Why It's Time to Dump the UN





Mr. Buenviaje is a graduate student in history at the University of California-Riverside and a writer for the History News Service.

For the last 60 years, the United Nations has been one continual story of missed opportunities. In that respect, the UN eerily resembles the League of Nations of the 1920s and 1930s. By allowing North Korea to flout international nuclear norms, permitting genocide in Darfur, and watching Iraq crumble into chaos, the UN's record is as ineffective as the League's. Given the UN's record, any other organization would be better than the one we have.  

At the end of the World War I, President Wilson proposed the League of Nations as a means to resolve international disputes. The UN was created in 1945 because the League had been unable to stop German and Japanese aggression. Since then, the UN's potential as a force for world peace has been paralyzed by superpower rivalry. Even with the end of the Cold War, the UN continues to fail in its mission to bring world peace.

The recent nuclear testing by North Korea shows the UN's inability to prevent nuclear weapons proliferation. Allowing North Korea to develop nuclear weapons makes East Asia unstable by encouraging China and Japan to enhance their nuclear options. North Korea's ability to play off China, Russia and the United States against each other has paralyzed the Security Council.

The UN's recent authorization of sanctions on North Korea will not dissuade President Kim Jong Il's regime from developing nuclear weapons. Sanctions threatened by the League didn't deter Japan from invading Manchuria in 1931. Neither is any action by the Security Council, with China and Russia dithering, likely to get North Korea to stop developing its nuclear weapons.

While North Korea has gotten much attention because of its nuclear program, the UN has placed a low priority on Africa. The Sudanese government has been pursuing a policy of ethnic cleansing against the people of the Darfur region, displacing two million people and killing two hundred thousand. Yet the UN refuses to declare these actions to be genocide. This is nothing new for such an organization. In 1935, the League did nothing to protect Ethiopia when it was invaded by Italy, nor has the UN taken any action to stop the rapes and expulsions of the people of Darfur.

The UN's role in Iraq's disintegration goes back to 1990 when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. In the aftermath of Iraq's invasion, a series of ineffectual resolutions passed by the Security Council failed to dislodge Iraqi forces from Kuwait. Finally, the leadership of the United States created an international coalition that liberated Kuwait in 1991. Similarly, the League's inaction encouraged Hitler to annex Austria and dismember Czechoslovakia in 1938.

A decade of UN sanctions between 1991 and 2003 only served to cripple Iraq's economy and impoverish its people. The "oil-for-food" program, which was supposed to lighten the effects of the sanctions on the civilian population, was notorious for its corruption as Hussein and officials within the UN funneled money into their own pockets.

Since 1945, the UN has failed to spare succeeding generations from the scourge of war and prevent human suffering. Because it has missed so many opportunities to be a force for international law, the UN, just like the League, has no relevance other than as a debating society. Since the last 60 years have shown that it has fallen woefully short of bringing any kind of peace and stability, now is the time to have the UN shorn of the Wilsonian idealism that has brought so little good.


This piece was distributed for non-exclusive use by the History News Service, an informal syndicate of professional historians who seek to improve the public's understanding of current events by setting these events in their historical contexts. The article may be republished as long as both the author and the History News Service are clearly credited.


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gary stark - 2/1/2007

You can dump the UN, but we still need a forum for addressing global issues. Here's my proposal:

www.UnitedDemocraticNations.org

gary


Arnold Shcherban - 12/10/2006

So when the vote was 194-2 or 192-4 (and were there many occasions, as those ones) the majority of
countries on the left side were Arab countries or countries forced to vote for oil prices?
I bet you my friend all the money you
own that you will never be able to
show and prove such a make-up of the even two voting sessions like that
to anybody but a complete IDIOT.
On the other hand I can give you the examples of many such voting that had
absolutely nothing to do with oil prices or oil, in general to any SANE person.


N. Friedman - 12/8/2006

Arnold,

The large numbers of Muslim countries which vote as a block along with those countries forced, as the price to obtain oil, to side with Muslim countries.


Arnold Shcherban - 12/8/2006

I don't have any idea about your reasons to call UN imperialistic, other than because you don't like it on the reason it sometimes condemn
Israel's actions.
There were many occasions when the UN
did not function according to its charter, but practically all those
were caused by the vetos of either
US, or former USSR, or the US-UK imperialist struggle against the rest of the world for the control of the UN
(very brief assessment) as it happens these days.
I wonder who makes it "imperialistic" if it is, the Third world countries?


Elliott Aron Green - 12/7/2006

Arnold, you have not addressed my arguments above about the UN membership outside the Big Five. Are you claiming that justice or world peace would ensue from removal of the Big Five veto? Surely you know that most of the other members of the UN are non-democratic or otherwise oppressive states? Is it democracy when a majority of non-democratic states takes a position in an international organization? Even a state with presumably democratic elections and a parliament, like Pakistan, is oppressive towards non-Muslims, millions of whom have fled since creation of Pakistan in 1947. With Pakistan's pan-Islamic commitment, could it be expected to be just in regard to Israel or India or any other non-Muslim state in conflict with a Muslim state or states or non-state armed groups?

I hope you have noted that I am not an apologist for US foreign policy, which I deeply distrust. Yet, I suggest that you remove your fanatically rose-colored glasses when viewing the rest of the UN's member states.
Abolish the UN!!!

Some above have cited the beneficial role of the World Health Org & some other international bodies. Yes, let us keep the WHO, which is apparently run by medical professionals, not by politicians or diplomats. Let us make sure that it is run by decent, qualified medical professionals, and that it stay outside the UN framework. It can keep on operating without the UN, maybe more effectively for that reason. It does not need the UN to function.


Arnold Shcherban - 12/6/2006

Mr. Benson,

To summarize your suggestions: you're
right ideologically and politically, but, unfortunately, wrong in practical terms.
The veto power of the "Magnificent Five" (and, especially the one of the US') has brought up a lot damage to the international reputation of the UN, as well as to those Five - no doubts about it.
And there should be, at least, a administrative punishment to this country's imperialistic policies it pushes forward through the UN, insidiously employing its preeminent
financial status in the UN organizations and the UN headquarters'
location.
But there is no other viable financial and locational alternative to the present one.
This country and those Five, so far, (being an operational term) remain the best financial and locational choice for the UN organizations.
But don't you worry: as soon, as its
control over UN considerably diminishes, it will split up with the UN and kick it out of the country without our prompt.
However, the right of veto, in general, should be abolished. Only then the UN might become more or less
what we call democratic, i.e. make the decisions based on the absolute majority opinion.


Elliott Aron Green - 12/6/2006

Dewayne, do you think that the states other than the Big Five are a bunch of peace-loving, non-imperialistic stay-at-home spinsters and grandmothers?
Wasn't Japan imperialistic, at least until defeated by the US empire? How about Spain and Portugal, the Netherlands? How about the Muslim world? Wasn't India conquered, plundered, decimated, by Muslim invaders hundreds of years before the British arrived? Or even before the Portuguese arrived before 1500? What about the Ottoman empire and Safavid Persian empire, now territorially embodied in Turkey and Iran? How about Muhammad as an incipient imperialist?


Elliott Aron Green - 12/6/2006

No, it's not.
BTW, The title of this post was meant to apply to my post immediately above.


Elliott Aron Green - 12/6/2006

Friedman's outline of Islamic imperialism is pretty good. I suggest to Arnold that he study Islamic & Arab imperialism historically and functionally.
For history, see works by Carl Brockelmann, Bat Yeor, Bernard Lewis, B Spuler, Moshe Sharon, the Encyclopedia of Islam, etc.
For functioning as an imperialism, see Joseph Schumpeter on Arab imperialism [in his work Imperialism], Majid Khadduri, Bat Yeor, Encyc of Islam, etc.


Elliott Aron Green - 12/6/2006

Arnold seems to want to have things both ways. On one hand, he is a "leftist, anti-imperialist." On the other, he supports an imperialist institution like the UN. Further, he does blame the victim. As if those who accuse Israel were really opposed in principle to the crimes and offenses of which Israel is accused, "genocide," for instance. As a matter of fact, genocide has been going on --off and on-- in southern Sudan since Sudan's independence in 1956. Very few voices have been raised in the "international community" against the mass murder in the Sudan. Just by the way, Sudan belongs to the Arab League. Yet, even Kofi Annan, I am pleasantly surprised to note, saw fit to mention the overwhelming focus of the UN "human rights" commission[now council] on Israel's alleged misdeeds while overlooking the Sudan. Yet Annan only mentioned Darfur, in western Sudan which has a Muslim population. He did not mention southern Sudan, with a non-Muslim majority, where the genocide has been in progress since 1956. Anyhow, Kofi is slick. He must have seen how the "human rights" council was damaging the UN's already low reputation. His speech should be seen as a friendly warning --damage control-- to those who have gone too far, not as the proper condemnation that the HR council deserves. Don't forget that bloodthirsty states like Sudan and Algeria have been members of the HR commission/council and/or chairmen of it.


Elliott Aron Green - 12/6/2006

Are the Arabs a single nation?
Well, that is the position of Arab nationalism. Of course, the argument has gone for a long time. The Arab states do have their separate state interests, such as Jordan in regard to a voracious Syria that sees the whole Levant, the Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan of today [plus the PLO ruled zones] as part of Syria. Syria has never had an ambassador in Beirut for that reason. On the other hand, the ideology holds that they are a single, distinct nation, al-ummah al-`arabiyya. You could check out the Arab League charter on this issue. I do have the PLO charter fixed in my mind. It says that "the Palestinian Arab people is a part of the Arab nation, and Palestine is a part of the Great Arab fatherland" [Article I].
So, objective observations by an outside observer might deny that the Arabs are a nation, on the grounds of behavior by the various and sundry Arab states, on the grounds of differences among Arabic dialects, among typical skin colors [consider differences between Egyptians and Syrians], levels of culture and education, etc. Yet the ideology has its own importance, does it not, until it is openly repudiated by the Arabs themselves. And of course at the UN, the Arabs almost always work together against Israel [not always].


