Wednesday, October 02, 2002

A UN That Works

The United States is making progress in the UN to get some authorization for war against Iraq, but obstacles remain (and Germany goes on the Security council in January…). The folly of having an organization such as the UN be the decider of what is just, when it is largely composed of thugocracies and allies who clothe their narrow interests in international garb, is getting to be too much to stomach.

After Saddam agrees to "unconditional" inspections, the UN negotiating team agrees to the condition-laden 1998 inspection regime. The French and Russians will look us in the eye and just lie, claiming Iraq is complying with UN demands. The fat oil contracts in their pockets will ease their consciences.

The UN is fast making itself an expensive irrelevancy. Yet we are condemned for not wanting to work with the "international community." It’s tough enough to debate fellow democracies, but that is at least acceptable at a gut level. But the likes of Zimbabwe, China, North Korea, or Cuba? These we must convince too? Or agree to their conditions that are objectionable as their price? And we are condemned for saying that maybe these states are not exactly worthy of listening to?

Fine. Let’s go. The international community as currently constituted is a joke. It prefers agreements and treaties that sound good while the signers quietly undermine and obstruct those words; while condemning us for stating in the light of day our objection to a treaty and refuse to sign. Good Lord, as if our responsible use of mines is comparable to the regimes and groups that plant them all over the countryside to kill indiscriminately. If the international community can complain when we do not submit to a treaty we did not sign and ratify, the one establishing the International Criminal Court (does anybody actually believe we are incapable or unwilling to prosecute any of our soldiers who might violate the laws of war?), why can’t we start a new UN? The current one is pushing sixty and freezes the victors of World War II (jeez, are the French lucky) as the permanent veto-wielding members of the Security Council. Plenty of nations would actually welcome a new international organization reflecting the new world.

Let’s begin with a new security council: The United States. Russia (as long as they are not in the EU). China. Japan (to show the world that you don’t need nukes to be a permanent member). India (if China is in, this huge democracy should be in too). The European Union (hey, they want to be one rival superpower—great, they get one seat.) Plus we’ll grandfather in any nation already a permanent member which is not a member of the EU (this to urge the British to get out of the EU and to annoy the French who will be torn between their lucky permanent seat in the current UN and their beloved EU). Any member can veto as now. No rotating members but a mechanism to accept new members, perhaps with veto power but maybe not. You have to earn your way on.

The new general assembly will be limited to democracies. Since we will start the body, we get to define the initial members. Some type of mechanism for accepting new democracies and expelling failed democracies already in will be needed. We can establish a leaner and more focused bureaucracy.

In the spirit of the ICC, this new body’s resolutions will be binding on any state whether or not it qualifies for membership. Actually, no, that would be wrong. Although a non-member that violates the charter could be subject to punishment, of course. But no state not a member can appeal to the body for armed protection or aid or loans, other than emergency aid for natural disasters.

Yessirree, start a new League of Democracy (note, the presence of China makes it not quite a league of actual democracies, but we can still have the ideal as a goal around which we organize the body) that can actually do us some good. Base it in Oklahoma City. Fund it generously. Withdraw from the UN and cancel our funding to that body. Let it go on debating in New York City as long as they like. And as long as anybody else wishes to pay for it. We will not be bound by it.

I’m actually mostly serious. We should at least discuss it. Why enshrine a body that represents the situation at the end of World War II? After all, the world did not at that time revise the post-World War I League of Nations. Now we’ve passed through the post-war era and even the post-Cold War era. We’re in a new world now and we are two organizations behind. Indeed, sometimes the UN seems to be in another world altogether. Any world body that can defend or run interference for the likes of an Iraq is no force for peace and justice.