Put No Faith in the United Nations


Now that John Bolton, our undiplomatic ambassador to the United Nations, will be stepping down, the Senate ought to take a hard look at the world body before confirming a replacement.

The U.N. was cobbled together toward the end of World War II, and it is clear from the charter that the five allied powers — U.S., Great Britain, France, Russia and China — intended to run the world. Only the Security Council was given any power, and any one of the five could veto any decision it made.

The alliance fell apart. The Soviet Union and the U.S. began the Cold War. Great Britain and France, weakened by two world wars, faded away as major powers. Communist China eventually replaced the Republic of China. In the meantime, any patch of land was accepted as a country, no matter how unviable, and admitted to the General Assembly, which has become a hall of babble.

My first choice is and always has been to abrogate the treaty and withdraw from the U.N. completely. If it were merely a worthless organization, that wouldn’t be so bad, but it is a very expensive organization, which has great capacity to cause trouble.

Beginning with Harry Truman, presidents have used Security Council resolutions to avoid a congressional declaration of war, as the Constitution requires. The U.N. is a hive of spies and always has been. It is constantly being abused by its more powerful members, including us.

A friend of mine in the Foreign Service told me a story some years ago about two brothers who staged a coup in their small African country and then had a lethal falling-out. Both wanted to be ambassador to the U.N. and live comfortably in New York City. Neither wanted to stay in their miserable little country and be president.

That’s the kind of drollery that happens when people who aren’t qualified to run a cow lot are presumed to represent countries that aren’t much better than a cow lot in terms of civilization and development.

We will never elect a president and a Senate with enough sand in their craws to dump the United Nations. We live in an age in which Europe and North America have lost their political courage and willpower. It is an age of equivocation and drift. One reason they might be so eager to attack small foreign countries is that it is easier to explain that than to explain why they can’t protect their own borders and the jobs and culture of their own citizens.

In lieu of manlier action, the U.S. should simply refuse to pay more than its proportionate share of the expenses, and appoint a dull little career bureaucrat to be the ambassador and instruct him to while away his hours passing paper from one basket to another.

In short, put no faith in the United Nations. Do not ask it to do anything. Do not expect it to do anything. The U.S. should conduct its foreign policy as if the U.N. did not exist. Under no circumstances should the U.N. be allowed to interfere in any way whatsoever with the internal affairs of the United States.

The U.N., like its predecessor the League of Nations, has always been an illusion. The world is ruled by power. Powerful countries will do what they like; powerless countries will have no influence. Making speeches and casting meaningless votes for meaningless resolutions will not change that.

As we approach an age of shrinking resources and expanding population, there will be plenty of conflicts, and the U.N. will only get in the way and muddy the waters.

Charley Reese [send him mail] has been a journalist for 49 years.