Elliott Aron Green - 12/6/2006

John C, I thought Lawrence Hughes showed a pretty good sense of humor. One thing he didn't mention is the financial corruption of top UN officials. How about Benon Sevan --or whatever his name is-- who was on the take big time in the Iraqi oil-for-food scandal? Now, Sevan was/is pretty close to Kofi. Do you think maybe Kofi too was on the take and getting mezuman from Saddam?
Then, Hughes item #8. You ask which wars were caused by the UN. About 30 years ago, two political scientists [like me], Abraham Yeselson & Anthony Gaglione, wrote A Dangerous Place [a title later "borrowed" by Ambassador Moynihan]. They held that the UN caused wars, that it had about as much relevance to peace as a battleship or an atomic bomb, that it was just another weapon in the hands of states in conflict. In this vein, the kind of blood-curdling speeches and atrocity-mongering harangues by mass murderers or would be murderers in the General Assembly are means of preparing for war. Without citing all examples, the UN --with all its special committees, commissions, and now, the "human rights" council, takes sides in ongoing conflicts, providing encouragement for one side against another, thereby encouraging the side that receives UN support. The UN "human rights" commission [renamed council] definitely encourages fascist Arab states and terrorist groups to act against Israel. Then, there is the Special Comm on the Rights of the "palestinian people", then UNESCO plays favorites with cultural and history, etc etc. About UN salaries, they are high, especially for countries outside the US.
Now, John C, you tell us which war the UN has successfully and justly stopped.


Lawrence Brooks Hughes - 12/6/2006

I like your No. 6, which may reflect more than a glimmer of truth.


Howard C Berkowitz - 12/5/2006

I'm not sure what you are saying by "I am not sure you are a member of the not small number who have always though China would never amount to a hill of beans." If anything, I would cite a more focused analogy of the Five Grains rather than beans, although I do an excellent Shrimp in Black Bean Sauce.


N. Friedman - 12/5/2006

Arnold,

First, I am not Norm. I was never Norm.

Second, I accept the notion of civilized debate but civilized debate also includes the notion that there may occasionally be disagreements about fact(s). In particular, I cannot accept Chomsky as an unimpeachable source of information on any topic other than, perhaps, linguistics. As a scholar on other topics I am inclined to agree with Paul Berman's not necessarily kind assessment of Chomsky's scholarship and use of facts.

Third, I shall concede, for sake of argument only (although you do not present any facts to support your position), that Western imperialism has roots other than in science and liberalism. My point was that it is liberalism and science which allow Western Imperialism to claim universality and universality is necessary, in the end, for a successful imperialism to sustain itself. In this regard,I note the remarkable success of Arab imperialism under the banner of Islam such that people all across the Middle East and North Africa still claim to be Arab Muslims when, quite clearly, most are not Arab at all. The ancestors of such people, moreover, accepted the Arab imperial structure associated with Islam that served not only to justify Arab conquests but to justify joining Arabs to conquer far and wide under the banner of Islam.

Such was as imperial a structure as has ever existed. And, it remained imperial in practice over a period far longer than the period you associate with Western imperialism. And, when the steam of that imperialism was stopped by wars, Islam became the banner for other imperial movements including that of the Iranians, the Mongols and, on a rather remarkable scale, the Empire of the Gazis (i.e. Empire of the holy warriors) known to the West as the Ottoman Empire, which conquered much of the old Arab empire(s) and, among other places, large swaths of Central Europe and held such territories for hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years.

I might also note that Islam has been used as an imperial ideology for various states. So, I think it fair, as Ephraim Karsh, among others, asserts, that Islam rather naturally becomes an imperial ideology and supports that ideology rather well.

I note that you suggest that absent Western imperialism, the Islamic regions would not be imperialistic. On this topic, Arnold, I can only suggest you consider how often, historically, Islam has been associated with Imperial politics. In fact, such has been the case for the vast extent of time in which Islam has existed. So, I find it rather difficult to see how you can reach your conclusion. Again: consider the formula in Islam that supports empire, namely, that Islam is the property of all mankind and that it is the duty of the Muslim community, under the authority of the Caliph, to bring Islamic rule under Islamic law to the entire world.

I might also note a fact which, to me, is rather important in understanding the current world mess. Notice that the Iranian mullahs, among others in the Muslim regions, call the US the Great Satan. That language to describe the US is not accidental and it is not merely an attempt at demonology. Rather, such language is the most important issue about the US, as seen through Muslim eyes.

In Islamic thought, Satan is, as noted by the great scholar of Islam Bernard Lewis, a seducer. Assuming that the Great Satan language is not totally accidental, the issue, especially for those motivated by Islam, is, in fact, what the US offers, in opposition to Islam, as a seduction, which is, to note, our liberalism, our scientific mindset and our social customs and culture -. These seductions mean, if accepted by Muslims en masse, the end of Islam and its replacement by Americanism. You might wish to consider the impact of Americanism on the father of modern Jihadism, Sayyid Qutb, who, after observing close male/female dancing and the quasi-liberated women of his period, opined the grave danger that the US (and the West more generally) was to the survival of Islam.

As I see it, the seduction of US ideology, even more than whether the US stations troops to protect the Saudi government, drives the dispute. In fact, the latter seems more of an excuse since, at most times, the Saudi government was not hated by its people notwithstanding its close relationship with the US and notwithstanding US support for Israel. But, the demands for US movies, the demands for liberal political institutions, etc., raise the arches of theocratic conservatives who seek to stamp out non-Islamic social and political influence.

Now, turning to your discussion of imperialism, you are correct that Islam is not, at this point, attached to a powerful state. I, however, do not see how that makes Islamic political ideology any less imperialistic. And the lack of power of states governed by Islam is only by comparison.

I would think that an ideology supporting imperialism is necessary if an empire is to sustain itself. And, Islam provides that occasion, as it has done in the past.

Another point. Your view is that conquest and imperialism are synonymous with a large and powerful army. I do not think that such is the case.

A study of the history of Islam shows the weaker force very often defeating the stronger force, if we count that force on paper. The defeat of the powerful Sasanid Empire, the conquest of large swaths of the Byzantine Empire involved much, much smaller and, frankly rather primitive, forces defeating advanced societies with seemingly far, far larger and better equipped and better disciplined armies.

I should also note that the Islamic approach to war has often been against the odds, employing the use of alliances within a country sought to be conquered in order to disrupt that country - as occurred, for example, in the conquest of Spain, among other places. The issue today is whether Jihadists - who do, in their writings, aim at conquest - can accomplish their efforts by means of their alliances in Western countries and by stirring up ferment among Muslims who have migrated to Western countries. That remains to be seen but I would not write it off. I would think that to succeed what is necessary is the ability to become sufficiently annoying that the machinery of a society faces the dilemma of acquiescing to the program of the Jihadists or facing the inability of that society to function.


N. Friedman - 12/5/2006

My dear Arnold,

First, my name is not Norm.

Second, it seems to me that the causes of Antisemitism are so varied over the years that it seems rather strange to suggest the particular understanding of the phenomena you claim. I note, by way of a good analogy, that that the Irish Catholics living among us in the US who vocally and uncritically supported the Irish Republican cause during the terror campaign against the UK that has, at least temporarily, mostly ended did not arouse hatred of Irish people. How do you explain the difference?

My view is that people who want to hate Jews will hate them. That, not your view, is consistent with the facts. I might add: why should it much matter, other than to those involved, whether Jews are critical of Israel, critically supportive of Israel or consistently supportive of Israel? I see a lack of causation in your theory.

Lastly, do not lump me in with others. Mr. Amitz's arguments, which are his, are not necessarily my arguments. The same for the rather cerebral Mr. Simon.


Arnold Shcherban - 12/5/2006

Norm,

Thanks for this legitimate and quite logical response to my blank statement
on Western, and especially, US imperialism.

I see that in spite of all our ideological and political differences
you’re the one, out of "the crowd" I referred to before, who, at least, I can address through the use of logical concepts and historical facts.

Therefore, let me respond to your arguments, some partial content of which I agree with, simultaneously
clarifying my position that I having been holding for many years, regardless where I lived.

First, about the place and importance of the ideological constructs in the arsenal of Western imperialism that you (according to my interpretation of your comments in this regard) consider based on science and liberalism.

It calls for correction right here: the latter are the major components of the major achievements of the ideology of the Western civilization, but not of the Western imperialism.
I have dozens of historical facts of a significant (by any measure) magnitude and following from those facts arguments (that you'll find very difficult to refute) to assert that practice of the Western imperialism, which started in its more or less modern version as early as in 19th century and continues up to these times, has little to do with the ideology of liberalism and even less - science - and therefore its ideology, as you stated. Moreover, the phenomenon of the modern Western imperialism flies in the face of the mentioned achievements of the Western civilization, that, undoubtedly, is the avant-garde of the entire human civilization in its current embodiment.
And that's exactly one of the main and cardinal objections (if not the main and cardinal one) forwarded against the Western imperialism by many progressive and really liberal thinkers, scientists, and historians throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. That’s the main reason behind their opposition to the Western Imperialism to begin with!
I’m sincerely surprised that I have to specifically point out this for you.
(In that sense I would recommend you to read Chomsky’s works, whose undeniable logic and unbiased analysis attracts even his ideological opponents. But don’t think for a second that it is the main source/reason of my position.)

You see, it is one thing to proclaim what guides one’s actions and totally another to conclude that based
on the factual and logical analysis of one’s actions. If the proclamation and the analytic conclusion
are close, only then you can say that with high probability the proclamation is true.
Another point in the same regard is the following: even if it is permissible for an analyst to give one
side, a so say, cart-blanche on several occasions, writing off that side’s misdeeds as perhaps grave, but mistakes, to qualify a long pattern of similar misdeeds as just mistakes or miscalculations is intellectually prohibited.

Provided you and me agree on the abovementioned criteria for the unbiased analysis of the deeds of
the Western nations (and any nation for this matter) in the course of the second half of 19th century up to the beginning of the 21st century, we can talk further.
I doubt I have to unfold for you more reasons that stand behind my accusations thrown at the Western (and specifically – US and UK) imperialism. Besides, it would take too much time on my part, which I’m squeezed with, to comprehensively address even one significant historical event, as you know.
Here I’m just stating my main ideological and logical principles.

