Sunday, May 8, 2005

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What's Wrong With the UN

Over at Democracy Arsenal I have a post published as part of a Weekly Top 10 list I do that looks at the top 10 things the UN does well. I promised readers there that I would list here a few things that should be on the UN's top 10 list but aren't. I am going to keep this short and sweet, but here goes:

Non-Proliferation - Top of mind this week, due to all the ferment over North Korea. This one's largely the fault of the Member States for not strengthening the UN's non-pro mechanisms. See this post at DA for more.

Combating Terrorism - The UN's anti-terror mechanisms are pretty weak. Annan has proposed a series of ways to strengthen them, and the U.S. ought to get behind this agenda.

Human Rights - The UN's human rights mechanisms have essentially been held captive by rights violators. This has got to change, and once again Kofi Annan has the makings of a good proposal on the table.

Public Relations - Always a weak spot, and one that undercuts the organization's effectiveness in many other areas.

posted by on 05.08.05 at 11:22 PM


Thanks for your original list and this addendum. But I think it's misleading to focus only on the security and humanitarian arms of the UN. It perpetuates the view in the US that the UN only exists to "help people" when, in fact, the UN is a mechanism for addressing the full range of issues and topics that need to be addressed in our rapidly globalizing world. (Or, maybe the implication is that globalization is not all good?)

Some UN organizations are very important to US interests, not least because they serve as mechanisms through which the US can protect and assert it's economic dominance in the world. If we're going to do a proper list, please include those UN agencies that too often exist below the radar, but which help the US in numerous ways. Such agencies may not be entirely trouble-free (what large institution is perfect?) but they certainly should certainly be counted when critics complain about the "UN." There are many, including the FAO, UNCITRAL, UNESCO, WIPO, and yes, even the villified WTO.

posted by: hyh on 05.08.05 at 11:22 PM [permalink]

"Over at Democracy Arsenal I have a post published as part of a Weekly Top 10 list I do that looks at the top 10 things the US does well."

Should that be UN?

posted by: Johnny Upton on 05.08.05 at 11:22 PM [permalink]


I'll make the first try at listing the
Top 10 Things the UN does Well.

1) Villify Israel
2) Demonize the United States
3) Justify Tyranny
4) Take Bribes
5) Provide cushy jobs for Bureaucrats
6) Get NYC Parking Tickets fixed for Diplomats
7) Waste lots of money
8) Hold lots of meetings
9) Promotes World Socialism
10) Provides aid to deserving Children worldwide
through UNICEF

Anyone else?

posted by: Ted on 05.08.05 at 11:22 PM [permalink]

It would seem that a corrupt, ineffective and unaccountable executive bureaucracy should be at the top of the list of the UN's problems. It's hard to imagine addressing anything else on Suzanne's list until that one is taken care of.

Put differently, Kofi is the problem (or at least a symptom of the problem), not the UN's public relations!

posted by: Doug on 05.08.05 at 11:22 PM [permalink]

the 0th law of what's wrong with the UN.

Just like in real-estate, its location, location, location. The UN should not have permanent "cushy" digs in NY. It should be moved, preferably to the world's critical hot spot of the decade. And continue to move to stay on top of the "hot spot" of the time.

The UN should be currently be located in Jerusalem, where all the critical action is. The ambassadors need to see, be exposed to what the world outside their door is really like. Sort of like the Peace Corps.

posted by: manoppello on 05.08.05 at 11:22 PM [permalink]

One issue that isn't getting much overt attention are those goofy series of Armeggedon books. They sell amazingly well and equate the UN with the devil or some such drivel. The result being that in some fundamentalist circles two things are happening. The perception of the actual power of the UN is exaggerated to an absurd degree. And, rather than being viewed as an aging bureaucracy in need of an overhaul, the UN is viewed with spittlemouthed hatred and considered as a tool of satan. I mean, please.

posted by: karol on 05.08.05 at 11:22 PM [permalink]

Financial corruption and its prerequisite of lack of accountability (for anything) have to be at the top of the list. Until the UN's own staff are purged and adequate accountability ensured, nothing else will help. I suspect that corruption and lack of accountability are tied to the other matters Suzanne mentions in various greater and lesser ways.

The oil for food scandal has poisoned the UN as an insitution, quite possibly fatally. No one but the U.S., in a position to change anything on Suzanne's list or my two additions, has any incentive to do so.

At this point I lean towards terminating the U.N.'s existence, keeping some of its affiliated organizations such as the WHO, and going without a U.N. or anything like it for at least a generation.

