Global Policy Forum

US Arm-Twisting



Cartoon by Rob Hatem, New York Times

This section looks at the tremendous pressure the US can bring to bear on UN Security Council members, and Elected members in particular, to gain their votes on Iraq resolutions. Washington's arm-twisting succeeded in gaining a unanimous vote for Resolution 1441 (November, 2002) but eventually failed to gain a second resolution (March, 2003). Washington's attempt to overcome stiff opposition on the Security Council uses both carrot and stick, by reconsidering economic and military assistance deals as well as prospects for oil and trade in post-war Iraq. This "arm-twisting" is not new and former US Secretary of State James Baker discussed it in his autobiography. Yemen's loss of a $70 million US aid package in 1990 is only one of several well-known cases.



Arab Rulers' Worst Fears on Iraq Come True (April 7, 2004)

In the months prior to the US-led invasion, Arab leaders warned the White House that launching war "would unleash chaos...and open a Pandora's Box of radicalism." With US forces now fighting both Sunnites and Shiites, are Iraq's neighbors' unheeded warnings coming to fruition? (Reuters)

Bush and Blair Made Secret Pact for Iraq War (April 4, 2004)

Former UK Ambassador to Washington Sir Christopher Meyer claims that at a private White House dinner on September 20, 2001, US President Bush pressed Prime Minister Tony Blair to support military action removing Saddam Hussein from power. Meyer believes that Bush was "obsessed" with Iraq as a target long before the attack on Afghanistan. (Observer)

Speak Into My Attache Case (April 1, 2004)

The Los Angeles Times reports that Security Council delegations assumed that the US "bugged" the UN headquarters and diplomatic missions in New York, well before the revelations of "spying" by GCHQ translator Katherine Gun and former British Cabinet Minister Clare Short. Some envoys shrugged off the intrusion, saying that living with the bugging was the "price of good ties with the US."

President of Poland 'Deceived' on Iraq (March 19, 2004)

Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski claims that his government was "deceived" by the US, the UK and other nations on Iraq's WMD program. In response, Kwasniewski stated that Poland would withdraw troops from Iraq in early-2005 instead of a proposed date of mid-2005. (International Herald Tribune)

Socialist Victor in Spain Criticizes Bush and Blair (March 16, 2004)

Spanish Prime Minister-elect José Luis Rodrí­guez Zapatero criticized the US, the UK and the outgoing Spanish government for undertaking a war based on "lies." He also condemned the justification of preemptive actions based on government "convictions" rather than evidence. (New York Times)

Revealed: Attorney General Changed His Advice on Legality of Iraq War (February 29, 2004)

Reports indicate that Attorney General Lord Goldsmiths' prewar assessment ruled that the UK requires a UN Security Council resolution giving "specific authorization for war." Why was the Attorney General's comments not publicized and what does this tell us about the credibility of the US and the UK governments? (Independent)

Blix: I Was a Target Too (February 28, 2004)

Former UN weapons inspector Dr. Hans Blix, believes his UN office and his New York home were "bugged" fueling charges of "espionage" against the US and the UK. Blix notes, "It feels like an intrusion into your integrity" and he condemned the bugging as "disgusting." (Guardian)

Blix, Butler "Bugged" (February 27, 2004)

Allegations of espionage continue to mount as Australian officials allege that the US or the UK "monitored" United Nations chief weapons inspector Hans Blix and Richard Butler. Chilling comments by Mr. Butler state, "it is time the world knew how international diplomacy really works." (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

UK Spies "Bugged UN's Kofi Annan" (February 26, 2004)

Following the collapse of the Katherine Gun trial, former UK cabinet minister Clare Short accuses the UK security services of "spying" on UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in the lead-up to the Iraq War. How will the UK and the US governments respond? (BBC)

GCHQ Translator Cleared Over Leak (February 25, 2004)

By clearing Katherine Gun of breaching the "Official Secrets Act," critics argue that the US and the UK are attempting to silence prewar allegations of "spying" on UN delegations. Reports indicate the UN Missions of Angola, Cameroon, Chile, Bulgaria, Guinea and Pakistan "all had their phones tapped." (BBC)

