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Friday, September 19, 2003
UN Needs a Make-Over

By Steven Taylor @ 6:39 am

Indeed: U.N. Senses It Must Change, Fast

Mr. Annan, who says he will outline plans for reform as the annual General Assembly gathers next week, has said that only “radical” revisions in the institution are likely to preserve it. Iraq has shattered any global consensus on handling security issues, and, as last week’s meeting in Cancn showed, there is no consensus on trade issues.

Not, of course, that there ever was any global concensus on security or trade, but clearly we have moved into a distinct new era of global affairs and the current UN model isn’t working too well.

And maybe Senator Levin will read this piece, and he will understand how ridiculous his claims have been that a UN mandate would have quelled the violence in post-Saddam Iraq:

Salim Lone, the communications director of the Baghdad mission and a survivor of the bombing, said, “It was clear to many of us in Baghdad that lots of ordinary Iraqis were unable to distinguish our U.N. operation from the overall U.S. presence in the country.”

“This perception is growing in the Middle East,” he said. “Extremists prosper from that, which is why I am afraid that a terrible line has been crossed by this bombing and given other groups a new terror option.”

And, this sounds about right, in terms of how the UN is viewed (whether the views, of say Europe, are correct, we will leave for another time…):

Europeans today view the United Nations as the embodiment of international law and world order. The United States seems to view it as a tool to be used when handy. Africans and Asians tend to have more case-specific uses for United Nations diplomacy and its general advocacy for the poor and disadvantaged who are not much in the minds of rich nations.

This is the key, and it may be an impossible balance to strike.

“The worst fear of any of us,” said Shashi Tharoor, an under secretary general whose entire career has been spent at the United Nations, “is that we fail to navigate an effective way between the Scylla of being seen as a cat’s paw of the sole superpower and the Charybdis of being seen as so unhelpful to the sole superpower that they disregard the value of the United Nations.”

Indeed, the real solution for truly enhancing global security may be an institution of just liberal democratic states, rather than an institution which tries to be all things to all nation-states. Of course, a non-inclusive organization would have its own set of problems.

Filed under: Global Politics

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3 Comments»

  1. Democracies do not make war on each other… ever… look it up. If we held the UN membership to their own charter’s standards as a requirement of membership it wouldn’t be a collection of JewHating thugs.

    Comment by DANEgerus — Friday, September 19, 2003 @ 5:21 pm

  2. I see Steven is still peddling the same old bilge about Senator Levin. Of course, Steven has lied about the context of Senator Levin’s remarks on this issue. That aside, it is yet another attempt by Steven to deflect attention away from the unmistakable reality that his political masters have done just about as poor a job in Iraq as could be imagined.

    But this has become the MO for conservatives eveywhere: ‘let’s not talk about the very real events taking place-look! Somebody said something on a talking head show.’

    Our troops are dying, Iraq is a mess and not getting better, North Korea has WMD and Saudi Arabia wants some, our foreign policy looks like it’s the product of a Rush Limbaugh acid trip-but Steven sats we ought to be really worried about out-of-context statements by Senator Levin.

    Small children seek to deflect attention away from transgressions when they’re confronted with them; so to do Asst. Poli Sci Profs from Troy State.

    As to the UN (and Dane’s idiotic remarks), the UN will never work according to conservatives because it won’t rubberstamp US policy every time on every issue. That’s the model conservatives want.

    And Dane-yes, democracies have-and do declare war on one another. Moreover, democracies often use totalitarian regimes as proxies; to pretend democracies are high-minded utopias is simply absurd.

    Comment by JadeGold — Saturday, September 20, 2003 @ 8:32 am


  3. Comment by Anonymous — Tuesday, August 10, 2004 @ 3:36 pm

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