OH CANADA, EH! SAVE THE WORLD AND THYSELF, -
A Three Act Play Written for Immediate Performance on the World Stage. Actually this was first written in 1999 for performance then in the NATO “Kosovo“ War against Yugoslavia,
but it was not adopted then.
Today this plan is even more urgent, and maybe more politically practical, since even Prime Minister Chretien has expressed public disdain at following the United States mission creep from
the arms control demanded of Iraq by the resolution of the UN Security Council - to the proposed „regime change“ proposed by the United States. Moreover opposition to the war proposed by
the US and UK is today nearly universal, and SC member France with Germany already launched a trial balloon for intervention by the United Nations.
Lester Pearson saved the world from itself in the 1956 Suez crisis. It‘s time for Canada again to save the world and itself in the present Iraq crisis. As a then non-Canadian non-resident in
Montreal, I offered a modest proposal to resolve the present threat to peace in a way that only Canada is in a position to implement, but the implementation of which is also of vital interest and benefit for Canada:
1. ACT ONE
Canada should take the initiative to convene an Emergency Session of the United Nations General Assembly to deal with the present serious crisis in the UN system, the United States/UK
against Iraq, and the world. For the Security Council is paralyzed by the split down the middle of vetoes by its permanent members, two of which threaten a veto, while two others
threaten to disregard it. This move sets a most serious precedent to set aside the UN and its security and peace keeping institutions and mechanism altogether and threatens to
spell the death knell of the UN, like its League of Nations predecessor regarding Manchuria in 1931 and Abessinya in 1936 before WW II. And now the United States and the United
Kingdom seem unable to do anything better than to expand their already illegal war in the self-declared ‚‚no fly zones‘‘ more and more and perhaps to provoke WW III.
The important and relevant Canadian counter-move precedent was set by Prime Minister Lester Pearson when in face of a similar threat in 1956 he convoked the UN General Assembly to
deal with the Suez Crisis, in which Britain and France were the aggressors and also paralyzed the Security Council by their veto power. Moreover, Pearson elaborated, presented and got
approval and implementation of a United Nations Emergency Intervention Force (UNEIF), whose military planning and then overall command were in the hands of a Canadian general.
British and French aggression forces were replaced by and naturally excluded from this UNIEF. The establishment of such a UNIEF is foreseen by the UN Charter, under whose Articles 41
and 42 such a UN military force can be used within the scope of exiting international law. Indeed, the Security Council itself adopted a „Uniting for Peace“ Resolution 377 in 1950 that
empowers the GENERAL ASSEMBLY to intervene on a moment‘s notice to safe-guard the peace if the SC „fails to exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace
and security,“ because it is too divided or for some other reason. A simple majority of votes in the General Assembly is sufficient to activate this provision and procedure. That is decidedly NOT the
case of any and all allegedly ‚UN sanctioned‘ interventions, such as that assembled by the US under its own command in the 1991 Gulf War against Iraq. That violated more than a half dozen
articles of the UN Charter, including some in Articles 41 and 42. Unfortunately, nobody has yet explained to the public that a second SC vote that is now in dispute to ‚‚authorize“ war would,
even if successful and then acted upon, would still violate at least seven separate article of the UN Charter.
The US claim that failure to vote for its war plans would destroy the legitimacy of the SC and the UN is nothing but a charade whose intent is to turn the UN inside out. The mandate of the
Security Council is to not to make or sanction war, and the threat to its legitimacy is a failure to preserve the PEACE. The same goes for the UN General Assembly.
It was Lester Pearson‘s concern and merit to preempt war in 1956 by going to the General Assembly and urging IT to act, which it then did; and he was subsequently awarded the Nobel
Peace Prize for his efforts. Moreover the GA has done so again since then on nine additional occasions. Today it should and can be Canada‘s role again to lead the General Assembly to demand
an immediate stop to the bombing of Iraq and the plans for full scale war and invasion. The General Assembly could and should respond by establishing a new multinational UNEIF to go into
Iraq on the ground if necessary to prevent war from spreading further. It would be difficult indeed, if not impossible, for the United States then to proceed with its aggressive intent.
