After 70 years, the United Nations has become a vast, sprawling conglomerate, overwhelmed by unsustainable ambitions, inadequate capacities, and plain reality. Characterized by speeches, meetings, reports, resolutions, and endless ways to spend money, the UN has managed to construct a large carbon footprint. What else it actually accomplishes is a different issue.
|Arthur Schlesinger with President John Kennedy|
None of this is new. In his Oct. 22, 1961, diary entry, Arthur Schlesinger, close adviser to President John Kennedy and good friend of then UN Ambassador Adlai Stevenson, wrote, “I cannot resist the feeling that the UN world is really an immense and picturesque form of make-believe and that its problems and crises are remote from the serious issues of the day.” Although Schlesinger hoped he was mistaken in the long run, that day is not yet in sight.
Undoubtedly, many UN specialized agencies do important work in fields as diverse as maritime affairs, civil air transport, and telecommunications. Almost from their creation, however, the UN’s political decision-making entities — the Security Council, the General Assembly, and the various “human-rights” organizations — have largely been failures.
Many Americans, watching decade after decade of cascading failures and scandals like the oil-for-food program, ask why we simply shouldn’t withdraw. Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick was once asked this question. After pausing to reflect, she responded, “It’s not worth the trouble.”
Staying in, of course, brings its own share of trouble, thanks to the feckless decisions by one UN governing body after another and the attendant financial consequences for American taxpayers. If UN agencies and councils merely adopted resolutions filled with rhetoric, we would be irritated, but those authorizing treaties, programs, and conferences with budget implications irritate us more tangibly. Given the UN Charter’s “one nation, one vote” principle, we are basically guaranteed to be permanently irritated.Read the rest of the op-ed HERE.
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