April 24, 2002
3:53 AM   Subscribe

Chief of Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons sacked, after intense US pressure. The whole thing was predicted a few days ago by Georges Monbiot. It seems that the succesful head of the OPCW wanted to restart UN chemical weapons inspections in Iraq. Washington has other plans in mind.
posted by talos (24 comments total)
god that sucks. The us government sucks. (I mean assuming that what I've read is accurate)

To bad no one will care.
posted by delmoi at 4:26 AM on April 24, 2002

Statement by the ousted DG, Jose Bustani.
posted by jonathanbell at 4:45 AM on April 24, 2002

From the Monbiot piece:

His (Bustani's) last hope is that the United Kingdom, whose record of support for the organisation has so far been exemplary, will make a stand.

As IF.
posted by Summer at 4:46 AM on April 24, 2002

If he is apealing to the current US government based on "the principles of genuine multilateralism, true fairness, and equal treatment are preserved", he is barking up the wrong tree.
posted by magullo at 4:56 AM on April 24, 2002

This is terrible. The sad part is that most people in the world, in America, will never know about this. They'll keep on swallowing stories that Iraq must be attacked and keep conveniently forgetting about America's own weapons of mass destruction.

And Bustani, about whom no-one has a bad word to say, is squeezed out of his job by the same kind of unilateral, undemocratic principles of which America constantly criticises its enemies.
posted by skylar at 5:16 AM on April 24, 2002

I'm suprised there wasn't an "Action Alert" similar to what several of the environmental and health advocate groups use to allow us to voice our opinion to Senators/Congressfolk and encourage them to speak out against said actions or to at least let our voices be heard on the matter.
posted by bkdelong at 5:45 AM on April 24, 2002

The proposal at a crisis meeting in The Hague called by the US was carried by 48 to seven, with 43 countries abstaining.

Looks "democratic" to me. Listen, kids, if you want a working definition of unilateralism, it really doesn't extend very well to efforts to influence international bodies, unless you think the efforts of other nations to influence United States behavior are also "unilateral". Talk about your whacked-out dictionaries.
posted by dhartung at 6:18 AM on April 24, 2002

This story contains a bit more detail about the US point of view.

... the U.S. delegation to the conference called to consider the proposal to remove Bustani had promised to release a document explaining the charges against the former director general, but the document was never released...

So it's unspecified allegations all around.

But hey, at least Bustani has Annie Lenox and Brian Eno on his side.
posted by ook at 6:20 AM on April 24, 2002

"...Mr Bustani's supporters say his efforts to get Iraq to sign up to the chemical weapons convention have angered the Americans, as it would weaken the case for a US attack to oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein."

Haven't we tried this before??? The 48-7 vote supporting the US-initiated outing simply does not surprise me. Who would go against the US? My god, then they are an enemy of the country and we must add them to our list of people to attack... And why is there no significance made that 43 members abstained from voting??? 48 of 145 does NOT comprise a majority ruling here, folks.

Furthermore, according to the Irish Independent, "The Americans accused the Brazilian head of the OPCW of a "habit of refusing to consult with member states" and cited his proposed new anti-terrorism measures after September 11 which were not first cleared with the US." Since when does an international organization comprised of 145 member countries require the director-general to consult and garner approval from one of its members??? Is not the purpose to serve the global good and not the American initiative of the moment??

This makes me sick, allegations aside, that the United States shows itself to be hypocritical yet again in ousting a man praised less than a year ago simply because he refuses to hop to and succumb to US policies and requests. I hope his successor is as strong and kicks the US's collective ass into succumbing to the notion that we are a global village now and that the world is NOT the US's playtoy.

posted by gloege at 6:34 AM on April 24, 2002

I see nothing wrong with this. In the posting above, folks noted that if a pharmacist did not believe in something he could turn down money and do what he felt like doing. And his customers could go elsewhere. Why not the US and the inspection thing here? They can turn down our money and do what they want without the U.S.
posted by Postroad at 6:36 AM on April 24, 2002

I am not sure that it is Le Pen that the chattering classes should concern themselves with. It appears that a man who manifested himself as a backward ill-educated redneck during the presidential election (thanks daddy) has blossomed into one of the greatest enemies of multi-lateralism in the world. Fuck kyoto, long live chemical weapons. I really worry about these rogue states, especially with bush at the helm.
posted by johnnyboy at 6:59 AM on April 24, 2002

I forgot to add that a few days before the Bustani ousting, the US government, in a similar manner, ousted Dr Robert Watson, chair of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
posted by talos at 7:58 AM on April 24, 2002

They can turn down our money and do what they want without the U.S.

