Jewish World ReviewDec. 1, 2004 / 18 Kislev, 5765

Jack Kelly

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No UN would be an improvement over the one we've got now | The horse manure is piled higher than ever, and it stinks to high heaven. But despite all the evidence to the contrary, many of us still think there must be a pony in there somewhere.

The lingering support for the United Nations among Americans is a triumph of hope over experience. The UN was (largely) the brainchild of American liberals, who thought that if only the nations of the world had a place where they could talk out their differences, we could put an end to war and all sorts of other bad stuff.

This didn't work so well with the League of Nations, founded after World War I to end all wars, but learning from experience is not something liberals do much of.

It wasn't long before our creation bit us in the tush.

We want the United Nations to promote world peace. But for most of the UN's members today, the primary purpose of the organization is to place shackles on American power.

When a nation is as powerful as hours, it's understandable that the Lilliputians would feel that they have a common interest in restraining Gulliver. What isn't so understandable is why the United States should continue to host, and (largely) to pay for, an organization that has made frustrating us its raison d'etre.

Most of us would put up with a lot of frustration if it would lead to less violence, hunger, poverty and disease in the world. But the UN today doesn't do what we imagined it would do back in those heady, idealistic days at Dumbarton Oaks.

Consider the UN's role in resolving the current political crisis in the Ukraine. What role, you ask? Precisely.

Tens of thousands of African villagers in the Darfur region of Sudan are being murdered by Arabs, with the complicity of the Sudanese government. What is the UN doing about it? Just what it is doing to resolve the political crisis in the Ukraine.

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But it could be said that the Ukrainians and the Sudanese in Darfur are more fortunate than those poor souls who have received UN "help" in the past. UN peacekeepers idly watched genocide in Rwanda, and actually facilitated it in Bosnia. UN peacekeepers in the Congo are known best for sexually molesting women under their "protection."

The UN's Oil for Food progam has become the biggest financial scandal in the history of the world. With the complicity of UN officials -- including the son of Secretary General Kofi Annan -- Saddam Hussein took at least $21 billion that was meant to provide food and medicine for poor Iraqis and spent it on palaces, weapons, rewards for terrorists and bribes for Security Council members France, Germany, and Russia.

Oil for Food is the Mother of all UN financial scandals, but is hardly the first. In a 1995 paper, Stefan Halper of the CATO Institute described the organization as "a miasma of corruption." Former UN aid workers Kenneth Cain, Heidi Postlewait and Andrew Thomson describe how the UN "helps" people in their book, "Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures." With the United Nations, the difficulty is not in finding corruption; it's finding a UN program that isn't awash in it.

Hope is losing ground to experience. In a recent poll, 60 percent of Americans said the UN is doing "a poor job."

Kofi Annan is aware he has a pr problem. He appointed a commission of big shots to recommend reforms. The High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change will make its report Thursday.

The panel will say that the UN must condemn all terror attacks on civilians or lose its moral authority, the London Telegraph said Monday. This won't sit well with the kleptocrats who control the General Assembly. They've blocked for years a comprehensive UN convention on terrorism on the grounds that it should exclude groups fighting "occupation" or "colonialism," and likely will do so again.

We shouldn't stand for it. If the UN continues to turn its back on reform, we should turn our backs to it.

We hold the high cards. The UN cannot survive without our financial contribution (22 percent of its total budget). And few in the UN bureaucracy would relish relinquishing the ambience of New York for the delights of, say, Zimbabwe.

A UN that actually would promote liberty, democracy and human rights would be eminently worthwhile. But no UN at all would be an improvement over the one we've got now.

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JWR contributor Jack Kelly, a former Marine and Green Beret, was a deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force in the Reagan administration. Comment by clicking here.

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© 2004, Jack Kelly