March 11, 2003

Old/New World (Dis)Order

You know, there is something that I think has really not been emphasized enough in the current hugeass argument over whether or not America is "unilateral" or bilateral or trilateral or whatever, and whether we have the "right" to invade Iraq and remove Hussein by force for not giving up his WMDs or pieces of unassembled WMDs (even though it is part of the terms of the agreement that kept him and his clones in his palaces at the end of GW1, yadda yadda). It's this:

The United Nations is not a governing body.

That's right, chilluns, the UN is not the government of the world, it's a diplomatic organization where nations can send representatives to hash out differences and treaties and things. The only "authority" they have is that which is voluntarily granted to it by its members. And the current structure of the UN, by the way, is based on the outmoded Cold War US vs. USSR faceoff, which needless to say no longer exists. And from what I have read so far, it is clear that the current structure of the UN is all too easy for its members to twist and corrupt.

I can see why Bush would want to keep the UN alive, so much so that he has been playing this game of inspections and sanctions and resolutions with them. I mean, it's not easy to set up Leagues of Nations and such. There are oodles and scads of regulations and charters and organizations and projects that come under the United Nations rubric, and you don't just toss all that in the garbage can -- not if you are a business-minded kind of guy who wants to conserve as much time and personnel as possible. To compare with a prior administration, just look at the amount of time the Billary wasted on their various Fresh New Government boondoggles: the "National Health Care Plan" is the first thing that comes to mind, followed by everyone's favorite debacle, the gays in the military thing. (Hey, I don't have a problem with gays in the military, and I think they should be able to let their rainbow flag fly too -- none of this "don't ask, don't tell" shizzle. But I'm not in the military, and I certainly am not Commander in Chief.)

Anyway, I think that Bush would rather not have to build a whole new clubhouse for world leaders to meet in out of the shattered wreckage of the United Nations. For one thing, he has much bigger fish to fry (such as keeping the big bombs out of Abdul Hitler's hands).

Oh -- did I forget to mention that the USA will be expected to construct an entirely new United Nations-type thing if the current body should fall to bits? You know we, and maybe a few other countries like Great Britain, will be the only ones who will care to. The entire Rest of the World, the individual nations of which practice the sort of cultural and mental isolationism of the sort Pat Buchanan can only dream about, will have no interest in pretending to care about the fate of any other nation, and will not be particularly interested in getting anything out of Americans except money. We heirs of the enlightenment ideals of perfectable humanity, are the only ones who want to rescue the world from its miserable self.

So anyway: the United Nations is not a world government body with power over George Bush or Tony Blair or Saddam Hussein or whoever it is runs Andorra these days. So all this bloviating about "the UN won't approve" is so much hot air. I'd sooner let my cat run things.

Posted by Andrea Harris at March 11, 2003 01:08 AM

We heirs of the enlightenment ideals of perfectable humanity

I would beg to differ. It is not "perfectable humanity" which America and the other few free nations embrace. The damnation of countless nations has been that delusion: that humanity is somehow "perfectable" with just the right laws or social programs or governmental system. Utopia is the goal of the delusional pursued by the despicable....despicable, for no matter how obscene or evil the means used to pursue Utopia, the means are always justified in their minds by the impossible goal.... man made Eden.

-- but acceptance that we are NOT perfectable; that humanity has, at the end, a human nature... and that our commerce, our governance and our societies must accept that.
No it is not humanity's perfection that is the cornerstone of our nations-- but acceptance that we are NOT perfectable; that humanity has, at the end, a human nature... and that our commerce, our governance, and our system of justice must accept that truth.

Posted by: RHJunior at March 11, 2003 at 01:55 AM

I think you missed my sarcasm. Sometimes it is hard to detect. I think that the whole enterprise is a fool's errand, but a lot of people in the US still are blinded by the sparkle fairy dust of progressive ideals, and a lot of those people are still in charge.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at March 11, 2003 at 02:16 AM

PS: if you don't think a lot of Americans embrace that perfectable humanity thing, you haven't been on a college campus lately. You lucky dog.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at March 11, 2003 at 02:17 AM

I think there is a place for the notion of "perfectable humanity." It is called Hooters.

Posted by: Kevin McGehee at March 11, 2003 at 08:25 AM

Warning: the following is seriously random and tangential.