You also raised the new wave of Islamic extremism to the status of imperialistic policies.

To begin with, I feel dusgust (not just dislike) towards religious fanatics/extremists regardless what tale they preach (Christian, Islamic, Judaist, etc.). I condemn them with same vigor as I condemn the worst totalitarian regimes. Have no doubt about that. Moreover, I have never asserted that Islamic extremists,
in particular, pose no threat to the lives of Westerners and Easterners (but not to Western civilization, as
some purport to claim).
However, there is a principal difference between any religious extremist trend and such phenomenon as an imperialism, in general, and Western Imperialism, in particular.
Any historically known imperialism had an Empire, i.e. a nation, with all major features of a nation, i.e. one territory, one dominant language, one primary religion, one national character (despite being made up of many ethnic groups) and with one absolutely essential component: the policy of territorial, economic, or/and political conquest and control/domination. (The premises and some of the methods, of course, evolved, but the major purposes remained intact throughout history of mankind up to our days.)
Take Makedonian, or Roman, or Babylonian, or Mongolo-Tartar, or Turkish, or Spanish, or British, or Soviet, or US imperialism and empire; you cannot talk about the former without mentioning the latter.

The contemporary Islamic extremism/terrorism does not have an empire, and does not and could not plan to conquest Western countries, albeit, perhaps, through the propaganda of the Islam, which, as every sane person realizes, is doomed to total failure.
The maximum thing it can actually accomplish is to create temporary panic in some (particularly small) Western countries among a small part of its population through “successful” terrorists acts.
But just coerce the West to accept even partially the policies on the terms of Islamic Jihad, or Muhamed’s teaching, not mentioning already the conquest, the extremist Muslims can only dream for.

Thus, any claim of the existence of the so-called Islamic imperialism has neither theoretical no practical structural foundations.

As far as your other point goes, i.e.
"that holy war would be more successful absent Western imperialism.", I oblige to remind you
that the 20th and 21st century's waves of Islamic extremism are caused primarily by the actions or inactions
of Western imperialism (first - British, then - US, now the both).
I hope I don't have to point out for you all the instances of those misdeeds, since I'm tired of typing.

Up to the new meeting online.


Arnold Shcherban - 12/4/2006

Norm,

Thanks for this legitimate and quite logical response to my blank statement
on Western, and especially, US imperialism.

I see that in spite of all our ideological and political differences
you’re the one, out of "the crowd" I referred to before, who, at least, I can address through the use of logical concepts and historical facts.

Therefore, let me respond to your arguments, some partial content of which I agree with, simultaneously
clarifying my position that I having been holding for many years, regardless where I lived.

First, about the place and importance of the ideological constructs in the arsenal of Western imperialism that you (according to my interpretation of your comments in this regard) consider based on science and liberalism.

It calls for correction right here: the latter are the major components of the major achievements of the ideology of the Western civilization, but not of the Western imperialism.
I have dozens of historical facts of a significant (by any measure) magnitude and following from those facts arguments (that you'll find very difficult to refute) to assert that practice of the Western imperialism, which started in its more or less modern version as early as in 19th century and continues up to these times, has little to do with the ideology of liberalism and even less - science - and therefore its ideology, as you stated. Moreover, the phenomenon of the modern Western imperialism flies in the face of the mentioned achievements of the Western civilization, that, undoubtedly, is the avant-garde of the entire human civilization in its current embodiment.
And that's exactly one of the main and cardinal objections (if not the main and cardinal one) forwarded against the Western imperialism by many progressive and really liberal thinkers, scientists, and historians throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. That’s the main reason behind their opposition to the Western Imperialism to begin with!
I’m sincerely surprised that I have to specifically point out this for you.
(In that sense I would recommend you to read Chomsky’s works, whose undeniable logic and unbiased analysis attracts even his ideological opponents. But don’t think for a second that it is the main source/reason of my position.)

You see, it is one thing to proclaim what guides one’s actions and totally another to conclude that based
on the factual and logical analysis of one’s actions. If the proclamation and the analytic conclusion
are close, only then you can say that with high probability the proclamation is true.
Another point in the same regard is the following: even if it is permissible for an analyst to give one
side, a so say, cart-blanche on several occasions, writing off that side’s misdeeds as perhaps grave, but mistakes, to qualify a long pattern of similar misdeeds as just mistakes or miscalculations is intellectually prohibited.

Provided you and me agree on the abovementioned criteria for the unbiased analysis of the deeds of
the Western nations (and any nation for this matter) in the course of the second half of 19th century up to the beginning of the 21st century, we can talk further.
I doubt I have to unfold for you more reasons that stand behind my accusations thrown at the Western (and specifically – US and UK) imperialism. Besides, it would take too much time on my part, which I’m squeezed with, to comprehensively address even one significant historical event, as you know.
Here I’m just stating my main ideological and logical principles.

You also raised the new wave of Islamic extremism to the status of imperialistic policies.

To begin with, I feel dusgust (not just dislike) towards religious fanatics/extremists regardless what tale they preach (Christian, Islamic, Judaist, etc.). I condemn them with same vigor as I condemn the worst totalitarian regimes. Have no doubt about that. Moreover, I have never asserted that Islamic extremists,
in particular, pose no threat to the lives of Westerners and Easterners (but not to Western civilization, as
some purport to claim).
However, there is a principal difference between any religious extremist trend and such phenomenon as an imperialism, in general, and Western Imperialism, in particular.
Any historically known imperialism had an Empire, i.e. a nation, with all major features of a nation, i.e. one territory, one dominant language, one primary religion, one national character (despite being made up of many ethnic groups) and with one absolutely essential component: the policy of territorial, economic, or/and political conquest and control/domination. (The premises and some of the methods, of course, evolved, but the major purposes remained intact throughout history of mankind up to our days.)
Take Makedonian, or Roman, or Babylonian, or Mongolo-Tartar, or Turkish, or Spanish, or British, or Soviet, or US imperialism and empire; you cannot talk about the former without mentioning the latter.

The contemporary Islamic extremism/terrorism does not have an empire, and does not and could not plan to conquest Western countries, albeit, perhaps, through the propaganda of the Islam, which, as every sane person realizes, is doomed to total failure.
The maximum thing it can actually accomplish is to create temporary panic in some (particularly small) Western countries among a small part of its population through “successful” terrorists acts.
But just coerce the West to accept even partially the policies on the terms of Islamic Jihad, or Muhamed’s teaching, not mentioning already the conquest, the extremist Muslims can only dream for.

Thus, any claim of the existence of the so-called Islamic imperialism has neither theoretical no practical structural foundations.

And, finally, you're saying that your
point was that "holy war would be more successful absent Western imperialism". I strongly suspect there would not be a holy war in its modern reincarnation whatsoever, absent Western imperialism (first British, then - American, and now - the both) with its colonial system,
then constant meddling with the internal affairs of the Muslim countries of MidEast, organization of military coups, conspiracies, sponsoring and support of tyrannic and reactionary regimes, greed for oil, one-sided support of Israel (which I don't want to accuse of anything right now), many other wrong things done in the region, crowned with the agression against Iraq and continuing occupation.

Plus, wake up Norm, the world, as well, as Western imperialism does not revolve around your or my perception of holy war, the US imperialism has exposed and continue to expose itself around the world (in SouthEast Asia, Africa, Latin and Central America - you name the region). That's why the majority in the world likes US $$, but dislikes US economic and political elite and its imperialistic policies.


N. Friedman - 12/4/2006

John,

If I understand you, the question is whether "the various Arab nations today are actually a single nation, much as the states and commonwealths of the US comprise a single nation."

This is not an easy question although it is certainly true that Arab states are ostensibly separate nations. At the same time, they do not always behave as if they were separate nations, most especially in their policy toward the flow of their subjects from state to state.

For example, notwithstanding the outward flow of about 1.25 million Iraqis as refugees since the start of the Iraq war, such people have not been placed in refugee camps. Perhaps, the Arab nations might been taken as a league of quasi-states.

Perhaps, the Arab nations as unified under the Arab League banner are, in their way, like the European states under the EU banner. I am not sure. Consider, however, that the Arab nations mostly behave like a league of quasi-states, using the Arab Israeli conflict as a means, under the Arab League banner, to maintain a common foreign policy agenda. Similarly, European states under the EU banner partially define their foreign policy in tandem with the Arab League - likely as a means to achieve unity among the various nations that make up the EU. And there is the flow of people across borders in both.

I am not entirely sure although, clearly, there are some national attributes to the various Arab states.


john crocker - 12/4/2006

Butt in as far as you like but please stick to the topic. This discussion is about the structure of the UN and whether it is appropriate at this time to consider all Arab nations as a single nation.

Mr. Simon is under the impression, IMO mistaken, that all of the various Arab nations today are actually a single nation, much as the states and commonwealths of the US comprise a single nation. You have vociferously argued with me about the danger of this potentiality, so I assume that you disagree with Mr. Simon on this point. Feel free, as I know you will, to correct me if I am wrong in this assumption.

I am more than happy to have you engage in this debate, but regarding Islam I don't think either of us has anything to say to each other on that topic that we have not said already.


N. Friedman - 12/3/2006

John,

Not to bud too far into your discussion with the very worthy Mr. Simon, but how could one not see a world of difference - as in difference in kind and not merely in degree - between a society largely stuck in Medieval conceptions of justice and law and foreign policy and a modern country in which religion, while important, is largely confined to peripheral matters? My view is that anyone who does not see this basic point fundamentally does not understand the world.

And, no doubt you will tell me that religion does rear its head in the US, far more than in Europe. Indeed, but religion does not trump commerce here and religion does not trump foreign policy. Rather, religion's slight hand in politics is fought vigorously and, moreover, is largely confined to issues like abortion - about which there would be two sides even without the influence of religion - and the like.


Howard C Berkowitz - 12/3/2006

If I may, I will reverse the order of two of your sentences to make it a bit easier to develop my comments.

You said, "The WHO and UNDP have failed to stop the spread of HIV and other diseases, should they be dissolved for their failure?"

Of infectious diseases, only one is generally accepted as eradicated. By eradicated, I use a formal epidemiologic term that indicates the disease is no longer present outside laboratories. That disease is smallpox, caused by Variola major, and the WHO had a major role in coordinating the world effort to eradicate it.

