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Author Topic: US and the UN
Mr Xin Ku
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My friend (who thinks everyone left of Bo Gritz is a flaming liberal) has always been extremely hostile toward the U.N.. I have never before been quite that cynical about the organization.

It seems that while they haven't proven their ability to keep the peace and deal with conflict, they have been credited with at least serving a valuable function as a humanitarian organziation. (And there are examples of how they have been).

The oil-for-food probably scandal has now really jaded me. How much and how the Bush adminstration did or should have worked multilaterally is a worthwhile debate (seen most clearly in retrospect, though). However, that we specifcally should have waited for the U.N.'s blessing seem more and more absurd.

While I am not a huge supporter of a World Government (for practical reasons), I don'w wish for the demise of the U.N., but it seems that it is truly in a state of crisis. Didn't Bush at one point say that it was at risk of losing its relevance? Whatever you thought of the politics of that at the time, it seems to be true. I wouldn't let the U.N. be in charge of dividing a candy bar evenly between two people at this point.

Let me know what you think. Diabuse me of my wrong ideas (or just tell me that I am quite brilliant).

Mike

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msquared
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Brilliant. [Smile]

From what I was reading about the scandal it seems like there were some serious other motivations for other countries to be against the war.

The biggest problem, IMHO, is the most of the UN is run by people from governments where corruption is the normal way of doing business. It is a place where the most corrupt beaurocrats can go international. Our reasons for going to war may look suspicious, but their reasons for not going to war look just as bad.

msquared

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Wwolfs
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I agree somewhat. It's impossible to build a virtuous orgination out of corrupt members. Also, its most powerful member, the USA, has been consistantly undermining the authority of the UN, and that weakens it considerably. How are those back dues coming? hmmmm . . .

Also, the UN has no real enforcement in and of itself; it is relient on member states for military and financial enforcement. Blaming the UN for failing to unify diverse nations is like blaming the articles of confederation for not unifying the 13 American colonies.

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msquared
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Wwolfs

First welcome to the forum.

Second, the US supported the UN when we thought it was not a corrupt organization, say the first 40 years of its existance. When we know of the deep seeded corruption in the UN, you still expect us to hand over the funding?

Are you saying that America's not supplying it's dues are the reason that the UN is corrupt?

I think you have it backwards. The corruption is the main reason we do not pay the dues, not the other way around.

The UN has enforcement capabilities. It just has to want to use them. And it doesn't. If the UN had wanted to enforce it's resolutions in Iraq America was all set to do the enforcing.

msquared

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Wwolfs
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To say the UN wants something is perhaps a little fasecious(sp?). The UN is a conglomorate of member states, and its representatives are hardly able to better agree with each other in session than in traditional diplomacy. We would be deceiving ourselves if we said that the US' willingness to act alone has and does not influence the deliberations on whether the UN should take action.

As for back dues, 2 points. First, we are also decieving ourselves if we believe the US is above and outside any international corruption. The US is part and parcel of any corruption in the UN; the US is far from innocent in any regard.

Secondly, the US has determined the UN to be a corrupt organization and thus has decided it can withhold dues. I have determined the federal government to be composed of money-grubbing, back-scratching corrupt politicians who are generally rich enough to not give a damm about the common citizen. Does that mean I can stop paying taxes? Once you get beyond the "they'll kick you in the crotch and lock you up if you do that" reasons, any argument for paying taxes to a national government is a reason the US ought not to withhold UN dues.

If this sort of thing continues, eventually the UN will either kick the US in the crotch or they'll dissolve into meaninglessness. Either way, the US will be mostly to blame.

