An impoverished and weak country appeals to an international body for justice after its capital city is bombarded by a technologically advanced and wealthy imperialist power; the international body turns a deaf ear to the appeal, despite evidence of blatant aggression and violation of international law.
This could be a description in a history book of the international reaction to such atrocities as the Japanese invasion of Manchuria, Mussolini's attack on Ethiopia, Hitler's seizure of Czechoslovakia, or the depredations of British or French colonialism. But the preceding paragraph refers to the US missile attack on Sudan and the refusal of the UN Security Council, at its meeting August 24, to take any action.
From the standpoint of international law--the set of procedures which the great powers impose on smaller nations, but refuse to abide by themselves--there is no question that Sudan has an irrefutable case against the United States.
The US is not at war with Sudan, nor was there any act of aggression alleged against the government in Khartoum. The US still maintains diplomatic relations with Sudan, albeit at a distance--its envoys moved to Nairobi, in neighboring Kenya, after anti-American demonstrations two years ago.
The 22-nation Arab League, which includes such slavish US clients as Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, voted unanimously to condemn the US missile attack as a violation of Sudan's sovereignty. Kuwait, which is a member of the Security Council this year, sought to introduce a resolution calling for an investigation by the UN, but it was blocked by the US and Britain, while the representatives of France, Russia and China agreed not press the issue.
The American media brushed aside Sudanese protests with contempt, and barely reported the Security Council's action. But internationally, the refusal of the UN's leading body even to investigate the military aggression of the US government has met with widespread condemnation.
An editorial in the Times of India declared that the Security Council decision 'underscores the unequal nature of the present world order. Sudan is a sovereign country and has been a member of the UN since its independence in 1956. It has a government that is no less representative of its people than dozens of other UN members. Sudan has not staged an armed attack on the US and Washington has not even accused it of any such crime.'
The US missile attack therefore 'represents a breach of international peace and security, something the Security Council must take cognisance of apropos Chapter VII of the UN Charter,' the newspaper said. It went on to point out that by the same logic used to justify the missile strike--the claim that the Khartoum factory was engaged in preparation of 'weapons of mass destruction'--the US could bomb India's nuclear testing facilities.
In his comments rejecting the Sudanese call for an investigation, the US deputy representative expressed an arrogant disdain, not only for Sudan, but for the entire world outside the borders of America. 'Putting together a technical team to confirm something that we already know, based on our information, doesn't seem to have any point to us,' he said.
The American representative apparently cannot conceive that what is desired is not to 'confirm something that we already know,' but to provide an independent and objective assessment, regardless of whether it conforms to the propaganda of the CIA and Pentagon. This choice of words certainly reveals the attitude of the US government towards the UN--it is either to serve as a pliant instrument of American foreign policy, which it does on most occasions, or it can be ignored.
Sudan's government filed a lawsuit in Khartoum against the United States, the first step toward submitting a legal claim to the International Court of Justice in The Hague. The US government was previously convicted by the World Court in 1984 of violating the sovereignty of Nicaragua by mining the harbors of that small Central American country and organizing other terrorist actions against the nationalist Sandinista government. President Ronald Reagan thereupon notified the World Court--an agency of the United Nations--that the United States would not be subject to its rulings.
Reagan's example should be considered the next time a White House or State Department spokesman denounces Saddam Hussein, or some other American target, for refusing to carry out the dictates of the United Nations.
Meanwhile there is more evidence that the factory leveled by the US missile strike was what the Sudanese government says it was, a pharmaceutical factory making 60 percent of the country's medicines.
The Mail and Guardian newspaper of South Africa has reported that the factory was designed by an American, Henry Jobe of MSD Pharamaceutical Co. The $100 million plant, one of the country's largest and most modern facilities, was regularly visited by foreign dignitaries, including the president of Niger, the British ambassador to Sudan, as well as by groups of Sudanese school children.
'Nerve gas factory' claim exposed as hoax: What are the real reasons for the US missile strikes?
[26 August 1998]