UN Follies


In an under publicized event that should have but did not catch the ears of media types, the interim foreign minister of Iraq, Hoshyar Zebari, appeared recently before the UN Security Council. The irony of such an encounter, the first for Post-Saddam Iraq, could not be missed, and yet it attracted relatively little attention - which should surprise no one. In that rather important meeting, the foreign minister criticized the smallness (he was being polite) of the UN for not actively supporting US-led efforts to rebuild Iraq, and further added for the record that “…The UN as an organization failed to help rescue the Iraqi people from a murderous tyranny that lasted over 35 years, and today we are unearthing thousands of victims in horrifying testament to that failure…” UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, reportedly miffed by Zebari's rousing statement, snapped that “now is not the time to pin blame and point fingers.” One should not hold one's breath waiting for Mr. Annan to decide when a good time would be. But then this telling engagement was a mere footnote, a minor incidental in the ongoing saga of the international body that sets the world standard for morbid hypocrisy and dysfunction.

It is an odd notion held by many around the world that the UN is somehow indispensable to world peace, the authority on human rights, and the preeminent forum for settling international disputes and resolving conflicts; and yet a quick glance at its numerous follies and obfuscations should give anyone pause at this ridiculously inflated moral reputation. The UN was created in October 1945 by 51 original states with the best of intentions coming as it did in the wake of the most devastating war in history. As described in its charter, the UN is charged to: maintain international peace and security; cooperate in solving international problems and promote respect for human rights. Yet, since its creation, the UN has taken a pass on many of the great cataclysms afflicting humanity. Furthermore, millions have been tortured, starved, and killed by regimes that enjoy member state status in the UN. This, of course, gets to the heart of the problem, which is that any nation can enter the UN - regardless of qualifications. Libya, Syria, and the Sudan, for example, are member states, enjoying equal status with, say, Denmark. Cambodia under Pol Pot and Iraq under Saddam Hussein were member states. North Korea is another esteemed member state. Because of the weird UN system that basically treats rogue states as the equal of democratic law abiding nations, moral clarity is an early casualty of a heavily politicized and confused agenda.

The list of UN failures includes most of the great human tragedies of our time: Cambodia, Rwanda, Somalia, Bosnia and Kosovo, Iraq and North Korea, and many others. And yet the world adulation of the UN goes on. That Libya chairs the UN Human Rights Commission - the perfect parody of this screwy organization - raises not an eyebrow. It was none other than Iraq under Saddam Hussein that lead the disarmament council: comical if it were not so egregious. The UN's obsession with Israel is another example of its capriciousness. While China threatens Tibet, Russians slaughter Chechens, and nearly two million Sudanese Christians are massacred, it is only democratic Israel that piques UN ire; only Israel that is targeted by the UN for condemnation - and not the noxious little tyrannies that surround it.

The UN world is a surreal place: a place of career bureaucrats and stifling bureaucracy, of charge cards, expense accounts, and inflated salaries. It is a world of preening, high living diplomats mouthing lofty platitudes; a world obedient to the creed of internationalism: where all nations happily submit to an overweening international body, accountable only to itself and the elites that govern it - and certainly not to the strictures of democratic process. It is a place where appeasement is the highest virtue and negotiation the highest art; where terrorist and democrat coexist peacefully in non-judgmental harmony; a world where fanciful liberal pieties and empty posturing about “peace” preempt hard headed judgment and decisive action. For the UN the use of force is always “unfortunate” even when ending a vicious regime. When the US and its allies acted to end the evil reign of Saddam Hussein, the UN preferred to dither over its failed policy of inspections. While millions are being mutilated or starved, the UN would rather - debate.

Until the UN truly lives up to the principles embodied in its Charter, there is no reason to accord this organization the status of repository of moral legitimacy it currently enjoys. Rather, the US and the world should expose the UN for what it is: charlatan and moral buffoon, a gross parody of the principles of human rights it claims to represent, and the home of daffy amorality, where democratic presidents and monstrous dictators are equal.


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