n September 26, 1960, Cuban leader Fidel Castro addressed the United Nations General Assembly and held the General Assembly’s attention for almost five hours.
However, the most significant thing of Castro’s words before the UN was not the length of his speech, but his attack against the philosophy of war, his denunciation of US actions against the Cuban Revolution, and the use of force through the growing arms race. His speech provoked ovations and applause.
Castro critiqued war being used to monopolize underdeveloped countries and steal their resources, attacked US policy toward Cuba and other nations in Latin America, Asia and Africa. ‘From the beginning of human history’ he said, wars have arisen, fundamentally, for one reason some people’s desire to deprive others of their riches.
Let the philosophy of plunder disappear, and the philosophy of war will have disappeared,’ he said. He showed how the arms race was used by big business monopolies and likened them to crows ‘feeding on corpses brought by war.’ On the 50th anniversary of the United Nations, in 1995, the leader of the Cuban Revolution returned to visit the UN headquarters. His speech was again appreciated with loud applause.
‘We demand a world without ruthless blockades that cause the deaths of men, women and children as silent atomic bombs,’ he said, referring -among others- to the economic, commercial and financial siege imposed on Cuba by the United States in 1962.
Twenty-three years later, on September 25, 2018, the 72-year-old US President Donald Trump- kept state leaders waiting when arrived late to address the 73rd sessions of the General Assembly of the United Nations.
Unfortunately, unlike Castro whose speech drew rounds of applause, the US leader drew derisive laughter at the General Assembly and the world over when he opened his speech crowing about how much he had ‘achieved’ in the US since he became President. Poor Mr. Trump forgot he was addressing a world body and not a band of political supporters. He crowed of how he had unilaterally pulled out of the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal, (an international agreement), charging Iran had not kept to the terms of the agreement, Trump launched a campaign of economic pressure and sanctions against that country.But the UN watchdog committee International Atomic Energy Agency emphatically dismissed the charge.
Trump also demanded all nations isolate the Iran’s regime and threatened to sanction countries that did not fall in line. He boasted he would bring reconciliation between Palestine and Israel. Instead he stopped US funding -amounting to $350 million- to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in the Near East for Palestine Refugees, which helps maintain refugee camps to over 5,000,000 Palestinian refugees displaced by Israeli attacks on Palestinian territories.
He spoke in glowing terms of the generosity of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar who he said, ‘have pledged billions of dollars to aid the people of Yemen’. Blissfully ignoring the fact that these three countries are even today continue to impose a military blockade of Yemen and frequently bomb civillian targets in that country.
The resulting hunger and malnutrition in that country, has been described by the UN itself as a humanitarian disaster. Not unexpectedly, Trump received derisive laughter from state leaders and delegates at the General Assembly. Leaders of Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain too have rejected Trump’s call to sanction Iran.
But it was our neighbour India who showed the US,India was no vassal state, in the aftermath of Trump’s threatened sanction against India - under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) - for seeking to purchase weapons from Russia.
On Saturday, India signed a $5 billion deal with Russia for S-400 Triumf missile shield systems at summit talks between Premier Modi and President Putin.New Delhi also categorically stated it would continue to import oil from Iran. A slap in the face of the man who ridiculed Modi by referring to him as the “little tariff man”.
Trump’s boorish behaviour and confrontational policies are forcing even perennial US allies to realise the US is no longer a reliable ally. The US unilateral sanctions imposed against particular states and threats of repercussion against countries not willing to fall in line with US demands is unacceptable.
Ultimately, the US and Trump will learn that the world can make do without US goods and services. But the US needs the worlds markets for its own produce.