Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The un-UN

I actually wonder if it's possibly time - and man, it is *not* easy for me to say this - I think it might be time to possibly close down the UN. We should form a new UN, with membership restricted to democracies only. China can be invited and showered with welcomes when the issue involves a use for China - Iran and Cuba and North Korea and Libya et al can be communicated with. But no non-democracy should ever carry a vote, or especially a veto, on what democracies plan or need or want.

I know, I know - sometimes the US or Canada or anyone else want to pillage someone's copper mines or fruit fields. The UN doesn't deal in that.

I think it's great that we have a UN - but dammit, it just doesn't work to let these countries have an equal voice to ours on international affairs.

Monarchies with an elected head of government (with fair elections), that's okay, I guess.

Well - maybe we could keep the UN, but also set up a United Democracies. Like belonging to Mousketeers and the Roy Rogers Club at the same time. "The U.D." doesn't have the right ring to it, admittedly.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not a new UN but a change in its constitution is required. May be let some new countries in as the permanent members of the security council like Canada, Japan, Germany and take away the right to veto from permanent members so Iran and Israel will stop having buddies do their work at the UN.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006 6:57:00 PM  
Blogger Jason Bo Green said...

I'm 100% for a massive change in the constiution.

Seriously though, isn't "The un-UN" the BEST headline ever??

Tuesday, August 01, 2006 9:04:00 PM  
Blogger RGM said...

Did you steal a look at my thesis?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006 4:23:00 AM  
Blogger SouthernOntarioan said...

The problem with any form of 'international government' is inherent.

If you give someone the responsibility they must also have the authority. Otherwise, all you have is talking heads (which may or may not be a bad idea)

In any case, the problem lies with the fact that everyone wants to give the UN the responsibility to do stuff (ie. intervene in case of genocide) but not the authority to do it (ie intervene in your country when other countries complain).

Personally, I think the whole idea should be scrapped.

Joanne, the problem with that is this: The resolutions passed against Israel are all too often one sided. They blame Israel for the fact that Arab nations attacked them (more or less). They get away with this because of a small three letter word : OIL .. these nations have undue influence on the world body and can bribe other nations for votes.

With Iran, as much as I dislike their policies, its difficult to justify the intervention of the global community into their national affairs.

As an example, how would Canada respond if the UN told us that we needed to improve the status of aboriginals or face economic sanctions?

Just a thought..

Wednesday, August 02, 2006 8:50:00 AM  
Blogger Brian C said...

I agree with you Jason and it may evolve from something like NATO which is only concerned about defense issues. There are even countries like S. Africa, Brazil, and India which may find common ground in such an organization. Quite clearly there is a conflict of values in the U.N. that limits its effectiveness. (e.g. views on human rights and terrorism) Funny, many in Canada have recommendation getting rid of an ineffective senate. Perhaps we should consider likewise with the U.N. It is crazy that there have been no U.N. resolutions against the Palestinian intifada. The key is, democratic nations need an organization that they can respect.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006 10:57:00 AM  
Blogger RGM said...

I like this concept of multi-multilateralism, and I'm glad to see that it's gaining traction with a lot of people. If the UN route doesn't work, boom, an issue is pretty much dead in the water. NATO is limited in utility because it requires a unanimous agreement, difficult to do given French intransigence and a general hesitance of the organization to conduct out-of-area operations.

There is a body that is comprised solely of democracies, called the Community of Democracies, but it exists largely only on paper, without a real mandate, secretariat, or any of the features required for effective international organization. I've love to see a Global Alliance of Liberal Democracies that incorporates most or all of the world's 121 democratic states, with a mandate to promote democracy and extend the democratic peace throughout the rest of the world. Will it happen? Only if the U.S. takes a strong leading role and really pushes for it. The 2006 NSS talks about replacing and modernizing international organizations, but thus far the Administration has been essentially plagued with institutional inertia that prevents it from breaking through the barriers of "old thinking."

Wednesday, August 02, 2006 1:20:00 PM  
Blogger Jason Bo Green said...

RGM, is this what your thesis is on??? Maybe I should take a peek at it, I'm curious now.

SO - I take your point, but -- I'd LOVE it if the UN told us to improve the lot of aboriginals or face sanctions... although, granted, the other side of the coin is that I don't know if the government could ever figure out how to do so, and so we might be extremely up-creeked....

RGM - I like your idea, but GALD? We can do a way better acronym. (Admittedly UD is no shake either)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006 1:31:00 PM  
Blogger Jason Bo Green said...

Brian - something like NATO which is only concerned about defense issues

Yeah, I think that's the ticket. Pains me to say it, too, because UNICEF and such is great, and WHO. Well, WHO is, arguably, a defence strategy, really.

Although, man, if there was no UNICEF - I think the US, UK, us, etc., would have ponied up the same anyway.

But above all else, I think you finger it best with,

democratic nations need an organization that they can respect.

Why couldn't I think of it that succinctly? Well said.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006 1:33:00 PM  
Blogger SouthernOntarioan said...

I bit of bias here, I've worked with some aid groups before...

UNICEF is a joke, beyond all the scandals (which are horrendous in and of themselves), most of the money goes to administration rather than helping needy people.

I don't want to rain too much on your parade jason, because I like it that you are trying to figure out an alternative... but... I just am too pessimistical to see it succeeding.

