Thursday, March 01, 2007

Does the UN Have A Future?

This was the subject of a discussion the magazine held this morning with Lee Feinstein and Ruth Wedgwood. Yes, it does--but both gave what I would term as qualified answers. Ruth noted that founding moments come very rarely and so despite all the issues we have with the UN we are unlikely to get another chance anytime soon to found something to replace it. But she called attention to the need for the General Assembly to push through reforms--the Secretary General can only do so much--and also what she described as the Chinese approach these days--no longer as willing to let through resolutions that convey "authority by implication" (e.g. all necessary means) and much more interested in resolutions that lay out specific grounds for action (e.g. we authorize sanctions but not use of force). She also called attention to the fact that countries by underinvesting in military capacity affect the UN's ability to carry out effective peace-keeping and security operations; the Charter, by implication, calls on countries to provide support not when they "feel like it" but when the situation warrants it.

Lee, who has charted the emergence of what he calls a "cross-ideological" consensus in the United States about the UN, pointed out how the UN has moved closer to some U.S. positions (e.g. moving away from seeing democracy as one of many systems toward democracy as the norm, a closer move to allowing interventions in dire situations without always requiring Security Council approval. But he also pointed out that the U.S. historically has punched under its weight at the UN and that the U.S. presence there is understaffed, not able to take advantage of what can be achieved there.

Other interesting points: the cold war stalemate is being replaced by energy diplomacy as states don't want to take actions that affect their energy and economic interests; and whether or not a movement toward reform that brings in the United States and a number of developing countries eager to move out of being in lock-step with the non-aligned movement could succeed. Also whether or not the U.S. feels threatened by the UN and to what extent UN legitimacy is required to give an imprimatur to U.S. actions--a debate that was not settled by the end of the session.

Nick, sat in on the discussion yesterday.

What struck me was how Feinstein's views while they may reflect the Democratic policywonk DC consensus just won't wash among the activisits or likely Democratic voters.
A strong UN is problematic for all great powers because it will either seek to intervene in domestic affairs or because it will constrain freedom of action. Washington Moscow and Beijing all for their own reasons don't want a strong UN.
My understanding was that UN was set up to prevent another war like WWII among major powers. Thus, with the global devolution of power, we will need UN more than ever.

I would also like to point out that UN still has a very powerful positive image: for days during the course of Rwandan massacares UN compound and UN soldiers were the only save havens that were respected by the perpetrators of the massacare.

This image is traished in Iraq and elsewhere.

I do not see any useful alternative to UN - how else can you create and sustain multilateral international instruments of trade, agriculture, security, etc.? Bi-lateralism just will not cut it in a global environment.

I think that US, during the unipolar moment between 1991-2001, did great harm to UN that must be reversed.

Alternative is a great age of barbarism.
We are living in the "great age of barbarism.' Tyrants rule through force and deception, worshiping the godz of war and money.

The UN is impotent as an organization of nations working to prevent war.

Look at this world.

Unless, and the until the UN is given globally accepted authority and powers, (with teeth, or maybe fangs) and is afforded the necessary legal and enforcement capabilities, - the organization and the institution is little more than a forum for academic discourse.

No nation is willing to submit to UN mandates, and there are no globally accepted authorities or laws, and surely no globally accepted enforcement agency, police or military.

The idea of Peacekeepers is an oxymoron, or more accurately simply moronic.

Humanity remains basically barbarians, resolving our differences, and forcing our will and way by beating each other over the head with sticks.

Our sticks may have evolved in "brilliant" or "hypersuperior" ways, - but our collective wisdom, compassion, and humanities ability to live in peace without robbing, raping, enslaving, or killing each each other - remains mired in the most primitive, base, and barbaric regions of our consciousness.

Perhaps a better academic forum would be an organization where all the worlds religions gather and discuss historical and theological, and philosophical differences and similarities and work toward some kind of peaceful tolerance and understanding.

Nations, and particularly the barbaric leaders commandeering the nations of this bloody, violent, greedy, heartless world - are obviously devolving, and failing to affect any positive changes, - or nations from hacking each other to pieces.

"Deliver us from evil!"
deter prevent the various
Forgive the double post, but for clarity the last paragraph should have read -

Nations - and particularly the barbaric leaders commandeering the nations of this bloody, violent, greedy, heartless world - are obviously devolving and failing to affect any positive changes, - or prevent or deter other nations from hacking each other to pieces.

"barbarism" is not going to disappear, but violent competition in an anarchic inter-national and inter-societal system is not a necessity, according to Alexander Wendt. We can transform Hobbesian structural constraints.

The problem is demagogy on both sides of the Atlantic,

"Ruth Wegwood also called attention to the fact that countries by underinvesting in military capacity affect the UN's ability to carry out effective peace-keeping and security operations"

Aha,...I always thought that countries are overinvesting in military to be able to bypass the UN and to act unilaterally???

Such statements are oversimplification and nothing but implied accusations!

That above is a shot against the EU by Wegwood.