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kelcimer
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Welcome Wwolfs
quote:
I have determined the federal government to be composed of money-grubbing, back-scratching corrupt politicians who are generally rich enough to not give a damm about the common citizen. Does that mean I can stop paying taxes?
The relationship is not the same. As a nation, we are not a citizen of the UN.

quote:
eventually the UN will either kick the US in the crotch
How, exactly, could that happen? As long as we are a part of the UN we have that veto power. The only way it could become an anti-American alliance is if we pull out of it. And that is not going to happen.

quote:
Either way, the US will be mostly to blame.
Who, in your opinion, gets the rest of the blame and why?
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Wwolfs
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quote:
The relationship is not the same. As a nation, we are not a citizen of the UN
If I were an average citizen, perhaps the comparison limps, but if I were a multimillionaire with extensive political ties to congressmen and had donated extensively to the party controlling the White House . . .well, perhaps that's an argument for a different thread.

The US is a member of the UN. As such, withholding dues should not be an option. Either withdraw from the organization or pony up what you owe. If I wanted to stop paying taxes, the responsible thing would be to first secede.

When I said the UN would kick the US, I meant that the other member states will only put up with us for so long. Really, it's quite rediculous as it is. We owe them a boatload of money, and we still expect everyone else to believe us and take us seriously . . .we want all the benefits and none of the costs.

quote:
Who, in your opinion, gets the rest of the blame and why?
Well, the rest of the blame would be on the other UN member states that let the US continue on like this for so long. Kinda like if your friend got drunk and drove into a telephone pole and you watched him get into the car without doingn anything.
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kelcimer
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quote:
Either withdraw from the organization or pony up what you owe.
I agree with you in principle. But as a practical matter why should we? We give more aid to more countries then any other country as it is. The UN has managed to run without our dues so it's not exactly in any kind of need. And most importantly, we don't like the UN. The UN is used by a host of countries to try and shackle us.

What exactly do you think we would gain by paying our dues?
quote:
When I said the UN would kick the US, I meant that the other member states will only put up with us for so long.
Okay. But what could they actually do to us? What is your plausible scenario for the rest of the world to kick our ass?
quote:
Kinda like if your friend got drunk and drove into a telephone pole and you watched him get into the car without doingn anything.
Pardon? As a nation we are not 'drunk' nor are the other nations exactly idle in trying to convince us to be idle. Are you one of those people who wonder why they hate us and want others to do the same?

[ April 07, 2004, 08:27 PM: Message edited by: kelcimer ]

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Wwolfs
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Pardon me, I seem to have some words in my mouth . . .I wonder how those got there.

quote:
What exactly do you think we would gain by paying our dues
What would I gain by paying my taxes? Assuming I wasn't caught, I would gain nothing. There's plenty of other people who pay their taxes regularly, so why should mine matter?

At some point, it stops being a question of what's in it for us (although the glib answer to that is respect. On second thought, that's not such a glib answer . . .international respect would go a long way toward smoothing out these foriegn relations messes we always seem to find ourselves in.). The question here is do we believe in international diplomacy? Do we believe in sharing sovereignty over the world with other nations? Do we believe in the need for an extra-national mediator in this age of increased nuclear proliferation?

If the answer is yes, pay up. If the answer is no, then be honest about it. Let the world see us for the zero-sum gamers that we are.

quote:
Okay. But what could they actually do to us? What is your plausible scenario for the rest of the world to kick our ass
As a world, we've never seen international censure of a nuclear superpower. I'm not sure if anyone knows exactly what would happen. I do know it's smarter to simply play nice with the other kids when you're in the sandbox, even if you're the biggest kid.

Lastly, I would ask that you ponder the difference between a metaphor and a simile.

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kelcimer
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quote:
international respect would go a long way
That's all you got?

We would gain "international respect"? How about they would feel all the better at us playing the dupe? Even if we did gain any respect, that would hardly out balance their own interests. Considering the character of many governments, having their heartfelt respect would be an insult to us. Also, no action by us will cause another to respect us if they don't want to respect us.
quote:
The question here is do we believe in international diplomacy?
How exactly does this differ from regular diplomacy?
quote:
Do we believe in sharing sovereignty over the world with other nations?
What? Do you mean recognizing that there are other governments out there and that they are sovern nations? Then yeah. Or do you mean giving up some of our own sovernty? Then it is a resounding no.
quote:
Do we believe in the need for an extra-national mediator in this age of increased nuclear proliferation?
How can you have an extra-national mediator if everyone comes form a nation? It's a contradiction in terms.

