United Nations costs more than it’s worth

March 15, 2010

WASHINGTON, Mar. 15, 2010/ Troy Media/ — Get a globe and spin it. Jab your finger down at random and, without doubt, you will have located a spot entangled in war, revolution, rebellion, terrorism, famine, plague, drought, dictatorship, poverty and/or illiteracy. If I told you the year was 1810, you wouldn’t be surprised. If I told you the year was 2010, tragically, you wouldn’t be surprised, either.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Mankind was supposed to be beyond these primitive scourges. Who said so? The United Nations did, back in 1945.

In those halcyon days when light was readmitted to a world darkened by world war, some actually believed that a global organization could, as stated in the UN charter, eliminate war, safeguard human rights and equality (specifically adding men and women), establish justice under international law, and – the best part –  “promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.”

It’s time to say “Enough”

In other words, the UN was born to be the savior of a species hell-bent on destroying itself. It has been a miserable failure in its overall mission, and worse, a destructive force in almost every one of its individual endeavors. It’s time to say, “Enough!”

The UN hasn’t done enough good, and has caused enough damage for a top-to-bottom reconsideration of its future. At the very least, there is a desperate need for a major overhaul in its structure and functions; at most, an outright abolition of this expensive tool of despair.

A full legal argument against the UN. would make a formidable document. A snapshot of its failures will more than suffice. Going back to its own charter, we see that the mission of the UN is split between peacekeeping and humanitarian efforts. What has happened is that the latter is all too connected in the former’s shortcomings. Those who would argue that one the UN’s greatest achievements has been the handling of the displaced conveniently ignore the fact that these people were displaced because of the very wars the UN was pledged to prevent.

Not only that, the history of those UN. forces charged with peacekeeping (UN troops are routinely called “peacekeepers,” not “troops” or “soldiers”) has been nothing but a litany of criminal acts. In Liberia, for example, the UN finally acted after 14 years of a typical African mind-numbing civil war that saw 200,000 citizens slaughtered amid survivors’ harrowing stories of sadism including torture, systematic rape and addicting young boys to drugs to get them to fight. In marched the blue-bereted UN troops – peacekeepers to be precise – and promptly established business as usual, sexually abusing the female population and trading food and money for sex.

A controversial decision

After a UN study exposed the abuses to world scrutiny, as if anyone was surprised, the organization’s brilliant answer was to recently replace some of the troops with Indian and Nigerian female soldiers (sarcastically called by the UN its “blue helmettes”) to make conditions more “homelike and normal.” Right; the jury is still out on this one, but it doesn’t take an Einstein to predict the next catastrophic UN blunder.

In its never-ending quest to make things as complicated and ineffective as possible, the UN didn’t realize that the women couldn’t drive manual transmissions and so were effectively confined to the base areas. It took the Canadian government and the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre in Ottawa to intervene by donating vehicles and organizing driving lessons (in Ghana, no less) for the helmettes.

UN paralyzed in Somalia

In Somalia, the UN has been paralyzed for decades, as the country essentially ceased to exist. With no real central government, and the pseudo-nation governed piecemeal by competing gangs, it degenerated into a Disneyland for piracy – which, astoundingly, became its chief source of income. In the face of UN inaction, interventions were carried out, tragically, by the American military (a  pathetic fiasco), and then the laughable troops of the African Union sent under the auspices of the . . . guess who?

The Union, a scheme by Libyan strongman daffy Quadhafi, was to counter the European Union with the African Union – one country, one currency, one army. It was no surprise that it has gone nowhere fast, save sending an impotent continent of A.U. troops to Somalia to watch over troops of thugs merrily pirating, and the establishment of a Somalia-Yemen terrorist partnership. A total farce.

Only recently was it announced that the UN was bypassed again, as the US is once again establishing a military presence in Somalia to attempt a takeback of the capital.

A shameful record

But nowhere has the UN performed so contrary to every tenet of its original charter, and to the principles of simple humanity, as in the Arab-Israeli conflict. The UN has condemned Israel dozens of times, and not once an Arab nation.  The UN has never condemned aggressive wars against Israel in 1948, 1967, or 1973, nor any of the thousands of terrorists attacks against innocent civilians since the state’s inception.

For all the good it does, only the presence of the US on the Security Council, with its absolute veto power, has prevented the passage of these resolutions condemning the Jewish state.

A travesty of justice

While the world burns – Darfur, Afghanistan, the Congo, Sudan, eco disasters, abuse of women, poverty, illiteracy – reread the first paragraph – the world’s elite flap their jowls in New York and jealously guard their own self-interests. Corruption is rampant in UN programs: witness the Oil-for-Food fiasco as one example. In other programs, a UN presence has meant increases in local corruption, diversion of resources, human rights abuses and prostitution.

Can the UN. overcome humanity’s shortcomings with aspirations greater than itself? Some say it doesn’t matter; talk is better than war. But there is no evidence that the UN has prevented even a single shot being taken. In fact, more wars have started since the founding of the UN than have stopped, for one reason or another. And the peacekeepers have enjoyed partaking of their own atrocities under the blue flag of peace.

And now, with the threat of an expanding and barbaric threat of terrorism spreading across the world, the UN seems even more impotent to deal with the problem. It’s time to recognize that the problem is with the UN, and something must be done and done soon.

Running the UN is costly

The cost of running the United Nations is substantial. According to its own data, “The UN system spends some $15 billion a year, taking into account the United Nations, UN peacekeeping operations, the programmes and funds, and the specialized agencies, but excluding the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). Around half of this amount comes from voluntary contributions from Member States, the rest from mandatory assessments on those States.”

That comes out to a little more than $2 for every man, woman and child on the planet, and doesn’t account for the associated cost to individual countries for participating in the various missions. Assessments are decided upon by consensus, and are a never-ending source of disagreement among members, to the point where about 20 per cent of member states  pay only a portion of what is owed, pay late, or don’t pay at all. During the Bush administration, the US withheld part of its assessment to protest the UN position on abortion. There is no mechanism to force compliance.

Assessments are determined by a formula based on a country’s gross domestic product, less various factors such as external debt. It is an unfair system, because some countries “cook the books.” For example, China, with an artificially valued currency, pays less than Canada despite the fact that its GDP is triple. The US pays the largest assessment, 22 per cent, but 25 per cent of peacekeeping costs, amounts under dispute for years as being excessive.

Counterpoint: Better a broken U.N. than no U.N. at all

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