Just like Drezler's article in Foreign Affairs, "The New, New World Order"

Here are some scandalous inconsistencies in Drezler's article:

- total misrepresentation, distortion and underestimation of EU economic capabilities (The EU is nominally the biggest economy in the world according to the IMF and World Bank)

-implications and statements that EU "overrepresentation" in international institutions is the reason for inefficiency and underrepresentation of emerging geopolitical powers in international institutions.

I wonder where the UN would be by now if it wasn't for European commitment, who bypassed UN, who sent the most UN-undermining Ambassador to UN (Bolton), what about American actions in UN concerning Israel, I am not criticizing American commitment to Israel, but overdoing it undermines the UN???

Is it not American "overinfluence" on UN, IMF, World Bank that hampers acceptance of those institution by upcoming powers, instead of European overrepresentation???

-To argue that the reason for the collapse of WTO-talks is simply European refusal to cut agricultural subsidies and European concession pressure on third world countries, is a plain LIE. Both USA and the EU were the problem, both were not ready for big concessions themselves,...that's the truth...the German Council on Foreign Relations' magazine International Politics published a nice interview with Peter Mandelson in the Sempember,2006 German issue, who outlines how the US is not cutting any subsidies (Farm Bill 2002) by just shifting money from one pool to another, of course Mandelson is not a very neutral source, but it makes clear that it is the fault of both economic giants on world stage, USA and EU

-naive approach towards China, talk about "creating" Chinese responsibility, ignorance of the fact that Chinese Communist leaders basically sign almost anything and keep to almost nothing, ignorance of Chinese unacceptable handling of intellectual property and the very fact that Chinese ways of not "playing by the rules" is a major factor in Chinese economic success, so why should they start to behave differently...why should China cooperate on institutional issues when they can bypass those institutions, create new ones and just not deal with American and European influence in those institution, this of course up to certain degree.

China is undermining the whole Western economic tradition and "rules", endangering the Western economies and floating third world countries with cheap products.

-no mentioning of the main reason behind the "recognition" of India as a nuclear power, namely containing China

-distortion of international economic data, e.g. Germany is still a bigger economy than China (nomimal GDP), and it will take some time for China, although a 9,5 GDP annual growth and 3% annual rise against other currencies of Yuan (except USD (0,3%), announced 2006) is impressive, to pass the USA or the EU,...

-no mentioning of the huge opportunity for the West that TAFTA represents, the USA and EU together comprise over 50% of world GDP and both respect economic rules and intellectual property,...

-Drezler does not outline any probable reaction of the EU to the suggested US-policy shift, e.g. EU moving much, much closer to Russia in terms of economic, geopolitical and technological (space, military) cooperation, which will be more problematic for the USA than for the EU, it will not go on forever with the "Troian horse", Poland and other coups to undermine EU consolidation, and it is not in American interest to re-actualize, propagate EU problems but to support EU consolidation and a firm transatlantic partnership,...

-I wonder how American policy shifting away from the EU will influence interest conflicts in the middle east...???

The very consequence of the policy suggested by Drezler will actually be American isolation and further emphasis on American military capacities, creating a multi-polar world leaning towards militarization, since empowerment of unreliable international actors like China will result in only military staking being reasonable to exercise pressure.

It is not very smart to give up Western economic dominance as a whole just for the interests of a couple private entities. Drezler is not a nobody, in the case of this article he intentionally manipulates public opinion, distorts facts and propagates a policy which is definitely not in accordance with public interest on both side of the Atlantic and worldwide stability.

Therefore given the economic superiority of the USA and the EU together, it is only a firm transatlantic cooperation which can initiate a reform and secure international acceptance of most international institutions. This will not work with accusations, only with firm USA-EU cooperation and an exemplary commitment to international law, economic regulations and liberal democracy.

Europeans have to invest more money in their military (which is happening) and not only use the American capacities as a "bodyguard" and at the same time criticize American military domination in world politics. America has to give up some political freedom and commit firmly to international institution, not only when it serves interests.

It is solely transatlantic cooperation which keeps our international institutions alive, given the economic and military power of the Transatlantic block it is only the USA and EU together who can reform, implement or whatsoever...
I am against UN becoming a globally powerful semi-state/semi government. The last thing we need is a world government that can potentially stifle liberty and innovation (like the Chinese Empire in her hayday). There is also a chance of such an semi-state/semi-government to be taken over by evil men (unscruplous men) who might decide to eliminate this or that ethnic group.
D. Dimitrov:

European states supported Saddam Hussein in the war against Iran and aided and abetted the rape of the Chemical Weapons Treaty during that war. Therefore, when push comes to shove, God knows what they will do. I cannot take their statements at face value.

European states pursued a Jacboin policy regarding Kosovo - they interefered in teh internal affairs of a sovereign state and threw the principles of Peace of Westphalia out of the window. They cannot be trusted - theirs is a capricious policy.

In India, it is believed that France was the country that was complicit in the Rwandan genocide - both in the planning & execution and later by protecting the criminals.

So, thanks but no thanks. I hope that there never will be a Pan European Force - we do not truts Europe.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?