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HugMonster
17th Apr 2002, 10:11
I have been passed this. I am not a Guardian reader, but every now and then they have some very good articles. The article as you will see that follows was printed in yesterday's Guardian and is by a long time champion of the causes of oppressed people around the world, George Monbiot (http://www.monbiot.com).

I am writing to Tony Blair about this. I urge anyone who feels strongly to do so as well.

A War Against the Peacemaker

The US wants to depose the diplomat who could take away its pretext for war with Iraq

By George Monbiot. Published in the Guardian 16th April 2002


On Sunday, the US government will launch an international coup. It has been planned for a month. It will be executed quietly, and most of us won't know what is happening until it's too late. It is seeking to overthrow 60 years of multilateralism, in favour of a global regime built on force.


The coup begins with its attempt, in five days' time, to unseat the man in charge of ridding the world of chemical weapons. If it succeeds, this will be the first time that the head of a multilateral agency will have been deposed in this manner. Every other international body will then become vulnerable to attack. The coup will also shut down the peaceful options for dealing with the chemical weapons Iraq may possess, helping to ensure that war then becomes the only means of destroying them.


The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) enforces the Chemical Weapons Convention. It inspects labs and factories and arsenals and oversees the destruction of the weapons they contain. Its director-general is a workaholic Brazilian diplomat called Jose Bustani. He has, arguably, done more in the past five years to promote world peace than anyone else on earth. His inspectors have overseen the destruction of two million chemical weapons and two-thirds of the world's chemical weapon facilities. He has so successfully cajoled reluctant nations that the number of signatories has risen from 87 to 145 in the past five years: the fastest growth rate of any multilateral body in recent times.


In May 2000, as a tribute to his extraordinary record, Bustani was re-elected unanimously by the member states for a second five-year term, even though he had yet to complete his first one. Last year Colin Powell wrote to him to thank him for his "very impressive" work. But now everything has changed. The man celebrated for his remarkable achievements has been denounced as an enemy of the people.


In January, with no prior warning or explanation, the US State Department asked the Brazilian government to recall him, on the grounds that it did not like his "management style". This request directly contravenes the Chemical Weapons Convention, which states "the Director-General ... shall not seek or receive instructions from any government." Brazil refused. In March, the US government accused Bustani of "financial mismanagement", "demoralization" of his staff, "bias" and "ill-considered initiatives". It warned that if he wanted to avoid damage to his reputation, he must resign.


Again, the US was trampling the convention, which insists that member states shall "not seek to influence" the staff. He refused to go. On March 19th, the US proposed a vote of no-confidence in Mr Bustani. It lost. So it then did something unprecedented in the history of multilateral diplomacy. It called a "special session" of the member states to oust him. The session begins on Sunday. And this time the US is likely to get what it wants.


Since losing the vote last month, the United States, which is supposed to be the organisation's biggest donor, has been twisting the arms of weaker nations, refusing to pay its dues unless they support it, with the result that the OPCW could go under. Last week Bustani told me, "the Europeans are so afraid that the US will abandon the convention that they are prepared to sacrifice my post to keep it on board." His last hope is that the United Kingdom, whose record of support for the organisation has so far been exemplary, will make a stand. The meeting on Sunday will present Blair's government with one of the clearest choices it has yet faced between multilateralism and the "special relationship".


The US has not sought to substantiate the charges it has made against Bustani. The OPCW is certainly suffering from a financial crisis, but that is largely because the United States first unilaterally capped its budget and then failed to pay what it owed. The organisation's accounts have just been audited and found to be perfectly sound. Staff morale is higher than any organisation as underfunded as the OPCW could reasonably expect. Bustani's real crimes are contained in the last two charges, of "bias" and "ill-considered initiatives".


The charge of bias arises precisely because the OPCW is not biased. It has sought to examine facilities in the United States with the same rigour with which it examines facilities anywhere else. But, just like Iraq, the US has refused to accept weapons inspectors from countries it regards as hostile to its interests, and has told those who have been allowed in which parts of a site they may and may not inspect. It has also passed special legislation permitting the president to block unannounced inspections, and banning inspectors from removing samples of its chemicals.