The U.N. as it presently exists has become (a) useless as a vehicle for promoting American interests, (b) an active impediment to promotion of American interests, (c) more an agent of evil in the world than anything beneficial, and (d) a hopeless mire of financial and moral corruption. All of these are related.

Effective reform/restructing of the U.N. would IMO require a bi-partisan effort in Congress. I don't see that happening, and instead see active Democratic obstruction of any meaningful attempts, for reasons stated at:

The Democratic Party is so far gone in partisanship, due to the ideological monoculture of its base (and contributors in particular), that I don't feel it is capable of cooperating with the Republican majority to the degree necessary to save the U.N., or even neuter its ability to impede American policy.

So I'm in favor of abolishing the U.N.

posted by: Tom Holsinger on 05.08.05 at 11:22 PM [permalink]

"The UN's anti-terror mechanisms are pretty weak."

As an honest admission this is a bit like Pee Wee Herman admitting he's unlikely to KO Mike Tyson in the ring. Indeed, such a Pee Wee Herman type of analogy is hugely overly kind, given that the UN's malfeasance and hall-of-mirrors strategems positively aids terrorism, if largely indirectly, via the billion dollar oil-for-kickbacks scam, among other more carefully orchestrated and nuanced strategies. If you'd care to spar a few rounds, am only to happy to elaborate, citing specifics and via forthright engagement (in contrast to the sweeping dismissiveness, and other types of occlusions, elisions, etc. that comprise the strategems of the illiberal Left).

Another allusion to this type of morally insolvent, often unaccountable or inadequately accountable, behavior on the part of UN and EU styled trans-nationalist agents can be found here, both as regards the primary post itself and the responses to it.

posted by: Michael B on 05.08.05 at 11:22 PM [permalink]

The UN should be currently be located in Jerusalem, where all the critical action is.

ITYM Lebanon. That way, they'll have a front-row seat to upcoming events in Syria without getting bogged down in the palestinian mess (inevitable, if it was in Jerusalem) or being as much of a target as they'd be in Baghdad.

Tho Baghdad would be a very "non-cushy" posting.... maybe it would be better. Inside the Green Zone, or outside it?

posted by: rosignol on 05.08.05 at 11:22 PM [permalink]

"One issue that isn't getting much overt attention are those goofy series of Armeggedon books."

The only reason they aren't "goofy" is that many people believe them. Believe that those stories represent a good rendition of the ancient Puritan take on John's armeggedon section of the Bible. What their FICTION really represents are millions of dollars to the authors who appear to be doing the best at taking advantage of the current political trend toward Evangelical conservatism in the US and Australia.

They have become more dangerous than any evolutionary approach to creationism: they discourage the UN because a "unified" world signals the rise of the Anti-Christ, while encouraging the notion that the Holy Land must be free of all Moslems. Once achieved all Jews must then convert to the form of Christianity espoused by the ancient Puritans and current Evangelicals or be destroyed. E.G. Catholics need not apply as the Chruch is considered the new Babylon and a tool of the anti-Christ.

posted by: manoppello on 05.08.05 at 11:22 PM [permalink]


Little more than a grand silliness you're expressing there.

The highly fevered ideological religionists of the Left manage to deny, occlude or otherwise elide virtually all of their 20th century bloodbaths and misanthropies more broadly. Such murder, mayhem and general misanthropic behavior - perpetrated via policy directive, not by misstake - represents a brute force reality and manifestation of that ideological Left, not a mere imagining that is loudly trumpeted for rhetorical purposes.

By contrast, and I won't pretend to know in a positive sense what they believe vs. what they regard as merely fictional, those who purchase the books you're referencing may well believe in some type of eschatological event, but it's doubtful they believe in the referenced fiction per se. Minimally, you're a long ways from demonstrating it. But even if one were to allow that they do, what precisely is the concern? That they are being overly or unnecessarily critical of the UN? Good grief, we certainly wouldn't want that, would we!

On the other hand, for the Left to deny it's heritage of manifest blood baths and misanthropies throughout the 20th century, well, that's simply business as usual - a business which we all need to continue to accustom ourselves to - due to the good intentions, no doubt, of these ideological religionists of the Left.

posted by: Michael B on 05.08.05 at 11:22 PM [permalink]

Wait, did I see at least two people try to blame the perception of the UN as a corrupt, ineffective and archaic organiztion on the Left Behind series of books ? Yes, its only people in red states who read these books that think the UN should be taken out behind the barn and shot.
Apparently the liberal mantra has become, "there's nothing wrong with our party that a little religion bashing won't fix"

posted by: Matt on 05.08.05 at 11:22 PM [permalink]

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