Mexico's Former UN Envoy Says it was Well Known That US Spied on Delegations (February 12, 2004)

In a letter to Washington, Mexico accused the US and UK governments of "spying" on UN Security Council delegations in the lead up to the Iraq war. Mexico's former ambassador to the UN, Adolfo Aguilar Zinser, says the US breached international law and is demanding a response to the allegations. (Associated Press)

Bush to Establish Panel to Examine US Intelligence (February 2, 2004)

Testimony to a US Senate Hearing on Iraq by former chief weapons inspector David Kay is increasing pressure on the White House to examine the intelligence debacle leading to the Iraq War. By launching a presidential commission, administration officials hope to deflect attention away from the government's decision to invade Iraq. (New York Times)

Emphasis On Iraq Remains, But From a Different Angle (January 21, 2004)

What happened to Iraq's WMD? A year after claiming that Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat to the US, the White House is now attempting to deflect attention away from the issue, instead promoting the "liberation" of Iraq as justification for war. (New York Times)

US Stars Hail Iraq War Whistleblower (January 18, 2004)

The UK government is charging Katherine Gun, a former translator with the Government Communications Headquarters, with breaching the Official Secrets Act. She leaked a US "dirty tricks" operation to spy on UN Security Council members. She claims seeing "evidence in black and white that her Government was being asked to co-operate in an illegal operation." (Observer)

Arms Issue Seen as Hurting US Credibility Abroad (January 19, 2004)

Washington's inability to find WMD in Iraq reveals an apparent US intelligence fiasco. Doubts about US intelligence abroad will put Washington in a difficult position to deal with other major foreign policy issues, such as North Korea, argues the Washington Post.


Resignation Letter of Ambassador Adolfo Aguilar Zinser (November 23, 2003)

Mexico's UN Ambassador Adolfo Aguilar Zinser tendered his resignation following the announcement of his recall by President Vicente Fox. Fox cited comments made by Zinser during a speech given at the Universidad Iberoamericana, referring Mexico to the "backyard" of the US, as grounds for dismissal. However, pressure was dearly brought to bear by the US, leading to the Ambassador's recall.

Mexican Envoy's Remarks Cost Job (November 18, 2003)

Considered by some US officials as an "unguided missile," Mexican UN Ambassador Adolfo Aguilar-Zinser was removed from his duties after criticizing the way the US treats Mexico as a "second-class" country. The US criticized him for being too vocal about his country's opposition to the war on Iraq. This is not the first time that an ambassador loses his position for criticizing Washington's policies. (Los Angeles Times)

UN Envoy Recalled by Spain in Iraq Row (August 15, 2003)

Madrid blamed its UN Ambassador, Inocencio Arias, for having "questioned" the Iraq war in light of the failure to uncover weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Finding WMD was the "principal reason" for Spain to go to war. (Independent)

Nothing Sweeter to Bush Than Revenge (June 1, 2003)

Those countries that have dared to oppose the US in their war on Iraq will subsequently suffer the "consequences", as described by Secretary of State Colin Powell. The US government does not spell out the exact penalties but the ominous threat is left hanging over the arbitrators' heads. (Seatle Post-Intelligencer)

Payback Time (May 14, 2003)

This paper reports on how Washington punishes or rewards governments for their position on the war in Iraq. The US will award Poland with a special deal on US F-16 jets while Germany faces a possible loss of US military bases. (Institute for Policy Studies)

With Trade Pact Pending, Chile Replaces UN Envoy Who Angered US Over Iraq (May 14, 2003)

In the UN Security Council, Chile's ambassador Juan Gabriel Valdes spoke out against an attack on Iraq. This angered Washington, resulting in Valdes being replaced and a delay in the signing of the free trade agreement between Chile and the US. (Washington Post)

US Pays Back Nations That Supported War (May 11, 2003)

The US has taken a punitive approach to international trade agreements, punishing those countries who opposed its war on Iraq. Singapore signed a free trade agreement while Chile's and China's agreements have been delayed. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Who Lied to Whom? (March 31, 2003)

Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh examines the circumstances surrounding forged documents regarding the supposed sale of uranium to Iraq that the US and British governments used to make a case for the war against Iraq. (The New Yorker)

Many Willing, But Few Are Able (March 25, 2003)

Palau, an island group in the North Pacific, does not have a military and yet is a member of the US-led coalition that includes at least six unarmed nations. (Washington Post)

Coalition of the Willing or Coalition of the Coerced Part II (March 24, 2003)

This piece from the Institute for Policy Studies discusses the so called "coalition of the willing" that has been assembled by the US. The countries represent a small portion of the world population and 18 of them have very poor human rights record.

