November 25th 2006

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: CLIMATE CHANGE: An appeal to reason: the economics and politics of climate change

EDITORIAL: Water infrastructure needed, not gimmicks

AUSTRALIA'S DROUGHT: COAG's free trade in water threatens farmers

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Howard's loyalty to U.S. faces severe test

UNITED STATES: U.S. voter backlash against Bush's Iraq war

IRAQ WAR: Bush runs out of options

THE ECONOMY: Wishful thinking about agriculture, manufacturing

WESTERN AUSTRALIA: Taped calls incriminate ex-premier, minister

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Sinister side to lunatic fringe / The gentle art of blackening reputations / Faces of vulnerability / The old refrain?

HUMAN CLONING: Patterson's curse - the Frankenbunny

Lies, cowardice and cloning (letter)

Bouquet and brickbat for News Weekly (letter)

Optional preferential voting rejected (letter)

Greenhouse superstitions (letter)

Using children as spies (letter)

BOOKS: INSIDE THE ASYLUM: Why the UN and Old Europe are Worse Than You Think, by Jed Babbin

BOOKS: THE BATTLE FOR SPAIN: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939, by Antony Beevor

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INSIDE THE ASYLUM: Why the UN and Old Europe are Worse Than You Think, by Jed Babbin

by Bill Muehlenberg

News Weekly, November 25, 2006

Time to ditch the United Nations?

Why the UN and Old Europe are Worse Than You Think

by Jed Babbin
(Washington DC: Regnery Publishing Inc.)
Hardcover: 256 pages
Rec. price: $58.95

Like many ideas, the desire to set up a structure such as the United Nations was probably well motivated and a legitimate concept at the time. But a strong argument can be made that the UN no longer serves its original purpose, and may in fact be acting against its founding ideals.

That is certainly the case being made by Jed Babbin, a leading American national security analyst (and former deputy undersecretary of defence under the first President George Bush in the 1980s). He argues that the UN has become a moribund, corrupt, biased and bloated bureaucracy which does little to promote the good of the world, but much to support tyrants, dictators and left-wing causes, as well as its own longevity.

When the UN was formed in 1945, it had some laudable aims. But also built into the original UN charter were some glaring defects, argues Babbin. The first error was to apply the doctrine of the equality of all men to nations. But not all nations are equal. Dictatorships, terrorist states, and Communist states are simply not on a par with free, democratic states.

Another problem is that "any nation, pseudo-nation, or thugocracy such as Iran under the mullahs" can be a member of the UN. This makes the whole exercise of peacekeeping and the promotion of human rights counter-productive.

Moreover, the lack of accountability and a system of checks and balances makes the UN answerable to no one. Thus the opportunities for mismanagement and corruption are many.

The Oil-for-Food scandal is a classic case in point. This debacle has yet to fully see the light of day, but we do know that the UN was implicitly involved in this. Indeed, UN officials provided Saddam Hussein with the means to "bribe politicians, to deprive his people of needed food and medicine, and to literally steal billions of dollars".

Not only was this the biggest financial scandal of the UN, much of the money siphoned off ended up lining the pockets of UN bureaucrats, along with various politicians.

The UN has been especially impotent to deal with terrorism. But worse than that, it has tended to side with the terrorists and tyrants against the U.S. and much of the West. The democratic members of the UN seek to abide by its resolutions, but rogue states regularly flout them. By routinely co-operating with terrorists, the UN is not making the world a safer and more peaceful place, says Babbin.

He argues that reform of the UN is probably impossible, and the wisest course for the U.S. may be to simply pull out altogether. Indeed, given that the U.S. directly and indirectly pumps around $7 billion a year into the UN (its largest benefactor), and gets nothing but grief and hostility in return, that may not be a bad option.

Babbin says a coalition of like-minded states could seek to do what the UN was meant to do, but has been unable or unwilling to do. Such a proposal may or may not be workable. But to stay in a system that has proven to be a failure is certainly not the way to proceed.

Other books have been recently written making a similar case to Babbin's. But if just one volume is to be consulted, this would be a good starting place indeed.

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