Selfish interests ruin U.N.
The only time in history that the world community united to fight a common enemy was during the 1990 Gulf War.
Saddam’s armies occupied oil rich Kuwait and were poised on the Saudi border imminently threatening the world’s oil supplies and placing into jeopardy the economies of every nation on earth.
It appeared that the United Nations fulfilled its purpose of bringing nations together in the interests of peace and human dignity. But in reality the United Nations came together in a common cause because a rogue dictator threatened the world’s economic interests.
As a result, many people deluded themselves into believing that the United Nations had a working model to redress international disagreements. But if that were actually the case, why was the United Nations pathetically inert during the massacre and displacement of hundreds of thousands in Bosnia, Kosovo, Rwanda, Tibet and Chechnya? Unquestioning supporters of the United Nations no longer even attempt to explain why the Security Council has been feckless in matters of war and aggression.
The concept of the United Nations remains a noble, but the manner in which that body has historically dealt with problems of aggression and security has been pathetic.
During the last 50 years the inaction of the United Nations has allowed millions of innocents to die unnecessarily, and this unassailable fact speaks volumes about the United Nations’ moral deficit. Save for the Korean War in the 1950s, which was a U.S.-led effort, try to recall the last time the multi-lateral policies of the United Nations stopped aggression and mass murder when the world’s oil resources were not in jeopardy.
As Indian journalist C. Raja Mohan has noted, “The Security Council has rarely risen above being a bazaar for the trading of interests between major powers.” But the real travesty is that this bazaar closes whenever one or all of the five veto-wielding powers perceive that their own self-interests are greater than those of the world as a whole.
At best the United Nations has proven itself a corrupt consortium of selfish governments. One needs look no further than the administration of the Iraqi oil for food program. The system was replete with inconsistencies including the fact that the United Nations collected a 1.5 percent commission on all the money that flowed through the secretive program – $10 million-plus pays an awful lot of overhead.
Worse yet, on the day Iraq was liberated, $13 billion in oil-for-food funds sat unexpended in a Paris escrow account. To date a full accounting has never been revealed, and it’s unlikely that the French will ever allow it.
There are currently 191 members of the United Nations who meet in the General Assembly, which is the closest thing to a world parliament mankind has created. Every nation, whether large or small, rich or poor has a vote that matters – unless, of course, the self-interests of the Security Council members override them.
The United Nations was created after World War II to ensure the non-reoccurrence of world conflagration. The U.N. charter was designed to prevent one nation from violating the border of another via armed invasion. Article 51 of the U.N. charter specifically recognizes the inherent right of self-defense to an “armed attack.”
However, the United Nations deems anything less than an armed attack as a mere “dispute,” and according to that same charter, “disputes” are to be adjudicated by a biased and conflicted Security Council.
But the world has changed drastically since the U.N. charter was written, and terror organizations such as al Qaeda wage war via attacks on civilians, state-sponsored-terrorism, and assassinations. The United Nations turns a blind eye because by definition the United States is in a mere dispute with those who brought down the World Trade Center. I wonder how the United Nations might have reacted had the four 757s on 9/11 been flown into the U.N building in New York, The Hague and the Eiffel Tower.
As I have written before, nowhere does the United Nations define terrorism. Therefore, is it any wonder that Iran’s support of al Qaeda or its sharing of nuclear weapons and missile technology with North Korea and Syria’s support of the vicious Hezbellah aren’t viewed as acts of aggression?
Every nation in the United Nations acts in a manner they feel will further their interests.
Lord Palmerston said it best: “Nations have no permanent allies, only permanent interests.” So it shouldn’t be surprising that the recent vote in Spain, which dealt a significant blow to American efforts regarding the war on terror, took place. The Spanish people were simply looking out for their perceived best interests. Spanish citizens were free to put a socialist into office, and their new government does not want align itself too closely with the United States because they feel that appeasement is a more effective course to take in the war on terror. However, it wasn’t so ago that the threat of Soviet missiles hung over the heads of the average Spaniard, and the Spanish government apparently felt differently about aligning themselves with the United States.
The United Nations as an organization operates in the same manner, which is why it continually demonstrates its ineffectiveness in matters of war and aggression and therefore cannot be taken seriously. The United Nations is not a hollow organization by intent, and many of its programs are genuinely beneficial. But it’s also an organization with 191 separate agendas, an impractical charter, and few common interests unless economics are involved.
Internationalism is a magnificent notion, but Americans must realize that it’s an illusion while pashas, tyrants and de facto dictators govern half the planet. Our strategies in the war on terror, i.e. the invasion-liberation of Iraq, may or may not be efficacious in winning that war. But waiting for U.N. approval before initiating action invites disaster – just ask the citizens of Rwanda, Tibet or Cambodia.
Butch Mazzuca of Singletree writes a weekly column for the Daily. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org