Time to Pull the Plug on the United Nations

Sunday, October 21 2007 @ 04:35 AM JST

Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto

Say good-bye to the U.N. and these sociable gentlemen

This coming Wednesday marks the 62nd anniversary of the birth of the United Nations. It was officially founded by 50 nations in San Francisco on October 24, 1945. Ever since its charter, organization, ways of financing its activities, administrative rules, etc. have remained essentially unchanged although the number of its member countries has grown to 192 and the 1971 hijacking of the Republic of China's privileged seat by the People's Republic of China marked a stigmatic milestone. While the U.N. has been at a standstill, the world has undergone a sea change through the two "Cold Wars." and 9-11. Small wonder that nobody but China and Russia thinks it's still functioning, and reparable if things go wrong at times.

Against this backdrop we have heard a myriad of empty words about reforming the organization from the likes of Kofi Annan and Ban Ki-moon. Unfortunately, though, they are the kind of people who have to reform themselves before reforming someone else.

John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., is practically the only exception who knows what he is talking about when addressing this issue. Back in 2005, he said: "The Secretariat building in New York has 38 stories. If it lost ten stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference." But his tenure as the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. didn't last long, essentially because the outspoken U.S. envoy knew exactly what to do to make a big difference.

When I was in business, we called this the resistance to change. Every time we were set to implement a reform program, people who had vested interests in the status quo would desperately try to defend them and make believe it was still reformable despite defects inherent to the "legacy system" showing all over the place. Given this human nature, we thought that was really unavoidable. The only thing we can expect is that a resolute person comes forward to revolutionize things all on his own. He has learned from the history textbook that any revolution in history started with destruction of the ancient regime. But he is also to learn a lesson the hard way that trying to fix an unreformable body is a sheer waste of time.

By the same token it is totally unrealistic to expect a majority of U.N. member countries to vote for a motion that the international organization be dissolved for good at its last general assembly meeting. All it takes is for a core member, or two, to unilaterally declare its withdrawal from the dying organization which was set up when Chiang Kai-shek was still ruling over mainland China.

Needless to say, the United States is in the best position to take the lead because a U.N. without the U.S. is something utterly inconceivable whereas you can easily envisage a U.S. without the U.N. Its withdrawal would instantly result in a dismantlement of the 62-year-old organization. Only then could the U.S. start over with a completely different principle than the one Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, et al. envisioned in Cairo.

"What principle?" you may ask. It remains to be seen how exactly the new guiding philosophy should be articulated. But one thing is for sure: It must be something about self-reliance. In other words, the common perception to be shared throughout the new community is that any nation deserves its fate. The U.N., along with most of its subordinate agencies such as the IAEA and the WFP, and some other U.N.-based frameworks such as the NPT, should be gone. But also to be gone is the underlying multilateralist mindset. Once a new principle is put in place, there will be no place anymore for these crybabies and busybodies.

Take the Middle East for example. Iranian president Ahmedinejad sounds like he is determined to destroy Israel. But honestly, that's none of our business. If he really means it, why don't we just let him go ahead? Even under the new world order, the Americans would certainly lend a helping hand without going through the time-consuming ritual at what used to be the U.N. Security Council. But even if the U.S. hesitated in responding, we could rest assured it's Iran, not Israel, that would be destroyed in retaliation, or even preemptively. The Israelis are one of the most self-reliant and well-prepared peoples. They wouldn't need yet another watered-down resolution by the UNSC, if there still exists such a thing.

The Middle East isn't the only issue that has remained unsettled from the past centuries. Many former and current colonialists and aggressors have yet to redress the wounds inflicted on their victims. But these disputes, too, should be, and perhaps could only be, solved basically on a bilateral basis. I am sure that the Tibetans or the Turkic people in the "Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region" of China, for instance, could eventually make the Chinese pay the prohibitively high price all by themselves only when hypocrites like Hillary Clinton, whose pet subject is the humanrights issue in these areas, came to their senses and decided to leave them alone.

At any rate, it's an outrageously unhealthy way of thinking to expect ailing, or even failing, peoples who, like the Japanese, cannot take care of themselves to take care of others.

Chances are that after its withdrawal from the United Nations, America would fail to come up with a workable way to thoroughly realign the international community in the greenfield situation. Even so, the U.S. would be better off trying to live without a body more or less analogous to the U.N., something to be called the League of Nations, Version 3.

In this context, it's a shame that not a single candidate for the 2008 U.S. presidential elections has explicitly mentioned drastic measures for the U.N. reform, let alone its destruction. Clinton, for one, has recently posted an essay on the website of Foreign Affairs magazine. But in that essay, as wordy as 5,800 words, she didn't touch on this issue at all as if breaking the shackles of the U.N. wasn't one of the most urgent tasks the next U.S. President has to face. She should know that it now all hinges on how swiftly the Americans can straighten out the messy situation with the U.N. whether they can find a way out of the quagmire in Iraq, standoff with Iran, and stalemate in North Korea, before it is too late.

At least the next President of the United States should start immunizing the American population as well as the international community for the idea of a world without the United Nations soon after he, or she, is sworn in, in the early 2009.

In the past we have talked so lightly about crossing a decisive moment with respect to the crises in Mideast, Far East, or wherever they broke out, that we now look to be crying wolf. But in fact, what's at our doorstep, urging our prompt attention, is the moment of truth at which we must part ways with the bloated, $4 billion-a-year operation headquartered in Manhattan, NYC.

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