mustache.

Which brings up the questions… isn’t this G-8 self-declared elite encroaching on the stated mission of the United Nations? Shouldn’t any business that matters to all people in the planet be conducted under the auspices of the UN? Just who made these people kings and the rest of the world their vassals?

If it’s a question of photo-ops for some of these power and vanity-holders, that could be easily arranged with whatever pomp and ceremony their egos demanded, at whatever resort locations suited their fancy. But let’s separate the perks associated with their positions from the nitty-gritty of getting things done for the betterment of mankind. Bringing this elitism to create the impression that these heads of state can “personalize” things and thus achieve greater results is total nonsense, pure poppycock.

Besides, the G-8 is really G-(1+6+1) with six nations gyrating to the whims of one… and Russia just added for good measure because of its nuclear arsenal and energy resources. Some of those economies have already been surpassed by the economies of other nations; and in a decade or two all, with the exception of the US, will have GDPs trailing those of several other nations, or blocks of nations.

Inviting China, India, South Africa, Mexico and Brazil to the shindig in St. Petersburg didn’t validate or add luster to this G-8 gathering; it only underlined the need for all issues of concern to the peoples of the world to be discussed and negotiated under one roof: the United Nations; or, if this institution is broken, an appropriate replacement.

Whether it is poverty, and the gulf that exists between rich and poor nations; or the planet’s environment; or the world’s health issues; or the subject of education; or human rights; or peace and security… we already have the venue and much of the framework to negotiate whatever needs to be negotiated in order to bring about a better and more just world. Other avenues we take are an exercise in condescension and/or deceit… most often, deceit.

These annual “board meetings,” if you wish to so name these fanciful outings, seem to fail in the most basic and first step of any board meeting: reading the minutes of the prior meeting and judging whether pending issues have been resolved. Few of the projected things really get done. Much of what was promised last year at Gleneagles will remain as unfulfilled promises… like so many others in the past. On the thirty-second meeting, the key issue affecting poor agrarian nations trying to trade their way out of poverty remains unresolved, as it has for three decades. I will repeat a paragraph of the comments I made after last year’s thirty-first meeting, which is just apropos today:

“Poor nations deserve not alms but the dignity of fair trade. Rich nations do want poor nations to come out of poverty, to succeed… but only by sharing from a larger pie. Giving up part of the existing pie, which may represent as much as $600 bn annually for African and Latin American nations in fair trade value, is not in the cards. Not for the US; not for other rich nations. Better to give the poor nations $10-15 bn annually in alms, and have them kiss your hand in gratitude, than to let them have what’s theirs.”

Chancellor Angela Merkel made a point on the last day of this meeting that poverty will have top priority at the next meeting, which she will host in Germany. But good intentions have remained 180 degrees apart from good deeds all these years. What makes us think that the nature of wealth holders will ever change?

Putin closed the proceedings he hosted by saying: “All the goals we set ourselves have been achieved. Not a single issue arose which we failed to agree upon.” As I see it, either there were no goals of substance, or the measuring stick for achievement is suspect… or a combination of both.

This celebrities’ reunion certainly appeared as the least productive in the past five years. I am sure that the conflict involving Hezbollah and Israel [with Lebanon as the pounding bag] will get the blame for the lack of accomplishments. In truth, there was little in the agenda at the start of the meeting anticipated to be accomplished, so the outcome had already been cast.

As for the invited non-players, super-powers in the making most of them, there was a great deal of opportunity to play bilateral, trilateral and even quadrilateral games among them (Brazil, China, India and Russia). It was diplomatic on-the-job training for this cast of pretenders. Manmohan Singh (India) led the way in showing his talent in diplomacy skills, demonstrating that even the Sino-Indian territorial dispute would not stop him from cooperating with Hu Jintao (China).

Biggest losers among losers: the poor nations of Latin America and Africa [as always]. Notwithstanding the remarks just made by World Bank president, Paul Wolfowitz, while in Abuja (Nigeria)… as he spoke of the dramatic changes for the better taking place in Africa. Same accuracy, I am afraid, as he displayed in 2002 with his planned invasion of Iraq. His level of malfeasance couldn’t get any higher than that.

But if anyone needed to learn a lesson, it should have been Bush. He may treat the UN as a pariah and a wimp, but by so doing he is making a fool of himself, showing a lack of leadership and putting at risk the diplomatic well-being of the United States. Bush may feel that the wimpification of Anan and the UN is the emperor’s prerogative, a way of telling a joke… but people around the world aren’t laughing. Not laughing at all.