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The United Nations

Since the emergence of the United Nations sixty years ago onwards, the United States has always been the key player in the system. The relationship between these two political actors migrated from the “love” to the “hate” poles. Within a period from 1993 to 2008, the US participated in a range of UN-sponsored worldwide activities at different levels, starting from humanitarian aid and ending with nation-building attempts.

Since 1993 and up to 2001, Washington demonstrated a selective multilateral approach to international affairs, whereas upon the terrorist arrack of 9/11 (2001) and introduction of the so-called Bush Doctrine in 2002, the US turned toward a more unilateral strategy. This caused a great degree of bewilderment and suspicion within the UN member state community. The injured connections between the US and UN are being healed now as part of the UN reform. The current project will be dedicated to the analysis of relations between the US and UN within a period from 1993 to 2008.

The paper will focus on the four following issues: (1) differing concepts between the US and UN over security during the period; (2) levels of US participation in UN activities over the period; (3) current attitude of UN members toward the US and the reasons behind it; and (4) future of the US-UN relationship. Security has been the focus of the UN since its inception on October 24, 1945. It supported the four key concepts – Peace, Independence, Development and Human Rights – that were outlined in the UN Charter (Emmerij, Jolly, & Weiss, 2001).

This essential document has assumes that all member states are interconnected by the mutual bonds of sovereignty and collective responsibility to defend each other against various threats. For example, if a terrorist group attacked France, other UN member states would react accordingly by aiding the hurt country and punishing the abuser. As Boulden and Weiss (2004) have put it, the UN represents a multilateral environment where all participants should address the problem even if they are not directly affected by it.

Dobson and Marsh (2002) also stressed that the original idea of the UN was to create “a collective security organisation where all would be responsible for each other’s security, but effective policing depended upon great power unanimity” (p. 20). In other words, the concept of security as outlined by the UN means that sovereign member states fit their domestic policies to the global policy with the interests of international justice and stability being superior to local interests. Contrastingly to the abovementioned conceptualization, the US as one of UN member states is remarkable for its isolationist position.

Bill Clinton as the forty-second US president initially was charmed by the idea of multilateralism that was inherent in the Wilsonian approach to foreign affairs. This conceptual framework implies the right of states and ethnic groups for self-determination as part of democracy and rejects anti-isolationism in favor of multilateral engagement to promote peace and freedom. Presidential candidate Clinton used to criticize Bush I for the lack of Wilsonian neo-liberalism in the latter’s political course. However, when Clinton took office, the loss of 18 American soldiers in Somalia during the 1993 U. S.

intervention made him betray the previous idealistic ideas. The ‘Somalia syndrome’ (Boulder & Weiss, 2004; Dobson & Marsh, 2002; Drew & Snow, 2006) or unwillingness to carry human and financial casualties overseas helped the U. S. leader to re-define the concept of security and arrive at a more pragmatic viewpoint. The US attempt to mediate the 1993 Somali Civil War seriously undermined Washington’s faith in assertive multilateralism as a strategy of acting within the UN framework. Next time the White House was asked to obey to the UN Security Council prescriptions concerning collective actions (e.

g. , the Bosnia crisis), the Clinton’s administration kept withholding the deployment of US troops in the region of interest (i. e. Bosnia) up to the last moment (Dobson & Marsh, 2002; Drew & Snow, 2006; Rast, 2004). The hypothesis that the US avoided immersing completely into the UN multiparty network is supported by the following: in 1994, the year upon the Somali Civil War, Congress restricted budget for overseas offensive operations, but throughout the two Clinton’s terms the government continuously lobbied an increase in the defense budgets (Dobson & Marsh, 2002; Goldman & Berman, 2000).

Bush II formulated the concept of national security even more clearly as tailored specifically for US needs. The so-called Bush doctrine (outlined in the 2002 State of the Union Address, President’s speech at West Point in June 2002, and in the 2002 New Security Strategy, Dombrowski & Payne 2003) includes two postulates: preemptive attacks against rampant agents (i. e. individuals, organizations, and states which conduct acts of terrorism and develop weapons of mass destruction) and indiscrimination between those openly practicing terrorism and their assistants. Dombrowski and Payne (2003) commented on the doctrine as follows:

Although neither element is altogether new to American policy, the combination of the two propositions and the blunt declaration that these propositions will guide U. S. policy not only in a specific case (for example vis-a`-vis Al Qaeda or Iraq), but as an overarching guide for U. S. strategy in the coming years, represents a notable departure from previous announced policies. (p. 398) In other words, other UN member states felt as if the US overtly declared its ability to act independently of the UN community and initiate direct preemptive strikes against any party, including strategic partners.

