I have asked before, and I’ll ask again: what good is the United Nations? What can the United States do with the other 191 nation states in the United Nations that it cannot do better by dealing with other states individually? Since the U.S. both hosts the U.N. within its borders and pays almost a quarter of its budget, it is a fair question to ask.

And then the U.N. produces things like the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and I realize that it’s past time for the U.S. to leave the United Nations. In late 2007, the United Nations adopted the declaration with a vote of 143 to 4. The four nations that voted against the declaration were Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the United States. In 2009 Australia endorsed the declaration, and New Zealand and Canada reversed their votes in March and April of 2010, respectively. So only the United States is on record as opposing the declaration. What could possibly be wrong with it? I see three main problems with the declaration. The first comes in Article 19.

Article 19
States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them.

Before a law is signed and enforced, Congress needs to get the “free, prior and informed consent” from all indigenous peoples in our nation, if the law in question may affect them. And in this day and age, what law doesn’t affect most Americans? And before a governmental department can adopt or implement any administrative change that may affect indigenous people, that department needs to get the “free, prior and informed consent” from them. So, when was the last time that the government got “free, prior and informed consent” from its citizens before enacting a law? If indigenous people get consent while others do not, this declaration has just produced two classes of people before the law. And that’s a bad thing.

But as bad as dividing the nation is, I have a bigger problem with Article 26.

Article 26
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired.
2. Indigenous peoples have the right to own, use, develop and control the lands, territories and resources that they possess by reason of traditional ownership or other traditional occupation or use, as well as those which they have otherwise acquired.
3. States shall give legal recognition and protection to these lands, territories and resources. Such recognition shall be conducted with due respect to the customs, traditions and land tenure systems of the indigenous peoples concerned.

Want to expand your Manhattan business? You’ll need to negotiate that with the Lenape people first, since they are the indigenous people who “traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired” that island. Sure, the Dutch purchased the island from the Lenape in 1626, the British took it from them in 1664, and the Americans rebelled against the British in 1776, but this declaration doesn’t consider that history. According to Article 26, the Lenape have “the right to own, use, develop and control the lands, territories and resources that they possess by reason of traditional ownership,” and they traditionally owned Manhattan. Such language is what makes lawyers rich.

Now multiply that legalistic nightmare by every state, county, and city in the United States, and you begin to see just how incredibly messy this declaration could be for Americans, since every state in the Union was at one time “traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired” by one tribe or another. If a family of indigenous people does some fishing in the Mississippi, or if their ancestors ever did likewise, that family now has the legal right to that resource since they or their ancestors once used it.

Put simply, the declaration would result in a massive wealth transfer from people who purchased or inherited the land to people who haven’t lived on the land for generations, minus the fees paid to the lawyers. What’s not to like about this?

Which brings me to my last point. I was born in the United States over forty years ago. My niece, who is exactly thirty years younger than me, is half Navajo. Guess which one of us is going to have the legal status of “indigenous?”

Yep. We really need the United Nations to bring us the legalistic nightmare that is the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Now why is it we need to be part of the U.N.?

There’s gloom and anguished hand-wringing from a new U.N. report soon to come out, as reported in the U.K.’s Telegraph.

The world’s biodiversity is threatened by the economic growth of countries like China, India and Brazil, the study will say.

While Western countries are increasingly aware of the need to protect endangered species, the developing world’s appetite for raw materials is destroying vulnerable ecosystems, the report’s authors will warn.

Population growth, pollution and the spread of Western-style consumption are also blamed for hitting plant and animal populations.

It builds on recent work for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) which showed that 21 per cent of all known mammals, 30 per cent of amphibians and 35 per cent of invertebrates are threatened with extinction.

Not stated in this report is the simple solution to protecting all these mammals, amphibians, and invertebrates: prevent the developing nations like China, India, and Brazil from developing. I’m sure that will be a tough sell to the people of developing nations. Imagine being in their shoes: would you rather have dependable electricity, or remain in the economic backwoods if it means the survival of the snail darter and the hairy-chested nut scratcher?

But I take a slightly longer-range view of extinction than the U.N. report does. History tells us that of all the species that have ever lived, 90% are now extinct. It seems to me that extinction is the norm.