What Can Eritrea Possibly Do to Help the US in Iraq? (March 20, 2003)

Emma Brockes phones embassies in London that are part of the coalition of the willing. Several representatives were not aware of their country's commitment and some stated they were only contributing moral support. (Guardian)

Irrelevance Lost (March 20, 2003)

Marc Lynch argues that rather than demonstrating its supposed "irrelevance," the UN Security Council's resistance to US arm-twisting has dramatically increased its image in the eyes of most of the world. (Middle East Report Online)

Uniting For Peace (March 20, 2003)

After the US-led attack was launched the US attempts to persuade countries not to take the issue to the UN General Assembly under a procedure known as "Uniting for Peace." (ZNet)

US, Britain and Spain Abandon Resolution (March 17, 2003)

The arm twisting did not succeed. The US, Britain and Spain withdrew their UN draft resolution authorizing force against Iraq. (Associated Press)

US Backs Away From Warnings Over Russia's Possible Veto (March 14, 2003)

US officials softened its warning about the possibility of long-term damage to relations if Russia vetoes a new UN Security Council resolution on Iraq. (Los Angeles Times)

Mexico and Chile Walk a Tightrope (March 13, 2003)

The pressure is tremendous on the non permanent members Chile and Mexico in the UN Security Council. The outcome of their vote will influence their relationship with the US. (Los Angeles Times)

US Threatens Russia Over Iraq Veto (March 13, 2003)

The US warns that a Russian veto on a UN resolution authorizing force against Iraq could have negative consequences on US investment in the country. (Middle East Online)

Betting on War with a Pair of Kings (March 12, 2003)

Washington did not expect so much resistance to its effort to line up the nine votes in the UN Security Council. Perhaps the undecided have remembered six recalls that Turkey did not receive any of the promised aid at the time of the Gulf War in 1991. (Truthout)

The Roving Eye (March 10, 2003)

The six undecided members of the UN Security Council are feeling intense pressure from both Washington and Paris on the Iraq issue. Three African nations (Guinea, Angola and Cameroon) have suddenly become the center of attention because of Western power politics and self-interest. (Asian Times)

The Long History of UN Espionage (March 8, 2003)

"Spying at the United Nations helped to shape the UN Charter itself," reports the Observer, referring to accusations that the US uses surveillance against Security Council missions. This article shows that spying at UN headquarters and among its agencies is as old as the UN itself.

American Media Dodging UN Surveillance Story (March 7, 2003)

While the revelation of US plans for an aggressive surveillance operation against members of the UN Security Council delegations has been a major news story throughout the world, it has been almost totally ignored by newspapers in the US. (ZNet)

America Resorts to Economic Blackmail (March 6, 2003)

Russia might risk a possible membership in the World Trade Organization if it decides to cast a veto on a new Iraq resolution in the UN Security Council. (Moscow Times)

Latin American Security Council Members and the American Elephant (March 5, 2003)

The US has just sent envoys to Mexico and Chile to press for their votes. The Chilean ambassador to the UN complains about the "palpable" pressure: "Talking with the United States is like talking to an elephant. It's very large, heavy, and generally bad-mannered." (Interhemispheric Resource Center)

Purported Spy Memo May Add to US Troubles at UN (March 4, 2003)

The recently revealed memo detailing US spying on United Nations Security Council ambassadors might create a problem for Washington. But a congressional aide stated that spying on governments is an "unclassified stated mission" of the NSA (National Security Agency). (Los Angeles Times)

US Dirty Tricks to Win Vote on Iraq War (March 2, 2003)