They could turn down your money... if you were giving them any. The US is $4 billion in debt to the UN. That's approximately half of their operating budget, and it's put the UN into a fiscal crisis.

Until it has paid off its debts, the US should have no say in UN policy.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:21 AM on April 24, 2002

this makes me sick.

too cheer up my morning... im going back here.

then writing a letter to my congressman and spreading the word on this atrocious behavior by the Bush administration to as many friends as possible.....
posted by specialk420 at 8:49 AM on April 24, 2002

The proposal at a crisis meeting in The Hague called by the US was carried by 48 to 7, with 43 countries abstaining.

Um, let's see 7 + 43=50. OK... 48 yea, 50 not yea. OK...

...Looks "democratic" to me.

...Talk about your whacked-out dictionaries.

You're the expert, Spin Doctor Dan! More comedy gold!
posted by y2karl at 9:05 AM on April 24, 2002

y2karl: Guess what. They have a process. They held a vote under that process. We won. The people who abstained are not guaranteed "no" votes, your imaginings notwithstanding; they are abstentions. Not voting. In a democracy, the line is that those who don't vote, have voted for the winner.

We used the multilateral process to effect change in an organization that people in this thread said should be influencing us. Guess what? Multilateralism goes both ways.

We had friends, we maybe did some bribing and arm-twisting -- good old-fashioned politics. And multilateralism to the tune of 47 countries on our side. Unilateralism ... last I heard ... was based on us acting alone.

Or maybe you'd like the voting process to be abolished altogether? Or is it only the United States that is morally barred from using the voting process?

Here's the seven NO votes, just to understand the company: Belarus; Brazil; China; Cuba; Iran; Mexico; Russia. Brazil clearly supported its diplomat. Mexico may have been trying to make nice with Cuba after a recent snub. And Russia said they would back us, but at the last minute did not -- probably for back-office reasons. The others, I really do not care what they think.

fish: The US has voted to repay its back dues to the UN (they had previously agreed to do so, but had not budgeted the money). You may have missed it; it was in the wake of 9/11. (And we were only $1.5B in arrears, at that point, less now.) In any event, that is irrelevant here, because the OPCW is not part of the UN; it's an NGO with a UN charter, much like the WHO. We withheld our dues as part of this dispute, but this was a completely separate financial deal.
posted by dhartung at 2:38 PM on April 24, 2002

From a precursor article last week: "The charge of bias arises precisely because the OPCW is not biased. It has sought to examine facilities in the United States with the same rigour with which it examines facilities anywhere else. But, just like Iraq, the US has refused to accept weapons inspectors from countries it regards as hostile to its interests, and has told those who have been allowed in which parts of a site they may and may not inspect. It has also passed special legislation permitting the president to block unannounced inspections, and banning inspectors from removing samples of its chemicals."

Basically, one of the reasons the US pushed to oust Bustani was that he wanted to treat the United States as fairly and equally as any other country subject to the CWC, with no special considerations given. The sick hypocrisy is that the Bush Administration wants to exempt US chemical installations from inspection using many of the same rationales and conditions that Iraq provides for blocking inspections. Pots calling kettles black and throwing rocks in glass houses, anyone?
posted by SenshiNeko at 4:44 PM on April 24, 2002

The US being the 800 pound gorilla does not equal multilateralism or how democracy works for me, no matter how you spin it or how the hairs are split. We got rid of Bustanti because we want to get our war on. Reading the interview with Robert Young Pelton up above there was an eye opener for me. These two Q & A's leapt out:

And we've blown this international conspiracy way out of shape; it's really not as big and as mean and as well-financed or as intelligent as our government makes it out to be.

