Around the end of November, a number of desperate and traumatised Congolese refugees, fleeing this way and then that from rebel forces on one side and government troops on the other, turned on the soldiers of the UN and began stoning and abusing them. The hapless troops of Monuc (their French acronym), supposed to be there to protect civilians from the conflict, are poorly paid, ill-equipped, untrained for such a mission and, if previous UN ‘peacekeeping' missions are anything to go by, some of the 17,000 troops probably don't even know where they are, let alone what they are supposed to be doing there. The killing fields of the Great Lakes region of Africa are symbolic of the ‘humanitarianism' of the ruling class and the fact that the United Nations is not just well meaning and useless, but part of the cynical murders and genocides that are more and more a feature of decomposing capitalism.
All the relief agencies in the region of the Congo agree that it's the worst conflict since World War Two: over 6 million dead, around 1500 a day dying for the last 15 years, half of them children; 1.5 million refugees and displaced; hundreds of thousands of rapes; shocking atrocities including forced cannibalism and overwhelming insecurity and stress for the great mass of the poor. If anything should engage what's called the international community, surely it's this? Don't bet on it. What the international community, i.e., each of the major powers, is engaged in is a gigantic whitewash in order to pull the wool over the eyes of the working class about their involvement in stirring up this conflict and using ethnic divisions and hatreds in the Congo; and for this the United Nations is their weapon of choice.
There's plenty of raw materials in this region to attract the various armed gangs and the major imperialist states of Britain, France, the USA, South Africa and latterly China: timber, diamonds, coltan, copper, gold and so on. But the main stakes in and around the Great Lakes of the Democratic Republic of Congo are strategic. Its size is massive and nine countries share its borders, and this is the reason why these major countries have unleashed no holds barred warfare through their direct involvement and through their respective cliques over the last fifteen years. The very gangsters that are making war are the ones that are running the United Nations and sending in their shambolic so-called peacekeeping forces as part of their imperialist rivalries.
France, Britain and the USA have been involved in fomenting this war since it began with the massacres in Rwanda (a country now backed by Britain and generally accepted to be behind the current military developments) in 1994. Since then, despite all the pious talks and the ‘never agains', various UN initiatives have only been a cover for particular imperialist attempts to move their pawns forward; for example the early 2002 initiative by South Africa was in fact dependent on the US in its rivalry with French imperialism. Similarly the recent moves by France and Britain through the UN (foreign ministers Kouchner and Miliband) are aimed at strengthening their respective countries' positions. The 3000 extra troops that both have proposed (and won't deliver) would be totally inadequate to protect civilians.
Across the globe, the UN is involved in imperialist massacres
It's not only around the Democratic Republic of Congo that the UN, with its legal cover and its ideology of humanitarianism, is designed to mystify the role of the great powers in their war of each against all. The same is true of Sudan and the ongoing horrors of Darfur. In Afghanistan the ‘humanitarianism' of the UN is a crime against humanity. Lording it up over the local populations the UN is known here as the ‘Toyota Taliban'. For two years from 1992 in ex-Yugoslavia, Germany, France, Russia, Britain and America acted under the aegis of the UN and Nato, calling for peace while defending their own imperialist interests and giving both overt and covert assistance to their local gangsters. Thus Britain and France, as UN peacekeepers, helped enforce the murderous Serbian siege of Sarajevo. The massacre of Srebrencia included the complicity of UN forces on the ground, notably Dutch troops and British SAS ‘observers'. Either could have called in an immediate air strike to prevent the massacre but didn't. The upper echelons of the UN knew what was going on but was more concerned with their own infighting and positioning of their pawns. The whole war, tripped initially by Germany, was at least a three-way fight between German, American and Russian, French and British imperialisms using their local pawns while claiming their humanitarianism and desire for peace.
The Gulf War of 1991 was similarly carried out under the sinister diplomatic farce of the authority of the UN. The "coalition" against Saddam was a façade of unity in order to fool the working class about the ‘defence of human rights' against ‘evil dictators'. This US-led display of imperialist might was designed to its assert its right to do and go wherever it pleased in a world where it was it was the only superpower. The UN itself was a battleground for unleashing the 2003 Gulf War, with the US paying only lip service to its resolutions, with Germany and France using United Nation legality in order to stymie US ‘unilateralism', and Britain stuck in the middle before eventually aligning itself (for its own imperialist interests) with the US under the guise of UN legality. The bombing of the UN's HQ in Baghdad in August 2003, which largely represented French interests, served the diplomatic and military interests of the US. And although the latter had to maintain some concern for the ‘international community', this did not stop it exposing the UN's ‘oil for food' programme as gangrened with corruption, going to the very top of the organisation and affecting the Secretary General's office.
How could an organisation representing the filth of the earth not be corrupt? The United Nations is not just useless and ineffectual but rotten to the core and an ideological weapon against the working class with its legalism and false humanitarianism. It is also a weapon for the ruling classes in their imperialist manoeuvres against their rivals. Following its nature, its forces on the ground are increasingly involved in racketeering, prostitution, drug running, sex trafficking and child abuse. Its higher level echelons are secretive and self-serving. Its appointments at this level are on a ‘who you know' basis with diplomats appointing themselves, presidents' cousins, government loyalists, spies, hacks and the like. In 1920, Lenin called the precursor to the UN, the League of Nations, "a den of thieves in which everyone is trying to grab what they can at their neighbours expense". This is even more so today. There can be no ‘United Nations' because, increasingly with the New World Order of capitalist decomposition, we are in the imperialist world of the war of each against all.