United We Fell

Knotted Gun by Fredrik Reuterswärd in front the UNHQ is ironically metaphorical towards the state of affairs that happen inside the building.

Knotted Gun by Fredrik Reuterswärd in front the UNHQ is ironically metaphorical towards the state of affairs that happen inside the building.

In a trouble-beset century, the greatest challenges for the United Nation ironically comes from the inside.  — by Archibald S. Hone. 

“The Secretariat building in New York has 38 stories. If it lost ten stories, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference,” said John Bolton, the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Although I usually find myself vehemently disagreeing with Mr. Bolton’s agenda and political views, his quote directly reflects the painful truth and the frustrating bureaucracy that lie at the very foundations of the United Nations.

Now the United Nations is a 64 year old whose 401(k) has shrank to nothingness. It is a leviathan that has outlived its usefulness and has no bright future. It is a badly managed classroom–a hierarchy with an unruly, undemocratic Security Council presided by a wavering Secretary General at the top. Yet, it is not a relic of the Cold War, it is the last species of an era even more distant. It is the modern pale imitation of the age of the Great Statesman—the age where the fate of the world is decided in the cigar-smoke filled antechambers in the Chancelleries of Europe. When the United Nations (and its crippled predecessor, the League of Nation) was founded, that world still existed. In 1945, two colonial powers (the Great Britain and France) still controlled a third of the world, and the Soviet hegemon collectively and coercively spoke for ‘the united socialist workers of the world’.

Within a few years, that world is descended into history books. Empires fell; China embraced—or to be precise, was forced to embrace—Communism. The Russians boycotted the Security Council after the latter refused to sit the Communist government of China. Meanwhile, the United Nations sat forlornly as countries after countries plunged into civil wars and genocides. Hungarian Uprising, Vietnam War and Prague Spring are just three examples of this collective failure.

However, the institution’s honor was upheld by the events that started unilaterally and that are out of its control. The UN intervention in Korea was made possible by the Russian boycott in the UNSC (see above). The Suez Crisis was solved because of the American pressure. The UN’s role in South American development only followed the US and CIA’s efforts to stage coup d’etats. Even its intervention in Rwanda came only after the French threatened to deploy its military forces. It would also take an affronted world to mandate the UN actions in Kuwait, Yugoslavia and Afghanistan.  

Yet, there are high points too—the humanitarian missions that build a social infrastructure would be impossible without an organization as universal as the United Nations. However, the high point of those missions came only in the 1990s (refer to the UN charts) when the Soviet Union isn’t on the UNSC anymore to effectively block interventions.


It will take a Messiah to save the UN.

Now with Russia and China back as the global hegemons, it is time to once again say our goodbyes to that unipolar world into which we grew up. The UN Resolutions from Zimbabwe to North Korea, from Venezuela to Iran are being thwarted by the vetoes of that two resurgent powers, while any attempts of reform the undemocratic vetoing powers in the UNSC are not favorably looked upon by any veto-carrying members.

Last year, during the presidential campaign, Sen. McCain put forward an idea called “League of Democracies”. It is not perfect nor 100% altruistic, but the plan is to create a expansion of NATO that will curb the Russian interests in Central Asia and the Caucasus and to take ‘War on Terror’ to a new level. The plan’s genius is that we will be able to unite the nations that are divided by geography but are united by the ideology—a democratic ideology, that is.

America totally disregarded the UN with Iraq; Russia did in Georgia. In Middle East, nations have been disregarding the UN for years. So why are we still relying on the United Nations while simultenously outsourcing the important agenda to NATO, EU, Six-Party Talks, Davos, etc. The problem is that the UN has become its own Detroit: it is just too big to fail. It is a bad PR for any member nation to admit that nothing is being done at that 38-storied behemoth. So when we are talking about the reforms to the United Nation, we should probably look beyond a top-down approach to embrace bottom-up approach to create a new international organization, whose membership should be as exclusive as that to the EU. Through highly exclusive, highly selective cartel of the international states, we can relocate governments that are not representative of their people into the dustbin of history, i.e, the General Assembly and the Security Council. The bottomline is now more than ever, we need responsible international governance. It is time either to revamp the UN or just trade it in for a newer model. 

Although he quoted two Republicans, Archibald S. Hone is not a conservative, but just a cynic. This is his first article for the new column, “Pillory”, where he will try to crucify pretty much everything, from French wine growers to Jane Austen. 


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