You're questions are not as clear cut as you make them out to be.
quote:
I do know it's smarter to simply play nice with the other kids when you're in the sandbox, even if you're the biggest kid.
And I know that all those little kids better play nice too if I'm going to play nice. remember, it's a two way street. If you are going expect to hold the US to a standard make sure you apply that standard across the board.
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Doug64
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My personal opinion is that the UN is pretty much a lost cause, and we should pull out and start a new one limited to governments based on democratic republican principles. The idea that representatives of theocratic and/or totalitarian governments should have some say over our international policies is ludicrous.
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Mr Xin Ku
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quote:
My personal opinion is that the UN is pretty much a lost cause, and we should pull out and start a new one limited to governments based on democratic republican principles.
I think this sounds pretty reasonable.

quote:
The idea that representatives of theocratic and/or totalitarian governments should have some say over our international policies is ludicrous.
Whoa! Hold on there! Can't we at least let them participate in lesser roles, like on the Human Rights Commision? [Wink]

I propose that the Ornery Forum be put in place as the new international regulating organization. I nominate myself to run the Doritos-and-Coke-for-Oil program (and yes, there will be kickbacks). I haven't been here long enough to know everyone else well, though. Who should be the president? Who should chair the Security Council? the Human Rights Commision? Chief of the secret international police with authority to torture?

Mike

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kelcimer
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quote:
we should pull out and start a new one limited to governments based on democratic republican principles.
That's fine. But how would we get there? As soon as we leave the UN it can be turned into an anti-American alliance. We would need to convince a number of other countries to go out with us. That would be a hard sell. Why go there when there isn't a clear need to do so? Us leaving the UN right now has too many variables.

The safest way to exit the UN is to leave it with everyone else. The last order of business would be a resolution disolving the UN and creating League of Nations the 2nd.

The League was created by the victorious powers of WW1.
The UN was created by the victorious powers of WW2.

Very likely the next international body like that will be created by the victorious powers of a world war.

Another basic problem with the idea of United Democracies being created adjacent to the UN is that would be an alliance against the remaining UN members as opposed to a theoretically neutral ground to settle disputes between member nations.

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Wwolfs
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What a great solution . . .let's go find our own lunch table so we don't have to eat with people that disagree with us. Bravo /golf clap

Any organization the US formed would be equally corrupt for, [insert sarcasm here] the US is at least as corrupt as the UN. Yes, the UN is an imperfect organization with issues to adress, but so is the US a corrupt and imperfect organization with things that make the rest of the world look at us askance.

Never has the US really committed itself to collective bargaining as a way to solve international disagreements. We still play a zero sum game, and since the US is top dog militarily, that forces other nations to try and play a zero sum game. It's no suprise the UN is inneffectual.

Weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles make it impossible to win a zero sum game. Short of invading the entire world, there is no way for the US to prevent another nation from developing a missle they can load a nuke on and launch halfway across the globe. Such weapons make security, which was scarce to begin with, almost impossible to attain. To continue to pretend we can do without an organization like the UN is folly.

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msquared
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Wwolfs

Have you ever lived in another country? Really I am curious becuase your statement that the US is just as corrupt as the UN strikes me as a bit simplistic.

In all the corruption scandals from the UN I do not remember any of them involving Americans. I, of course, could be wrong. However, the level of corruption, by our definition, is much higher in many European and African countries then in the US. In fact they may not even consider it corruption, just the way they do business or part of how the job should be done.

I really think your view of how good the UN is and how bad the US is skewed.

msquared

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Puretext
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Help me out. I had no idea that we weren't paying UN dues. Are these suggested donations? What was our reason for not ponying up? We're too poor? "They got this here recession on"?

Did we make an announcement that we weren't going to pay UN dues anymore? For what reason?

