by Robert W. Tracinski
If its handling of Iraq was a test of the United Nations, as President Bush has indicated, then the United Nations has clearly failed. But this should be no surprise, because yet another test of the United Nations--like yet another resolution giving Saddam Hussein "one more chance"--was completely unnecessary.
It is not that the United Nations has failed to show resolve or to live up to its charter. The problem is that the foundation of the United Nations is hopelessly corrupt.
By its very nature, the United Nations is directed by a consensus drawn upon a nonjudgmental mix of the good, the bad, and the ugly. The United Nations' Security Council, whose judgment on Iraq was supposed to bind the United States, is composed of America and a few brave allies--pitted against cynical France, resentful Russia, hostile China, indifferent Mexico, and such enlightened powers as Angola, Cameroon, and Guinea. And the Security Council is just a microcosm of the United Nations itself, which contains a few civilized nations, a few big dictatorships, and a teeming rabble of corrupt and oppressive Third World regimes.
The U.N. charter declares that any "peace-loving" nation is eligible for membership. Yet its founding members included the largest dictatorship of the time: the Soviet Union--a nation at war with its own people and in the process of subjugating half of Europe. In the half-century since, the United Nations' membership criteria have not gotten any more selective.
Yet the defenders of the United Nations tell us that cooperation with this unsavory crowd is essential for America's well-being. In 2001, Madeline Albright declared, "The role of the United Nations is ... vital, because no other institution combines a comprehensive mandate with *near universal representation*." Which means: the United Nations is valuable precisely because it fails to exclude the world's worst regimes. Kofi Annan recently offered his pitch for the importance of the United Nations: "Let us all recognize ... that the global interest is our national interest." Which means: the interests of Russia, France, and China are identical with America's interests. Tom Friedman of the *New York Times*, who has spent recent weeks hyperventilating about America going it alone, tells us: "the key to managing this complex, dangerous world ... is our ability to stand united and with others." Which means: we are doomed unless we are propped up by the support of Angola and Cameroon.
All of the arguments for why we need a coalition of hostile powers and tin-pot dictatorships make no sense. Instead, they are the reflection of a deeper philosophical premise that the U.N.'s apologists refuse to question. The real basis of the United Nations is global collectivism--the belief that America's judgment and interests must be subordinated to the collective opinion of the "world community." When the Times's Friedman, for example, calls the attack on Iraq a "war of choice" that should not be waged without a vast international consensus, what he means is that the choice of how America defends itself ought to made by France, Russia, Cameroon, Chile--by anyone and everyone *except* the United States.
Yes, there is a value to cooperating with other nations--but only with free nations who share a commitment to standing up against the threats of terrorism and dictatorship. Any time free nations agree to subordinate themselves to a collective consensus with hostile dictatorships, it is only the free nations that lose--and it is only the dictatorships that gain. Indeed, the dictatorships run the United Nations. Within weeks of September 11, terrorist-sponsor Syria was invited to chair the United Nations' Security Council. Iraq and Iran are scheduled to trade chairmanship of its disarmament committee, while Libya is set to chair its human rights commission.
This is the same pattern Ayn Rand identified decades ago, when she compared the United Nations to "a crime-fighting committee whose board of directors include[s] the leading gangsters of the community." Yet the only thing that can give such a commission any pretense at legitimacy is the participation of the city's upstanding citizens. Similarly, the only thing that gives the United Nations any legitimacy is America's cooperation: our might, our money, and our moral sanction.
America should not defy the United Nations on Iraq--we should do much more: we should withdraw from the United Nations altogether, letting that organization complete its collapse into a Third World debating society.
This would accomplish more than ending the latest round of diplomatic obstructionism. It would permanently unshackle U.S. foreign policy from the debilitating consensus of the corrupt collection of regimes who run the United Nations.