Back in my misspent youth, when I was a dissolute hippie living in a group house in the D.C. area, one of my housemates was a young man who joined our group after being pressured to move out of his parents’ house. On his 21st birthday, Duncan’s father gave him a suitcase and a clock. The message? “It’s Time to Go.” So Duncan went, and ended up with us.
The United Nations is over 21. In fact, it’s getting quite long in the tooth. But here it is, sporting a three-day beard, still sleeping in its old childhood bed, the one with the spaceships on the bedspread and a cowboy holster hanging on the post, its oversize feet sticking out past the end of the mattress. It’s costing the parents a fortune to feed and clothe it, but the UN just won’t leave.
For someone who loathes the UN as much as I do, John Bolton is the best ambassador that could be hoped for. But the problem is that we have to have an ambassador in the first place. The problem is that we have to have that monstrous toad squatting on the premises at Turtle Bay, eating us out of house and home.
The UN started out as a Noble Ideal, and passed through various stages such as Harmless Sideshow, Amusing Diversion, and Irritating Obstruction. It has now entered its terminal phase as an Active Evil.
It’s not just that it lets Libya or Cuba sit on its Human Rights Commission, or that the General Assembly has passed 4,770,238 resolutions condemning Israel. It’s not just that it acted as a money-launderer and corrupt fixer for Saddam’s regime. And it’s not even the fact that it sits idly by while various murderous regimes commit genocide in Rwanda and Darfur and East Timor.
The main problem is that it is going to act as a deliberate impediment to the most important task of our time: compelling Iran to give up its quest for nuclear weapons. The current administration, egged on by the Europeans (and especially the British), has decided that the UN is the only way to handle Iran.
But anyone with more than three brain cells can see that the UN is not going to do anything to stop Iran. France, Russia, and China will see to that; their perceived interests compel them to obstruct any real Security Council action against Iran.
And our interests, the interests of the United States of America, absolutely demand that the Iranians be defanged. If we are serious at all about what we intend, we have no business dealing with the UN.
So why do we keep on doing it? Part of the answer may be found in a worldwide BBC World Service Poll (pdf format), conducted this past January:
“Please tell me if you think the United Nations is having a mainly positive or mainly negative influence in the world.”
Respondents in the United States answered as follows:
|Neither, no difference||4|
Interestingly enough, Americans have a higher opinion of the UN than people in Russia, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, and Argentina, to name a few. Is this a function of the effective PR machine operated by the UN and its NGOs in this country?
Whatever the reason, the President and members of Congress face real political risks if they attempt to get us out of the UN. So, instead, they diddle around at the edges here and there, demanding “reform”, reshuffling the organizational deck chairs, withholding a little bit of cash now and then, insisting on minute changes of wording in appalling resolutions, etc., etc. In essence, nothing ever changes.
Since the media and the chattering classes are firmly – if delusionally – convinced of the value of the UN, in order to effect change our leaders would have to take a different tack.
The President could soften up the electorate by publicly criticizing specific actions of the UN and the officials who implement them. The White House could issue press releases describing in detail the systemic corruption of the UN. The President could direct that significant portions of our dues be withheld. From time to time, when the issue is an important one, the President could remind the American people that the pronouncements of the UN do not trump the sovereignty of the United States, nor can they contravene our Constitution. He could then order the agencies under his control not to follow specific directives of the UN that fit these conditions.
All of these actions would have the effect of lowering Americans’ opinion of the UN, and make it easier to withdraw from it when the time is ripe.
But time is short, and all of this would take leadership, real, courageous leadership from our Chief Executive. So far, such leadership has been lacking.
So what would replace the UN if the United States were to give it the old heave-ho?
Some people suggest the formation of a “League of Democracies”, but I am dubious. Such a League would almost certainly have to include Russia (which, after all, holds “elections”), and definitely would include France. We’d be back in the same old position, trying to do back-door deals with countries whose interests simply run counter to ours. Even democracies can have mutually exclusive interests.
I don’t see the necessity for some over-arching international body whose decisions are binding on its members; such organizations are pipe-dreams, the leftovers of the gooey socialist Left that have plagued us since the Treaty of Versailles.
The time-honored technique of forming ad-hoc, mutable, and occasionally shifting alliances should serve us well. In practice, one such alliance will consist of what is becoming known as the Anglosphere: the United States, Britain, Australia, Canada, and other English-speaking states, as well as Japan, and now India (Yay India!). The interests of these countries will often align with ours, so agreement on common policy and actions will be relatively easy.
But none of the arrangements would be binding or permanent – Britain, in particular, with its advanced case of sclerotic Socialism, will not always be willing to yoke its wagon to the same ox as ours.
In fact, sometimes it seems as if it’s just the Yanks and the Aussies, standing back-to-back and reloading while painted savages swarm over the palisade on all sides. But if that’s the way it has to be, we are tough enough to handle it.
The alternative is to have corrupt and malign dictatorships under the protective mantle of the United Nations oversee our own destruction.
Millennia from now, after the Second Dark Age has ended, when civilization has finally regenerated itself out of seeds carefully nurtured in Singapore or Botswana, archaeologists will regard our own time the same way we look at the fallen aqueducts and uncovered mosaic floors of the Romans. They will burrow into sealed vaults of our CD-ROMs, excavate the interchanges of Interstate 95, and go scuba-diving among the stumps of monuments in the muck at the bottom of the Potomac Bay, and then they will say to each other, “Look what they once were, and look what they came to be! How could they have let that happen?”