Upon the U. S. invasion of Afghanistan (November 13, 2001), some critics lamented that Washington stepped outside the international legislative framework in regard to collective security, but that was hardly the case. The U. S. abode to UN Security Council Resolution 1368 that lauded “the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence” (Boulden & Weiss 2004, p. 105) as an allowable reaction to terrorism. It’s another matter that the document provided no restrictions or recommendations for the strategies to adopt upon a fair defensive act.

It means that the UN still holds “a rather idealistic world sight” (Hilpold, 2005, p. 391) concerning the concepts of interstate equality and mutual dependence, trust and balance of powers, whereas the US places its security, integrity and national interests above the global sovereignty. Within a period of interest, the US has been involved in the UN-sponsored activities at various levels. Until the very recent moment, those examples of participation could be classified into those restricted to economic and humanitarian help and those implying military intervention.

The US strategy of sponsoring financial and material resources to the underdeveloped countries can be explained by the following assumption: “Recognition that weak states can create threats that reach beyond their borders may increase the level of international interest in supporting those states, indirectly providing benefits to the populations” (Chesterman, 2004, p. 103). So far is the class of peaceful activities is concerned, it was mainly deployed in Africa (e. g.

, the aid to Somalia and Rwanda to mediate the consequences of famine and civil wars; the global aid program to the African states affected by HIV/AIDS, etc. ) and Asia. One of the most demonstrative examples of US-UN collaborative non-military cooperation is the case of East Timor. This country located in Southeast Asia was occupied by Indonesia in 1975. The US raised a decisive voice in the public discussion of the seizure that had been performed in contempt of the UN Charter and the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries issued by the UN General Assembly in 1960.

In 1999, the UN provided money to call referendum in order to assist East Timor in its self-determination as well as to stop guerrilla wars between the local patriots and Indonesian intruders. The same time, US President Bill Clinton warned Indonesian government that the negative decision over independence of East Timor would result in severe economic penalties applied to Jakarta. The joint US-UN approach resulted in freeing East Timor from oppression in late 2001. The cases of military relationship between the US and UN are far more dubious.

Sometimes the two parties acted in side by side (the Somali Civil War, 1992; the genocide and civil war in Darfur, Sudan, 2003-onwards, the 2001 Afghanistan invasion). Sometimes the US unwillingly obeyed to the rules imposed by the UN (the genocide in Rwanda, 1994; the Bosnia genocide and the Dayton Accords, 1995). Sometimes it neglected the opinion of UN Security Council authorities (the bombings of Serbia and Kosovo, 1999; the Iraqi invasion, 2003). In the recent years, there has emerged the third level of US-UN relationship which is nation-building.

Until the war in Iraq, the US preferred not to model itself as a nation-building agency. The White House delegated responsibilities related to this activity to the UN. Such position was made evident in the forty-third US president’s speech delivered not long before the invasion of Kabul, Afghanistan (2001): I believe that the United Nations would – could provide the framework necessary to help meet those conditions. It would be a useful function for the United Nations to take over the so-called ‘nation-building’ – I would call it the stabilisation of a future government – after our military mission is complete.

We’ll participate; other countries will participate… I’ve talked to many countries that are interested in making sure that the post-operations Afghanistan is one that is stable, and one that doesn’t become yet again a haven for terrorist criminals. (Chesterman 2004, p. 102) It is evident that Bush II conceptualized the role of the US as a potent military agency that was capable of defeating opposition in terms of arms and technology, of “draining the swamp” (Drew & Snow, 2006, p. 47) to saturate pockets of resistance by aggressive means. However, the long-lasting task of nation-building was beyond the scope of U.

S. authority. As Chesterman (2004) has explained: There is … some evidence that the United States is not well-suited to such activities. The importance of domestic politics in the exercise of US power means that it has an exceptionally short attention span – far shorter than is needed to complete the long and complicated task of rebuilding countries that have seen years or decades of war, economic ostracism and oppression under brutal leaders. (p. 105) The fairness of the comment can be proven by analyzing the situations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Just to remind, in 2001, the armies of the US and UK jointly initiated a series of aerial bombing attacks of Afghanistan to seize Osama bin Laden who was believed to found the terrorist organization of al-Qaeda. The same year an International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) consisting of NATO troops was created with a UN Security Council mandate to support the government of President Hamid Karzai. In 2005, a strategic accord on long-term cooperation was reached between the United States and Afghanistan with the former administering a substantial financial aid to renovate the country’s infrastructure.

