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Reader Opinion: The Global Bully

The Global Bully

By Barrie Walsh - Canada
March 10, 2003

“The U.S. is working furiously to obtain Security Council votes”, CNN reported today at eleven am Eastern Time. Throughout the day the word, “lobby” was used many times on cable news to describe US Government efforts to persuade non-permanent Security Council members of the UN to vote with the United States.

What does “lobby” really mean in this story? The March 6, 2003 headline of the Nairobi East African says, “U.S. Bullying African States to Support War.” Three African countries that are non-permanent members of the Security Council are Angola, Cameroon and Guinea.

As a high school teacher for twenty-six years I have made a few observations about bullying. A simple definition of bullying is coercing or intimidating others using fear. Bullying often manifests itself as threats, verbal abuse, physical abuse and making others do things that they don’t want to do. The literature on this subject says that most bullies are not liked. Mr. Bush should spend some time reading the bullying literature. He might get some insight into why millions of people in our world dislike him and his government so intensely.

Is there any precedent to believe the US acts as a bully at the United Nations? Just ask Yemen about what happened prior to the 1991 Gulf war. According to investigative journalist John Pilger, “Minutes after Yemen voted against the resolution to attack Iraq, a senior American diplomat told the Yemeni ambassador his decision was the most expensive no vote he would ever cast.” Pilger continues, “Within three days, a US aid program of $70 million to one of the world’s poorest countries was stopped.”

The Institute for Police Studies in Washington says U.S. pressure on Angola, Cameroon and Guinea to support the US-led vote in the Security Council amounts to, “bullying and bribery.” The extreme poverty in these countries makes them vulnerable to manipulation. The non-permanent members may find meaning in the old expression, “Those who have the gold make the rules.”

France, Germany and Russia have also made reference to bullying by the US. France and Germany were insulted by the verbal bullying of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld when the Secretary referred to them as, “Old Europe.” Rumsfeld deepened the wound when he commented that Germany’s stance on Iraq resembled that of Cuba or Libya.

The US can apply different kinds of pressure against Security Council members in attempts to gain votes. The table below shows the major item wish lists of some Security Council member countries.

1. Bulgaria Wants: NATO Membership, Use of military bases, Financial Aid/Investment
US Wants: Security council vote

2. Angola Wants:Financial Aid/Investment, Access to US markets, Oil
US Wants: Security council vote

3. Guinea Wants: Access to US markets
US Wants: Security council vote

4. Cameroon Wants:Access to US markets
US Wants: Security council vote

5. Mexico Wants: Access to US markets, Maintain Mexican tariffs, Amnesty for workers in US
US Wants: Security council vote

6. Pakistan Wants: Financial Aid
US Wants: Security council vote

7. Chile Wants: Free trade with US
US Wants: Security council vote

- Table information source: Institute for Policy Studies, “Coalition of the Willing or Coalition of the Coerced.”

The opposition to war continues to grow, exponentially I hope. Reuters reported March 9 that a German Defense Ministry spokesman, Walter Kolbaw said the US is acting like a dictator over the Iraqi crisis. Meanwhile the CBC reports today that UK Cabinet Minister, Clare Short threatened to resign over an Iraq war without UN backing. When will the global bully get the message? What will happen between now and then? Those are scary questions.


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