Sunday, July 24, 2005

United Nations UNraveling

Earlier this year, Iqbal Riza resigned as UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s Chief of Staff after it was revealed that he had ordered the shredding of three year’s worth of pertinent documents the day after the UN Security Council approved an investigation of the Oil-for-Food scandal.

Kofi called it “careless,” and immediately gave Riza another UN job as his own “special advisor.”

What does a special advisor do? Shred documents, of course.

Fox News reported on July 15 that Riza “has been shredding large quantities of unknown documents in his new 10th-floor U.N. office across the street from the U.N. Secretariat building.” A UN staffer and eyewitness reported that Riza showed up for his first day of work loaded down with cartons of papers that he promptly put through an office shredder. Every day Riza came to work, he would bring more documents with him. (“It became the office joke,” said the UN staffer.)

Riza has now moved on again – to “a new, high-level U.N. position dealing with ‘world peace.’”

Just imagine what the press reaction would be to a similar story in the Bush administration -- “CNN has learned that Karl Rove has been shredding carton-loads of documents relating to the Valerie Plame leak." The press would explode.

But, of course, a Bush administration scandal would be serious – because the world takes the Bush administration seriously. It’s not the same with the UN: a $110-billion gaffe, complete with comic cover-up, is exactly what we expect from them.

Who would take seriously an organization that has countries like Cuba, the Congo, Egypt, North Korea, and China on its Human Rights Commission? The UN is a failure – it lacks power and has too many members to be able to agree decisively on an issue.

What the UN doesn’t lack is a huge (almost $3 billion) annual budget, of which the United Stated pays 25%.

Failed programs should be scrapped and replaced with something that works. Let’s withdraw from the UN, and pitch all those corrupt bureaucrats (along with their disgraceful exhibit of “artifacts” from the atomic bomb blasts) right out onto the sidewalk. Let’s save the building (because it happens to be a nice building) and put something worthwhile in it. Let’s take the cash we save and spend it on our own projects.

We should create a new international body. This one will mirror the only effective such group the world has ever seen. It will contain the United States, Britain, and Russia (not because Russia deserves it, but because it is now on the tipping point between democracy and tyranny and needs to be pulled in the right direction). Meetings of the three will be informal; agreed actions will be taken in part by each nation, handled by the three individually with no separate multi-national organization handing out cash or sending its own blue-helmeted soldiers to do the job.

Eventually, we may extend invitations to other nations to join– but they will not be sent to dictatorships or anti-American governments. The total membership will remain small so the body can remain effective.

Life without the United Nations seems horrifying to some people. But what, in reality, does the UN do? It tells the world where it should spend its charity money. It is an international busybody. It has no effective way to control human rights violations or global security threats (like North Korea). There is nothing that a consensus of nations could not do better.

Will Kofi retire? “Hell no,” he says. Maybe it’s time for us to retire him. Hell yes.

23 Comments:

At 11:53 AM, Blogger Commander Mike said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 12:06 PM, Blogger Commander Mike said...

Sounds great. We should also establish a motorcycle-based system of world government, prove that P = NP, and build skyscrapers out of cheese.

I expect great things from the international body. Democrats will get something completely new to whine about, and Republicans will have yet another international body to blather about. Russia will have a new, diplomatic means to ignore the US, and the rest of the world will be given something completely new to not care about.

You can't just create "international bodies" and expect good things to happen. It will just be another UN, except even more impotent. That is, of course, if anyone will pay any attention to the ridiculous suggestions of a high school kid.

Then we can send the new international body to Mars!

 
At 10:37 AM, Blogger allen said...

Commander Mike wrote:

You can't just create "international bodies" and expect good things to happen. It will just be another UN, except even more impotent.

That's the assumption that UN was founded on. So, the "if you build it they will come and talk" notion has some precedent if not much credibility.

That is, of course, if anyone will pay any attention to the ridiculous suggestions of a high school kid.