As with smallpox, and even more with current diseases such as A-H5N1 avian influenza, the WHO works through regional centers of excellence as well as national bodies. The role of the WHO is one that indeed works on a world level: coordination of expert organizations dealing with technical problems. Some successful organizations are little known outside their disciplines, such as the World Administrative Radio Conference. The lack of controversy surrounding them suggests, in part, that they do a decent job.

"Since no international organization has prevented the atrocities in Sudan or Rwanda should they all be abolished as useless in promoting peace?"

First, just as with many infectious diseases, not all atrocities are preventable. Epidemiologists accept that the war against infectious disease will never end, just change.

That being said, my question would be is whether the UN model is the best available for reducing atrocities. It clearly failed in Rwanda, and a key factor was the refusal of the UN headquarters to allow the on-scene commander to act in a timely manner. Dalliere was interpreting his mission as peace enforcement, not peacekeeping, which clearly didn't work.

As far as the multiple conflicts in Sudan, but chiefly Darfur, it took giving the international force increase an African rather than a UN flavor to be accepted. In many African areas, I see continental (AU, plus economic organizations) as well as regional (e.g., ECOMOG-ECOWAS) as more effective than the UN model.



Let me address the above two together.


The US government also has corruption and scandals, has also failed to stop the genocide in Sudan, has proven ineffective in dealing with Iraq abroad and New Orleans at home.
Should it be dissolved?
Warts and all they are the best we have and the best we are likely to get, at least in the near term.


john crocker - 12/3/2006

I used the definition you provided of nation in defending your position of a single Arab nation and showed that it applied equally well to other groupings.
The definition you provided follows,
"From all indications, the /nation states/ that the U.N. has admitted seem to identify around anywhere from one to three common characteristics. Those are: language (makes it easier for the leader to communicate with that nation), religion (shared historical sense of common values and their development or propogation), and rarely, political orientation/construction (inherent part of statehood)."
Would you care to refine this definition in a way that allows for a single Arab nation but does not include the other groupings I have given?

Again, your problem is not with the structure of the UN or the collective nationhood or non-nationhood of the various Arab states (or members of the Arab Union); it is with a particular position or set of positions taken by that group.

I think I have represented your arguments at least as faithfully as you have represented mine.


john crocker - 12/3/2006

1. All organizations use money so this is not so much a criticism of the UN as of all organized bodies. Whatever organization you put in its place would also "burn money."
2. Can you provide examples of this? (Not comments by leaders of a member state, but propaganda spread by the UN)
3. This has little or no real world effect.
4. It is a good institution that can become better.
5. The body you described as what you would choose to replace already exists (NATO) and so is not being preemted.
6. Members of the UN make up an insignificant fraction of the NYC scofflaw community.
7. Silly
8. Which war/wars were caused by the UN?
9. All large democratic and semi-democratic organizations in the modern world inevitably keep a relatively large bureacracy. What evidence to you have for them being overpaid and underworked?

"...pretending there are others besides Americans who truly care about the downtrodden."
Wow. Do you really believe that truly caring about the downtrodden is a uniquely American sentiment?

BTW the fair way to look at contributions is as a fraction of GDP and by this standard other countries donate more.


Trevor Russell Getz - 12/3/2006

Thank you for your considered response. As usual, this line of questioning was hijacked by the Arab-Israeli conflict/debate, which is pretty much what usually happens here on HNN.


Lawrence Brooks Hughes - 12/3/2006

1. It burns money, mostly ours.
2. It spreads anti-American propaganda.
3. It covers barbaric states with an ersatz patina of legitimacy.
4. Until recently, it deluded Americans, especially children, into thinking it was a good institution which would become better.
5. It preempts its field, and serves to block the creation of a good and useful organization of national states.
6. It fills NYC with scofflaws holding diplomatic immunity.
7. It has made a culture in which most of its members feel they are entitled to siphon money from the U.S. Treasury, forever, in progressive larger amountw.
8. It not only fails to keep peace, it causes wars.
9. It maintains an enormous bureaucracy, terribly underworked and badly overpaid.

UNICEF, by the way, collects 85% of its money in the U.S. and then claims it comes from all countries in the world... In effect, taking U.S. dollars, erasing Washington's picture and replacing him with Kofi, then scattering them throughout the backward world, pretending there are others besides Americans who truly care about the downtrodden.


Peter Kovachev - 12/3/2006

Wow!


Yehudi Amitz - 12/3/2006

I suggest you read some of the books of Thomas Barnett, a political scientist:

http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com

You can begin with his map that divides the world into two parts

"the functioning core" and "the non-integrated gap"

http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/pnm/map_index.htm

If USA goes into bankruptcy China is tossed. If USA can't buy Chinese goods China will go in a state of social unrest.
I don't try to say that the US government debt is good but i don't believe that any government owning dollars can dump them without suffering the consequences of the dismantling of the world economy. If the dollar loses its value a lot of governments will go into bankruptcy together with USA and imagine a situation where USA will not be able to honor its bonds (a lot of governments, including China, own a lot of them). For the foreseeable future the World has no choice but to support the US government with loans in exchange for US government bonds. Of course isn't a healthy situation but as long as Americans are overweight the world has to make sure that they can buy the goods.
I believe that the oil will begin to faze out as combustible for cars and we are now beginning the transition period to the end of oil dependence.
Another important point is that the US debt is government debt and private companies are not in debt. I also read that US ownership around the world is much bigger than what the world owns in the USA and that's an important counterbalance to what USA owes to the world.


E. Simon - 12/2/2006

Stop misrepresentating me, John.

The moment the Latin Union takes a stance that pushes the national rights of a group of people represented by them against the national rights of a group of people in their sphere of influence not represented by them, then we can start making comparisons to the way Arab nationalism can be espoused by the Arab League to the detriment of Israel, in the name of, if not always in the best interests of, the Palestinians.

Until then, stop misrepresenting my arguments. And stop grasping at flimsy false equivalences in order to do so. You are not winning this round and after so much back and forth, one would rationally deduce that trying to pluck one more weird example of national or transnational organizations with which to create a false equivalence won't get you that much closer to winning it, either. But if playing the lottery is your thing, oh well, I guess I can prove my capacity for longevity in the every-hour-on-the-hour-game of
John picking and guessing at false equivalences to throw at me in the hopes that one of them will be incisive lottery.


john crocker - 12/2/2006

Tha Arab League is no more a nation than the Latin Union or the African Union and less of one than the EU or what the African Union aspires to be according to its charter.

A constitution with or without a Bill of Rights would be a big step towards nationhood.

"And I suppose the opportunity for creating straw men comes not from my having pointed out that fact, but with speculating as to why it took you so long to refer to it. But that's not my game here."
What are you talking about?


E. Simon - 12/2/2006

John, I suppose if the Arab League had a constitution with a Bill of Rights that parallels the U.S. version, then we wouldn't be having this conversation. And I suppose the opportunity for creating straw men comes not from my having pointed out that fact, but with speculating as to why it took you so long to refer to it. But that's not my game here.


john crocker - 12/2/2006

I don't see that the structure of the UN has much to do with the problem you perceive. Arab nations will have their conflicts with Israel regardless of the structure of the UN. Resource rich nations will use those resources to influence opinion and policy regardless of the structure of the UN.

That the Spanish speaking nations of Central and South America or the former UK nations do not have a parallel agenda to the agenda you see in the Arab states does not negate that these collections share the characters that you say make the Arab nations a single nation.

Defining allied nations as a single nation is not a reasonable or workable solution to the problem you perceive here.

Your real problem is with the agenda you perceive the various Arab nations sharing. Your prescription for that problem is redefining nation to limit their influence in the UN. Elsewhere you argue vociferously about the danger of them becoming a single nation. Wouldn't defining them as a single nation and forcing them to choose a single representative to the world be a step in the direction of a new Caliphate?

There is an intractible conflict between the various Arab nations and Israel, but that is not a fault of the structure of the UN and any reformation of the UN will have minimal impact on the attitudes responsible for that conflict.


john crocker - 12/2/2006

"Well, there are cultural differences and basic human/political rights issues, plus individual states in America can't maintain their own foreign policy or individually commanded standing armies."
Additionally they share a national government, a constitution and are not allowed to pass laws that contradict that constitution, and they must submit to federal regulation of trade between each other to name a few more differences.
Do you not think that these differences are substantial and make for a significant difference in kind between the states and commonwealths of the US and the various Arab nations?

BTW It is not a straw man if I accurately represent your argument.


E. Simon - 12/2/2006

John as I seem to recall, my participation in this thread began with a discussion on how the Arab states can use the U.N. to gang up on Israel as a part of an unethical, illegitimate and immoral effort to delegitimize that nation's existence that seems to be succeeding in the "international community." If those facts do not concern you, then your lack of concern is so noted. I do not notice that Spanish-speaking countries are providing a persistent and common front with Spain to delegitimize the existence or nationhood of the Basque people, or playing politics in helping to terrorize them, or publishing materials of hatred against them, or otherwise unduly imbalancing their struggle. I have not noticed Australia, America and Canada forming a common front with England to prevent the devolution of the United Kingdom to give the Scots, Welsh and Northern Ireland autonomy, let alone forming a bloc within the U.N. to punish those nations for determining their own way or to punish them for participating in a conflict that the U.K. doesn't seem to be perpetuating against them in the first place. I think it would be nice if your passionate defense of the U.N. as an institution or as it is would not get in the way of taking my posts for what they are, but if drawing the false equivalences that stem from your attacks against my arguments is the only way to get you to realize how out of context you are taking them then so be it.


john crocker - 12/2/2006

While it is certainly possible to agree with part of a statement and disagree with other part your opening statement implied agreement with the overall thrust of his statement. I offered you a chance to clarify your position and you chose to accuse me of badgering you rather than clarifying your position.