Do you think the government knows what it's doing in that regard? Is it blowing them out of proportion on purpose or are they really just getting up to speed?

They're learning quickly. On Sept. 11, they knew nothing about it. And the reason I know this is because some of my friends work within those organizations and they just didn't want to believe that it existed because it was just such a small Mickey Mouse outfit. And after Sept. 11, they realized that even minor groups could have major implications. But instead of just always knowing that it was a small Mickey Mouse outfit, now they made it into this huge global conspiracy, which it isn't. Which has created all kinds of problems in the Muslim world because we're sort of demonizing the wrong people. The bad guys are living in America and Saudi Arabia and Germany and the U.K.; they're not sitting in caves in Afghanistan.

So what's the way out for significant American troop presence in Afghanistan?

There is no exit strategy. It's absolutely identical to what the Russians did. People respond to what they think is an opportunity. In this case it was an opportunity to overthrow the Taliban leadership, and once you get in there and you destabilize a country, you have a choice: You leave immediately, which would bring down a lot of grief on your heads from the world community, or you stay and try and figure things out. The staying and figuring things out part is a lot more difficult than going in and destabilizing a fairly backward regime. The only thing that concerns me is when George Bush gets full of himself and starts expanding our war to include places as bizarre as North Korea and Iran and Iraq, but doesn't include a lot of the known harbors and supporters of terrorist groups. That makes me nervous.

The thing about that interview that struck me is how very little information we have about what is really going on. You are not without your points now and then, Dan, but your beliefs, your wishes and your many many opinions and factoids are not facts.

We were attacked by, as he says, this tiny Mickey Mouse outfit, we took out a backward regime and we are burning up money by the billions with this enormous military machine. We want to get a war on which seems to have little to do with the people who attacked us, we are given no rationale for this save Saddam Hussein is bad, which no one can deny, and yes, it makes me nervous, too. And not feeling a bit safer or optimistic.

And what Senshineko said.
posted by y2karl at 10:22 PM on April 24, 2002

y2karl, how tragic for you that I have just as much right to come to metafilter and speak my "many many opinions and factoids" as you. I hope you can manage to cope with this horrific state of affairs.
posted by dhartung at 12:42 AM on April 25, 2002

Guess what. They have a process. They held a vote under that process. We won.

Guess what? There was a process. But not this weekend. The American delegation decided to circumvent the established rules after failing to oust Bustani the first time. It actively sought a successor to Bustani before the vote, which was unauthorised; it held secret meetings with American members of the organisation's staff - again, unauthorised - where it essentially said that unless Bustani goes, and unless his replacement takes a different approach, the US would take away its ball and do its own chemical weapons inspections. It cast proxy votes at the 'special session' - again, unauthorised - and essentially presented the session with a choice between removing the chairman or having the US 'screw the organisation' by withdrawing the 20% it contributes to the budget and actively oppose co-operation on its own turf.

That's not a process. That's a putsch. Which the US appears to be rather good at when it comes to multilateral bodies (although not so successful with Latin American countries). The reason? The US doesn't want anything standing in the way with Bush's score-settling attack on Iraq.

And guess what? You're talking septic, pustulent cock, and not for the first time. But you do have every right to be Metafilter's chief supplier of bombastic bullshit.
posted by riviera at 1:54 AM on April 25, 2002

Being disliked by you, riviera, is all the validation I need in the world. Keep it up, will you?
posted by dhartung at 8:54 AM on April 25, 2002

Good argument dhartung. You really showed him.
posted by Summer at 11:00 AM on April 25, 2002

Being disliked by you, riviera, is all the validation I need in the world.

You mean that sucking up to Glenn Reynolds in the hope of scraps from his table isn't the all-consuming purpose of your life? Don't believe it for a second. Summer said it: why not find evidence of the 'process' you so airily and vacuously celebrated? It's a bit harder than Find the Lady, though it may keep you occupied for a few weeks.
posted by riviera at 5:03 PM on April 25, 2002

Anton, after begging Glenn to publish your letters and ending up on the backwater of Warbloggerwatch (how is Eric, the dear?), surely you know something about scraps from a table. Barkie, barkie.
posted by dhartung at 8:24 PM on April 25, 2002

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