Jumping to a conclusion, aren't you? The high school kid may be expressing a sentiment that's widely enough supported that it may be growing impossible not to pay attention too. Well, one can hope.

Then we can send the new international body to Mars!

Even better, no one goes to Mars until it's cheap enough to go without requiring a tax subsidy.

 
At 2:10 PM, Blogger Commander Mike said...

"That's the assumption that UN was founded on."

Nope

 
At 2:00 PM, Blogger allen said...

From long, unattributed, off-topic, cut-and-pastes as a means of demonstrating disdain to short, meaningless, responses as a means of demonstrating disdain.

At least you're educable.

You're welcome.

 
At 8:57 PM, Blogger Alec Brandon said...

Dan,

The UN serves a purpose in the world. Not only that, but it serves the United States' present purpose in the world. Remember, the United States SOUGHT the UN's assistance in Iraq after the invasion. Let me rephrase this in a way you will understand, George Bush, Dick Cheney, and Paul Wolfowitz, ASKED the UN to help.

The US needs the UN because it gives it legitimacy in its actions, something absolutely required when the whole world does not trust the US because of its preeminent status in the world.

See, many of the neocons in the Bush administration agreed with your way of thinking when they were swept into office. Then an odd thing happened, they actually had to apply their ideas, and they turned out to be misguided and wrong. The best proof of this is that they went back to the UN after assuming they could ignore it. They may have had radical dreams of the US and Britain (and Russia?!) hanging out and solving the worlds problems, but that would hurt the US, not help it.

I could go through your crazy logic of first why we should leave the UN (because a guy is shredding paper and it has some corruption, which comes with the territory). Or I could attack your laughable assertion that a 3 billion dollar budget is "huge." I could also ask the question, why leave the UN if all it needs is reform, reform that Kofi Annan proposed 3 months ago. Perhaps I would question why on earth you would propose a new international body, that consists of merely informal meetings? (Hmm Dan, why do you need an international body to facilitate countries talking to eachother, something I am pretty sure they have figured out.)I could ask those questions, but its not like you respond to questions that expose your irrationality.

Last, I love it when you ask us, "But what, in reality, does the UN do?" becuase I honestly think that you do not know the answer to that. My advice is to ask your pinups, Paul Wolfowitz and Donald Rumsfeld, considering they went to the UN and begged for election assistance in Iraq.

-Mr. Alec

 
At 11:22 AM, Blogger Matthew said...

Mr Alec,

Name one success story the U.N. has had in the past 12 years.

Kosovo – No
Somalia – No
Congo- No
Liberia – No
Indonesia – No
North Korea – No
Iran – No
Iraq – No
Chechnya – No
Rwanda – No
Haiti – No

Maybe I am missing something or have the wrong idea about one of these countries, but I do not see much success or worth here.

Maybe you know something I do not. Please share.

 
At 12:08 PM, Blogger Alec Brandon said...

East Timor.

-Mr. Alec

 
At 1:04 PM, Blogger Alec Brandon said...

Also I would classify Indonesia as a success, it is democratic, muslim, and has a popularly elected female president.

Furthermore, you list the Congo, Somalia, Iran, and Haiti as UN failures. But the US has also attempted to invade, democratize, or pacify all four of those countries. I am not proposing to get out of the US because we suck at securing countries. Honestly, name me one success story of US involvement in the past 12 years:

Kosovo – No
Somalia – No
Congo- No
Liberia – No
Indonesia – No
North Korea – No
Iran – No
Iraq – No
Haiti – No

So now your response to why the US sucks at securing countries is probably, "Well that is not the US's job." And I would agree with that, but it's not the UN's job either. The UN does an amazing job overseeing the worlds telephone systems, much better than the US does overseeing the worlds internet. The UN provides an initial outlet for outrage, that would otherwise be war. The UN runs the World Bank and IMF, two organizations that have done more for the third-world, than any unilateral foreign aid every has. The UN also is the enforcer of neccesary inspection agencies such as the IAEA.