"The fact that reformation of the U.N. has become a major agenda that was being pursued by Kofi Annan, should tell you that there is nothing ungodly controversial about admitting that there are problems with the U.N., or that there is no merit in looking into the way it is structured or might be reconfigured. I regret if that perspective seems to offend your sensibilities."
This comment is a bit disingenuous. If you recall in my first comment in this thread I said, "The UN has many imperfections, some of them rather large, but in body that attempts to represent the disparate interests of a majority of the world's population that is inevitable."
That some reform is needed is not the point of debate here. As far as I have seen no one has argued that.
Your analysis of what the problem is and your prescription for it are what I took issue with.

I will repeat here the points you have failed to address.

Each nation that was a former member of the UK and former members of the Spanish Empire each have an individual vote. These groups share language, history, culture and religion. They also identify with each other and tend to vote together.
Should these groups have only a single vote in the UN as you have suggested for tha various Arab nations?
or should each province of each country have a vote as you have suggested for the US?
Would you prefer the UN apportion voting power to nations based on population. This would address your Arab concern as they would then have the same voting power regardless of how many states they are divided into.

You apparently want Arab nations and other countries that you feel are undemocratic excluded from the UN. In what way would the world be a better place if this happened?
Where would you draw the line for acceptance to this more limited body?
Is Venezuela in or out?
How about Singapore?
Columbia?
Tonga?
Pakistan?
Russia?
China?
Iran?
Thailand?


E. Simon - 12/2/2006

Well, there are cultural differences and basic human/political rights issues, plus individual states in America can't maintain their own foreign policy or individually commanded standing armies. Those are the major differences that I can think of, although I'm not sure why you would need me to point them out to you, other than the possibility that you might have some kind of point that you can't easily prove on your own and would therefore like to fallaciously set my posts up into some kind of a weak strawman so that your ideas can look at least comparitively stronger. It won't fly John.


E. Simon - 12/2/2006

John, I'm not on a witness stand. I can sympathize with or agree with a statement in part, without endorsing it fully. I never said I am in favor of destroying the U.N.; why you think that fact is mutually exclusive with the apparent fact that others who agree with me that there are problems with the U.N., think it should be, is for you to figure out on your own. You can't prove some kind of linkage there by badgering me.

The fact that reformation of the U.N. has become a major agenda that was being pursued by Kofi Annan, should tell you that there is nothing ungodly controversial about admitting that there are problems with the U.N., or that there is no merit in looking into the way it is structured or might be reconfigured. I regret if that perspective seems to offend your sensibilities. Why not take it up with Annan instead?


Jason Blake Keuter - 12/2/2006

Are you cackling at me or all the political prisoners "led" by governments that send UN represenatatives to solemnly vote their moral disgust at Israel and the US?


john crocker - 12/2/2006

China (along with Russia,US, UK, and France) is supposed to be on the recieving end of the boot by your original construction.

Is it the only one of the five you feel deserves to continue to hold power?


john crocker - 12/2/2006

"The UN is so immensely corrupt that it must be destroyed --for the sake of peace...Doesn't she know that most UN member states are dictatorships of one sort or another, to one degree or another? ...One would have to conclude that these states either wanted genocide or have tolerated it or acquiesced in it, for one reason or another. These states are typical of the UN."
To which you replied, "Well, the problem also exists on a much more rudimentarily political level..."
Now you say, "Given that a majority of the world's nations are either democratic or free and democratic nations..."
These positions do not fit together well, unless you believe that the UN selects dictatorial states preferentially to democratic ones. Is this your position or do you care to repudiate one or more of the initial arguments?
Each nation that was a former member of the UK and former members of the Spanish Empire each have an individual vote. These groups share language, history, culture and religion. They also tend to vote together.
Should these groups have only a single vote in the UN as you have suggested for tha various Arab nations?
or should each province of each country have a vote as you have suggested for the US?
Would you prefer the UN apportion voting power to nations based on population. This would address your Arab concern as they would then have the same voting power regardless of how many states they are divided into.

You apparently want Arab nations and other countries that you feel are undemocratic excluded from the UN. In what way would the world be a better place if this happened?
Where would you draw the line for acceptance to this more limited body?
Is Venezuela in or out?
How about Singapore?
Columbia?
Tonga?
Pakistan?
Russia?
China?
Iran?
Thailand?


john crocker - 12/2/2006

Yes.


E. Simon - 12/1/2006

Given that a majority of the world's nations are either democratic or free and democratic nations, no John, I don't think the U.N. would be a more useful body if it excluded them.


E. Simon - 12/1/2006

You mean other than the fact that they're undemocratic and have individual U.N. representation?


DeWayne Edward Benson - 12/1/2006

Well Howard

I am not sure you are a member of the not small number who have always though China would never amout to a hill of beans, but you might be interested in the fact this little bean-pot today holds one of the biggest Trade-Deficit US-dollars in history, instead of the Super-Duper Nation empires of today.
One of the conditions that made and still makes Iraq and Iran a danger to America (including Venezuela soon), is their plan to stop accepting US (check-kiting) dollars for future oil transactions (from all nations), and demanding UERO's until the Communist Chinese empire becomes dominant.
America and much of the European nations are very dependent upon Oil supplies, today found in 3rd-World nations like the Middle East, also South America and Africa. We are very close to a point, that should China choose to legally dump US (check-kiting) dollars, and form a consortium of (lowly) 3rd-World nations, these little suckers could indeed kick ass.
Could a (New) United Nations located in China be a problem for all of the Super Power empires, you can bet your ...


john crocker - 12/1/2006

Do you really see no difference in kind between the states that make up the US and the various Arab nations?


john crocker - 12/1/2006

"Well John, if you don't think the representative participation of tyrannies in a quasi-democratic body such as the U.N. is much of a problem, then you're certainly free to hold that view."
Do you think the UN would be a more useful body if it excluded a majority of the world's nations?


E. Simon - 12/1/2006

There also is a numeric issue (the number of states that can rally and ally themselves against Israel solely around a stance of Arab nationalism), but John either denies that there is such a thing as Arab nationalism or equivocates it into being not a substantially different sort of thing from any other nation's "interest."

Oh, and John, Western civilization is a potentially universalist phenomenon, whereas Arab nationalism is particularist. So let's not continue dispensing with the old, "all interests are just interests, everyone has them, none are substantively different in how they can be used to influence the international system" line.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_nationalism


E. Simon - 12/1/2006

""Not sure why you think I need to endorse an argument to engage it."
Your opening sentence, "Well, the problem also exists on a much more rudimentarily political level," implies agreement with the previous argument."

Well John, if you don't think the representative participation of tyrannies in a quasi-democratic body such as the U.N. is much of a problem, then you're certainly free to hold that view.


"John, tell me... do the various United States also not comprise a single nation?"
The various United States and commonwealths are not nation states; they are territories of a nation state.

Thank you, John. This seems to answer my question.


Howard C Berkowitz - 12/1/2006

I see. Perhaps you might want to put some of this in the oft-ignored perspective of the Kellogg-Briand accord.

If I have interpreted your anti-imperialist rhetoric correctly, you are proposing that all countries not permanent members of the UNSC "kick ass" of the permanent members. Might I inquire how you would have them do this? Independent of any judgment on the worth of the UN, I suggest looking at a term common in Soviet military theory, the "correlation of forces".

Correlate the forces of the SC permanent members versus others. How is this pragmatically different than the mice voting to bell the cat.


N. Friedman - 12/1/2006

John,

The obsession with Israel is a product of bigotry and the economic power of (a) oil and (b) the potential profits that can be made by, most particularly, European countries in the Arab regions in the form construction contracts and technology transfer.

Hence we have big business allied with bigots.


john crocker - 12/1/2006

"It speaks to the depravity of large parts of the globe and, unfortunately, glorifies that depraved outlook."

Explain.


DeWayne Edward Benson - 12/1/2006

I strongly believe the UN should leave America, shake the dust from their shoes, and finally remove the stranglehold "Veto" held (only) by the 5-Permanent-Empires (Brit, USA, USSR, China, and France).

Some are aware that after WWII the (remaining League of Empires) got together and formed the UN, shedding their skin as the League of Empires.

Few know that this group of Empires to retain absolute control, gave themselves the (only) veto-power, insuring in this way absolute control over (all) important operation's.

Yes, as long as the UN allows 5-Empires to control the world, their record of achievment is going to be at best dismal.

I strongly encourage the 191-5 nation members to find a central location (outside of America), dislodge the Empire control, and start kicking ass.


Yehudi Amitz - 12/1/2006

Be my guest, and scream loudly: Jews are after me!


N. Friedman - 12/1/2006

Arnold,

You might have more credibility if you actually answered posts, such as this one: http://hnn.us/comments/102032.html


Arnold Shcherban - 12/1/2006

... and his gang for the war crimes and for the US to dump its imperialistic policies all over the world. That's the question of 21st century.


Arnold Shcherban - 12/1/2006

...or the Lord Bernadotte, if saying otherwise. You clown...


Arnold Shcherban - 12/1/2006

ha, ha, ha that's the only possible comment on such a "deep" insight into the UN actions and inactions.


N. Friedman - 12/1/2006

John,

It would help the world and the UN immensely if it were not so obsessed with one tiny little country which, notwithstanding the Muslim and somewhat widespread European view to the contrary, is not the font of all evil.

While I do not oppose the UN, I find its obsession disgraceful. It speaks to the depravity of large parts of the globe and, unfortunately, glorifies that depraved outlook.


Arnold Shcherban - 11/30/2006

Norm,

As I was saying many times in my previous comments that you read, in any debate one has to, initially, respect his opponent. The fact is that you did not realize that by "this crowd" I certainly meant you, Simon, Yehudi and their other ideological(not ethnical) likes on HNN boards, tells me that you completely disrespect not just my intellect, but common sense.

By your guys unilateral and unceremonious attitude of never blaming any Israel's acts or the acts of folks that support those acts (Jews or non-Jews) and always blame those who condemn those acts (again - Jews and or non-Jews), either in supporting terrorism or/and in anti-semitism, you promote antisemitism to a much greater degree than any open Jew-hater.
But, of course, you will never admit it, perhaps, on the reason of not realizing that nefarious consequence.
But such radical as Yehudi knows exacly what he's doing in this regard: He intentionally invokes the disgust towards himself, and by association, to the rest of your ideological group, to then accuse the disgusted and protesting ones against his radical Sionism in anti-semitism.