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Wwolfs
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A few links

http://www.americans-world.org/digest/global_issues/un/un3c.cfm

http://www.unwatch.org/pbworks/adsurprising.html

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/congress/jan-june98/dues_3-11a.html

quote:
SEC. MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Let me tell you frankly that if we are not able to pay our U.N. arrears soon, our legs will truly be cut out from under us at the U.N. We are told daily by our best allies and friends that U.S. credibility will be sadly diminished. That will hurt America, and cost Americans
quote:
Kofi Annan: "What United Nations wants is what the U.S. is also wants, a reformed United Nations. One that is effective, efficient, leaner, and relevant to the tasks that member states want to set for us."
Some issues that influenced the withholding of dues are that the US feels it is payingn too large a share and also the US' involvement with the human rights council. (Is Lexux-Nexux down? I couldn't find any of the articles I was looking for . . .)

Things I did not say: the UN is less corrupt than the US, the US is the most corrupt nation ever.

What I did say was that the US is at least as corrupt as the UN, and that corruption within theh UN was expectable, since it was made up of corrupt members. If you don't live under the same money-controlled, backscratching government that I do, then we're not living in the same country.

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Mr Xin Ku
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I agree with msquared. Even with all of the problems that really do exist in our country, when you spend time in another country you realize how good we have it. I am not in denial about our problems, but relative to other countries we do amazingly well. The irony is that we sometimes look worse simply because we have both the freedom and the social structures to complain. Think America is bad on racism? Go to India, or most other countries.

The oil-for-food scandal is disturbing, but certainly we have our equivalents (sp?) here. One difference, though: when such things happen, there is a lot of screaming about it (and that's just on Onery [Razz] ). We have the luxury of making horrible accusations about our leaders because we don't get killed or tortured for doing so (Um, anyone heard from Pete lately? maybe I'm wrong) [Eek!]

Checks and balances in the U.N.? The organization who polices human rights with despots? It is the U.S. who has to spearhead the investigation into the corruption. I really don't wish for the demise of the U.N.. I really do hope it pulls through this crisis transformed. Somebody who is smarter than me should start a thread about HOW the U.N. could transform itself.

(P.S. I know Pete is just on "sabbatical")

Mike

Hey, where the H*** are my Doritos?

[ April 09, 2004, 01:36 AM: Message edited by: Mr Xin Ku ]

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kelcimer
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[sound of chips being munched on and then a (!) followed by a hurried crinkling of bag. And then a 'glug glug']
Doritos? What Doritos?

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Mr Xin Ku
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Hey, your just the kind of guy I'm looking for to help me run my Doritos-and-Coke-for-Oil program. When you tire of being a "Professional Ray of Sunshine" I've got a position for you in the organizaion.
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Mr Xin Ku
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Well, it's happened:

US creates its own UN

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Kamisaki
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LOL, that's a good one. Favorite quote from Cheney:
quote:
"Really, I have no idea what we were doing sacrificing all that power and autonomy in exchange for a couple of lousy troops from New Zealand."
[Big Grin]

[ April 08, 2004, 05:54 PM: Message edited by: Kamisaki ]

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Doug64
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quote:
That's fine. But how would we get there? As soon as we leave the UN it can be turned into an anti-American alliance.
Like it isn't already seen by many as a way to limit and control the US. And even if it did go obviously anti-American, how is that going to change our international situation much? (Especially if some other democratic republics follow our lead.)
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kelcimer
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Mr Xin Ku

Being a Professional Ray of Sunshine was more of a thing I just fell into. While it earns me the goodwill of the people around me it doesn't exactly pay the bills and neither does it allow me to profit at the expence my people. So I am more then interested in hearing more about this position in your Doritos-and-Coke-for-Oil program.

Doug64

quote:
And even if it did go obviously anti-American, how is that going to change our international situation much?
Well, the Arab world would finally have a go at passing those resolutions against Israel for one. Essentially, a reason to stay in the UN is to make sure that it is as useless to countries that we oppose as they make it for us. Just as it is a tool used by others to hamstring us so to can we use it against others. It may be more useful tool for us in the future.

