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United Nothing
By Mike Talley August 30, 2004

As a child I often heard my mom and dad refer to the U.N. as the "United Nothing". At the time, I was too young to even remotely understand what and the world they were talking about, but as I got older I began to see that calling them the "United Nothing" made some sense.

In theory, the UN makes a whole lot of sense. You get all the governments of the world together to settle their differences at the negotiating table. This is supposed to curb wars. In a perfect world this would be true, but of course this world is far from perfect. The Korean War, Vietnam, Yom Kippur, Six Day War, India and Pakistan's Wars, the Balkans, Kosovo, Crete, Iran/Iraq War, French/Algerian War, Soviet/Afghan War, the Falkland Islands War, Iraq/Kuwait, First Gulf War, Second Gulf War………you get the picture. These are all wars that have been fought since the creation of the UN (see Wars of the 20th Century ). Granted, there has not been another World War II between heavy hitters. Say the US versus the former USSR, but in my opinion that has had more to do with massive stockpiles of nukes acting as deterrence than the existence of the UN.

Has the UN performed according to plan? Doubtful. Now, there are things that the UN is relatively good at, such as some humanitarian efforts. But stopping wars and trying to keep the peace in a war…..that is another story.

There are several examples from recent history that shine a harsh light on these failures. The first is the conflict in the Balkans. I am mainly referring to the collapse of the Former Yugoslavia Republic and the civil war between the Croats, Serbs and Bosnians.

That the UN did anything at all is amazing. The rest of the world did not seem to care what was going on over there. I do not blame them. That area of the world has been in turmoil forever. These people have hated each other for religious and ethnic reasons for, oh say 400 years. Into that hornets nest the UN sent in Peace Keepers to try to protect the civilian population and to create a buffer between the opposing sides. Unfortunately, these "Peace Keepers" were easily rounded up and detained while the Serbs went on a year long orgy of murder and rape in an effort to ethnically cleans the area. It took bombing by NATO (i.e. the United States and our staunch allies) to finally halt the carnage. (see here for more info)

Once the war was over, the UN along with NATO began true Peace Keeping in the region. This has been a success if by success you mean that woman have not been systematically raped and young boys and men have not been rounded up and shot. There is much debate as to what will happen once the Peace Keepers leave, if ever. My guess is that the new generation of Croats, Bosnians and Serbs will take up arms as soon as the last "Blue Helmet" leaves the area and we will see that same thing happening all over again. Sad, but probably true.

I was going to bring up Rwanda as another example, but that is just such a sad tale that I can not bear to write about it. However, this was not just a failure of the UN it was a failure of all civilized nations to put a stop to what they knew was happening.

Let's move on to Iraq. A topic of much interest lately…..strange…..I can not think of why that would be. Turn back the clock to late 1990 and early 1991. The UN actually did something. They condemned Saddam's aggression and imposed harsh sanctions on Iraq. Good for them, but it took the insistence of the United States that an actual deadline was needed for withdrawal to finally force the UN to authorize the war. The first President Bush would make modern day liberals jump with glee. He bowed to the UN and stopped the war because the mandate of the UN had been fulfilled, the liberation of Kuwait, but we left Saddam in place. Leaving Saddam in power lead to years and years of lost lives and billions of lost dollars.

It is funny how quickly people forget things. The next ten years after the First Gulf War saw a steady erosion of support at the UN for continuing the sanctions and the "No Fly Zones". If you can make your brain go back to before 9-11 you will remember that certain members (France, Germany, Russia and others) where trying to have the sanctions lifted. They wanted the sanctions lifted not because Saddam had changed his ways, but because there was money to be made. Sure, sure the poor kids were dying of disease and malnutrition, but the main reason was for money.

So we have several UN members trying to let Saddam off the hook while the second President Bush and Britain were trying to apply more pressure. It took months and months of haggling and negotiating to get a new resolution passed that would compel Saddam to comply, or else. The same nations who wanted to lift the sanctions, now opposed getting tougher on Saddam. Imagine that. Even when the resolution was past giving Saddam one last chance, several countries still tried to pretend the resolution did not authorize a war.

The whole process leading up to the Second Gulf War exposes the fatal flaw of the UN. All nations have priorities and interests in the world. The United States is no exception. These interests rarely line up with other nations interests. In the UN, nations are supposed to "give up" theirs interests and act for the common good of world peace. I know, I know…..it is hard to read that last sentence without breaking out in a fit of hysterical laughter, but that is the only way the UN could ever operate effectively. Let's all agree that will never happen. So, the UN will never operate effectively. Why keep it around? Anyway, so it is in the interests of France, Germany and Russia to drop the sanctions on Iraq and return to business as usual. Why? There is tons of money to be made. France and Germany need the markets to help with their sluggish economies and Russia needs cash. The United States and Britain do not want terrorist with nukes or chemical weapons. See, different interests.

Speaking of different interests, do not even get me started about the UN Human Rights Commission. It looks like someone got drunk at a UN office party and said "Hey, you know what would be so cool? Let's put some of the most oppressive, corrupt nations in the world on the Human Rights Commission!" I am sure that brought howls of laughter and dares to do it. Now you have countries with some of the worst human rights abuses pointing fingers at other countries, while trying to deflect attention from their own cesspool of a country.

If you do not believe me, look at the UN's treatment of Israel. Now I am sure there are some of you out there that really do believe that Israel is the root of all evil in the world. I am not even going to waste my breath debating you. Let's just say that you and I disagree. The actions and resolutions of the UN would lead someone visiting Earth for the first time to believe that Israel must be the worst country in the history of the world. Little would they realize that Israel is the ONLY democracy in the Middle East and the ONLY civilized country in the Middle East, and it is surrounded by 100 million people ruled by corrupt dictators and monarchs who dream every night about the destruction of Israel. Yet check out the Fifth Special Session of the Human Rights Commission which looks into "Grave and massive violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people by Israel, 17-19 October 2000". Funny, I thought that the Palestinians had just rejected monumental peace accords and had begun fighting and killing Israelis.