And, of course, I expect to receive the usual unsupported acccusations from your crowd, and Yehudi personally, in all deadly sins.


Elliott Aron Green - 11/30/2006

Guys, I certainly believe in blocking UN effectiveness. But, be that as it may, I have some questions:
1- Does Western imperialism function as a single body, or does the EU sometimes cooperate with the USA and sometimes oppose it? Is the EU imperialist? If we go by Lenin's definition of imperialism as advanced capitalism, then it is. Maybe we need new definitions.
2- Does Western imperialism represent the highest values of Western civilization? Does Western imperialism promote Western civilization or actually deliberately undermine it? Are the imperialists motivated by the desire to spread a civilization --the Western-- or do they want to wreck it or wreck civilization generally? Am I too cynical or too pessimistic?
3- Does Western imperialism oppose the spread of Islam or Islamic jihad, against Israel, for example? Did the jimmy carter administration, led by Zbig brzezinski, help to put the Iranian Islamic fanatics in power in 1979 or did it oppose them? Is the US or the EU opposed to Iran having the Bomb under its present Islamic jihadist govt? If Western imperialism is against the jihad against Israel, then why do we hear calls in DC for buying off Syria and Iran at Israel's expense in order to "stabilize" Iraq? Are jim baker and jimmy carter for or against Israel? Didn't baker once say "F... the Jews, they didn't vote for us anyhow?"
4-- Is the policy toward Israel of various Communist parties and factions, including that of Trots, convergent with or opposed to the clearly anti-Israel policy of the EU? Are the various CPs in their sundry names and guises actually anti-imperialist?
5- In light of the above, does the UN work against or for State Dept policy on Israel or on any other international issue?


Yehudi Amitz - 11/30/2006

Now when he gets his pension and can retire and being happy he is still alive he can get closer to what he really thinks about UN. I guess if he would have said the same things earlier in his UN carrier he would have met the destiny of Dag Hammarskjold. I can't blame the guy for preferring to stay alive.


N. Friedman - 11/30/2006

Yehudi,

I did not know that Kofi Annan such guts.


Yehudi Amitz - 11/30/2006

In a very diplomatic way Kofi says: get off Israel and begin real human right violations work.

"Geneva, Switzerland, 29 November 2006 - Secretary-General's message to the Third Session of the Human Rights Council [delivered by Mrs. Louise Arbour, High Commissioner for Human Rights]"

http://www.un.org/apps/sg/sgstats.asp?nid=2333

"I send you my greetings as you begin your third regular session. Since your first session in June you have been very active – holding three special sessions as well as two regular ones. You have focused especially on the Arab-Israeli conflict, which indeed has escalated during these months in ways that cause deep concern to us all. I am glad to note that the High Commissioner is also paying close attention to developments in the Middle East, and that you will be hearing a report from her on her recent visit to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.

I hope, however, that the Council will take care to handle this issue in an impartial way, and not allow it to monopolize attention at the expense of others where there are equally grave or even graver violations. There are surely other situations, besides the one in the Middle East, which would merit scrutiny by a special session of this Council. I would suggest that Darfur is a glaring case in point.

If this Council is to fulfil its vocation, and take its place as one of the paramount bodies of the United Nations, giving human rights a priority on a par with that accorded to peace and security and to development, its work must be marked by a strong sense of purpose – one in which states from all regions come together to promote the vision contained in the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration for Human Rights. "


john crocker - 11/30/2006

"John, tell me... do the various United States also not comprise a single nation?"
The various United States and commonwealths are not nation states; they are territories of a nation state.
Should we dissolve the federal government and replace it with an EU like confederation? Then each state could apply to the UN. We would probably lose our security council seat and we probably would not be a very solid voting block, but we would have 50 votes.

"From all indications, the /nation states/ that the U.N. has admitted seem to identify around anywhere from one to three common characteristics. Those are: language (makes it easier for the leader to communicate with that nation), religion (shared historical sense of common values and their development or propogation), and rarely, political orientation/construction (inherent part of statehood)."
Firstly I never argued for the nationhood of any of the groups I mentioned, rather I argued against the combined nationhood of the various Arab nations.
Second by the broad definition you just offered for nation, most of Central and South America, possibly minus Brazil, is a nation.

Interests or percieved interests are what drive people and countries in the present. Shared interests or threats are what generally build coalitions, whether between Muslim nations or Western democracies.

"John, your second point is redundant. One oil-rich nation has less influence in the U.N. than would 17."
My second paragraph addressed your second point. If it was redundant, so was your second point.
Although the Arab nations have more power when they work cooperatively the US and UK weild far more influence in the UN than all of the Arab nations combined.

"Not sure why you think I need to endorse an argument to engage it."
Your opening sentence, "Well, the problem also exists on a much more rudimentarily political level," implies agreement with the previous argument.


Jason Blake Keuter - 11/30/2006

The UN was founded as a deliberative body that would prevent war by resolving conflicts between nations. The overall spirit of the UN is democratic but in a very strage way. It is not citizens that are entitled to rights but nations. Many nations of the world are run by criminal regimes, and the UN has granted to these criminal governments a standing equal to a law abiding individual in a democracy. They thus receive a "voice" in the deliberative process: thus the majority voice of the UN is always that of the enemies of individual human rights. Instead, it is each government of the world that is entitled to equality - regardless of how grotesquely it deviates from the democratic and humane norms that lay under the origins of the institution.


N. Friedman - 11/30/2006

Arnold,

Your statement appears to amount to "blame the victim." I await your explanation. Perhaps you have something else in mind. Perhaps you merely misspoke. Perhaps, you did not think. Or perhaps you really do blame the victim. Whatever you have in mind, please enlighten us.


E. Simon - 11/30/2006

John, tell me... do the various United States also not comprise a single nation?

It might help to look at a globe. From all indications, the /nation states/ that the U.N. has admitted seem to identify around anywhere from one to three common characteristics. Those are: language (makes it easier for the leader to communicate with that nation), religion (shared historical sense of common values and their development or propogation), and rarely, political orientation/construction (inherent part of statehood). You commit the fallacy of composition by thinking that an "interest" (whatever that broadly vague term means) defines a nation, rather than being just another attribute of it, and like a specific GDP, numerical population, etc., an incredibly transitory one at that. The language, religious make-up and constitution of the U.S. have changed a bit less over the last couple centuries than have its various "interests," population density, economic characteristics, at any particular time. And so has its identity as a nation.

John, your second point is redundant. One oil-rich nation has less influence in the U.N. than would 17.

Not sure why you think I need to endorse an argument to engage it.


john crocker - 11/30/2006

I did not argue that they were nations. The various Arab states are not a single nation either. They are a group of states that shares a degree of ethnic identity and shared history and a degree of shared interest, just as the other groups I mentioned.

"your second paragraph doesn't make an argument that rebuts mine (where did I make the case against "puppets?")"
You made the case for Arab/Muslim puppets here:
"...nor the many, many remaining states which we could rightly refer to as oil-dependent/Arab energy clients of sorts"
The point of this statement, if it has any, is the ability of these Arab states to impose their will on the UN via coercion of member states by use of oil. Your argument from the begining of your comment to that point was that the Arab (Muslim) "nation" had unique advantages that it pressed in the UN. The point of my reply was that the coercive ability of these Arab states is not unique in scope or scale.

"and your third ties in so many disparate ideas and sentiments - some I agree with, some I would outright challenge - that I don't even know how to begin addressing it."
I count six ideas, you could begin by stating which ideas you agree with and which you would outright challenge.

"..it is clear that you look past my disinterest in a blanket dismantling of the U.N."
Mr. Green made an argument for the dismantling of the UN. You begin your response to his comment, "Well, the problem also exists on a much more rudimentarily political level." This implies agreement with the sentiment of his comment.


E. Simon - 11/30/2006

"Western," "African," "South American," and "Judeo-Christian" do not, to my knowledge or anyone else's, conform to a definition of a "nation." Certainly they do not conform to any known, workable definition of "nation" that can be employed by themselves alone within the context of a nation-state eligible for admission to the United Nations. For you to not realize what a disadvantage you would be at in attempting to define even an unconventional sense of "nationhood" among any of those descriptors is something that seems to defy comprehension.

I am not much interested in reading the rest of your post given that oversight, even though in your last paragraph it is clear that you look past my disinterest in a blanket dismantling of the U.N., your second paragraph doesn't make an argument that rebuts mine (where did I make the case against "puppets?"), and your third ties in so many disparate ideas and sentiments - some I agree with, some I would outright challenge - that I don't even know how to begin addressing it.


E. Simon - 11/30/2006

I see Arnold, the old "they brought it on themselves" defense for hatred. Think back on the not-so-esteemed lineage of this line of defense. You will find it employed among the most vile and odious of anti-semitic personages.


Arnold Shcherban - 11/29/2006

...this crowd is. The irony is: they live off their own creation.


john crocker - 11/29/2006

"Ms Paul has a fanatic obsession about Israel, just as the UN security council and General Assembly do."
She did no mention Israel, that was PK and then you.

"The UN is so immensely corrupt that it must be destroyed --for the sake of peace."
How exactly would destroying the UN aid the cause of peace?

Since no international organization has prevented the atrocities in Sudan or Rwanda should they all be abolished as useless in promoting peace?
The WHO and UNDP have failed to stop the spread of HIV and other diseases, should they be dissolved for their failure?
The US government also has corruption and scandals, has also failed to stop the genocide in Sudan, has proven ineffective in dealing with Iraq abroad and New Orleans at home.
Should it be dissolved?
Warts and all they are the best we have and the best we are likely to get, at least in the near term.


john crocker - 11/29/2006

What exactly is the harm you see the UN doing?
What is the threat posed or harm caused by UNICEF, UNDP, UNHCR or the WHO?

Oh, and I have an idea for the name of the smaller group of more or less like minded liberal democracies. We could call it NATO. I don't know if they are quite on board for your jihad for democracy though.


john crocker - 11/29/2006

"The Arab Watan ("nation") is unique in consisting of around at least 17 states with which to individually represent Arab concerns in the U.N."
Are they really unique?
How many nations in the UN represent Western interests?
How many represent African and South American interests?
How many represent a Judeo-Christian outlook?
Relative to population Bhuddists and Hindus have far worse representation than any of the big three of the West.

