In the surprisingly supportive piece that Mark cites below, the conservative Boot urges his “compatriots on the right put aside their reflexive-and usually well-justified-antipathy to all things UN and think about how we can improve this organization’s capacity.”
I would disagree with the “and usually well-justified” element of that advice, of course, but the rest seems rather sensible. Supporting and improving the UN so that it can succeed in endeavors that the United States would be loathe to take on itself — huge projects like providing peacekeepers in DR Congo, yes, but also the lower-profile, but equally important, aspects of the UN’s work, from promoting gender equality and providing vaccines all the way to regulating the flight paths of airplanes — is very clearly in the United States’ interests.
Yet if you title a blog post, “If You Trust The U.N. On Anything You’re A Fool,” it’s pretty clear that you are demonstrating just the sort of reflexive tarring of “all things UN” that Boot is cautioning against. Regardless of the validity of Marty Peretz’s specific objections, this kind of blanket statement can’t be anything but a patent exaggeration. Let’s just hope that, for his own sake, Marty can muster up some tiny smidgeon of trust for the UN at least when he steps on a plane.
And [the Durban Review Conference] is already fixed to bring ignominy on Israel…and also shame and dishonor to the United Nations. Americans are truly disgusted with the U.N., and not only because of its treatment of Israel.
As I’ve articulated before — and as everyone who has heard any of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s rants can attest to — it is not a surprise that Iran and some other countries and NGOs are going to mouth anti-Semitic statements. But doing so brings ignominy on no one other than themselves. And if Peretz is willing to heap “shame and dishonor” on the entire United Nations simply for the membership of this handful of “bad actors,” he probably has a much bigger problem — one that indicts the entire reigning system of sovereign states and international organizations writ large — than with one single conference.
Perhaps even more glaringly off-the-mark is Peretz’s inference about popular American sentiment toward the UN. If he had read our polling [slideshow below], he would know that Americans are overwhelmingly supportive of working with the UN and other countries and international organizations. To accuse them of the opposite is to simply slather Peretz’s own animus against the UN onto the millions of Americans who believe in the organization. And that, to me, seems truly ignominious.
Bloodthirsty Liberal calls the International Criminal Court “jew-hating” and says “they’ve never heard a complaint against Israel they haven’t embraced.” In fact, the International Criminal Court has never embraced any complaints against Israel. If the prosecutor did receive any complaints against Israel, he summarily rejected them. (Probably because Israel has not ratified the Rome Statute that created the court.)
These inane casual accusations of antisemitism from people who don’t know what they are talking about really need to be put to rest.
UPDATE: In trying to “correct” this post, Bloodthirsty Liberal digs a deeper hole. Apparently, Bloodthirsty Liberal does not understand that the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice are TWO DIFFERENT THINGS. Rather, the writer refers multiple times to something called the International Criminal Court of Justice and conflates the work of the ICC with the ICJ. True, both are located in the same city, but that is about all they have in common.
Anne Bayefsky’s caricature of the UN in The National Review would be offensive if it weren’t so laughable.
The U.N. is an uncomplicated place. Every sick, unsatiated tyrant, European has-been, or miserable wretch brainwashed about the Great Satan wants to take America down – unless they are able to immigrate of course. Their modus operandi? The United Nations.
So…everyone at the UN hates the U.S. so much that they either want to destroy it, or…become a citizen? Besides insulting the fairly significant contingent of non-brainwashed, America-hating, “washed-up” Member States in the UN, Bayefsky makes some astonishingly spurious claims about Barack Obama’s agenda for U.S.-UN relations, groundlessly accusing him of already planning to “put Israel on the chopping block” and “agree to some form of global taxation” (see here and here for indications that Obama’s actual policies on these respective issues could not be more opposite). These are only the two most ludicrous of a number of other nefarious positions that Bayefsky plants on the incoming administration and which it has in no way voiced support for.
Needless to say, the UN is a complicated place. It is the only forum at which representatives from all countries can voice their concerns, pursue their interests, and — ideally, of course — work together. Naturally, there is a fair share of bad actors who use its platform as a bully pulpit, but it is also the only mechanism through which the weight of the entire international community can — legitimately, concertedly, and most effectively — be leveraged to address transcendent global issues, from climate change to extreme poverty, counter-terrorism to peace in the Middle East.
This is simply far too expansive an organization to be boiled down as “uncomplicated.”
An editorial in Kenya’s Daily Nation thinks that the international community’s response to the pirate crisis has been too focused on a military solution.
[I]nstead of sabre-rattling in a situation as fraught with danger as this, maybe the United Nations should be thinking of employing the services of negotiators skilled in the art of handling hostage situations.
The United Nations has passed two resolutions authorizing countries to use naval force to combat piracy. And NATO is ready to comply, agreeing to send its warships to join those of the United States and Russia off the coast of Somalia. But this does not mean that international organizations are not engaged in negotiations. In fact, it’s been negotiations that have resulted in the potential ransom deal with the Ukrainian ship and today’s release of a Japanese ship that pirates had seized.
The Daily Nation‘s broader point, though, is valid; the response to lawless bandits marauding cargo and passenger ships with impunity will require a significant commitment and reorientation of strategy. One key process, as I argued here, is connecting the anarchy at sea to the anarchy on the ground. This means seriously delving into the messy and difficult realities of Somali politics and working to forge a government that enjoys widespread legitimacy and can both protect its civilians and control the terrorist threat on and offshore.
Preparing a military component to an international anti-piracy strategy, in short, by no means precludes other, equally important initiatives. I do believe, though, that dealing with such intransigent law-breakers — not to mention simply protecting ships and humanitarian aid convoys — requires the mobilization of naval resources. And plus, the pirates still seem to have eyes for nothing but the money.
In his latest “Backgrounder” on UN peacekeeping, Heritage Foundation hand Brett Schaefer has some relatively positive things to say about the efficacy and value of supporting the blue helmets.
Multiple Administrations have concluded that it is in America’s interest to support U.N. operations as a useful, cost-effective way to influence situations that affect the U.S. national interest but do not require direct U.S. intervention. Although the U.N. peacekeeping record includes significant failures, U.N. peace operations overall have proven to be a convenient, sometimes effective multilateral means for addressing humanitarian concerns in situations where conflict or instability make civilians vulnerable to atrocities, for promoting peace efforts, and for supporting the transition to democracy and post-conflict rebuilding.
This glimpse of the big picture was welcome in a report that focuses much of its attention on criticizing the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) for its alleged “mismanagement, fraud, and corruption.” The problem with Schaefer’s excessive focus on the latter is not that DPKO, the UN, or any such large organization, is a pristine body void of any transgressions or bureaucratic impediments; it is simply that the existence of such problems does nothing to diminish the value of UN peacekeeping — particularly when Schaefer himself recognizes it.
The SG: In Ethiopia over the weekend, the SG is now in the United Arab Emirates. Today he met with Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashed Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, where the two discussed developments in the region, including Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan, and in the Middle East Peace Process.