But the US ought to stay in the UN because it legitimizes our actions to a wary international community. This is why intelligent neocons went to the UN for help in Iraq, do I have to make this point 40 times before anyone realizes that it proves the neccesity of the UN for the US?

-Mr. Alec

 
At 1:10 PM, Blogger Alec Brandon said...

Also, you should all look at the reforms Kofi Annan proposed reforms before bitching about things that Annan has agreed are wrong and wants to fix.

Dan, Annan wants to change the Human Rights commision so that torturers like Libya, Iran, and co. do not get seats.

Matthew, Annan has proposed a new council that would better secure failed nations.

Please, for the last time, read stuff before pretending to know what you are talking about. For the rest, you can read Kofi's recomendations here: http://www.un.org/largerfreedom/report-largerfreedom.pdf

-Mr. Alec

 
At 4:08 PM, Blogger Matthew said...

First off, this guy is the president of Indonesia: Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. He is also accused of war crimes in East Timor. Indonesia’s democratic government is nothing more than words on a piece of paper. It has one of the most radical, intolerant Muslim populations on the face of the earth.

It is nice and all that the UN does such a great job of controlling our phone systems, but our phone systems did not slaughter tens of thousands of people in Rwanda. Our phone systems do not commit genocide. But hey, I feel better knowing that the UN is good at voicing outrage at such actions. I would much rather voice outrage than save human lives.

“Bad Rwanda, Bad!”
“Stop it or we might express outrage!”

You are quick to point out all the US failures. Maybe that is because we are generally the only country to step up to the plate. Many of the conflicts you mentioned where UN actions where the US practically financed and outfitted the entire operation. Take the UN’s tsunami relief work. It depended almost entirely on the US to conduct its operations. Without our global military supply networks their mission would have never gotten off the ground.

The World Bank and IMF might provide a good amount of aid, but the US contributes more in government and private funds than any other nation on earth every year.

As for the IAEA, let us look no further than Iran and North Korea to see their relavance.

“This is why intelligent neocons went to the UN for help in Iraq, do I have to make this point 40 times before anyone realizes that it proves the neccesity of the UN for the US?”

I applaud them for trying to muster international support, but did the UN step up to the plate? Did the Arab community step up to help? Where is the support from the UN?

I guess we will just have to wait and see if Kofi's reforms ever take place. I certainly have no confidence in them ever taking hold.

 
At 5:01 PM, Blogger Alec Brandon said...

I stand corrected on the Indonesia president. Megawati Sukarnoputri was voted out last year. Sorry.

Then you claim Indonesia has one of the most radical muslim populations in the world. In response, I wonder whether you know where or what Indonesia is. Let me quote The Economist:

"Three years ago, a newly democratic Indonesia seemed about to prove the point. Separatist and religious violence stalked the length of the archipelago; the rupiah was in free-fall; politics had descended to a pitiable level of squabbling and incompetence. The world's fourth most populous country, some foresaw, might come apart like a string of pearls; or, almost as bad, avoid disintegration only by the return of a brutal dictatorship such as that of Suharto, the general who was ousted by huge street protests in 1998. The parallels with the Balkans, where the fall of communism unleashed still greater horrors, seemed disquietingly apt. Unlike the Balkans, however, Indonesia contains 220m people, and is far and away the world's largest Muslim country: this would be chaos on an epic scale. In October 2002, such fears suddenly bulked much larger, when Islamist terrorists, linked to al-Qaeda, set off a bomb in Bali that killed more than 200 people.

This week things look wonderfully different. On July 5th, for the first time in their history, Indonesians voted to choose their president. The final result will not be known until late September, since a run-off between the two top candidates is now needed. But the election was free, fair, peaceful and, above all, conducted in a spirit of moderation that was remarkable in a country where democracy is only six years old. Megawati Sukarnoputri, the incumbent, urged everyone to accept the result, whatever it is, even though she seems unlikely to remain in office."