By being outside the UN we would 'officially' be isolated internationally. That we have so many economic ties and such that we would not in practice be internaltionally isolated but appearences matter.

Now while us leaving the UN stands a good chance of being the begining of the end of the UN it would still take some time for that end to pan out. Once we leave the UN we have no say in what happens to it, and it is in our interests to control as much as possible the formal end of the UN so that it can not be a useful tool for our enemies.

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Doug64
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quote:
Well, the Arab world would finally have a go at passing those resolutions against Israel for one.
So what? The reaction of the UN to Iraq shows just how little those resolutions are worth.

quote:
By being outside the UN we would 'officially' be isolated internationally. That we have so many economic ties and such that we would not in practice be internaltionally isolated but appearences matter.
Not really - other governments would understand the reality and act accordingly. You already mentioned our economy (for instance, the oil-countries can threaten to cut off our oil, but if they really do it they'd be hurting themselves because they don't have anyone else to sell to instead). We also have the most kick-butt military in the world as well, and others aren't just going to ignore that (that's part of why they want to use the UN to control us).

quote:
Once we leave the UN we have no say in what happens to it, and it is in our interests to control as much as possible the formal end of the UN so that it can not be a useful tool for our enemies.
The only real use the UN has now politically and militarily speaking is as a figleaf for the use of force, and before others can use it against us they first have to be willing to employ that force.

[edited for spelling]

[ April 11, 2004, 02:55 PM: Message edited by: Doug64 ]

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Doug64
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There is another way that being part of the UN has harmed the US - much of the charitable work performed by the UN is funded and organized by the US, but we don't get the recognition because it's filtered through the UN. So we get the blame for throwing our weight around but lose much of the credit we deserve for the charity.
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WarrsawPact
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Doug64 has my support on those last two posts. I would have said something very similar, as my other posts about the UN on this site have shown.

The US gains very little out of the UN except an aire of legitimacy from our Western allies.

The UN would have nothing without US money and soldiers and material. Or, for that matter, their headquarters (which sit on prime real estate in New York).

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carmachu
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Is that all you got Wwolf? The UN corruption goes far deeper and worse:

Kosovo:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/3686173.stm

Food for Oil:

http://www.commentarymagazine.com/SpecialArticle.asp?article=A11705017_1

Europe:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/521825.stm

Africa:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/3573229.stm

carmachu

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Anonymous24
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The U.N. can be used as a tool for giving legitimacy to wars, and as a tool for nation-building.

[ May 08, 2004, 10:09 PM: Message edited by: Anonymous24 ]

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Crush T. Velour
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The UN is a private US project that we use to keep our friends close and our enemies closer. When cranky little nations organize within the UN, we can control the outcome. That's it's primary benefit to us.

It also lets the little nations feel like they can talk in a forum where we will hear. And yes, it can provide legitimacy when we have to do something controversial.

Those are all good things and on the whole probably worth the money they waste and steal.

But in war it can be dangerous to to hand the keys to that car over to the UN (think of how Gulf War I turned out with SH still in power and a lot of people killed trying to overthrow him -- that all occurred because we couldn't take the wheel back from the UN after week ostensibly gave it to them.)

The UN broke down in advance of the Iraq War because it failed to provide legitimacy for us, and ended up being revealed as feckless to its member nations. Unfortunate. Not really forseeable I think, however.

But it is our own hobby, and it wouldn't exist without us.