The war in Iraq started in 2003 when the allied troops of the U. S. , U. K. , Australia and some other NATO block states invaded Iraq. The latter was suspected of keeping and producing weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in defiance of the 1991 agreement. Within the two following years, the Iraqi military force was knocked into fits. Although the group of professionals called the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), which had been created to locate WMD in Iraq under the presidency of Saddam Hussein, traced no WMD reserves, Saddam Hussein was executed in 2006. The control over the country was delegated to the U. S.

-led coalition which had to face the tide of the Iraqi insurgency, civil war between the Sunni and Shia groups, and al-Qaeda attacks. The early 2008 year brought along the outburst of al-Qaeda extremist activity in some provinces as well as the invasion of Turkish military forces into Northern Iraq. Against this background, Jawad al-Maliki, the Prime Minister of Iraq and the secretary-general of the Islamic Dawa Party, has been attempting to consolidate the country’s political forces under U. S. supervision. US accidental or not thoroughly planned attempts to restore these two countries’ infrastructures are not irrevocably effective.

In regard to Afghanistan, Washington overloaded the country with arms and created the Emergency Loya Jirga (a kind summit meeting where different clans were present, Drew & Snow 2006) in June 2002. By doing this, the US rather harmed than supported the local government embodied by “the embryonic regime of Hamid Karzai” (Chesterman 2004, p. 104). Up to the last year, the country was occupied with ratifying a new constitution (January 2004), electing Karzai as the President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (October 2004), and creating the National Assembly (December 2005).

However, the years of 2006 and 2007 have demonstrated that the Taliban insurgency resumed operating in Afghanistan, having perfected in weapons and strategies. This stimulated Washington to consider an opportunity of multiplying troop numbers in the region. The post-war Iraqi environment is either from being normalized. The US-led war on terrorism and intervention of the country resulted in an outburst of insurgency practiced by sectarian groups and al-Qaeda.

Having survived through the Iraq Spring Fighting and the two Battles of Fallujah in 2004, the White House did not hurry to call back the troops even upon the election of the Iraqi Transitional Government in early 2005. Insurgent assaults have been intensifying throughout the whole year of 2005, and slopped over into the civil war in 2006. Amidst the weaponed turmoil in the region, the talk about nation building and human rights resembles “an ideological football, kicked back and forth in an international game between East and West” (Emmerij, Jolly & Weiss, 2001, p. 26).

US nation-building attempts have caused a hot discussion within the UN community. The relationships over the issue of power balance between the UN and the US have been growing complicated over time. Whereas in the light of 9/11 the global community expressed sympathies to Washington and supported the UN-sponsored series of provisions aimed at eliminating terrorism, upon the Iraqi war some UN member states grew angry because of “provocative US behaviour” (Dobson & Marsh, 2002, p. 88). The main explanation of criticism pointed at the US is the latter’s unilateralism as opposed to UN multilateralism.

The points of disagreement can be defined as “the unwillingness of the United States to engage in nation-building” (Chesterman, 2004, pp. 104-105) and Washington’s “unilateralist overdrive” (the words of European Union Commissioner Chris Patten, cited in Boulden & Weiss, 2004, p. 106). In regard to the former conviction, the modern practices of nation-building, or creating and guarding the state as a legal integrity, are often endangered by the attempts of some power-holders to impose their own ideological standards while intervening into the firmament of the nation state.

According to Chesterman (2004), the most evident cases of such a strategy are US military and political interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq (discussed above). Various researchers (Boulden & Weiss, 2004; Chesterman, 2004; Dombrowski & Payne, 2003; Joyner, 2004) have highlighted the habit of Washington to treat any foreign nation-building campaign as a conquest in the colonial meaning of the terms. This approach results in the complete restructuring of a country targeted as ‘rogue’ or ‘dangerous’ according to the White House’s tastes within a series of forceful operations instead of enjoying the gradual transition into the reform.

In regard to the second issue of criticism, US unilateral interventions were usually performed as part of the global War on Terrorism that was declared by Bush II upon the al-Qaeda bombings of the World Trade Center in New York City in 2001. In regard to Washington’s counterterrorism policy, Dombrowski and Payne (2003) commented as follows: It seems apparent that the United States never really sought to change prevailing views of international norms about the use of force.

Instead, it tried to carve out an exception for its own behavior by arguing that its actions were a form of self-defense to meet specific new threats in a situation when negotiation and other means to resolve the dispute had been exhausted. In short, the United States attempted to assume the mantle of multilateralism even after it thwarted the will of the current UN Security Council. (p. 396) One should differentiate between the concept of “proper multilateralism” that is being ascribed to the UN and “tactical multilateralism” that is claimed to be the characteristic of Washington’s diplomacy (Boulden and Weiss, 2004).