So, it may be rocky, but considering how rosy of a picture Bush and co. have been painting out of Iraq and Afghanistan, Indonesia is a paradise in comparison. A popular election of a president who is a self described reformer, that seems pretty good.

They are also not violent, I don't know where you get off calling a country of hundreds of millions, "violent." Seems very imperialistic of you. But how do you rate the violence of a country. The US invades countries, we have domestic terrorism (Oklahoma City Bombing, Atlanta Olympics Bombing), and a very high murder rate in comparison to other western countries. So unless you are willing to contend that the US is one of the most "violent christian countries in the world," you ought to shut up.

By the way, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is not a war criminal, he has never been charged with anything, unlike other Indonesian generals that served in East Timor. The Economist loves the guy, which is enough for me to like him too.

---------

Then you attack the UN for not acting in Rwanda. I'd reccomend you read Kofi Annan's reforms, because he actually has a solution to that problem. But you say something curious here:

"It is nice and all that the UN does such a great job of controlling our phone systems, but our phone systems did not slaughter tens of thousands of people in Rwanda. Our phone systems do not commit genocide. But hey, I feel better knowing that the UN is good at voicing outrage at such actions. I would much rather voice outrage than save human lives."

You seem to be implying that the UN committed the Rwandan genocide. I hope you know what happened in Rwanda because the UN is neither Hutu nor Tutsi.

But seriously, why should the US withdraw from the UN because the UN (an organization that is simply the sum of its pieces, a majority of which are American)did not act in Rwanda.

-------------

As to how much the US sucks vs. the UN:

I don't think you can claim that the UN is terrible because it has failed in the same areas that even the US have. The US which is an actual country, has an actual military, and has a budget that is nearly 3330% higher than the UN's, can't even achieve what the measly UN can. I don't think thats criteria to withdraw from the UN or the US. That was my point.

--------

On the World Bank and IMF:

The US does contribute lots of money, but that money does not do anything but prop up dictators and military allies. You know who gets the 2nd most US aid: Egypt. Know who gets the most: Israel. Pardon me, but I don't think Israel NEEDS foreign aid the same way that all of sub-saharan Africa.

The US "aid" is money to keep allies accting the way we want them to. US aid throughout the Cold War was to prop up dictatorships with weapons. The US acts in its own self-interest, because thats what its job is. The UN doesn't do that, the World Bank encourages growth and seeks to democratize, not gain allies and military bases.

---------------------

The IAEA serves an important purpose, it is the way that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty is enforced. Last time I checked, thats a pretty big deal.

-----------------

UN and Iraq:

The UN did serve a purpose, there would have been no elections in Iraq had the UN not overseen them. Had there been no elections, Ayatollah Sistani would have issued a fatwa that would have sent the country into a downward spiral that would have only ended in civil war. That seems pretty significant to me, I don't know about you. Seems the UN did step up to the plate.

But the curious thing you question here is why the Arab community did not step up to act in Iraq. What the hell does that have to do with withdrawing from the UN?

---------------

Finally, reforms will happen because the UN needs them and Kofi and the technocrats in New York and Geneva want reform that will benefit the world, legitimize the Humans Rights commision, etc.

-Mr. Alec

 
At 6:47 PM, Blogger Matthew said...

With Indonesia, seriously, you need to do some more research on that. Indonesia and Saudi Arabia are about on equal terms as far as peace and tolerance go.

Sistani would not have issued a fatwa sending the country into civil war. Now you are entering territory for which you no nothing about. Sistani was always trying to hold the country together as best he could and still save face with his Muslim community. The elections would have gone forward without the UN.

The IAEA is ineffective. Face the facts. That does not mean they are not important.

Ok let’s tear apart the aid money issue. I agree that a lot of aid money is wasted on countries that pump it back into their governments. I would love to cut off all aid money to the Palestinians and a lot of it going to Africa. Much of this money gets wasted on corrupt regimes. Maybe in 25 years when Africa and the Palestinian situation still looks the same the US and the UN will wake up and realize that throwing money at a situation does not always work.

