|Tuesday, 17 September 2002|
The growing "irrelevance" of "Third World" opinion
by Lynn Ockersz
The most thought-provoking point made by US President George Bush in his long-awaited recent address to the UN on the Iraqi problem, which in some quarters is regarded as "historic", related to the UN's "relevance". The world organisation was called on to compel Iraq to disarm, or risk being seeing as "irrelevant".
Much, of course, has been left unsaid by Bush. However, world opinion could not be faulted for seeing in these comments, a dark hint of the possibility of the US and its Western allies taking a unilateral military initiative on Iraq in the event of the UN not coming up with a standpoint which is favourable to the essential US position that Iraq poses a grave military threat to the world and, therefore, has to comply with its demands.
As could be gauged by the international responses to these developments, there is no unanimity on the US position on Iraq, although some of its close Western allies are said to be seeing eye-to-eye with it. A sizeable segment of world opinion sees these US-led enunciations on Iraq as an attempt to drum-up international support for Western military action on Iraq. In fact, the case which is being built-up against Iraq on the question of "weapons of mass destruction", is being seen in some quarters as baseless. Yet, the UN is being called on to advocate the measures which are being seen by the US and its allies as essential for the neutralising of Iraq in a military sense, or risk being seen as "irrelevant".
The message to be decoded from the foregoing is that the US and its allies would be compelled to disregard the UN and consequently, accepted and legitimate international norms, in their show down with Iraq. Such a stance, could, of course, entail the launching of military action against Iraq, regardless of what the UN sanctions. In a post-September 11th world, such military action could be unprecedently destructive, rendering "Operation Desert Storm" of the early Nineteen Nineties, a pale shadow of what could follow in late 2002 or after.
On the question of "irrelevance", it could be seen that quite a few significant sections of world opinion have already relegated themselves to a position of virtual impotence. What, for instance, has the Non-aligned movement to say of these developments? Couldn't "Third World" opinion be activated on these issues any more?
The fact that Third World bodies, such as the NAM, could no longer be heard in these disputes, while proving the "Irrelevance" of these sections of opinion, establishes the degree to which the Western alliance is dominating the international arena.
Besides, these developments are proof that a multi-polar world, in terms of different opinion-making blocs which could exert a substantive influence on global events, is no longer possible. There is, of course, no question of our speaking of ideological blocs any more but this verdict seems to be equally applicable to opinion-making centres of the developing world or what was once called the Third World.
The US-led "global war on terrorism", has, of course, made a substantive impact on the multi-polarity of world opinion and reduced the gulf among the world views of even some major developing countries and those of the West. However, near unanimity on economic and development issues between the "First World" and the "Third World", have had a unifying impact on world opinion, so much so, there is no active opposition among the developing countries, worth speaking of to the economic ideology and "development thinking" peddled by the West.
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