"nor the many, many remaining states which we could rightly refer to as oil-dependent/Arab energy clients of sorts"
This includes the US as well. Are we their puppets in the UN because we buy their oil?
Do we not have our own puppets in the UN and elsewhere?

The UN has many imperfections, some of them rather large, but in body that attempts to represent the disparate interests of a majority of the world's population that is inevitable.
It is the best forum the world has yet had for solving international disputes. We will never know many petty forgotten grievances could have grown into bloody conflicts were it not for the forum this body provided. Though this cannot be tabulated it should not be ignored.
In small relationships and large communication is key to reducing conflict. In some instances conflict may be inevitable, but for the rest I am glad the UN is there.
UN aid agencies and UNEP have also been doing valuable work that should be continued.
As for the problems, the US is no small part of the disfunctionality of the body.

Work should be put into making it better rather than tearing it down.
If the UN were dissolved it is theoretically possible that something better would replace it, but how probable do you really think that is?
Does anyone really think that the Middle East or Sub-Saharan Africa would be more peaceful without the UN?
Would the world be a better place without UNICEF, UNHCR, UNDP, UNEP and the WHO?


E. Simon - 11/29/2006

(Actual title intended for the post above)

The Schivelbush book, by the way, addresses the kinds of delusions Shcherban seems to exhibit above.


E. Simon - 11/29/2006

I think the comment above, compounded by the vagueness of the bizarre, delusional and egomaniacal allusions therein, rather speaks for itself.


N. Friedman - 11/29/2006

Arnold,

I was attempting to address the implications of your comments.

So far as my understanding of things, I certainly accept the uniqueness of Western imperialism, as it is backed by what boasts to be the universal ideology and, for that reason, has better claim to universality, since the claim is based on science and liberalism, than any other claimant, at least thus far.

Now, in addition to the Western form of imperialism and the associated claims to universal validity, are competing forms of imperialism, also backed by associated claims of universal validity.

Today, the chief rival claim - given the demise of communism - of validity is that made by Islam. And, to claim Islam as being a non-imperial force backed by a universal claim of validity is to ignore fact and history. Were we living in the Middle Ages, one might have noted the competing imperialisms, backed by claims of universal validity, made by both Christians and Muslims. However, we so believe in the validity of Westernism, so to speak, that we - or at least you - cannot imagine a different claim of universal validity that is believed as such by a substantial percentage of the world's population.

Of course, the claims made today for universal validity by Christians are not the backing used for the Western imperialism of our time. Modern science and liberal democracy, etc., are the claims asserted.

By contrast, in the case of the Muslim regions and with the decline of arguably more secular ideologies such as pan-Islamism and pan-Arabism in those regions, the claim for validity for imperialism by Muslims comes out of Islamic theology - the one and only, as believing Muslims claim, universal religion for all of mankind, to be spread, if necessary by force, to the red and the black (i.e. the entire world).

Now, if your claim that removing imperialism from the world might make the UN a better place than it now is, I agree. But, imperialism is not something that belongs only to one group.

And the competing imperialism(s) would, absent Western imperialism, use the UN for non-Western imperial benefit even more than at present - something which is already a remarkable amount of wasted time, most especially given the amount of time the UN wastes condemning one tiny little country that is accused of making most of the world's troubles when, in fact, its actual share of causing the world's troubles likely is not much greater, proportionally, than its percentage of the world's population.

Now, you accuse me of turning the discussion into one about holy war. That missed my point. My point in that regard is that holy war would be more successful absent Western imperialism. And, I see no advantage to any of us were the West to drop its imperialism which largely serves to contain that holy war.


Arnold Shcherban - 11/29/2006

Mr.Simon,

You value me too much by asserting that I had taskmasters (whether Soviet, or anti-Soviet). I don't give
you even having those. You're just
natural dope, because only a dope dares to insult the intellectual powers of the man who predicted the
events of great historical significance at the times when such
great "historians" as you were making the predictions exactly opposite to what actuallly happened then.
You were born intellectual dwarf and you will remain one for the rest of your life.
End of conversation.


E. Simon - 11/29/2006

What Arnold "thinks" - if you can call it that - is that the U.S. is basically the root of all evil in the world. He has definitely not internalized that with the Cold War over and his side losing it, there are ways of thinking about how the world and societies really work - which he does not understand one bit.

This is a great book that might not apply exactly, but could be an incredibly instructive metaphor, if only he would relinquish his head from the hold of his former Soviet taskmasters to whom he previously leased it out. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to any student of history or world affairs:

http://www.amazon.com/Culture-Defeat-National-Mourning-Recovery/dp/0805044213


E. Simon - 11/29/2006

I think that such an idea would have to be accompanied by a more selective economic institution - equivalent to the G-8 or WTO, as well, in order to disincentivize financially against the tyrants.


Howard C Berkowitz - 11/29/2006

As far as peace operations, I see regional efforts as having marginally better success. The brief British intervention in Sierra Leone, to take out Foday Sankoh's militia while ECOMOG troops moved in is one reasonably effective example. It has not-insigificant parallels with, althoug differences from, Barnett's Leviathan-System Administrator model.

UN technical agencies have done better than military, such as the World Food Programme operations in Darfur. One of the problems of Darfur is the incredibly bad transportation networks (or lack thereof) in and leading to it. One of the practical problems for WFP is how to get supplies from their logistic center in Nalukolongo, Uganda. I'm afraid any proposal about Darfur that doesn't address transportation as a high priority is off-target.


Lawrence Brooks Hughes - 11/29/2006

It's not time to get out of the UN, it's past time. The harm it does is far greater than any good, and we should have quit years ago. We should replace the UN by invitation with a smaller group of civilized countries--a coalition of the willing, if you please-- with honestly elected governments and a desire to thwart all of the rogue regimes, sharing the cost in lives and money equitably while doing so.


Arnold Shcherban - 11/29/2006

Norm you're really incurable ideologue and sophist:

As soon, as I receive the comments similar to yours, I crave the time
I was absent from the HNN exchange boards.
Some on these boards are no better or smarter(ideologically and logically) than the worst fanatics: you tell them apples, they tell you - "holy war", you tell them oranges, they still tell you "holy war".
Don't even try to engage me in further
debate,... until you get some sense of logic and rules of intellectual debate into your head (which I doubt will ever happen, since you're too old for such cardinal change in your approach).


N. Friedman - 11/29/2006

Arnold,

So you think that increased power for people who still believe in holy war will lead to a better world? Is that really what you think?


Arnold Shcherban - 11/29/2006

Western and US imperialism, in particular. Because there is no power balancing its direct violations and abuses of international laws right now. But it will be soon...


Yehudi Amitz - 11/28/2006

UN employs as diplomats many third world intellectuals who otherwise would organize revolutions and power takeovers in their native countries


E. Simon - 11/28/2006

Well, not to nitpick, but the Kofi Annan method is basically to look away from those sorts of grievance-settling methods, and to deride anything that gets in the way of them as undue interference. I suppose if the Arab League wants it that way, then it's not clear how much can be done. The problem is that when they attempt to shape the politics of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute with similar methodology, and the Israelis object by fighting back, then it drives the professional global diplomatic beauracracy of moral impotence nuts, pardon the pun.


Elliott Aron Green - 11/28/2006

Sorry that a few words were left out in my post above.
... the fact that 160 gangsters get together and pass resolutions does NOT make those resolutions just...
... The fact that gangsters are the majority at the UN does not MAKE the resolutions forthcoming either wise or just...
I'm sure that just about everybody understood that words were left out, but, just in case...

E Simon points out the Arab log-rolling ability at the UN on account of their numbers [22 or 23 members of the Arab League, including Muslim but non-Arab Somalia & Mauretania]. Then there is the purchasing power of Arab oil-exporting states, especially for costly hi tek weapons from EU countries, the USA, and Russia. Then everybody knows that there are many more Arabs than Jews in terms of population, not to mention the numerous Arab states, as Simon points out. I myself am inspired with lofty thoughts and sublime sentiments while viewing the way the Arab League and its member states settle disputes and differences of opinion among and within themselves. Where shall I begin? The Gemayel murder? The hundred or so killed in a slow week in Iraq? The obliteration of Hama ca. 1982? The 150,000 slaughtered in Algeria since 1991? Nasser's use of poison gas in Yemen in the 1960s?
Perhaps the dignified and highly civilized Arab method could be the pattern for mankind as a whole. Perhaps Kofi Annan could make highlighting the superior Arab method of peace-keeping his swan song endeavor. It could be the world's template. Maybe it is already becoming that.


Peter Kovachev - 11/27/2006

You can ask, but don't expect an answer soon. Those glorious nations and their bureaucrats on UN welfare have hit their intellectual ceilings and cannot work through the details, so the resoluton stands without underwear, as it were. Essentially they don't want anyone critiquing them for anything, a wish which is hard to put to words without raising eyebrows by those who foot the bill for our indispensible world body. Mind you, when in doubt, there is always another anti-Israel resolution to keep them shuffling papers over.


E. Simon - 11/27/2006

The astounding thing to ask is what would constitute a "human rights expert" in China, Cuba, Araby and the Maghreb.


Peter Kovachev - 11/27/2006

Pay no heed to such UN-bashers like Elliott Green, Lorrain. Another resounding UN success which you may have missed is the UN Human Rights Commission. In six months of its productive existence, it discovered that the only human rights violator worth tabling resolutions against is, of course, Israel. Oh, yes, there was one resolution which didn't address Israel, and that was the one pushed through by Arab and African countries, China and Cuba calling for a "code of conduct" by human rights experts in their own countries (not Israel). Thank goodness we have such a wonderful and irreplaceable world forum!