John Derbyshire from National Review does a great job explaining the difference. Here are the relevant passages:

For all the conundrums and contradictions, though, the opposition between civilization and barbarism remains perfectly clear to anyone with moral good sense. A few weeks ago I published a piece in which I described Israel as being on the front lines of civilization. This roused the legions of Israel-haters and paleocons, who took a break from cataloguing their collections of Third Reich memorabilia and sticking pins in their Abraham Lincoln dolls to e-mail in and tell me of all the horrid things the Mossad and the IDF are guilty of.

Well, yes, to be sure, civilization has its dirty work to do. "He [Kipling] sees clearly that men can only be highly civilized while other men, inevitably less civilized, are there to guard and feed them"-G. Orwell. (He knew what he was talking about, having once worked as a policeman.) Still, it is an extreme kind of moral obtuseness that refuses to notice the difference between a people who strive to minimize noncombatant casualties and a people who do their best to maximize them. I note also that when Arabs are injured in an Arab terrorist attack against Jews, they are cared for in Israeli hospitals, to which they have been transported by Israeli ambulances. Imagine the converse, if it were possible: Jewish inhabitants of an Arab country, injured in a Jewish-terrorist attack on Arabs. They would be torn to pieces by ululating mobs of Arabs, and the pieces would be paraded triumphantly through streets crowded with laughing revelers, the whole thing broadcast on Al-Jazeera to general rejoicing around the Arab world.

Explain why the UN focuses so much attention on Israel and not on the thousands raped and killed in the Balkans or the thousands raped and killed in Rwanda or the thousands raped and killed in Sudan.

Ah Sudan. That brings me to my last point about the UN. Hearing old Kofi Annan talk to the Sudanese government, one gets the picture of a push over mother asking her kids to play nice "I mean it junior, this is the last time…. Please be nice to your brother. Don't make me come back there again. I am warning you." Sudan knows that the UN is not going to do anything of any consequence. What is the UN going to do? Put sanctions on Sudan that can be easily and profitably circumvented, ala the Oil for Food Program? Please.

The UN has been talking about the coming crisis in Sudan for months now. Nothing is done mind you, but lots of talking has been done and old Kofi is really pissed now. (see here to see how pissed he is) This whole episode is a flash back to Rwanda and the Balkans. If anything is done it will be too late for thousands and thousands of people.

Ever seen Monty Python's The Life of Brian

The premise of the movie is that Brian is mistaken as the Messiah and a band of believers begin to follow him around. He eventually gets into trouble with the Romans due to his involvement with the People's Front of Judea (PFJ) and is crucified. The movie is a wonderful parody about religion. Anyway, the PFJ is always talking and debating about doing something to make the Romans leave. Kind of like the UN. Nothing much is accomplished, but they sure can talk about things and draw up reports.

This movie can be seen as a great parody of the UN. The most applicable scene is when Brian has been captured by the Romans and is about to be crucified. Judith, Brian's lover, comes running to the leadership of the PFJ for help:

REG:Right. Now, uh, item four: attainment of world supremacy within the next five years. Uh, Francis, you've been doing some work on this.
FRANCIS: Yeah. Thank you, Reg. Well, quite frankly, siblings, I think five years is optimistic, unless we can smash the Roman Empire within the next twelve months.
REG: Twelve months?
FRANCIS: Yeah, twelve months. And, let's face it. As empires go, this is the big one, so we've got to get up off our arses and stop just talking about it!
COMMANDOS: Hear! Hear!
LORETTA: I agree. It's action that counts, not words, and we need action now.
COMMANDOS: Hear! Hear!
REG: You're right. We could sit around here all day talking, passing resolutions, making clever speeches. It's not going to shift one Roman soldier!
FRANCIS: So, let's just stop gabbing on about it. It's completely pointless and it's getting us nowhere!
LORETTA: I agree. This is a complete waste of time.
JUDITH: They've arrested Brian!
REG: What?
JUDITH: They've dragged him off! They're going to crucify him!
REG: Right! This calls for immediate discussion!
COMMANDO #1:     Yeah.
JUDITH: What?!
COMMANDO #2: Immediate.
COMMANDO #1: Right.
LORETTA: New motion?
REG: Completely new motion, eh, that, ah-- that there be, ah, immediate action--
FRANCIS: Ah, once the vote has been taken.
REG: Well, obviously once the vote's been taken. You can't act another resolution till you've voted on it...
JUDITH: Reg, for God's sake, let's go now!
REG: Yeah. Yeah.
JUDITH: Please!
REG: Right. Right.
REG: In the-- in the light of fresh information from, ahh, sibling Judith--
LORETTA: Ah, not so fast, Reg.
JUDITH: Reg, for God's sake, it's perfectly simple. All you've got to do is to go out of that door now, and try to stop the Romans' nailing him up! It's happening, Reg! Something's actually happening, Reg! Can't you understand?! Ohhh!

The last bit from Judith sums up the UN. They debate while people die. Brutal, oppressive countries are given the same standing as open, free countries. All in the name of the Community of Nations. United Nations………….no……….United Nothing. And this is who Presidential Candidate John Kerry would defer to on issues important to the United States? Sometimes "All you've got to do is to go out of that door now, and try to stop the Romans' nailing him up!" History has shown that it usually takes the United States going "out of that door" to get anything accomplished in this world. Once we lead, all the rest follow.

Copyright © 2004 by Mike Talley

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