We who stand on the badly damaged ramparts of Western Civilization are the only ones who can answer that question.
Well, how could we?
The Washington Times reports:
The United Nations confirmed yesterday the U.S. Attorney’s Office is investigating suspected wrongdoing in the office that handles procurement for U.N. peacekeeping operations.
In a further blow to the troubled peacekeeping department, a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to be delivered to Congress today describes the procurement office as understaffed, poorly trained and badly lacking the oversight that would uncover corruption, fraud and waste.
Eight senior staff members were suspended with pay earlier this year, after an inquiry by the U.N. inspector general’s office uncovered lax management and possible corruption.
Now how much will it cost the U.S. taxpayer this time for an investigation whose results we could have recited in unison?
(Hat tip: Geepers)
What you say about Hillary Clinton the the Muslims is not true.
HIllary Clinton will be a GREAT president and Islam is a GRATE and peacefull region.
I just thought you should know
Baron, I’m offended by this piece. If one reads it carefully, it seems clear you think you despise the UN more than I do. No, such a thing is not possible!
Seriously, I push The Road to Hell on everyone I meet. I spread the joyous tidings of the Dutch peacekeepers in Srebrenica and the Belgians safely dispersed around Kigala, and I email out every link Roger Simon made to Oil-for-food stories to everyone I know. (My friends all cross over to the other side of the street now when then see me coming.)
What more can a mere private citizen do? But no, nothing overcomes the Noble Intention™ and the Lofty Ideal™. Bleah…..
it’s time to pull the plug on the UN, but like the old joke about the farmer who fattened up his pig by using a butt plug…
everyone’s afraid of being caught in the explosion when the plug is finally pulled.
Israel’s Political Comic Strip Since 1973
Dean Acheson warned in 1945 that if the UN was put together as advertised, the Security Council would become a force for status quo, relegating change for freedom impossible.
When I was a kid in NY in the 50’s I used to think the UN wa the monst wonderful human design yet. No more war, peaceful atomic power for all, farming developments, yadda yadda.
Claudia Rossett has probably painted an OPTIMISTIC picture of the UN.
Collect the parking fines and send them on their way.
I’m sure Mr. Chirac will find room, and be very very happy. The expense accounts won’t go as far in Paris, but no one will be looking any longer either.
Build the new Shea Stadium RIGHT THERE
In lives alone, what price the failure of the League of Nation’s?
I personally wouldn’t be surprised if the UN’s ultimate cost comes at a price, at least, 100 times higher.…and far, far sooner than most would like to believe possible.
enuff, you speak the truth. Remember, the UN was created to be an “effective” replacement of the League of Nations. It was an improvement!
That’s why I think that, after the UN finally collapses, we will create some new improved organization to “fix” it. Assuming, of course, that there is enough civilization left to do such things.
We’ll never learn.
It would be interesting to see a highly publicized GAO breakdown of the cost/benefit ratios of UN relief organizations, compared against those of their more accountable brethren. I’ve seen some estimates indicating roughly 3X costs; but UN accounting is so specious that no solid numbers are available.
Going a step further: a GAO comparison of all of these numbers against those of privately funded orgs like the Gates Foundation — that would be especialy sobering for the public, I think. And probably good pretext to tear aid money from the UN, one mission at a time, until the UN is reduced to its one native mission, diplomacy — which can be run efficiently from NATO headquarters in Brussels, I expect.
scuba-diving among the stumps of monuments in the muck at the bottom of the Potomac Bay
Terrible image. And yet… for some reason my mind keeps inserting apes and Kurt Russell into that picture.
Apes and Kurt Russell: they make post-apocalyptic scenarios so much more… filmable. 🙂
And speaking of GAO and shady UN bookkeeping:
What the left overlooks
The GAO found:
… deep flaws in the management, coordination, and oversight in the procurement office that spent about $1.6 billion last year on everything from trash disposal in the Balkans to fresh food rations in Sudan to helicopters and cargo planes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Nato is the answer. It is a group of countries that have some similarities and chooses its obligation to each other. We need to kick the un out of the nest and jump ship (how is that for mixing metaphors;).
Thanks for the link to that book.
That 52% of people in the US have a mainly positive view of the UN is dumbfounding
It may well be that the diplomatic thinkers who shape the 21st Century will be Otto von Bismarck and Cardinal Richelieu rather than Woodrow Wilson or FDR. Ironic….
“Nato is the answer. It is a group of countries that have some similarities and chooses its obligation to each other. We need to kick the un out of the nest and jump ship (how is that for mixing metaphors;).”
You make The Baron’s point about fixing the unfixable. NATO was a Cold War response to a Soviet military threat–that threat is now gone. Attempting to shift its focus to current threats has produced at best mixed results, as individual members of NATO have sharply differing views of those threats and how or if to combat them. Its proven itself to be fractuous in the Middle East and ineffective in its own backyard (Bosnia). We no longer have SEATO, so why are we pretending that NATO is relevant? Let it and the UN go, I say….
I’m afraid ipw533 is right. NATO is really just UN Lite, a huge cumbersome dinosaur. Most of the heavy lifting is done by the USA, while some of the 98-pound weakling European countries try to ankle-bite us to death. Look at Belgium — indicting everyone it can think of as a war criminal, except for Saddam!
And the more countries that join NATO, the more cumbersome it gets, and the smaller the group of shared interests. It’s better than the UN, but still not all that useful.