I do seem to remember this thing called: The Oil For Food Scandal. If I remember correct, it is the biggest monetary scandal in history. All under the watchful eye of the UN.

As far as Israel goes, I am proud we give them aid money and lots of it. It is not their fault they are surrounded by barbaric people who have hatred and paranoia of Jews on an equal scale with Nazis. If you do not believe that, I suggest this site: http://www.memritv.org/
Click on “subjects” and have fun.

The heart of this is not the size of our military and its budget compared to the UN. The UN is made up of over 180 nations and it still can not effectively provide help to those who need it. The US may have not succeeded in some areas, but at least we are out there trying to help. Most nations in the UN will not lift a finger to help those in need. Why should one nation, the US, try to support an organization made up of over 180 nations? Why should we (and a select few others) be the only ones willing to help on UN designated missions?

As far a Rwanda goes, of coarse the UN did not commit genocide. It certainly did nothing to help though. I am glad Kofi has a solution for Rwanda after the fact.

PS: I never said we should withdraw from the UN. I like the idea in congress right now that has drawn out a list of reforms that need to be met or we will drastically reduce our funding of the UN. We would still remain in the UN; we would just hit them where they would feel it.

 
At 9:15 PM, Blogger Alec Brandon said...

Matt,

Ok, equating Saudi Arabia to Indonesia is one of the stupidest thing ive heard in a long time. Lets see, Saudi Arabia is ruled by thousands of princes who sit on their asses in the French Riviera and steal billions from the state run oil. Indonesia is an elected democracy and has a market economy. Saudi Arabia is ruled by a King, Indonesia is not. Saudi Arabia has a troop of religious police that can do anything whenever they want. Indonesia does not have such a force. Saudi Arabia sponsors the extreme form of Islam, Wahhabism. Indonesia does not, in fact Indonesia is considered to be a secular country, and given its two elected presidents (a former general and female technocrat) I would not disagree with that assertion.

Whatever, if you don't get this know, you won't ever (think market price of oil).

Sistani: He said, have elections, had they not been pulled off legitimately, something the US probably couldn't have done given its partiality, it would have been bad.

IAEA: How do you claim that an agency that has enforced the NPT for three decades is ineffective. Yes, it got kicked out of Iran and N. Korea, but enforcing treaties and providing atomic energy to the world with a guarantee of safety is good for everybody. Horay for the IAEA!

Oil for Food: You know who wrote the oil for food agreement? The US and Britain. We knew corruption could occur, and guess what, we didn't care. The UN is the sum of its parts.

Israel: Whatever, we aren't going to argue this. But my point was, the US is not such a benefactor when we give money to Israel, whereas I think Africa needs it a little more. (think $1 a day vs. much more than $1 a day).

Lifting a Finger: All countries have to lift a finger or else they wouldn't be a member.

Military Size: The US WANTS the rest of the world to have small militaries and rely on ours. Don't bitch about something that is the root of our hegemony. I know, it's tough being on the top.

Rwanda: UN failed the Rwandans, US failed the Rwandans, France failed the Rwandans, England failed the Rwandans, Russia failed the Rwandans, China failed the Rwandans...oh wait. Those are the 5 members of the UN security panel, they all did nothing alone, and did nothing together, don't blame the UN, or Kofi Annan, who has no power to send his nonexistant troops anywhere.

AGAIN, the UN is the sum of its parts, a lot of which is the US. We weild a lot more power in the UN than Kofi and his gang of nerdy technocrats. Don't attack the UN when the root of that problem is not Kofi Annan's fault.

Hope that was edifying,

Mr. Alec

 
At 8:23 AM, Blogger Matthew said...

Mr. Alec,

Indonesia as a secular country is laughable. We were speaking on terms of tolerance, not forms of government. Indonesia is cranking out many Islamic radicals these days.

