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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review August 15, 2006 / 21 Menachem-Av, 5766

Testing the Limits of the U.N.: Who seriously expects Kofi Annan to stop Al Qaeda terror attacks?

By Niall Ferguson


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | It's funny that the abbreviation for the United Nations is U.N. It always makes me think of negatives. Unhelpful. Unrealistic. Unproductive. Unhappy.


This has been an especially bittersweet summer for the United Nations. I'm talking about not only its monthlong paralysis while war between Israel and Hezbollah has devastated Lebanese and Israeli cities, but also the manifest impotence of its peacekeeping force in Lebanon, four members of which were killed July 25 by Israeli forces. Despite all this, most people still tend to assume that the U.N. is the best place to look for a solution to this latest crisis in the Middle East. Indeed, on Friday, U.N. Security Council members agreed to a resolution aimed at stopping the fighting.


But who seriously expects the United Nations to prevent Al Qaeda (or its latest imitator) from trying to blow up passenger planes in the air? Those who dreamed up the "Lockerbie-meets-9/11" bomb plot clearly did intend "mass murder on an unimaginable scale." All the U.N. has to offer in response is yada, yada, yada on an unimaginable scale.


I had a look at the U.N. website Friday to see how the "international community" was reacting to the transatlantic horror that might have been. It didn't take long to locate a promising page titled "U.N. Action Against Terrorism." Clicking on "Latest Developments" took me to Secretary-General Kofi Annan's "Recommendations for Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy." Underneath was a stirring condemnation of "terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, committed by whomever, wherever and for whatever purposes," taken from Annan's report, "Uniting Against Terrorism," published in April.


But my heart sank as I plowed through the report. By the time I got to Chapter VI — "Defending human rights in the context of terrorism and counter-terrorism" — I was comatose. In his new book, "The Parliament of Man: The Past, Present, and Future of the United Nations," the British-born Yale historian Paul Kennedy shows just why the U.N. excels at what Churchill called jaw-jaw, but does less well at stopping war-war. Kennedy takes his title from Tennyson's poem "Locksley Hall," in which the poet "dipt into the future" and imagined a time when "the war-drum throbb'd no longer, and the battle-flags were furl'd / In the Parliament of man, the Federation of the world."


President Truman frequently quoted Tennyson's lines at the time of the U.N.'s founding conference in 1945, in an effort to persuade his wavering countrymen not to repudiate the idea of collective security (as they had in the 1920s). Yet it was not quite a "Parliament of man" that emerged — more a parliament of nation-states, strictly subordinated to an executive committee of five past or present empires: the permanent members of the Security Council.


Most advocates of U.N. reform tend to focus on the considerable power of those five powers. Why, they ask, should Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States each enjoy the privilege of vetoing resolutions they do not like the look of? Why should China have a seat, but not India — simply because India was still part of Britain's empire in 1945, whereas no one in Washington expected the Communists to take over China just four years later? Those who make this point are almost as misguided as those reactionary Republicans who regard the United Nations as an irritant rather than an asset to the U.S., forgetting altogether how much the U.S. has benefited from U.N. legitimization in previous conflicts, such as the Korean War and the Gulf War.


I agree with the thrust of Kennedy's argument that a postwar world without the United Nations — or a world with an institution more like the much weaker League of Nations — would have been an even less peaceful world. You only need to run through the list of ongoing U.N. peacekeeping missions to realize just how many conflicts it has helped to dampen down, if not to end.


There are currently 18 United Nations peacekeeping operations underway, out of a total of 60 in the entire post-1945 period. Would an enlarged or otherwise modified Security Council authorize more — or more effective — peacekeeping operations? Would it have acted sooner or more successfully in recent genocidal wars such as those fought in Bosnia and Rwanda in the 1990s? It seems unlikely.


If anything, the unrepresentative composition of the Security Council increases the chances that its members will agree, especially now that the Cold War is over. Today, the weakness of the United Nations lies elsewhere. It lies in precisely the fact that the General Assembly represents all (or nearly all) of the world's nation-states, from the vast and ancient to the tiny and new. That not only leads to the overrepresentation of peoples with relatively high levels of political fragmentation (such as the Arabs), it also leads to the overrepresentation of nation-states, per se.


In Tennyson's imagined Parliament of man, "the common sense of most shall hold a fretful realm in awe." In the same way, the U.N. is designed to deal with "fretful" states that break international law. Even if it often does so fitfully (as with Iran's nuclear weapons program), the mechanisms are there. But Hezbollah is not a state but, at best, a state within a state. And Al Qaeda is a loose network that operates within many states. It is far from clear — least of all from Annan's report — what role the U.N. should play in combating such malignant "non-state actors," other than to spawn committees and churn out more reports.


Terrorist organizations thrive precisely where states are weak. And those weak states are as well represented in the U.N. General Assembly as the strong states against whom the terrorists direct their attacks. This is precisely why calls for the creation of a U.N. intelligence service or a U.N. standing army (which Kennedy supports) are just as unrealistic as Tennyson's youthful vision: "And the kindly earth shall slumber, lapt in universal law."


"Chaos, Cosmos! Cosmos, Chaos!" exclaimed an older, wiser Tennyson in "Locksley Hall Sixty Years After." "Who can tell how all will end?" That is the question no one can answer about the incurably disunited world we live in.

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Niall Ferguson is a professor of history at Harvard University. He is the author of "Empire" (Basic Books, 2003) and "Colossus" (Penguin, 2004). Comment by clicking here.


08/08/06: The coming tsunami of trash
07/18/06: Forget the '60s and ‘Make Love, Not War.’ Today's world is facing a Summer of Rage
07/11/06: When will China pull the plug on North Korea?
06/20/06: Hedge funds vs. central bankers: Will inflation, deflation or recession win in the coming months?
06/13/06: Britain's economy is just like America's — minus the entrepreneurs and growth
06/06/06: The X-Men have taken over Washington
05/30/06: Quit protesting, profs!
05/23/06: World markets' wild ride: Economic volatility is back with a vengeance
05/16/06: The Cold Wars are coming
05/09/06: Many commentators are missing dangerous political shift
05/02/06: Put some sugar in your tank
04/25/06: Hu and the dog that didn't bark
04/18/06: Should Americans be less optimistic?
04/11/06: Globalization's second death?
04/04/06: So many ‘special’ friends
03/28/06: Let's get it right about what has gone wrong
03/21/06: Congress is trying to give the world a globotomy
03/14/06: Lame ducks can still bite back
03/07/06: A 19th Century critique of a 21st Century president
02/28/06: The crash of civilizations
02/21/06: Not the president, but close
02/14/06: Want historic trouble? Look south
02/07/06: Greenspan advising Britain? It's housing bubbles, deficits and potential meltdowns all over again
01/31/06: Missing the Cold War
01/24/06: It's a sick, Thick World
01/17/06: Tomorrow's world war today
01/03/06: Scotland, it's over, but keep the accents
12/20/05: History, democracy and Iraq
12/20/05: History, democracy and Iraq
11/22/05: Ghost of Napoleon haunts Tony Blair
11/22/05: Can it happen in Britain too?
11/15/05: Red plus blue equals purple
11/10/05: The fires of disintegration
11/01/05: Triumph of an über-wonk

© 2006, Los Angeles Times Distributed by Los Angeles Times Syndicate

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