One of the things you will hear in the news, most often from someone on the liberal end of the political spectrum, is the need for an international response to one crisis or another. Our Democrat leaders in the U.S. House and Senate have called for a multinational response to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the War on Terror. Without the blessing of the United Nations, these leaders were not willing to proceed in any of these actions.
But what is it about the United Nations that makes its involvement necessary as part of the American President’s sworn duty to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States”? If America must protect itself, does it need the permission of Angola, Benin or Chile? This would be like appealing to your neighbors for permission to stop the armed thug breaking though your front door in the middle of the night. It makes more sense for the head of the household to arm himself and repel the intruder than to waste time on the phone with all the people on the block, asking if it were all right with them if he confronted the trespasser.
You could respond to the example above that the most logical action would be calling the police. While that would be an excellent choice in such a situation, calling the police does not adequately defend you against the armed assailant who is in your house now. Besides, there is no international equivalent of the police department. Regardless of what some people may think, the United Nations has no more power and authority than what the individual member nations choose to give it. And typically, if the United States doesn’t want something to happen in the United Nations, it normally doesn’t happen.
So what benefit is there actually in having the United Nations? The organization will celebrate its 59th anniversary this October, so perhaps it’s time to ask: what tangible benefit does the United States derive from continued membership in the United Nations that it could not achieve on its own? Cannot the U.S. get together with other nations as it sees fit, to create treaties or hold meetings? Certainly it can, and it did so last week during the G8 summit. The eight member states that gathered were Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. The United Nations did not need to be present for the world’s eight most economically influential nations to congregate and discuss their goals, needs and plans.
When President Clinton wanted to enter the fighting in Kosovo, he didn’t bother going to the United Nations to get permission. He side-stepped the United Nations completely and started the bombing on his own. President Clinton’s actions in this regard showed how immaterial the United Nations is if the United States chooses to make it so.
But as immaterial as the United Nations is in all practical matters, this does not stop some people from wanting to give the United Nations sufficient power to make it a world government in deed, not just word. I wrote how the laws of thermodynamics work both in biology and sociology. With each level feeding off the level below it, only a small fraction of the energy passed up the food chain actually does any good. Since we already have city, county, state, and federal bureaucracies, do we really need to add another layer of world government and its attendant bureaucracy?
We certainly do not need the United Nations if Rwanda is any indication of how things normally work. In 1993, the United Nations dithered for five months trying to raise a few thousand troops to keep an eye on the warring Tutsi and Hutu peoples. When the larger Hutu population started the outright slaughter of the minority Tutsis, the United Nations stepped right in to stop the massacre. Well, maybe in an alternate universe, but certainly not in this one. In reality, the UN spent the next six months dithering in an attempt to get from 3,000 troops to 5,500. Endless resolutions were passed, and these stern pronouncements were predictably impotent, while over 800,000 Rwandans were hacked to death by machetes.
You may recall that the UN passed 17 such resolutions about Iraq over 12 years; apparently Saddam felt no pressure to comply with them. Only the projection of power supplied by the United States gave these resolutions any teeth. But when the United States decided it was time for Saddam to comply in full with the UN Security Council’s resolutions, the bureaucrats in the United Nations wrung their hands and moaned about the United States acting unilaterally. It was almost as though these bureaucrats were more concerned with keeping control of the situation–even if it were in name only–than they were of making their resolutions stick.
Afghanistan and Iraq are no longer governed by tyrannical and oppressive governments, while Rwanda saw 10% of its population floating down the river in hacked-up chunks. There is a reason why the fates of these two nations are so different. At the beginning of this new century, the United States has a President who is prepared to do the right thing regardless of what the other nations of the world may think or say, and Iraq and Afghanistan are free because President Bush is such a leader. But at the closing of the last century, the United States had a President who was willing to work with the United Nations and too often shared in the slow-acting, ineffectual hand-wringing that typifies an entrenched bureaucracy. Rwanda became a genocidal bloodbath because President Clinton wanted to gather consensus rather than to lead.
It was President Clinton’s brief moments away from the United Nations that led to military victory in Kosovo. But this same President and his minions are now raising their blood-drenched hands to President Bush, demanding that he work not with the nations who willingly joined our coalition, but with the sluggish, ineffectual United Nations bureaucracy. President Bush should give them all the finger and proceed to do his job in the ongoing war, just as President Clinton did in Kosovo.