And of course no news story about extinction is finished until the author can sneak in some jab at Western civilization in general or the United States in specific:

[Ahmed Djoghlaf, who heads the Convention on Biological Diversity] added: “It’s a problem if we continue this unsustainable pattern of production and consumption. If the 9 billion people predicted to be with us by 2050 were to have the same lifestyle as Americans, we would need five planets.”

What dear Mr. Djoghlaf doesn’t explain is that it is only in the developed nations of the West, like criticized America, that the common people can affords them the luxury of worrying about species extinction. When you are struggling for that next meal, it very well may be fried snail darter or roasted hairy-chested nut scratcher on a stick. And you’d be glad to have it.

The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to tell Iran to stop enriching uranium, or it will be forced to tell them to stop again:

The U.N. Security Council unanimously voted Saturday to impose additional sanctions against Iran for its refusal to stop enriching uranium, a move intended to show Tehran that defiance will leave it increasingly isolated.

Iran immediately rejected the sanctions and said it had no intention of suspending its enrichment program, prompting the United States to warn of even tougher penalties.

And to prove that they are on the complete up-and-up about their uranium enrichment plans, Iran announced that they would limit their cooperation with the U.N. nuclear watchdog organization, and they would press on with their enrichment activities without cease.

Oh yeah, the U.N. Security Council has really put the fear of the U.N. into Iran. I think it’s time for the U.N. to bring out the big guns.

 The Big Guns Misfire

In the news today, we discover that Iran has decided to ignore the stern warning from the United Nations to stop enriching uranium or face another stern warning:

Iran has ignored the latest UN deadline to suspend uranium enrichment and is actually extending it, a report by nuclear watchdog the IAEA has said.

The refusal to observe the Wednesday deadline could lead to further UN sanctions against Iran.

I am shocked, shocked I tell you, that Iran would fail to heed the U.N. deadline. But it’s more than just continuing with enrichment; Iran is willing to stop enriching uranium only if others do so, too:

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday said his country was ready to stop its enrichment program and return to talks provided Western nations also stopped their own. Ahmadinejad told a crowd of thousands in northern Iran one day ahead of a U.N. Security Council deadline that it was no problem for his country to stop, but that “fair talks” demanded a similar gesture from the West.

This absurd “you first” attitude is about the level of diplomatic seriousness I’ve come to expect from Ahmadinejad, and the talented Cox and Forkum do a great job of skewering it, too.

Throw Down

Senator Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) said the following about the prospect of confirming John Bolton as U.N. ambassador permanently:

The American people have spoken out against the president’s agenda on a number of fronts, and presumably one of those is on foreign policy. And at this late stage in my term, I’m not going to endorse something the American people have spoke out against.

Sen. Chafee just lost his Senate seat to a Democrat challenger, so I could see his reluctance to confirm Bolton as sour grapes at losing. But while that is a possible motivation, I am more convinced that Sen. Chafee is just being Sen. Chafee. He failed to support Bolton earlier, “citing concerns at one point about Bolton’s tie to a government investigation into faulty prewar intelligence on Iraq.” The Fox News report continues to say that Sen. Chafee promised to block Bolton’s nomination “until the administration answered questions about its policy in the Middle East, which in effect delayed any vote until after the elections.” With Republicans like him, who needs Democrats?

While I don’t relish the thought (or reality) of a Democrat-controlled Senate, the knowledge that a RINO (Republican In Name Only) like Sen. Chafee has lost his Senate seat makes me feel better. Voters in Rhode Island have a better chance of electing a real Republican the next time around. Hopefully they will do so in 2012.

But did you notice how quick Sen. Chafee was to to bow to the Democrats’ “mandate” and use that as the excuse not to confirm Bolton? I find it interesting that he was so very quick to accept their mandate, but the press and the Democrats claim President Bush and the Republicans didn’t have a mandate despite being elected the previous three times in 2000, 2002, and 2004. Sen. Chafee has talked about leaving the Republicans before, and he’s not ruled it out even now. He should go ahead and make the official change to the Democrats, just to reflect what his real party affiliation has been for years.

Personally, I’m having a hard time deciding whether Sen. Chafee is more of a giant douche or a turd sandwich.