The US uses surveillance to intercept UN Security Council members' telephones and emails. The order from the National Security Agency aims "at gleaning information not only on how delegations on the Security Council will vote, but also 'policies', 'negotiating positions', 'alliances' and 'dependencies.' " (Observer)

America the Arm-Twister (March 2, 2003)

As the US prepares to do whatever is necessary to gain support for a second resolution that could trigger a war against Iraq, undecided nations on the UN Security Council face a barrage of bribes, persuasion, and blatant threats. (Observer)

Washington Steps Up the Pressure on Russia (March 1, 2003)

The US has intensified its "courtship" with Russia, by increasingly siding with Moscow on the Chechen conflict and offering other favors. At the same time, Washington has kept up the pressure by insisting that Russian multi-billion dollar oil contracts would be at risk, should Russia block the Security Council. (New York Times)

Pakistan May Back US Plans for Iraq (February 27, 2003)

Washington's arm twisting is paying dividends; Pakistan has indicated that it will support the US and back a new resolution on Iraq. (Los Angeles Times)

Coalition of the Willing or Coalition of the Coerced? (February 26, 2003)

This informative text from the Institute for Policy Studies describes the US relationship with current nations in the UN Security Council. It focuses on the economic, military and political power the US uses to obtain enough votes to support military action against Iraq.

Bush Set to Be Pivot in Diplomacy (February 25, 2003)

President George W. Bush will take the lead in "diplomatic" efforts to persuade members in the UN Security Council to vote in favor of a resolution to forcibly disarm Iraq. (Los Angeles Times)

US Warns France in Struggle Over Iraq (February 25, 2003)

If the US gains support for its UN resolution authorizing force against Iraq, it warns France that a veto would be viewed as "very unfriendly." (Reuters)

Dollar Diplomacy and UN Votes (February 25, 2003)

The US is flexing its "economic muscle" by promising foreign aid and access to Iraq's oil to garner support in the UN Security Council for a war against Iraq. (Asia Times)

US Seeks 9 Votes From UN Council to Confront Iraq (February 21, 2003)

US strategy is to "persuade" nine countries to vote in favor of a new resolution and thereby challenge the permanent veto-wielding countries France, Russia and China to abstain. (New York Times)

US to Punish German 'Treachery' (February 15, 2003)

By leading international opposition to war against Iraq, Germany might lose millions in revenue if the US decides to retaliate by closing down its German military bases. (Guardian)


US Dollars Yielded Unanimous UN Vote Against Iraq (November 11, 2002)

The US proves once again what political and economic power can achieve. US arm-twisting persuaded the 10 elected Security Council members, that depend on US economic and/or military support, to vote in favor of the UK-US resolution. (Inter Press Service)

A Tiny Nation's Envoy Caught in the Crossfire Over Iraq (Nobvember 7, 2002)

Mauritius recalls its UN ambassador, Jagdish Koonjul, after pressure from the White House. Mr Koonjul was sent home for not "accurately conveying his government's pro-US stance in the Security Council debate over how to disarm Iraq." (Sydney Morning Herald)

Déjí  Vu All Over Again (October 15, 2002)

"Haven't we been here before?" asks Phyllis Bennis, as she recalls how Washington already bribed and menaced Security Council members in the past to obtain their support for the US position, especially on Iraq. (ZNet)


Baker Twists Arms of Yemen, Colombia and Malaysia for UN Resolution

To win votes on the Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force in the first Gulf War, US Secretary of State James Baker met with officials of every country on the Council. This excerpt, from his autobiography, gives a glimpse of the pressure he used in three such meetings.

Baker's Quest for Bloodless Victory (December 9, 1990)

During the week preceding the vote of Security Council Resolution 678 authorizing the first Gulf War, James Baker used a "mixture of US diplomatic strength and Saudi money" to persuade his Security Council counterparts, reports the Guardian.

Baker Presses Security Council Members For a War Resolution in November, 1990

In his autobiography, former US Secretary of State James Baker tells how he undertook a process of "cajoling, extracting, threatening, and occasionally buying votes" on the Council, to win support for a resolution authorizing a U.S.-led war against Iraq.

* This page has been created by Celine Nahory


FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Global Policy Forum distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.