Whereas the former is defined as a trustworthy cooperative mode under which “more than lip service must be paid to the interests of other countries” (Boulden and Weiss, 2004, p. 111), the latter is the “strategy of alliance partnerships, instrumental multilateralism and rule-making,” abiding to which the US “has systematically tied itself to democratic allies and sought common approaches” (Boulden and Weiss, 2004, p. 111).

Boulden and Weiss (2004) have furthermore emphasized that the White House is demonstrating the willingness to delegate a portion of power in regard to tactics to its partners in exchange for strategic goals of getting financial and political benefits and reputation of acting within the UN multilateral framework. However, this “mantle” of multilateralism, as Dombrowski and Payne (2003) have put it, has been recently torn away from the shoulders of US diplomats during operations in the Middle East.

Contrastingly to the US, the UN is believed to execute a genuinely multilateral policy both regarding nation-building and combating terrorism within the legal framework of human rights. Durch (2003) has stressed that the UN is more powerful than any of its member states taken separately since this is “a loosely structured, increasingly well-coordinated system of operating agencies” (p. 196) equipped with enough legitimate instruments to serve the needs of people in the unstable environments including Sudan, Sri Lanka, Liberia, Iraq and many other ones.

Whereas the US seeks to protect its power as a separate political entity, the UN maintains acting as an international peace-keeping organization by restoring the social infrastructure of the post-conflict national systems. Besides coping with the challenges of nation building, as de Oudraat Jonge (2003) has stressed, the UN stands out as a legitimate and powerful authority to combat global threats (of which the most dangerous is terrorism) by implementing a wide array of multilateral, non-aggressive strategies and sanctions.

It employs such instruments as “investigation, discussion, public exposure, and censure” (Joyner, 2004, p. 253), although they are said to be less effective than the technique of embargoing. To say more, there is an efficient technique called “1503 procedure” implemented under the UN Economic and Social Council Resolution 1503 which implies analyzing and publishing the results of investigation on the cases of governments violating human rights of citizens.

Non-governmental organizations allocated under the UN umbrella may also contribute to the mission of protecting human rights all over the world without using weapons. To summarize, the UN is characterized as still a mighty and potent body to defend not only local but international human-right claims, whereas the US is believed to breach the international discipline and destroy the multilateral network from within.

A shower of critical remarks has been pouring onto the heads of the White House politicians on the issue of US unilateral politics and betrayal of multilateralism has been stopped recently when UN member states utilized a range of strategies. For example, there had been adopted a method of “soft balancing” which is defined as “the formation of limited diplomatic coalitions or ententes, especially at the United Nations, with the implicit threat of upgrading [the second-tier powers’] alliances if the United States goes beyond its stated goals” (Paul, 2005, p.

47). These strategies have been demonstrated in the former Yugoslavia (the 1999 Kosovo case) and Iraq (during 2002–2003). The hegemonic behavior of the US is being also neutralized within the framework of the continuing UN reformation efforts (Hilpold, 2005; Stedman, 2007). Departing from the bitter lessons of the past, current policies and bodies of the UN were assessed to re-define the conceptual framework for international peace and security under the slogan “freedom from fear.

” The concept of ‘right to self-defence’ has been expanded so that to grant states the legitimized option of starting an imminent attack as a reaction to the sudden or previously suspected and unavoidable threat. The proposals for expanding the Security Council from 15 to 24 members representing all regions of the world have also been made. To summarize, the relationship between the US and UN within a period from 1993 and up till now cannot be described as cloudless.

The two parties survived misunderstanding and distrust as related to different conceptualizations of power, security, nation building and innovation. The examples of Afghanistan and Iraq have demonstrated that the US is capable to perform aggressive operations against potential and existing threats but needs UN assistance regarding nation building or restoration of infrastructure in the country affected by a civil war, genocide, or invasion. The main point of disagreement between the US and UN related to the former’s unilateralism and latter’s multilateralism.

The UN disapproved US overtly aggressive preemptive strikes against the countries suspected in terrorism, although the global community supported US preoccupation with terrorist threat. Within the years, US unilateral attempts to defend itself against external dangers have been re-evaluated, Now both powerful political players – the US and UN – are seeking consensus within a shared reformation effort aimed at improving accountability, expanding both theoretical and practical frameworks of global cooperation, and introducing new means for UN member states to enhance their security.

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