Monday, March 14, 2005

Not Exactly "Constructive Criticism"

Mark Hyman makes the claim that the United Nations can be run better. Not exactly “man bites dog” in terms of shocking statements. An organization that attempts to bring countries around the world together in harmony has difficulties? You don’t say? Heck, the International Olympic Committee has had more than its share of problems, and all it does is organize a glorified track and field meet every four years.

There’s no argument that many things could be done to strengthen the U.N.’s role in the world and allow it to more fully realize its lofty goals. In his commentary, however, Hyman alludes to a number of charges against the U.N. and Kofi Annan that are at best exaggerated and at worst simply false. If Hyman and fellow right-wing conservatives truly desired the U.N. to become a more formidable global force, such overblown criticism might be excused, but many on the right would be happy to see the U.N. disappear, or at least become a pawn of U.S. foreign policy. Hence the conservative press’s infatuation with dwelling on any possible vulnerability of the U.N.,
even if it means wildly exaggerating claims and leaving out important evidence. As with programs such as Social Security and Medicaid, “reform” is conservative code for “eliminate.”

I suspect the timing of Hyman’s commentary is designed to coincide with the conservative rhetorical air cover being flown in support of the Bush administration’s nomination of John Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the U.N. This move is a bit like naming
Wayne LaPierre to head up Mothers Against Guns, given Bolton’s past actions and statements about the worth of the United Nations. It certainly seems an odd choice for an administration that claims it wants to foster better international relations (of course, this is the administration that replace Colin Powell with Condi Rice, so there is a bizarre sort of consistency here).

The United Nations can and should work better. But to do so, it needs the sincere support of the only remaining superpower. As long as the U.S. drags its feet when it comes to paying its U.N. dues, balks at allowing U.S. troops to serve under U.N. command, picks and chooses which Security Council resolutions it wants to take seriously, and refuses to participate in important global bodies (such as the International Criminal Court), the U.N. will be hamstrung.

The U.S. needs to do two things: 1) firmly commit itself and its resources to full participation in the U.N., and 2) accept that the U.N. will not rubber stamp U.S. foreign policy decisions and willingly accept this. This pair of resolutions might make for some short term disappointments, but it will pay off down the road by making the U.N. a viable body that can take on global problems efficiently and effectively, freeing the U.S. from being the world’s policeman.

Of course, for this to happen, we need to have an administration that doesn’t consider policing the world to be its primary international role—something we certainly don’t have now.

And that’s The Counterpoint.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Cost of the War in Iraq
(JavaScript Error)
To see more details, click here.