"Ill-considered initiatives" is code for the attempts Bustani has made, in line with his mandate, to persuade Saddam Hussein to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention. If Iraq agrees, it will then be subject to the same inspections -- both routine and unannounced -- as any other member state (with the exception, of course, of the United States). Bustani has so far been unsuccessful, but only because, he believes, he has not yet received the backing of the UN Security Council, with the result that Saddam knows he would have little to gain from signing.


Bustani has suggested that if the Security Council were to support the OPCW's bid to persuade Iraq to sign, this would provide the US with an alternative to war. It is hard to see why Saddam Hussein would accept weapons inspectors from UNMOVIC -- the organisation backed by the Security Council -- after its predecessor UNSCOM was found to be stuffed with spies planted by the US government. It is much easier to see why he might accept inspectors from an organisation which has remained scrupulously even-handed. Indeed, when UNSCOM was thrown out of Iraq in 1998, the OPCW was allowed in to complete the destruction of the weapons it had found. Bustani has to go because he has proposed the solution to a problem the US does not want solved.


"What the Americans are doing," Bustani says, "is a coup d'etat. They are using brute force to amend the convention and unseat the director-general." As the Chemical Weapons Convention has no provisions permitting these measures, the US is simply ripping up the rules. If it wins, then the OPCW, like UNSCOM, will be fatally compromised. Success for the United States on Sunday would threaten the independence of every multilateral body.


This is, then, one of those rare occasions on which our government could make a massive difference to the way the world is run. It could choose to support its closest ally, wrecking multilateralism and shutting down the alternatives to war. Or it could defy the United States in defence of world peace and international law. It will take that principled stand only if we, the people from whom it draws its power, make so much noise that it must listen. We have five days in which to stop the US from bullying its way to war.





16th April 2002

SpinSpinSugar
17th Apr 2002, 15:58
http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/sci/tech/newsid_1934000/1934956.stm
Richard Black
BBC Science correspondent

The UN-sponsored scientific body charged with gathering evidence on global warming has started its annual meeting in Geneva. The meeting will be dominated by the election for chair, with the United States aiming to oust the incumbent, Robert Watson.

Environmental campaigners say the US position is due to lobbying from the oil company ExxonMobil.

Usually the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) meetings are sedate affairs, as sober-suited scientists debate the techniques and methodologies of assessing global climate change.

But this year, it will be somewhat different. For the first time in the IPCC's history, the position of chair is being contested.

The incumbent, the American Robert Watson, has made no secret of his belief that President Bush's withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol last year was wrong.

He believes the science of global warming is so well established that the US must reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

Earlier this month the US State Department declared its support for a rival candidate for IPCC Chair, the Indian scientist Rajendra Pachauri, currently director of the Tata Energy Research Institute.

'Aggressive agenda'

It announced its position shortly after the publication of a memo from the oil company ExxonMobil to one of President Bush's environmental advisors.

In the memo, ExxonMobil urged the White House to replace Mr Watson with a scientist who has what it termed a less "aggressive agenda".

The US government maintains there is no link between the memo and its support for Dr Pachauri.

Robert Watson says he is confident of winning - but the US is one of the IPCC's biggest financial donors, and environmental groups fear that if Mr Watson does prevail, the Bush administration could withdraw its financial support for a body whose conclusions it disputes.

Kilted
17th Apr 2002, 17:30
Nice one Huggy, I wish you luck!

However, do you really think "President" Blair is going to listen - what do you think this is? A democracy?

No doubt, his own tendency for bully-boy tactics will lead him to play lap-dog once again and Dubya will delight in pushing yet another big, brightly coloured button!

Hagbard the Amateur
17th Apr 2002, 18:21
HM - I too wish you luck. There need to be half a million people like you standing outside 10 Downing Street speaking at the tops of their voices. I'm the British coward (maybe) that looks at the UK from afar from the supposed safety of Switzerland. I am honestly really glad I live here right now. I hope that the powers that be come to their senses.