A column about history, culture, policy, and things in between.
Last December I wrote a blog with this same title. It addressed my thoughts on some fundamentally different approaches to Mid-East peace, and my desire that one of the Presidential candidates would make it a major foreign policy discussion of their campaign. This posting will deal with the same desire but on a different issue - The United Nations.
I would love to see one of the three candidates launch a comprehensive debate on the role of the United Nations, and what part the United States can or should play in it. I believe it is time to acknowledge and understand how hopelessly flawed this body is. No matter how noble and lofty its self-ascribed goals may be, the UN has proven to be little more than a geopolitical eunech, unable to perform or discharge any of its responsibilities. For decades it has stood on the sideline flapping its self-righteous jaw and watching as atrocities ranging from the Cambodian Killing Fields of Pol-Pot, to the on-going genocide in sub-Saharan Africa, occured under its very nose. Can't we bring ourselves to articulate what forty years of evidence has so clearly demonstrated? Can't we have a political leader that will state the obvious - that the United Nations is simply incapable of conducting meaningful action or change?
In the interests of fairness I will acknowledge that the UN is good at something. And what it does very well is foster corruption - and I mean corruption on a global, multi-billion dollar scale. Can any candidate or member of Congress take a breath from the volcanic rhetoric they spew towards the oil business long enough to turn some scrutiny towards the UN?
The "Oil for Food" scandal which ocurred under the watch of former Secretary General Kofi Anon, was so eggregious and widespread that even he was forced to some mild action. Anon commissioned former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker to lead an investigation, the conclusion of which was a recommendation for sweeping and systemic reform of the UN's management and oversight systems. Former United States Ambassador to the UN John Bolton was nearly hounded from office just for trying to bring the suggested reforms to a vote before the UN Budget Committee. Ultimately, and to his great credit, Bolton was successful.
Now here is something that we need to pay attention to - and it's a ready made issue for any of our three Presidential Candidates:
The Budget Committe of the United Nations voted by a margin of two to one AGAINST allowing a system of outside auditing to help manage and oversee its affairs. The countries who voted IN FAVOR of these audits supply ninety-percent of the UN's funding. The countries voting against the audits supply ten percent.
After the vote John Bolton commented witheringly, "this tells you pretty much everything you need to know about how the UN operates". Can you even conceive of the tsunami of condemnation that would pour forth from the Beltway if the Chairman of Exxon was to suggest an end to public audits of his company?
There are many grounds of political philosophy on which one can debate the merits of the UN. But the biggest reason to oppose it is a practical one - it simply does not work. By any objective measure one would choose, it is hopelessly dysfunctional, inneffective and corrupt.
I believe this issue is a latent gold mine for any one of the three Presidential candidates. And it's past time to have an open and comprehensive debate with the American people regarding this institution that we pay for.