Saturday, July 29, 2006

The UN: Has It Outlived Its Usefulness?

Why should we continue to work within the UN? When the Secretary General power has been broken by a corruption scandal. The hope that Mr. Volcker’s report would perhaps end doubts about Iraq oil-for-food affair has been completely eliminated. Two investigators left, accusing him of trouncing, while some say that he has explicitly weakened Koffi Annan and the UN’s credibility. After the unfinished report was published it has brought up many questions about the UN’s ability to conduct business without more efficient oversight. I think we all agree that reforms are essential but there is no talk or agreement, in even a general sense of what direction or form they should take. The elite group that runs the Security Council is clearly a case for treatment. Should it be abolished or enlarged? The promise of expansion has led to unseemly competition. And so the growling power struggles carry on, obscuring some of the real issues at stake.

The real issues at stake require a little bit of history. The structure of the UN was agreed upon post-WWII and it was-in the US at least- considered a exercise in over Wilsonian idealism. Critics of the concept of "Wilsonian Idealism" say that Wilson only wanted ethnic self-determination and democracy in European countries which were under the control of rivals of America. Elsewhere such principles were ignored. Today other critics of Wilsonianism, such as paleoconservatives argue the principles are overly idealistic, and can lead to unnecessary military interventions, putting lives at risk for abstract concepts rather than direct threats. Nevertheless the UN was a American creation in every sense.

The League of Nations was the forerunner of the UN, which was another direct Wilsonian construct outlined in the 14-point plan for peace. It failed miserably and should have been named the League of Imperial Nations, given that most of the world at the time was occupied or controlled by imperial powers. The aim of the League's founders was to prevent inter-imperial disputes over colonies from erupting into wars that would damage imperial trade. This history explains why the UN Charter rejected pre-emptive strikes and, in an increasingly post-imperial world, stressed the sanctity of national sovereignty.

It could not defend the human rights of the citizens of Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Indonesia, Pakistan or Turkey. When members of the Security Council unleashed wars of occupations, the UN was powerless.

The uselessness of the UN has been solidified by the US-Iraq debacle. When Britain and the US (and the Bush Doctrine) waltzed into the security meeting with fake dossiers, complete lies, and fear mongering policy in 2003. They tried to convince the world of the “grave” threat of the Hussein regime. The US went ahead, the UN did nothing. Once Baghdad was occupied the, Security Council accepted the situation and recognized the puppet regime. In a univocal world, what role can the UN play?

“To be or not to be…”

Short of complete abolishment the only reforms of the UN that would be meaningful would be to abolish the Security Council and give all power to the General Assembly. We should also move the headquarters to Caracas or Kuala Lumpur or Cape Town, as the bulk of the world supposedly represented by the UN lives in the south. This will not happen. No real reform of this kind could possibly happen. Better for everyone if we just bury the whole thing.

1 comment:

Brainpolice said...

There's always been the global government concern as well :)