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Three questions

The name United Nations has an almost a mellifluous ring to it. After all, the words conjure images of nations getting together to solve the problems of the world. The only thing better might be The United Federation of Planets, as seen on “Star Trek.” But then “Star Trek” was fantasy, right? Well, unfortunately, so is the concept of nations coming together to solve the world’s problems.Question 1: How many wars, incursions, border disputes, armed conflicts, invasions, raids, attacks on civilian populations and acts of genocide have occurred on planet earth since the formation of the United Nations?Answer: In excess of 5,000.Question 2: How many people have died, been murdered, raped, separated from their families and/or tortured, etc., in those conflicts?Answer: In excess of 13,000,000 (Rwanda, Sudan, Cambodia, Kosovo, et al.)Question 3: How many times has the United Nations intervened to stop the killing and violence?Answer: Twice. The first occurred during the U.S.-led effort to repel the communists from South Korea in the 1950s. The second occurred during Gulf War, when a U.S.-led coalition acted to remove Iraqi troops from Kuwait.Considering the number of conflicting agendas, is it even possible for the United Nations to meet the goals outlined in its charter? Is U.N. reform in reality an oxymoron? Paul Volker’s committee portrays the U.N. as “a deeply dysfunctional bureaucracy where incompetence is hard-wired into the institution’s DNA.”The Wall Street Journal observes that the oil for food scandal was not the result of mere mistakes or isolated criminal acts. Instead it is the essence of what the U.N. is all about. Even The New York Times Magazine opined: “Secretary-General Kofi Annan is now asking for ‘radical’ reform, but nothing will change the fact that every nation, including rogue states of all stripes has a seat at the U.N., leaving the organization paralyzed. …”Had the U.N. done its job after the Gulf War, American troops may not be in Iraq today. Saddam Hussein cleverly made use of bribes, kickbacks and other illegal means to curry favor with governments such as Russia, France and China, which in turn prevented meaningful enforcement of the obligations imposed on Iraq by the Security Council after the Gulf War.In a recent editorial, The Chicago Tribune stated, “With each wave of new disclosures, the tacit approval that Hussein purchased around the world comes clearer. It’s fair to ask whether, had so many people not been on the take at the U.N. … the Iraq War would have been necessary to enforce the Security Council’s demand on a defiant Hussein.”Fortunately, our new ambassador to the U.N., John Bolton, is focused on cleaning up the mess and eliminating the clubhouse atmosphere that has existed for years – an atmosphere that has allowed dictators to “murder their people and genocidal armies to exterminate innocents” with impunity. Perhaps there needs to be criteria for gaining entrance into a “new” United Nations, an organization that according to The Week magazine should consist of nations with a shared understanding of the world order.Membership in this new organization should require a set of core principles and values including actionable deterrents in the fight against terror in all its forms, and the need to stop Rwanda-type atrocities.But is such an organization possible? I think it is. We need look no further than the Organization of American States, whose charter stipulates that membership be restricted to countries “on the basis of the exercise of representative democracy.” The OAS has taken its charter seriously, as evinced by the fact that Castro’s Cuba was suspended from voting and participating in OAS activities over 40 years ago.The devil is always in the details, but until the U.N. redefines itself, genocide, wrongful arrests, disappearances, pervasive censorship and every other type of human rights violation will continue unabated.John Bolton was appointed by President Bush to “kick butt and take names.” Let’s hope he does just that, because the concept of a truly United Nations is too valuable to humanity to forgo.But unless the organization vets itself and redresses 60 years of corruption, complacency and collusion, it will find itself irrelevant in the 21st century.Butch Mazzuca, a local Realtor and ski instructor, writes a weekly column for the Daily. He can be reached at bmazz68@earthlink.netVail, Colorado


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