Right off the bat, how do you decide who is democratic and who is not? The Chinese would claim to be democratic, as would N. Korea (The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is their official name). Venezuela claims to be a democracy, although some disagree..

Who would decide who is democratic? The US? UK?

What happens if a state is a democracy but slips into something like a dictatorship? Who would decide that it has happened and how would you prevent abuse of the system?

In any case, I guess my pessimistical side is showing pretty strong today.

You get my respect for trying though. (you could trade that in for a bouncy ball if you'd like =P )

Wednesday, August 02, 2006 2:39:00 PM  
Blogger RGM said...

S.O., there are independent ways to measure a state's "democratic-ness" without having to worry about Uncle Sam pointing his finger and deciding who gets to be in the club: regular free and fair elections, the rule of law, the "town square test," and the Freedom House criteria, to name but a few. If they backslide, they're out.
Nobody considers China a legitimate democracy. They do a pretty good job of not meeting all of the criteria listed above. Same with North Korea, which actively tries to not meet them.

Thursday, August 03, 2006 5:13:00 AM  
Blogger SouthernOntarioan said...

RGM.. again, what is a 'free and fair' election.

The Chinese and Botswanian observers in Iran declared that election to be 'free and fair' the opponents disagreed.

Some would claim that US elections aren't 'free and fair'. A recent Thai election was boycotted by the opposition so naturally the government won a majority in an election that was free of fraud or voter manipulation.. does that constitute a 'free and fair' election?

I'm not opposing for the sake of opposing, I'm just pointing out the difficulty in establishing what exactly democracy is.

In any case, I am being a pessimist really, maybe I'm just growing weary of it all.

Tell me more about the 'freedom House' test though, I haven't heard of it...

Thursday, August 03, 2006 6:37:00 AM  
Blogger RGM said...

Referencing that China says an election is free and fair is about as valid as Saddam's 100% approval rating. The candidates were all vetted by the mullahs who really control the country, they disqualified many "moderates" and others who wouldn't kowtow to the revolutionary dictatorship line, thus the election was neither free nor fair to the many people who supported these candidates or to the candidates themselves.

Freedom House is an independent, non-partisan organization that regularly documents the global condition of democracy. They put out an annual survey document entitled "Freedom in the World" that examines all states, categorizes them according to their level of freedom, and examines ongoing trends in liberalism, democracy, and the rule of law. Its website can be found at: http://www.freedomhouse.org and the 2006 survey (which is an excellent resource if you ever have to write a political science term paper) is also available online: http://www.freedomhouse.org/uploads/pdf/Charts2006.pdf

Thursday, August 03, 2006 7:58:00 AM  
Blogger Jason Bo Green said...

Well SO, you are exactly right, which is why I guess I picture sort of member-controlled but bigger organization like NATO. (Well, that's poorly said - the UN is "member controlled", of course)

I was thinking about the China elections, but... I never even thought about the contested US elections. (By the way, thank god we still use a paper and pencil, I don't know how they put up with all the controversy)

I know nothing about scandal at UNICEF. *sigh* Why am I not surprised??

I imagine, but perhaps wrongly, that the majority of democracies, as opposed the majority of nations on earth, don't buy China's line, but accept the US, and overlook one controversy of the SCOTUS picking a winner.

I don't know this freedom house test, either...

Thursday, August 03, 2006 12:51:00 PM  
Blogger Jason Bo Green said...

Ah, got it (on Freedom House). Thanks for the link.

Thursday, August 03, 2006 12:52:00 PM  
Blogger RGM said...

Always glad to help.

Friday, August 04, 2006 5:11:00 AM  
Blogger SouthernOntarioan said...

Thanks RGM, although I agree for the most part with what Freedom House says, I have to admit I am a bit curious at a couple decisions by them...

Cambodia (who is still trying to overcome a genocide that slaughtered 2-3 million of its citizens) is listed as 'not free' when in my opinion, it should be 'partly free'. I've read the articles talking about the rampant corruption and even the coup in 1997, but give them some credit for trying. They have a multi-party system and free (mostly) elections and a constitutions declaring themselves to be aiming for a 'liberal democracy'.

After all, in 1975-1979 they lost anyone who had any education and the rest fled the country.

Maybe I'm nitpicking, but I'm just pointing out that people may disagree with Freedom House on democracy... especially when Venezuela gets a 'partly free' ... and Myanmar gets a 'free' rating in 2004...

I guess that the intial group members would have to agree on a method for determining 'democracy ratings'..

Friday, August 04, 2006 8:59:00 AM  
Blogger Jason Bo Green said...

RGM, you're making me think this could be more difficult than I imagined.... ie. that SO is right.

Friday, August 04, 2006 9:08:00 AM  
Blogger RGM said...

Yep, it's not an easy task to just point a finger and say, "You, you, and you, you're in" while excluding or minimizing other countries' freedom status. There's room for error and nobody's perfect, but the FH folks do a pretty good job.

Saturday, August 05, 2006 6:15:00 AM  
Blogger Jason Bo Green said...

See, now why is that so hard? *I* could point a finger and say, "You, you, you, you, and you."

It's easy!! I bet you and I could probably agree in the whole membership!


Saturday, August 05, 2006 8:09:00 AM  

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