Thursday, September 21, 2006

UN General Assembly - 3 days of rhetoric

Opposing views - UN General Assembly, a war of words
Three days of speeches have made interesting viewing as world leaders and their representatives have attacked each other. Day one started with a speech from US President George W Bush [BBC]. His speech was filled with his continued attacks on Iran and a defence on the continued War on Terror. "A world beyond terror where the extremists are marginalised by the peaceful majority" is in reach the President said. Of Iran he said that they “must abandon its nuclear weapons policy.”
And today the president declared he would send troops into Pakistan to catch bin Laden [CNN]. with or without permission from Gen Pervez Musharraf , the Pakistani leader. Musharraf responded by saying he would not be happy at such a decision, "We wouldn't like to allow that at all. We will do it ourselves." Meanwhile the events on the ground continue to become more deadly for civilians and coalition troops alike. Over 6,500 have died in July and August, 5,000 in Iraq alone [Source: UN]. And while neither Afghanistan nor Iraq shows any sign of calming, guns are poised and aimed at the next country on the list in what has been described as the Axis of Evil. But whilst Bush continues to criticize Iran’s nuclear policy, he refuses to meet with his Iranian counterpart. Bush said the United States has agreed to talks with Iran "only if they verifiably suspended their enrichment program.” Bush addressed the Iranian people directly during his speech, telling them that Americans "respect" their country and that they "deserve an opportunity to determine your own future.
The United States and Iran have not had diplomatic ties since 1979, when Iranian militants, who had overthrown the U.S.-backed Shah Mohammed Palavi, seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and held American diplomats hostage for more than a year. Bush labeled Iran part of an "axis of evil" in 2002, along with Iraq -- which the United States invaded the following year -- and North Korea.
Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad was the next high profile leader to take the rostrum. Throughout his lengthy speech Ahmadinejad criticized what he called the "abuse" of the Security Council by "hegemonic powers." He mentioned the United States by name only once during his speech, but criticized major powers he said "seek to rule the world relying on weapons and threats.”

Then it was Hugo Chavez’ turn to pour scorn on the US [CNN]. And he certainly took the prize for the most colourful of speeches as he launched a personal attack on the US president. “Yesterday the devil was right here”, he said. “Right here, the devil himself, and I can still smell the sulphur” he added. His attack didn’t stop there. As he continued he said the US president, “Spoke as though he owned the world” and accused him of trying to be a ‘world dictator’. "As the spokesman of imperialism, he came to share his nostrums to try to preserve the current pattern of domination, exploitation and pillage of the peoples of the world. An Alfred Hitchcock movie could use it as a scenario. I would even propose a title: 'The Devil's Recipe.' " He criticized the ineffectiveness of the UN saying that the General Assembly was "merely a deliberative organ" that meets once a year. “We come here and make speeches” he said, but "We have no power, no power to make any impact on the terrible situation in the world."

Emile Lahoud speaking Thursday described the “barbarous aggression” against his country by Israel which “all but destroyed Lebanon’s hope for being a viable state.“ The Lebanese president then asked, “How many children are going to die before the world community stands in defence of the rightful cause?” And he poured scorn at Israel. “It is time to ask Israel to abide by UN resolutions,” he said.

As the leaders attempted to sort out political strife in the General Assembly, two countries are gripped by political scandals. In Hungary riots and protest are continuing for the third day after revelations that the Prime Minister had ‘lied to the people’ [BBC]. Meanwhile Thailand’s political future appears from certain after the leader of the coup, Gen Sonthi Boonyaratglin, declared that free elections may not be held for up to 2 years. Restrictions have also been placed on any form of political protest and the forming of any opposition parties. There are also a number of reporting restrictions put in place [BBC]. Posted by Picasa

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