My mom once illustrated the futility of relying on mere words to raise kids. A woman once visited the house with her little kid in tow. Being a 2- or 3-year-old tyke, he was all over the place and into everything. The mother, when she responded to his actions, would tell the little hellion to stop what he was doing with a very gentle “No, no, no.” The tiny terror had long since developed mommy deafness and kept on doing whatever he wanted. Since what he wanted was to tear the leaves off my mom’s plant, the mere use of words to stop him would have resulted in naked stems. Mom finally intervened by physically removing the tot from the wounded plant.

Words were obviously of no use when dealing with a kid with such an advanced case of mommy deafness. Only through physical intervention was disaster averted. He was a spoiled brat, and it was way past time that he be spanked. Nations can act like spoiled brats, too. Iraq was gassing its people and neighbors, sponsoring terrorism, and invading other nations. The “adults” of the world in the U. N. Security Council spent years saying “No, no, no” to Iraq, but the words of their resolutions had no more effect on that brat of a nation than did the milksop mutterings of that mild mother. It took physical intervention to stop the Iraqi brat.

Do you think the need for action and not talk would have taught the nations of the U. N. Security Council a lesson? Ha, fat chance! The Security Council has shown that it is just as willing to rely on meaningless and ineffectual mutterings of “No, no, no” to the brats who are hell-bent to rip the leaves off plants as it ever has been. Iran is rushing towards developing nuclear weapons, and the U. N. talks and threatens to talk some more.

And talk is all we will get out of the U. N. Security Council as long as Russia and China are more willing to take Iranian money than they are willing to create peace. With their veto on any meaningful action, the U. N. is limited to the political equivalent of shaking a finger and saying, “Now, Junior, we don’t want to mess up the nice lady’s plant, do we? You’d better stop now. Don’t make me say ‘No, no, no” at you again.”

The useless U.N. Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 1701 calling on a cease fire in Lebanon between the Israeli military and the Hezbollah thugs funded and armed by Iran.

Interestingly enough at the time of this writing, the lead graphic on the U.N.’s page for the “Situation in the Middle East”, has some text about the fighting in Lebanon, but contains a shifting image of an oil spill with the following caption highlighted by me: “The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) is gravely concerned about the impact of an oil spill along Lebanon’s coast.”

UN wacky priorities

But I digress.

Every time I hear someone gush about how wonderful this resolution is, I get a flashback of Neville Chamberlain waving a bit of paper and proclaiming, “I believe it is peace for our time.” And I think this will be as effective as that resolution was. I’m not the only one who see this as meaningless. Hezbollah thug-in-chief, Sheik Hassan, also sees this as meaningless for peace:

He called continued resistance to the Israel offensive “our natural right.”

The Shiite cleric also predicted more hard fighting to come.

“We must not make a mistake, not in the resistance, the government or the people, and believe that the war has ended. The war has not ended. There have been continued strikes and continued casualties,” he said in a taped television address.

Claudia Rosett of National Review Online recognizes this cease fire for what it really is. It won’t be a time of Hezbollah beating their swords into plowshares and singing “Kumbaya” arm-in-arm with Israelis.

Unfortunately, if Resolution 1701 has any effect at all, its real meaning is that we now embark on a period in which Hezbollah will seize the opportunity to regroup and reload. The feeble and compromised mix of U.N. peacekeepers and the Lebanese army, which is the force authorized in this resolution, will fail to stop them. Iran and Syria will proceed apace with their terrorist infection and subjugation of Lebanon. The U.N. will wave around this latest piece of paper to try to prevent Israel from defending itself, or, for that matter, defending the rest of us against the “Death to Israel! Death to America!” Hezbollah agenda. Iran’s President Ahmadinejad, enjoying yet another confirmation of the U.N.’s mincing impotence in the face of guns, bombs, rockets, and terror, will continue his fevered preparations to roll out the nuclear bomb.

Cox and Forkum sum it up well with their political cartoon titled, “Snatching Defeat”:

Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory

UPDATE (8/12/2006 10:25:54 AM): John Hinderaker of Power Line sees that this call for peace is destined to fail:

So Hezbollah is to be disarmed. By whom? When? How? The resolution is silent. In fact, the disarming of Hezbollah isn’t going to happen; it can’t, unless Hezbollah unilaterally decides to disband. And why would it do that? Likewise, the resolution decrees that no weapons will be shipped into Lebanon except with the approval of that country’s government. That isn’t going to happen either. Iran and Syria will continue to supply Hezbollah.

