November 15, 2004

The Scandal-Plagued UN

The United Nations is currently undergoing concurrent serious scandals. It's obvious that a good idea - bring stability and law to a world marked by violence and conflict - has been ruined by people with no respect for honest government or democratic accountability. We should return to the original concept of an international body that Kant gave us: restrict it to liberal democracies (he'd have said constitutional republics). We need to keep some sort of organization around to give a forum to countries developing democratic institutions, but the real work has to exclude authoritarian and corrupt-democratic states.

We can't trust Sudan, Pakistan, China, Saudi Arabia, North Korea and Libya on the Human Rights panel. This is why the UN has a horribly anti-Semitic bias. This is why the horrible human rights abuses in the world go unpunished and unmentioned. We need to exclude those who don't share the same goals. The inclusion of non-democratic states makes it completely a game of interests and not of rights.

Now, the first scandal shows why the UN has a corrupt, incompetent group culture - that the practices and expectations of UN bureaucrats and officials encourage unethical and illegal activities. The Ba'athist regime under Saddam Hussein netted more than $21.3 billion for their tyrannical rule over Iraq through the UN's Oil For Food program. This was more than one-third of the entire program's size. The money went through a number of countries, including US corporations, but the most numerous were French, Russian and Chinese - three countries opposed to the US invasion of Iraq.

The money bought a number of things, including weapons systems galore, luxuries, and political access. Saddam bribed officials and bigwigs in France, Russia and many other countries to oppose the invasion of his country. He firmly believed they would oppose and block the invasion and was expecting it to be successful.

The OFF program was supposed to impoverish the government while feeding the people. It accomplished nearly the exact opposite - the people languished and suffered while Saddam thrived and made billions. This was a sign of massive corruption, used extensive bribes, and is a serious mark against any future use of the UN to do anything.

At this point, I would not trust anything with the UN's name on it unless it's led and administered by non-UN personnel.

There's a minor corollary here that's major in its implications. The UN tucked tail after and admittedly bad attack on them where they lost a regional bigwig. They failed to assist in critical parts of the early reconstruction when millions of Iraq's needed food, shelter, power and medical attention. That's just cowardly. The billion or so people around the world who depend on outside assistance for food and medical assistance don't have the luxury to flee when things get rough and bombings are just something they are forced to undergo. The UN left after one, admittedly horrible, attack. Cowards.

The Iraqis needed their assistance under OFF. Instead, Saddam made billions with the UN while his people were being hunted and tortured by his security services. The Iraqis needed assistance after the Ba'athists fell. Instead, the UN left the Coalition to do it. Fuck the UN. On this alone, they show they are not up to the task of world conflict. They can't be used for military conflict or peacekeeping if they said they'd stay out until the Coalition pacified the area. Worthless, selfish, corrupt cowards.

Second, the UN, including Secretary General Kofi Annan, is covering up a sexual harassment scandal. A woman on the staff of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said he groped her since 2001 in Geneva. An internal UN investigative watchdog group found that her claims were valid - even though Kofi Annan had personally cleared the UNHCR and former Dutch PM of any wrongdoing. Obviously something fishy is going on. Kofi was trying to protect the UN from discredit and bad press - though any student of polisci knows the public likes honesty better than cover-ups and denial.

It's obvious that there's something sick in the UN culture, it extends to the top, and it's not going to be changed with a new SecGen or a new US President.

The OFF scandal and anti-war bribes are inexcusable. The sexual harassment cover-up shows Kofi is not aggressive or even interested in exposing internal corruption. The total, abject failure of the UN to intervene and block genocide in Iraq, Rwanda, the Sudan, North Korea and elsewhere shows us that the phrase 'never again' means nothing to the UN.

We should create a replacement for the UN. Only liberal democracies should be included and then only countries willing to intervene to stop genocide. They should adopt a version of the UN Convention For the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide - the only international Convention that REQUIRES the use of force. They should call out all humans rights abuses, and they should declare their willingness to be tough with genocidal tyrants, even to the point of military intervention.

It should also include developing democracies as provisional members and other countries and NGOs should be able to join as advisory members - so we can hear their opinions and discuss with them even if they don't get a say on what happens.

Or hell, at least fire the people who sent Saddam Hussein $21.3 billion. Christ.

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