Tuesday, February 08, 2005


Where Are The UN Federalist Papers?

Kofi Annan is ruined and the UN needs a new leader. I've been hearing that a lot. For a while there, Glenn Reynolds was even promoting Vaclav Havel as a replacement. I like Havel, too, but that's not the point, which is:

To paraphrase Churchill, we shape our political institutions, then they shape us, so before we merely plunk a new body into the same, wrong place, let's answer a few q's first. For example:

  • Should the UN be open to all nations, or only democracies? Justify your answer.

  • What should the specific powers of the UN be, and why?

  • How will it enforce its rules; or can it?

  • What authority will the head of the UN have over member conduct, staff choices etc.

  • How will members pay for their membership? How will their dues be calculated?

  • Why is a centralized world authority better than a distributed one, since current evidence seems to favor ad-hoc coalitions as being more effective?
The parallel to the arguments of federal vs state power within the US are pretty obvious; as are most of the other fundamental aruguments that were answered, for the US, by the text of the constitution itself, as well as its subsequent amendments.

Those who call for reform of the UN also have a deeper point (or should), one that is sometimes lost in the heat of the argument: the current institution is corrupt because its structure ensures that corruption will evolve. So before we simply change the name on the secretary-general's letterhead, consider: will that really be enough? The answer is, almost certainly not, so why then would we promote what we know to be a cosmetic change when the foundation itself is rotten?

Let's not allow anger w/Kofi to distract us from the bigger picture: i.e. that the structure of the UN has been shown to guarantee failure, and what will we do about that?

Measure twice, cut once. If we truly wish to avoid repeats of Kosovo, Rwanda, Darfur etc, this is important.

The State Department denounced on Tuesday the selection of Cuba and Zimbabwe for a panel that will decide on the agenda for a meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Commission next month.
First as tragedy, then as farce....

Hat Tip (on the update): Polipundit