Saturday, March 24, 2007

United Nations complicity in war crimes. Interview with former UN assistant secretary-general Hans-Christof von Sponeck

For Hans Christof von Sponeck, the former assistant secretary-general of the UN, the United Nations, far from garding the respect for international law and the consolidation of peace, have themselves become a factor of injustice. Thus, the sanctions imposed on Saddam Hussein’s Iraq caused a human disaster, whereas treaties such as the nuclear non-proliferation treaty are used to ensure the domination of certain powers and to threaten others. It is time to change the system completely.

by Silvia Cattori

Global Research, March 24, 2007

".....Silvia Cattori: How could the Security Council neglect to consider the fact that these sanctions allowed the superpowers to misuse their position and uniquely pursue their war objectives, when it voted for other resolutions, like for example resolution 1559 which was particularly intended to provide the United States and Israel with a cover for future military strikes? Does that mean that the Security Council and the UN Secretariat, supposed to defend the people, have become mainly responsible for humanitarian catastrophes?

Hans von Sponeck: I would say, only those who either are ignorant, or those who cannot accept the defeat, will continue to argue that the humanitarian drama in Iraq was largely not due – not exclusively but to a large extent –to an erroneous policy, a policy of punishment. The Iraqi people were punished for having accepted the government in Baghdad, even though they were completely innocent.

Silvia Cattori: Our political leaders, who are present in all international bodies, knew perfectly well that these sanctions would have disastrous consequences. Does that mean that, by remaining silent, they have accepted innocent civilians to be killed, tortured, and starved?

Hans von Sponeck: I would say, unless the international community has a very bad memory, we cannot forget that, either there was silence or there was connivance, support, or there was a deliberate effort to promote conditions of the kind that prevailed in Iraq during thirteen years of sanctions. Therefore, you get different levels of accountability, of political accountability. Not only the Prime Minister of Great Britain and the President of the United States and their governments are responsible, but others as well; Spain and Italy played a supportive role that means the former governments are responsible as well. Mr Aznar in Madrid and Mr Berlusconi in Italy are very much responsible for having contributed to the humanitarian disaster that evolved in Iraq. They will not accept this responsibility but the evidence is there......

Silvia Cattori: While the situation created by the occupation of Iraq is frightening, it is to be feared that the Resolution against Iran will be used by the United States to strike that country. The German Navy – formally under UN mandate – is in place in the Eastern Mediterranean. Is it because you know to what extent your country is involved in the projects of war of the United States that you recently wrote an open letter to Mrs Angela Merkel asking her to refuse all use of violence against Iran?

Hans von Sponeck: That is correct. I feel very strongly that, gradually, Germany and other European countries are getting involved into power policy defined in Washington by power-hungry people. This is becoming more serious because these power-hungry people begin to realize that they cannot, on their own, implement a policy of domination. So they need the help of other governments now, and these others seem to be Central-European and Eastern European governments from Lithuania to Great Britain. They also try to politicise NATO and make it an instrument, which to a large extent has in fact already become a US instrument. Therefore, just like any normal individual in this world, I cannot accept the attempts – supported by Chancellor Merkel during the recent NATO summit – to provide this military alliance with a political mission. NATO is an instrument of the Cold War; for many years NATO was looking for a new mission, for a new role. The only thing the allies knew was that they have a military responsibility but, with the end of the Cold War in Europe, that responsibility no longer existed and was no longer necessary. So there was this desperate search for a new role.

I personally think that it is extremely dangerous that NATO now presents itself as a democratic instrument for western democracies while, in fact, it is a tool in the hands of the United States to implement the Project for the ‘New American Century’. Neoconservatives in the United States made this famous proposal in the 1990s – while the Bush administration converted it into its national security strategy of 2002 and subsequent years - and NATO is supposed to assist its implementation. The responsible politicians that recently met in Munich should have rejected this concept. Mr Vladimir Putin, the Russian President for once did not mince his words and expressed plainly what many of us feel. Of course, those who follow a different agenda rejected his suggestions. However, there is a reality in what Mr Putin said....."

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