This gets to me wondering: is Andorra an ally or a weasel? It is a sovereign co-principality with a temporal and a spiritual prince. The Bishop of Urgel, in Spain, has always been the spiritual co-prince. The Spaniards are the good guys, but the Vatican appears to be firmly in the weasel camp, so I don't know about this one.

The temporal co-princes were originally the Counts of Foix, then the Counts of Clermont, who became Kings of Navarre and, under Henri IV, Kings of France. Even after the revolution, whoever was the French head of state (King, Consul, President, Emperor, whatever) was the temporal co-prince of Andorra. So now it's Jacques Shill-for-Iraq Chirac.

I guess Andorra is at least 3/4 weasel, maybe completely.

Posted by: David Jaroslav at March 11, 2003 at 10:06 AM

Never mind those idiots who trek out to Iraq to become human shields. I say scoop up all the anti-war protesters here and use 'em for ammo.
"Look out, Saddam, it's another incoming college student, and this one's a Heifer!"

Posted by: Reverend Flash at March 11, 2003 at 10:32 AM

Just a brief observation, then I'll be off. Being a nihilist, libertarian anarchist living in the UK, I'm quite keen to see a destabilising war with subsequent reprisal Arab terrorist attacks where no country will be immune from Western or Islamic fanatics (thank goodness!). We've all become used to the soft living of a modern society, where sarcasm is probably the most dangerous torture we can undergo. There are far too many people in the world, so anything that can be done to reduce the numbers is welcome. The US has my full backing to take whatever measures it feels necessary. Feel free to invade the UK as well if you want, if you think our support of caribbean banana growers threatens your conglomerate banana interests. Everyone should have carte blanche to do whatever they want to protect their own interests, that's what us nihilist anarchists say and sod everyone else. But what intrigues me most of all is that all the US TV children's programmes tell us to be nice to each other, or does that only apply when we're children? And if so, how can we actually tell when we're properly grown up?

Posted by: Stesis at March 11, 2003 at 12:22 PM

Oh, aren't you cute.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at March 11, 2003 at 12:39 PM

Stesis – A sarcasm contest - what fun. I have to say that I agree with the nihilist libertarian peacenicks – if there is no war, we will certainly be immune from enraged Arab nationalists and Western and Islamic fanatics. Maybe, if we don’t go to war, they’ll start to like us. Is that the plan?

Maybe we should be nicer to these fanatics. We should follow the example of the British, who allow racist thugs like Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed, a Muslim cleric in London, to publicly order more fatwas, or hits, than Tony Soprano. Bakri has said he wants the UK to become an Islamic state. How do the British react? They publish each and every Bakri rant – except when he charges them 30 pounds each for the privilege of listening to him. Then they grumble a little and refuse to pay.

What a fine example that is.

Of course we have plans to invade Britain. And France, and Andorra too. As you may have noticed, most Americans aren’t happy with their lives on a small soggy island. They dream all day about foreign lands, obsessing over the details of what life would be like in a place far, far away, learning foreign languages, longing to escape.

Ooops, sorry. I was thinking about the real imperialists, the British. (the sun never sets and all that) Americans usually dream about traveling out west. It's a big country, there's plenty to do right here. Like most grown-ups, we're pretty happy with what we've got.

Posted by: mary at March 11, 2003 at 01:59 PM

I don't think it was sarcasm, I think it was temporal translateralism. He said he was going to speak his piece and then be off...

Posted by: Kevin McGehee at March 11, 2003 at 02:55 PM

Brava, my good lady!

However, sometimes I think the other nations just adore the UN. Where else do they get to band together in blatant self-interest against the United States and make it look sanctified?

Posted by: Scott Ganz at March 11, 2003 at 05:02 PM


The greed and egomania cloaked in self-righteous rhetoric on display at the UN is in the "self-interest" of those engaged in it only in the narrowest and most short-term sense imaginable. It is not remotely in their interests to piss off America so overwhelmingly as they have.

I can't help but recall Barbara Tuchman's definition of "folly" from her swan song, The March of Folly: namely, doing what is clearly not in your self-interest even when contemporary observers repeatedly say it isn't. The Trojan Horse is more allegorical and symbolic than necessarily real history, but her case studies were the Renaissance popes' essentially forcing the Reformation, the British completely losing America rather than accepting the numerous compromises that had been on offer, and the US muddling into Vietnam despite what had happened to the French. The weasels are following the same path: they know the war is coming, and yet they are apparently to do whatever they can to get the worst result out of it for themselves.

Posted by: David Jaroslav at March 11, 2003 at 06:54 PM