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carmachu
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UN at it again. At its "finest"

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/africa/story.jsp?story=524674

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unknown
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I say that the UN is an excellent organization. its not America that is causing the problems...its Bush. True, if the US withdrew from the UN (which is very liekly...what with Bush pulling out of the World Court among other orgainzations) that it would become an anti-America alliance, more over and anti-Israel alliance, but that is for another thread. But the UN should have more power to enfore behavior of its members. When Bush said he would invaded Iraq with or with out internation support of UN approval, the UN should have had the power to stop it, at least until there was more proof, and 'punish' the US whenwe invaded. I know this sounds rather ridiculous, but this is what I feel. The UN members should abide by the UN rules.
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shrike
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quote:
Originally posted by carmachu:
UN at it again. At its "finest"

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/africa/story.jsp?story=524674

At least children born of such unions will be "legitimate" [Roll Eyes]
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TheDeamon
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quote:
Originally posted by unknown:
I say that the UN is an excellent organization. its not America that is causing the problems...its Bush. True, if the US withdrew from the UN (which is very liekly...what with Bush pulling out of the World Court among other orgainzations) that it would become an anti-America alliance, more over and anti-Israel alliance, but that is for another thread. But the UN should have more power to enfore behavior of its members. When Bush said he would invaded Iraq with or with out internation support of UN approval, the UN should have had the power to stop it, at least until there was more proof, and 'punish' the US whenwe invaded. I know this sounds rather ridiculous, but this is what I feel. The UN members should abide by the UN rules.

I'm still of the view that the International Criminal Court as it stands runs against the grain of the Constitution of the United States of America, if for no other reason than it allows for virtually unlimited jeopardy, and is able to prosecute when nations are unwilling/unable to continue prosecution on their own.

I could see that working really well for the US. Some soldier gets accused of a war crime, is tried and acquitted in the US court system.. Then ten years later some new evidence is "found" supporting the claims made earlier agianst that person. US Government is unable to prosecute due to Constitutional restrictions against double jeopardy, so off they go to meet the International Tribunal. I think I'll pass on giving the International Community that kind of power.... I wouldn't even trust my own government with it.

The ICC is a good idea, but the implementation leaves much to be desired.

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kelcimer
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unknown

On what basis do you come to the coclusion that the UN is an "excellent organization?"

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Rook
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I think I am finally understanding the core difference in opinion that has eluded me. It pertains to how to go about foreign diplomacy. It tends to be somewhat a common perception particularly by conservatives that the correct approach to foreign diplomacy is to maximize what you get in any diplomatic dealings. For example the argument that the UN is not useful to the US because we don't get anything out of it, or we certainly don't get as much out of it as we put in. And that the only thing we really get out of it is useful leverage on other countries (although we will happily ignore that leverage coming the other way)

But I find this line of reasoning to be somewhat short sighted and seems to be based on the assumption that all nations of the world are unfeeling robots, simply out for what is best for them. While this has some element of truth, I feel it is an incomplete diplomatic model. Countries that absolutely hate each other are bound to have more difficulty coming to an agreement on diplomatic matters. And the more one country dislikes the other the less likely it will come to the aid of that country in a time of legitimate need without additional compensation. My point of course is that there has to be an element of relationship in foreign policy. While making other countries happy does not necessarily result in immediate reward, it should result in easier and better agreements in the future.

Now of course there is a balance between making others happy and looking out for your own best interests, its one that everyone in a free society should be quite familiar with. I would like to think that no one leads their life or expects their country to not balance these two items. Although as I have said, I have spoken with numerous people that tend to think that our nations interests is the only thing that matters.

My response is that it is an arguable position especially given the United States' power. Or rather it used to be in the post-cold war, pre-9/11 era. But I can't fathom it now in a world where we need complete global cooperation to vanquish our current enemy (Islamist fundamentalist terrorism) Implicit in this war is the need for other nations to be willing to help us, and not out of a sense of personal gain. (Quite to the contrary, helping us is likely to result in being targeted)

And as disfunctional as it is, I think the UN is critical in the realm of building diplomatic capitol and making our relations with other nations and the peoples of those nations more friendly. While actions that undermine and offend the members of the UN is bound to do the reverse. There in lies the usefulness for playing along with the dictators and tyrants of the world in the little democratic game we call The United Nations. For they also if not often end up having the terrorists within their borders and it is much easier for them to get rid of the terrorists then us.