Prime Minister Jean Chretien surely has a mandate and perhaps an obligation to respect and act on the precedent for Canada again to exercise a leadership role in the United Nations for
peace, as Canada more than any other country has done in the UN over the past half century. In a word, history has placed Canada in a privileged position to initiate and take steps to save
the world and the United Nations in this period of crisis.
A second motion that Canada - and others - should bring in this Emergency Session of the UN General Assembly is to move the United Nations out of the United States. Under present
circumstances, such a Canadian motion may be considered with favor by many member state delegations, and all the more so if Canada garners prestige and shows some independence of
initiative and action (especially within North America) through its motion in Act One. An additional factor that may incline some delegations to move the UN out of the United States is that,
after repeated requests and agreements, the United States remains in arrears in its payment of dues to the UN. Yet the US wishes to use the UN it in its own interests whenever it is
convenient, but to disregard it whenever it is not.
A third motion that Canada could and should then bring before the General Assembly is to invite and welcome the UN to move to Canada in general and to Montreal in particular. At this time,
such a motion could be welcomed by the General Assembly. Canada and Montreal can offer the United Nations a whole series of advantages that would be difficult for others to match:
- It is close to where it is now and still to Washington DC, yet in a country that is independent (if it has shown itself to so be in Act I!)
- It has the only cities in North American with the necessary infrastructure to house the UN
- Montreal is a truly bi-lingual city speaking two of the major UN
languages and immigrants who speak many other languages.
- That is attractive for francophone delegations and for France itself under present circumstances.
- Montreal has a centrally located area on the site of the 1967 World Expo on Isle St. Helene, which is already accessible by metro and has available space to construct office and meeting facilities for the UN.
- Montreal has more or less abundant housing at low costs relative to other major cities that could harbor the UN
- It is also otherwise relatively economical, given its present price
level and the exchange rate of the Canadian dollar
- Canada has been voted the best country in the world to live in!
What‘s in it for Canada? Plenty
- The prestige of reviving its traditional role of doing something useful in and for the UN and the world.
- The need of taking an independent line on this UN issue will not
only garner further international prestige per se, but it could serve as an impulse for greater Canadian independence and bargaining power in other matters as well.
- Bringing, building, and running the UN site in Canada would bring hundreds of millions of dollars into Canada
- The UN in Canada would offer extra employment to the people
of Quebec and ROC Canadians, both highly and less skilled .
- Bringing the UN to Montreal is likely de facto to settle in one fell swoop the issue (even if at present not so burning) of whether
Quebec be in-or-out of the Federation: With the UN in Montreal, Quebec could not afford to and would not wish to secede from Canada any more.
Moreover, the Province of Quebec and the City of Montreal (like New York City now) and the UN could make bi-lateral ‚administrative‘ arrangements for their co-habitation, so that
these and the UN itself could serve as a institutional and moral guarantors of Quebec as a distinct society. Of course, Canada still could and should accommodate the Quebecois, but it would
not need to fall and drown in any more Meech Lake like swamps. And with Quebec finally safe and sound in the Confederation of Canada, so would the Maritimes, Alberta, and BC. That is, Canada itself would be saved!
In three simple acts building on Canadian precedent and prestige at the United Nations, Canada today again has the golden opportunity to not only to save the United Nations itself,
but The World, Quebec, and Canada itself into the bargain. All we (I wish I could say ‚we‘) need is a little bit of the political will and leadership in the tradition of Dief and Lester.
JUST SAY YES! LET‘S DO IT!!
Department of History, University of Victoria
PO Box 3045
VICTORIA BC V8W 3P4
Tel: +1 250 721 7388
Fax: +1 250 721 8772
E-mail: email@example.comWeb: web.uvic.ca/~blueg
See also Geopolitik 1990/91