E. Simon - 11/27/2006

Well, the problem also exists on a much more rudimentarily political level, i.e. numerically. The Arab Watan ("nation") is unique in consisting of around at least 17 states with which to individually represent Arab concerns in the U.N. This doesn't include the many Muslim nations that tend to ally themselves with them, nor the many, many remaining states which we could rightly refer to as oil-dependent/Arab energy clients of sorts - to some degree or another, depending on their level of cynicism and willingness to acquiesce to that cynicism in a more or less morally unencumbering Machiavellian manner. In all these aspects, but particularly numerically, the Arab states are especially unique. If Israel were to somehow take the incredibly unlikely and unprecedented step of sectioning its territory into 17 sovereign states each, on behalf of which to individually request U.N. membership, then perhaps the footing between Israel and the Arabs would be more equal, but for obvious (or uncreative) reasons people don't think about things like that, and for less obvious reasons, they don't think about the aforementioned incentive - shaped entirely around reasons of fairness - for why Israel would consider doing something like that.

With that said, it's important to keep in mind that General Assembly resolutions fortunately have no legally binding status, and that Israel has shown enough good faith efforts at advancing the remaining, relevant (i.e. Security Council-issued) resolutions by trading land for peace with credible partners in the past, to make obvious the shortsighted bias of people who drone on about some supposedly nefarious Israeli intransigence in that department. In the meantime, the U.N. remains a workable enough forum for tyrants to talk and break bread with others while those others make increasingly evident the irrelevance of those tyrants within the international system. But obviously when the problems of nationalism can be magnified on a scale that distorts them 17-fold, such as with the Arab states, then the U.N. is definitely warped in a way that perverts the sense of equal footing that it should represent as a deliberative body among nations.


Elliott Aron Green - 11/27/2006

Ms Paul has a fanatic obsession about Israel, just as the UN security council and General Assembly do. There have been so many UN resolutions attacking Israel, rightly or wrongly, that it is only natural that Israel hasn't always complied, certainly not with UN Gen'l Assembly resolutions that are merely recommendations, as are all GA resolutions on political issues [see the UN charter Arts. 10,11,12]. As far as obeying resolutions, Saddam's Iraq disobeyed many crucial Security Council resolutions. Of course, Dino is right. The UN is so immensely corrupt that it must be destroyed --for the sake of peace. The UN does afford the opportunity for leaders of often hostile states to meet. If that were all that the UN did, then create a substitute body to do that and no more.
For Ms Paul's info, the fact that 160 gangsters get together and pass resolutions does make those resolutions just or conducive to peace. Doesn't she know that most UN member states are dictatorships of one sort or another, to one degree or another? The fact that gangsters are the majority at the UN does not the resolutions forthcoming either wise or just, merely because they represent a majority of world states.

As an example demonstrating the UN's political bias and inability or unwillingness to act justly, Mr Buenviaje mentions the massacres in Darfur. Actually, the Darfur massacres only began within the last five years. However, the mass murders in the Sudan began soon after independence 1n 1956. That is, genocide there began fifty years ago. The UN system, however, never paid much attention to the mass murder and genocide over the years. If Ms Paul or anyone else can prove me wrong, then please do so. See link: http://www.think-israel.org/green.sudan.html
The UN body can not be better than its member states. None of these states seems to have wanted to bring up the Sudan murders before the year 2000, as far as I know. Britain gave Sudan independence as a unitary state under Muslim control, rather than a federal or confederal state, or two states [one for Arabic-speaking Muslims, one for non-Arabs and/or non-Muslims]. Thus, the UK put the Sudan on the road to commission of mass murder from the start and mass murder began there in 1956, as said above. No other major UN member state, no major group of states, not the EU, not NATO, not the Arab League of course, nor even the Org of African Unity, has worked to stop the massacres, except --if at all-- in the most ineffectual way. One would have to conclude that these states either wanted genocide or have tolerated it or acquiesced in it, for one reason or another. These states are typical of the UN. Should the UN be controlling anything?


Lorraine Paul - 11/27/2006

UN Bashing, as has been mentioned, is unproductive. At the moment it is all we have got where representatives from around the world can meet on neutral ground. As has also been stated the UN is not a 'policeman'. If governments refuse to abide by its resolutions (such as Israel) that is not the UN's problem.

It is also very easy to tear something apart, but what do these people want to put in its place?

International Women's Year was a resounding success in many countries. International Year of the Disabled raised questions in the wider community that are still ongoing today. The Year of the Child, another success. And that is just off the top of my head with one aspect of the work down by the UN.


Trevor Russell Getz - 11/27/2006

I wonder if it is in fact possible to have a relatively objective, balanced discussion on the United Nations. One might start it by discussing the actions (including interventions)that have taken place in Africa under the UN flag. Some have been successful, some not. Consider, for example, the 13 interventions in Africa (out of 32 total UN interventions). In these, the UN has a mixed record, but not the negative one suggested by this article, and certainly better than unilateral interventions. Some successes, such as Namibia and Mozambique, alongside ongoing humanitarian assistance and post-conflict assistance, are balanced by failures. Certainly, this suggests the need for reform. Yet does it in fact justify the authors' calls to "dump the UN"?

As usual, I expect to receive the usual HNN invective-laden diatribes from both sides, but I certainly invite more considered responses.


N. Friedman - 11/26/2006

Bill,

You make a good point. I do note, however, that the UN does a good deal more than talk. It issues declarations, it condemns, it makes resolutions, it sponsors organizations that do all sorts of things, etc.. Some of these things are good and some appear to be hopeless political.


Bill Englemann - 11/26/2006

The author is under the impression that the UN was established to be a World police force. An organization that should step in when things go east. 1) Who exactly decides when to step in and what countries send troops? 2) Would the author be willing to send a son-daughter off to stop an action with officers leading things from say Sweden / French?
The UN should be nothing more than a place for world leaders to discuss life. Any attempts beyond this results in what the author writes.It is a paper tiger.


John Edward Philips - 11/26/2006

"In the aftermath of Iraq's invasion, a series of ineffectual resolutions passed by the Security Council failed to dislodge Iraqi forces from Kuwait. Finally, the leadership of the United States created an international coalition that liberated Kuwait in 1991."

That US-led force was created in response to the UN resolutions that you deride, just as the US-led force in Korea was created in response to UN resolutions. That was a UN success, not a failure.

I and most other observers fully agree that the UN has had failures. The aptly and eponymously named "Akashi syndrome" led to spectacular failure in the former Yugoslavia. Everyone knows that the UN needs to be reformed. The US should have taken the lead, and still can. It will only do that if we honestly and objectively look at the real successes and real failures of the UN, instead of engaging in the mindless, biased UN bashing that is so popular on the US right wing.


Oscar FIESTAS-TEJADA - 11/25/2006

Dear Dino,

I fully agree with your article in the George Mason University’s History News Network.

It is very good that people remembers many occasions and situations, when and where the “UN Organization” has completely failed, like the League of Nations. There are so many, so many …

When I remember, so many, so rich “UN Organizations” -- like UNRWA -- were created “initially” for “only” 6 months … 50 year ago …

Your points are very valid, on the political side. But, as a former “UN Staff” -- in many organizations -- I am sure that by now, it will be also very important to inform people about the current incredible “problems” of the UN System, with inside corruption, nepotism and cronyism. Most of the failures of the system are due to these very real inside problems.

It will be very useful if an historian takes well care of these issues and produces an objective paper.

Between other positions in the UN System, I was involved with the UN Peace Keeping Missions. First in UNMIK (Kosovo) from 2000 to 2001 (the richest ever; and then in MONUC (Congo) from 2001 to 2002 (the largest ever). During this time, I was the witness and exposed many, many activities dealing with corruption and bribery. My knowledge and experience in information technologies, allowed me to have access to a number of "confidential considered” information and/or documentation.

Let me know in case you need more related support, information and/or documentation.

Please accept Dino, the assurance of my highest consideration.

Dr. Oscar FIESTAS-TEJADA
Strasbourg, France. Phone: + 33 (616) 94 79 84 e-Mail: ofiestas@netscape.net

PS. One of the former UN Auditors, very well involved with audits in different UN Peace Keeping Activities, had just finished the writing of a related book. Actually, it is been edited and the author is looking for a publisher. As example, please read a small extract of Chapter Eleven - Where are the Auditors?

The United Nations presently is almost totally lacking in effective means to deal with fraud, waste and abuse by staff members of the type which has so recently been highlighted in the report of audit agencies and in the news media. -Dick Thornburgh

“Edwin, can we meet?”
“Sure,” I said, “What’s up?”
“I have something to show you.”

This was Oscar, the chief of EDP in the UN DPKO Mission in the Republic of the Congo (MONUC). My auditors and I were auditing EDP and telecommunications assets.

Oscar impressed me early on when after drafting a questionnaire to assess the level of user satisfaction with telecommunications support in the mission I sent the draft to a few high-tech types for comment before finalizing it. Oscar was one of them. He took time to redo the questionnaire in a manner that improved its usefulness for the purpose intended. It was clear to me that I was dealing with someone very knowledgeable about the subject. He was clearly a professional and stood head and shoulders above the other people I had come to value in that position.

That meeting took place that same day in my office:

“What do you have?” I asked.
“Just this,” Oscar said handing me a spreadsheet analysis of assets under his control. It showed that he was missing nearly $4.8 million in assets procured by Headquarters under his budget.
“Oscar,” I said, “can you walk me through the methodology you used?”

Oscar explained that he took all the requisitions against his budget that became purchase orders. He then used those purchase orders to track down all the assets he should have received, and the result was that missing $4.8 million.

That many assets missing from a budget somewhere between $20 and $30 million was a loss rate of almost 20 percent. I forwarded the results to Headquarters for follow-up; I never heard back.
What made Oscar’s case unique was that soon afterwards I started to hear ramblings about his management style. Soon thereafter, his character was being made an issue and there were obvious distortions about his overall conduct. They would say things like “Oscar is difficult to deal with.”

As is usually the case in the UN, Oscar received a bad evaluation and when he tried to rebut it, the rebuttal panel took it upon itself to literally investigate the man. Nothing was spared. It was mainly about the man’s character and very little about his performance.

Soon after I left MONUC, rumours started to circulate his contract would not be renewed. Oscar’s fate was sealed. The connection between his discovery of missing assets and his demise was not lost on me. The problem in the UN is once a person is targeted the bureaucracy has little difficulty making their character an issue.

This was not the only case where the auditors were conspicuous by their absence.

..."