American Empire versus Third Worldism: The Question of Palestine at the United Nations

Sadia Saeed, University of San Francisco

This paper deploys the question of Palestine at the United Nations to explain the rise and fall of Third Worldism in international politics. The question of Palestine has been a focal point of Third Worldism at the UN General Assembly since at least the Arab-Israel War of 1967. However, unlike other Third Worldist issues such as decolonization and racial discrimination, the UN General Assembly has been strikingly ineffective at shaping the trajectory of the Palestinian question. I argue that this ineffectiveness is a function of the exercise of U.S. imperial power entailing: (1) the deliberate institutional marginalization of the UN General Assembly; (2) the provision of economic benefits such as loans, aid and investments to Middle Eastern countries; and (3) the coercive disciplining of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and its allies. However, the U.S. is unable to exercise symbolic power over the Palestinian question, which continues to animate both the UN General Assembly and progressive transnational movements. The analysis thus points to the challenges of - and opportunities for - maintaining international Third Worldist solidarities in the face of U.S. imperial power.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 39. U.S. Empire Reconsidered