You should read this article: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-1707254,00.html

And this: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_asiapacific/view/160069/1/.html

You do not know the first thing about Sistani. Once again, you are entering territory for which you have no knowledge. Sistani was always trying to help the US unite and reorganize the country without loosing face with his Muslim supporters. This is no easy task and can involve idle threats to calm the locals so they will not go and support people like, say Sadr.

When rogue nations acquire nuclear weapons, obviously we all failed somewhere along the line. That includes the IAEA.

The oil for food program was still under UN control. Even your high and mighty Kofi may have got his hands dirty in this matter.

Africa needs everything but money. You sound like those morons sponsoring the Live 8 concerts. The problem with Africa is its governments. Until their governments change, money will not do a damn thing for Africa; except maybe make their corrupt governments richer.

All countries have to lift a finger eh? When is the last time Saudi Arabia or China sent troops on a peace keeping mission or provided significant funding or aid money?

We want everyone else to have a small military? Really? I seem to remember our government was concerned about the shrinking sizes of European militaries. Oh well, there you go talking about stuff you have no knowledge of again.

I agree that everyone failed the Rwandans.

You are right; the root of the problem is not Kofi. It is a world that simple does not care; a greedy self serving world that does not care to help out another country in need. The simple fact that we are at the front of the UN, and beyond, trying to help where needed speaks wonders for our country. We may make mistakes, we may not be perfect, but show me a country that has tried to do half as much as the US. Show me the perfect country. Show me the country free of corruption and greed. That is not an excuse, simply reality.

 
At 8:40 AM, Blogger Alec Brandon said...

Matt, I honestly think we agree on the UN. I don't love Kofi Annan, I don't love Indonesia (which you are wrong about, but thats besides the point), I don't like the Live8 fools (who I never actually mentioned and also I didn't mention anything in my last comment about Africa, at all), I do think that there is a lazy world out there (although China does contribute lots of troops to the UN, you can pay your dues by giving them troops or money, China and many poor countries do so by contributing troops), and I do think that the US can fuck shit up, but also can try to do good. But the important thing is what does this have to do with withdrawing from the UN, I outlined a whole bunch of reasons for why the UN is good. You asked for only one success story, I provided it to you: East Timor.

Has the UN fucked up? Yes, but it is an important institution, one that the US and the world relies on. So lets try and push for reform, not bitch and moan about it and attempt to create bogus bodies like Dan has proposed.

Finally, on the issue of US military vs. other countries: The US indisbutably gains from Europe having little to no army, it means they are reliant on us, and need our armed support for any large scale engagement. That is to the US's benefit. If you don't buy that arguement, ask yourself why we still have so many troops in Germany. If we REALLY wanted Europe to have its own set of armed forces, we'd completely withdraw those forces and we would disband NATO. The US benefits from having the worlds only real army. Think about how happy we are that China is building its army up.

-Mr. Alec

 
At 2:45 PM, Blogger Commander Mike said...

"From long, unattributed, off-topic, cut-and-pastes as a means of demonstrating disdain to short, meaningless, responses as a means of demonstrating disdain."

Yeah, but I'm right.

 
At 5:35 PM, Blogger allen said...

Nope.

 
At 8:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Commander Mike said...

That is, of course, if anyone will pay any attention to the ridiculous suggestions of a high school kid.


An interesting statement coming from someone who frequents this blog to read and post more than he uses the potty.

Personally, I think you're sucking up to the high school kid.

- Nate

 
At 5:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We can start the UN clean up right here in the USA. Fire Dr. Frist. Bolton still has not been voted on! A competent manager would have had the vote in Feb. Just mediocre management gets a vote in Mar. It is Aug and still no vote. Frist needs to be replaced.
Then we get Bolton in the UN and then we can start getting rid of gangsters and bribe seekes.
Rod Stanton
Cerritos

 
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