So the agreement will fail. Hezbollah will emerge with heightened stature as the first Arab force to fight Israel without being crushed. And Israel will have to renew the battle at some future date, under conditions that will almost certainly be more difficult than at present.

So it’s hard for me to see this deal as anything but a defeat for all who want to vigorously oppose the advance of Islamic imperialism in the Middle East and beyond.

On July 31th, 2006, the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution telling Iran to cease and desist enriching uranium for their “peaceful” needs. Iran promptly told them to take a long walk off a short pier. Here is how this was written up at Fox News:

The U.N. Security Council passed a weakened resolution Monday giving Iran until Aug. 31 to suspend uranium enrichment or face the threat of economic and diplomatic sanctions.

Iran immediately rejected the council action, saying it would only make negotiations more difficult concerning a package of incentives offered in June for it to suspend enrichment.

“All along it has been the persistence of some to draw arbitrary red lines and deadlines that has closed the door to any compromise,” said Iran’s U.N. Ambassador Javad Zarif. “This tendency has single-handedly blocked success and in most cases killed proposals in their infancy.

“This approach will not lead to any productive outcome and in fact it can only exacerbate the situation.”

Oh, yeah. Let’s not exacerbate the problem by telling Iran to stop enriching uranium. Let’s do some nuanced diplomacy to resolve this problem. Of the 15 members on the U.N. Security Council, only one voted against this resolution: Qatar.

Explaining his “no” vote, Qatar’s U.N. Ambassador Nassir Al-Nasser said that while the demands of the six nations were legitimate, the resolution will only exacerbate tensions in the region and Iran should be given more time to respond.

“We do not agree with the tabling of this resolution at a time when our region is in flames,” Al-Nasser said. “We see no harm in waiting for a few days to exhaust all possible means and in order to identify the real intentions of Iran.”

So as long as other issues are happening in the Middle East, Iran gets to press on with uranium enrichment, the pursuit of “peaceful” nuclear power, and — make no mistake — plans for developing nuclear weapons. Ignoring Iran to focus on Hezbollah is like saying you can’t do anything about the burning home while there is a savage pit bull in the neighbor’s front yard.

But here’s the real kicker of the resolution: if Iran doesn’t suspend uranium enrichment by August 31st, they face the horrors of the U.N. Security Council holding another meeting to discuss what to do. “You stop what you’re doing, or we’re going to hold a meeting!” I’m sure they are shaking in their turbans in Tehran. All this resolution shows is just how useless the United Nations truly is.

If Bill Gates were to tell me that he needed one million dollars to accomplish a life-long goal, I would have to wonder. Why would Gates be looking for additional money when he is already sitting on billions of dollars of wealth? There can’t be a justifiable need for that extra money when it would be as noticeable as a drop in a bucket. I’m sure I’d come to the conclusion that there was some underlying want, not need, which was driving him.

Likewise, I’m highly skeptical (to put it mildly) of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s supposed need for nuclear power, when the nation of Iran is situated atop a lake of petroleum sufficient to provide all the power demands for that nation for years to come. So he doesn’t really need nuclear power plants to generate electricity. What he wants is nuclear weaponry, and the Non-Proliferation Treaty be damned.

So what do the powerful nations of the world do about Iran’s rush to nuclear power? Well, they’ve been trying to bribe Iran with all sorts of economic goodies, even offering a free nuclear power plant. Ahmadinejad’s response to the bribery was to disparage those who offered it: “They say they want to give us incentives. They think they can take away our gold and give us some nuts and chocolate in exchange.” You know, if he really wanted nuclear capability to generate electrical power, shouldn’t Ahmadinejad have jumped at the chance to get a free nuclear plant?

I just hope Ahmadinejad accepts the offer. Otherwise, he may raise the wrath of the United Nations Security Council. And if that happens, all hell would break loose when the Security Council sends Iran a strongly worded condemnation!

*shudder* The horrors!

You think I’m joking about the condemnation, and I am. But the Security Council is not. From a link at Little Green Footballs today:

Russia and China are resisting proposals from Britain, France and the United States for a council statement that would express “serious concern” about Iran’s nuclear program and asks it to comply with demands from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The statement does not threaten sanctions. [all emphasis mine]

No sanctions. No actions. Just a U.N. statement of “serious concern.” Sounds like they’ll be as effective in promoting world peace as Neville Chamberlain.

Peace in our time

“My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time.”

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.