SO much is made out of India’s entry into the Security Council as a non-permanent member, by an astounding majority, 187 members out of a total of 192 (including Pakistan) voting for, and a mere five, abstaining. One should not forget that in 1996, the last time India contested the seat, it lost to Japan, with just 42 members supporting it. India did not only lose the seat, but lost face as well. Brazil was elected last year and now with India in, the Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) Group should have some say on important matters in Security Council proceedings, the power balance shifting from Europe to Asia and Latin America.
India is reported to have worked unceasingly to canvass support from all countries with Foreign Minister SM Krishna himself holding talks with world leaders when last he attended a UN Assembly session. There are some who insist that the US too, in its own way, helped India in its bid for Council membership, but considering that India was practically the only Asian nation in the contest (Kazakhistan having withdrawn early this year) one can only hope that India will not let its supporters down, come what may. It may be too early to presume that the developing world is increasingly looking up to Delhi for leadership, but that is one thing India has to give in the forthcoming two years, without fear or favour. It implies that it should have the courage to cock a snook at the Great Powers if the situation demands it.
There are many, even in India who would rather see India as serving the interests of the United States as its “strategic partner” and the point is made that if the ultimate aim of India is to get elected as a Permanent Member of the Security Council, it had better not give any offence to Washington. One US official has already been quoted as saying that any decision to support India’s candidature to the Permanent membership of the Security Council “will likely depend on our assessment of the extent to which India is likely to play a responsible role” from now on. That is an impertinent comment. What constitutes “a responsible role?” Being subservient to US interests as in Iran?
It is possible that on many issues India can see eye to eye with the US. Between 1990 and 2010 – in the last two decades – the Security Council had passed as many as 1,295 resolutions, with many of which, had India been a Council member, it could have voted with the US. But to insist that India must slavishly support the US all the time is to ask for the impossible. But let this be clear: Any reform in the structure of the UN is highly unlikely to be undertaken in the near future. Too many issues are involved and the current Permanent Members, the US, Russia, China, France and Britain, cannot be expected to be over-anxious to share power with others. Truth to tell, Britain and France don’t any longer deserve to be Permanent Members. Their time is up. They got their seats in the post-second World War period when they emerged as winners.
Moreover, about that time they still ruled a large empire. Their place as Permanent Members in the circumstances was unchallengeable. And let us not forget that a Permanent Membership had also been offered to India which had foolishly declined it. India has paid for it heavily since then. But in the present context, Britain and France must be firmly told that they have overstayed as Great Powers and must now retire. The US, of course, will never let this happen. Just to take the case of Britain. It is steadily going downhill. The size of Britain’s Royal Navy has been shrinking for years. It has been closing down several consulates all over the world as superfluous.
According to available information in December 2009, the UK government announced a further reduction in the Navy, taking a hydrographic ship and a mine-sweeper out of service, to help pay for equipment needed in Afghanistan. One might ask: why should the fate of nations depend on the whims and fancies of the white world which has its own agenda and which looks at every issue through the tainted glasses of its own selfish interests?
Why should not Britain and France be replaced by India and Brazil or even by India and Japan? Why should we not install Brown Power in place of White Power? Haven’t times changed? One way to put the US and the European Powers in their place is to scuttle the United Nations as it is today. The UN has become a tool for the US. When in June this year, two Non-Permanent members of the Security Council, Brazil and Turkey, voted against a Council resolution imposing new sanctions on Teheran, the US went out of its way to oppose them, insisting on the imposition of new punitive sanctions against Iran. It is highly idealistic to oppose proliferation of nuclear powers, but if the US can tolerate Pakistan as a nuclear weapons state, on what grounds can it deny Iran a similar states? All this points to the need to have a fresh look at the United Nations as is presently constituted.
There is no question but that we need a world body such as the United Nations, but matters can be better worked out if instead of just one organisation, we have five Continental ones where issues can be settled amicably without the US laying down the law. We can have a United Nations of Asia (UNA), a United Nations of Europe (UNE), a United Nations of Africa (UNAF) and a United Nations of Latin America (UNLA) all of which can settle issues relevant to each, without the interference of the United States. In such continental bodies, decisions should be taken through majority vote and not through compulsion. The United Nations of Asia can have its headquarters in a country like Thailand or Vietnam. It will give every small state to take a more active interest in Asian affairs without being bullied to lie low. It would be practicing international democracy at its best. Such a system may have its own shortcomings, but then, which system is best? Do we remember that under the present UN, the United States managed to get its own way in waging wars against Korea, Vietnam and Iraq? Washington ruled the roost.
Did the UN stand up to China when it took over Tibet? It didn’t. China is supplying nuclear plants to Pakistan and the US can only mumble its protests. So who is fooling whom? Isn’t it time for the 192 members of the UN to indulge in some deep self-introspection? Why shut one’s eyes and pretend that all is well? Is anyone-apart from India – concerned when the US provides $ two billion to Pakistan to strengthen its armed forces, which are more interested in setting Jammu &Kashmir on fire than in fighting terrorists? What is the UN doing to keep Pakistan on check? Answer, answer.