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kelcimer
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quote:
there is a balance between making others happy and looking out for your own best interests,
have you ever tried to make someone else happy? You can make someone else happy for perhaps a minute. After that it is a matter of whether or not they want to be happy. Happiness can only be found from within.

And what would it take for us to please other nations? For Europe this would entail converting to socialism (even though it doesn't work) and otherwise do as they tell us (which would still not make them "happy."). For China that would mean withdrawing from the Pacific rim and giving them all of our technology. For the middle east we would have to convert to Islam and become an Islamic state. And what do you think it woould take to make any given dictator happy?

At the end of the day there is only one nation that we can be make happy and that is us.
quote:
I think the UN is critical in the realm of building diplomatic capitol
Only one way to make diplomatic capital: one action at a time. Does it make it any more capital if it is done through the UN or noot? No it does not.
quote:
offend the members of the UN
Which members? Just about every nation is a member so which nations are you worried about?
quote:
There in lies the usefulness for playing along with the dictators and tyrants of the world in the little democratic game we call The United Nations.
You want us to "play along" with dictators and tyrants? And the UN is not a diplomatic game. It is a useful prop for diplomacy sometimes but it is not a game unto itself.
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towellman
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I'm surprised that when talking about marginalizing the UN or pulling out entirely that noone has mentioned the other international organizations that already exist for us to maintain influence and friends through.

The WTO has almost as many members as the UN and restricts membership to countries that share some economic idealogy with us. The G8 is a handy little social club for the leaders of the most powerful nations to use as an excuse to hold meetings. Then NATO has also been morphing from an Anti-Soviet tool to an American-EU diplomatic arena. There are probably others that I'm missing too.

I reckon that we'll always be a part of the UN, though and should try to reform it. The Security Council should be seen for what it is, a body to prevent world wars and the rest of the body should focus on humanitarian issues and little else.

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Rook
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quote:
have you ever tried to make someone else happy? You can make someone else happy for perhaps a minute. After that it is a matter of whether or not they want to be happy.
True, it can be quite difficult if not futile to make someone else happy. But it tends to be quite trivial to make someone unhappy. And it is often equally trivial to avoid making them unhappy in this way. And maybe you are right that happiness is fleeting, but in my experience, unhappiness especially as expressed in dislike and hatred for another is far from fleeting.


quote:
And what would it take for us to please other nations? For Europe this would entail converting to socialism (even though it doesn't work) and otherwise do as they tell us (which would still not make them "happy."). For China that would mean withdrawing from the Pacific rim and giving them all of our technology. For the middle east we would have to convert to Islam and become an Islamic state. And what do you think it woould take to make any given dictator happy?
Hence there clearly being a need for balance, but the other extreme is equally rediculous. "Oh, we need to test our nuclear bomb, it would clearly be better for us if we just set it off in another country so we don't have to deal with all that nasty radiation and destruction." We have to consider the diplomatic consequences of our actions and balance that against the needs of our nation.


quote:
Only one way to make diplomatic capital: one action at a time. Does it make it any more capital if it is done through the UN or noot? No it does not.
Clearly the UN is not the only avenue for diplomatic capital. But it is an avenue. And even if you don't respect it a lot of people in the world do. Maybe they are wrong to do so, but nonetheless, disrespecting the organization is disrespecting them.

I'd like to refocus and ask directly: Are our relations (how much someone likes or dislikes us) with other countries relevant in the war on terror? I say resoundingly: YES. An example is Spain.

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Jesse
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The idea that everyone who opposes our current course of action hates america. Polls in Ireland show a vast majority opposed to our Invasion of Iraq, and a vast majority with a favorable overall opinion of the US.

As a percentage of GDP we give less in foriegn aid than most developed nations. We are way down the list.

We don't get anything for our participation in UN activities? Suddenly the good will of tiny nations means nothing...but conservatives sure don't mind using those "useless" allies to pad out the numbers on the Coalition of the Willing.

So the UN has corruption scandals. So does every city government from time to time. Doesn't make the idea of local governement stupid.

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