Wednesday, December 29, 2004

There's always fun at the UN!

Claudia Rosett does the honors again in Blue: The Next Orange? Forget reform. The U.N. needs regime change.
The advance of liberty and its attendant institutions can be a rough business, provoking stiff resistance by those who find their interests most threatened: the dictators, cronies and retinues of careerocrats who have already have made their compromises of conscience. And although specifics vary, there are some broad familiar patterns to the process of genuine reform. Protests break out, criticism once whispered in backrooms is heard on the streets, misrule and corruption are increasingly exposed. The regime tries to smother dissent while announcing reforms: too little, too late. In the best of cases--the Baltics 15 years ago or, one hopes, Ukraine today--the old framework gives way, and the democratic revolution has arrived.

In the worst of cases, however, we could just as well be talking about the ruckus of recent times at the United Nations, where the regime, is now really beginning to fight back, and may yet succeed in smothering progress. Without making a single truly significant reform--or, for that matter, suffering a single indictment--the U.N. this past year has weathered its worst spell since the early 1980s. That was the stretch in which the Soviets shot down a South Korean airliner, the U.S. pulled out of a corrupt Unesco, and with certain U.N. member states resenting all the fuss, U.S. Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick's deputy, Chuck Lichenstein, told unhappy member states that if they wished to leave America's shores, "the members of the U.S. mission to the United Nations will be down at the dockside waving you a fond farewell as you sail into the sunset."
A lot of the citizens too.
Of course, the U.N. remained comfortably berthed in Turtle Bay, stoked to this day with U.S. taxpayer money, wrapped in diplomatic immunity, and steeped in secrecy more appropriate to the inner workings of the 18th-century French court than a modern world in which free and open political systems offer the best hope of all that peace and prosperity the U.N. is supposed to promote.
Not that the U.N.'s top officials make much secret about their opinions, of, say, their U.S. sugar daddy, the latest example being the rush by Undersecretary-General Jan Egeland this week to condemn as "stingy" U.S. and European offers of relief for the tsunami that has devastated South Asia. Mr. Egeland opined that taxpayers "want to give more," a notion that somehow equates giving more via the U.N. with getting better results. This comes from a U.N. that while evidently failing to set up an international warning system for catastrophic tidal waves did manage last year to turn in a report on snow levels in Alpine ski resorts.
Woohoo! It's just a matter of priorities, Claudia!

If you take a walk in the woods, no opprobrium attaches to finding a wood tick on your body. But what dementia would prompt you to leave it there and watch it gorge itself and grow swollen with your blood?