Still Pissed Off About the Hawley-Smoot Tariff

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

We're Suprised by UN Scandals Why?

This is an organization that believes in Peace Through Legendary Beuracracy. Scandals in the UN are about as surprising as finding sand in the desert, or kids getting fondled by Michael Jackson.

Drudge has a trio of links on Oil-for-Food scandal items:

UN Deserted Leads in Oil-for-Food Investigation

Oil Funds Paid for Bombers

Kofi Ducks Responsibility

As to that first one, can anyone tell me why we expect the UN to perform an unbiased investigation into alleged wrongdoing by the UN? Isn't that sort of like expecting OJ to find the real killer? Please. Combine that revelation with reports that the UN won't cooperate with US Senators who are trying to investigate (gasp!), and you've got the makings of a full-blown underwhelming.

As to the second item, it's no big deal, becuase terrorism is only to be condemned when it means condemning America or Israel. Genocide in Darfur? Who cares! What about Abu Ghraib!?!?

And as to the third item, it's an opinion piece, not a news item. So keep that in mind. But it looks like Kofi is trying hard to pave the way for Bill Clinton to become Secretary General, by proving what kind of man is ideal to hold that job. I'd advise any interns working at the UN to watch out.

Now I'm nowhere near as militantly anti-UN as many (most?) conservative bloggers. In very high-profile cases, they always seem to be on the wrong side of history. They move too slowly when they do move. But that's not to say they don't accomplish any good at all. It's just that their record is less than stellar. And what's more, when the Secretary General reveals himself to the world as a morally bankrupt degenerate, how can the world hope to have any kind of confidence in the institution?

The idea of a centralized multi-national power is not entirely bad. Absent some kind of league of nations, the principle of sovereignty means Iran can continue to oppress women and politcal dissidents, sub-Saharan practitioners of female circumcision can continue to butcher little girls, China can do whatever it wants in its prisons, and Saddam Hussein can gas the Kurds. And there is nothing - no military, political or moral force whatsoever that can stop or dissuade this kind of thing. Because Sovereignty means the sovereign is absolutely unlimited within the national borders.

The creation of a supra-national body, therefore, is one means of dealing with these problems. But that body gives rise to a host of other incredibly difficult problems, basically stemming from the difficult decision of how much power the supra-national body should have. If the UN has enormous power, and can force any nation to bend to its will, then we can certainly outlaw female circumcision in Mali and torture in Chinese prisons. But by that very same act we limit our own sovereignty. If the UN is dedicated solely to opposing things I don't like, then bully for me. But if the UN opposes things I do like, that will rankle, and I am less likely to want to cede any authority to it.

At the other extreme, if the UN has no power, then it may as well not exist. There is no social utility in putting money into a program that can, by its own charter, accomplish nothing.

So the UN takes a middle path, by attempting in most cases to exercise "persuasive" authority. You get China to improve its prisons by shaming them. And in axtraordinary cases the Security Council can authorize the use of military force (i.e. Americans) to intervene when a humanitarian crisis has international dimensions.

The current state of affairs is such that neither of the two tools allocated to the UN have any force. They want to use moral force to persuade a rogue regime? Then why were they in bed with mass-murderer Saddam Hussein? They want a Security Council authorization for force? Not as long as the French are making money off of the bloodshed. That leaves the UN, for most purposes, with nothing at all except reserved parking spaces in Manhattan. If the UN can't clean house (Kofi, Jaqcues, Gerhard), there is no reason for its continued existence.