The United Nations... working its way towards irrelevance
As overpaid and under worked United Nations bureaucrats quaff champagne and feast on canapés and shrimp in Turtle Bay to celebrate U.N. Day, it is important for the world to remember those who have been failed by the organization, or have suffered at its hands.
They include: the one million Tutsis slaughtered by Hutus in the Rwanda genocide of 1994 while U.N. peacekeepers looked on; the 10,000 Bosnian Muslims massacred at Srebrenica by the Serbs while under the protection of Dutch troops in a U.N. “safe haven”; the more than 200,000 villagers in Darfur killed by Sudanese-backed Janjaweed militias while the United Nations debated whether or not it was an act of genocide, and the regime in Khartoum sat on the U.N.’s Commission on Human Rights; the millions of Iraqis who suffered under the brutal boot of the Baathist regime while Saddam Hussein plundered the U.N.’s Oil-for-Food Program; the millions of inhabitants of Zimbabwe and Burma who continue to suffer at the hands of brutal tyrannical regimes while the U.N. turns a blind eye; the hundreds of refugees raped by U.N. peacekeepers in both the Congo and southern Sudan.
The U.N.'s failures, from its inability (and unwillingness) to stop ethnic cleansing in Africa and the Balkans to wide-spread abuses by U.N. peacekeepers across the world are legion. Inaction, incompetence, and even abject inhumanity have all too often been the hallmarks of U.N. operations, which have frequently demonstrated a callous indifference to human suffering.
Founded in 1945 with lofty ambitions to advance peace, prosperity, and security in the world, the United Nations can point to few significant achievements. Its two supposed finest hours - the defense of South Korea in the Korean War and the liberation of Kuwait from Iraq - were both American-led operations that frankly would have taken place even if the United Nations did not exist.
Without the presence of the world's greatest power, the U.N. would be an impotent body, lacking in legitimacy, and financially crippled.
The United States has been the United Nations' biggest contributor since its founding, giving over $5.3 billion annually to the world body. The U.S. provides 22 percent of the U.N.'s regular annual operating budget - more than the combined contributions of France, Germany, China, Canada, and Russia.
The U.S. contributes 41.5 percent ($1.12 billion) of the World Food Program budget, 24 percent of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees budget, and 9.4 percent of the UNICEF budget. The United States is the world's biggest contributor to U.N. peacekeeping operations, funding 27 percent of the total worldwide U.N. peacekeeping budget ($870 million a year). Between 2001 and 2005, the United States gave $3.59 billion toward U.N. international peacekeeping operations.
The United States will have to bypass the U.N. where it is seen to be obstructing U.S. interests or incapable of action. The US will have towork more aggressively through organizations such as NATO, and lead coalitions of the willing in order to deal with specific threats to international security, as well as humanitarian crises. At the same time, America, together with close allies, should build more bodies outside of the U.N. system to handle global issues. The United States should for example seek the creation of a new human rights body outside of the U.N. that would be composed solely of democratic states that adhere to the basic principles of individual liberty and freedom.
The United Nations should have to compete in a global marketplace of international institutions. The U.N.’s privileged position as the dominant world body in areas such as human rights, humanitarian relief, and international development must be increasingly challenged, both by other multilateral organizations or by ad hoc coalitions.
Whether the U.N. goes the way of its predecessor, the League of Nations, and sinks into the abyss of history as a huge failure depends upon its willingness to be reformed as well as its ability to confront the challenges of today, whether it be the threat of global terrorism, the aggressive actions of a dictatorial regime, or the mass slaughter of one ethnic group by another. Terrorism, tyranny, and genocide remain the three great evils of our time, and the U.N. will be judged by how it responds to them. If the United Nations is not up to the task, then it will soon be time to take a bow and give way to a successor.
Now, let's hear from The Honorable John Bolton who asks the question Does the United Nations Advance the Cause of Freedom?:
The answer is, in my view, minimally or occasionally or—perhaps, more precisely—accidentally, at times. You could come at this question in a lot of different ways. Let's come at it empirically, because there is a lot of ground to cover, and necessarily there will be a lot of things I won't be able to get to. But the sheer magnitude of the substantive areas that the U.N. tries to deal with in a way is a revealing insight into its inadequacies, because there are so many things that it does poorly. One could say that if it were structured effectively, it would just try to do a few things and at least try to do them well. But it doesn't, and that is part of its basic problem.
Finally, let's go to our old buddy Mac Johnson who, while on the case of President Bush giving $500M to Mexican police, also takes him to task on the U.N.:
President Bush this week asked Congress to approve a supplemental spending bill for $42.3 billion. The bill is intended to fund U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. However, in a remarkable expansion of the meaning of the words “U.S. military”, “Afghanistan” and “Iraq” the bill also includes $724 million to fund U.N. Peacekeeping operations in Darfur and $500 million for Mexican police to fight Mexican drug dealers.
Sending the U.N. $724 million for a peacekeeping force that has not kept the peace is just silly. Actually, sending the U.N. anything is just silly. So if our goal is to stop Islamists from slaughtering Christian and Pagan civilians in Darfur, let’s use that money to buy three million decent rifles and pass them out to every Christian and Pagan in Darfur. Then the U.N. Nothingdoing force can go home and do nothing and the next time the Janjaweed Islamist militia cavalry comes by for some peaceful slaughter of infidels, the poor little Darfuris can bust a cap in somebody’s ass and/or camel - or even their horse. (The Janjaweed are a diverse group when it comes to transport.)
For a fantastic site covering the UN, check out Anne Bayefsky's Eye on the UN. You may also want to stop by Fred's Reject the UN blog.
You'll find all of my previous posts on the UN at the link below.