Obama landed in Brazil on Saturday for a bilateral meeting at the grand Planalto Palace with President Dilma Vana Rousseff, the first female leader of Brazil, which was one of just five nations that voted to abstain on Thursday night's vote before the U.N. Security Council.
A Brazilian official told CNN that Rousseff's government believes U.N. resolution 1973 is too wide in scope because besides opening the door to member nations imposing a potential no-fly zone over Libya, the resolution also allows those nations to take "any means necessary" against the Libyan government...
The other nations to abstain on the vote were China, Germany, India and Russia. The resolution passed anyway, by a 10-0 margin, thanks to the support of such key U.S. allies as France and the United Kingdom.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_Security_Council_Resolution_1973
Although Rousseff states that her political thinking has evolved drastically — from Marxism to pragmatic capitalism— she remains proud of her radical roots.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_Security_Council
Since the Security Council's inception, China (ROC/PRC) has used its veto 6 times; France 18 times; Russia/USSR 123 times; the United Kingdom 32 times; and the United States 82 times. The majority of Russian/Soviet vetoes were in the first ten years of the Council's existence. Since 1984, China and France have vetoed three resolutions each; Russia/USSR four; the United Kingdom ten; and the United States 43.
The Security Council was formed in 1946. Getting things done at the UN has always been a mess and a hopeless jumble of politics and compromise. Witness Libya on the Human Rights Council. Witness rampant anti-Israelism (not that they don't deserve censure for the settlers in West Bank and Gaza. Excuse me, I meant to write Judea and Samaria. Anyone who doesn't call it Judea and Samaria are apparently anti-Semites. Personally I think the settlers are the real anti-Semites, but I digress.) Witness the fractured coalition attempting to pull Afghanistan out of a quagmire of religious fundamentalism, intimidation of women and decades of war.
Soviet Union/Russia - then current, now former superpower.
China/PRC - East Asian powerhouse. (Incidentally, I see no reason why Taiwan shouldn't be included in most average UN functions, naming issues notwithstanding.)
UK - former colonial power with a large degree of cultural and post-colonial ties all over the world. Candidate for expulsion imho.
France - former colonial power with some few remnants of global influence, mainly in Africa. THE candidate for expulsion.
U.S. - sole remaining superpower capable of significant force projection, or capable of dealing with a nuclear bomb-tossing Iran or North Korea.
So let's add Brazil due to its rising global influence. And let's add India due to it's rising economic and regional importance. Except its lack of influence over things like Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, NPT, continuing border disputes with Pakistan and lack of leadership on the international drug issues, economic issues, disasters and the fact that half the country is still mired in medieval-looking conditions is a bit of a drag. Pakistan would throw a fit if India got on the Security Council and started throwing its weight around. Let's not go there, until India and Pakistan solve their differences at least.
But what about Brazil? Leading South American powerhouse. Soft power projection, culturally and economically and via foreign aid and education.
Obama's speech if I was his speechwriter:
At this time, the United States is not ready to support a Brazilian bid for a permanent place on the UN Security Council. The council is fraught with vetoes as is, and it's too difficult to get consensus and get things done as they stand today. In fact, before Brazil makes a serious bid via a concerted effort to build an international consensus for such an action, the council could stand to be trimmed to increase efficiency and reduce vetoes. Too many cooks spoil the soup. Leadership by committee is at best a very slow and ponderous way to move the world forward.
The people of Libya is a case in point of how this slow, ponderous way doesn't always cut it. Arabs, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Westerners, Brazilians and Asians agree - the people of Libya deserve better than the world dithering and politicking while they are massacred in the streets by their own government's hired mercenaries and thugs. They deserve better than to be led by a mad dog using force and his immediate circle of ruthless, corrupt and greedy family connections to intimidate and spread fear.
What's this have to do with Brazil? It has everything to do with Brazil. Brazil is a leading South American power. It's a growing economic and global power. It's a world leader in foreign aid, not just in money and goods, but in culture and education. The world has many problems, and needs the members of the Security Council to take a leadership role in areas like Iran, Iraq, Nuclear Non-Proliferation, North Korea, Afghanistan, Terrorism, Islamic Reform, reduction in trade barriers and a level economic playing field, protection against exploitation of child labour, child soldiers and sweat shops. Drug cartels and criminal activity. The explosion of slums and horrible living conditions. Global warming and the rapid industrialization of many countries. Disaster preparedness and emergency response.
Dilma Rousseff stands ready to take Brazil on this journey. The United States wish her and her country the best of luck. If things keep going the way they are and Brazil leaves its mark on all these issues I mentioned, in ten or twenty years one of my successors may very likely support Brazil's inclusion as a permanent member of the UN Security Council as part of a wider UN reform, with or without veto power.