Cliff May
Is there no point at which we conclude that the United Nations has evolved into an organization that is not just flawed, not just in need of reform, but fundamentally, structurally and incorrigibly hostile to American values and the cause of freedom in the 21st century?

The latest – if not last -- straw on the camel’s back: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s visit this week to Tehran for a conference of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). Iran’s rulers are the world’s leading sponsors of terrorism; they are under UN Security Council sanctions, illegally building nuclear weapons while refusingto allow the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency to conduct inspections; they are in clear violation of the UN Genocide Convention; they are sending cash, arms and troops to support the Assad regime’s slaughter in Syria; they are persecuting Christians, Baha’i and other religious minorities and using the most brutal methods to crush dissidents.

Ban knows all this. He knows, too, that the Tehran meeting is intended, in the words of the government-controlled Kayhan newspaper, as a “slap” to the U.S. and “the last volley against the liberal-democratic system…” Apparently, none of this matters to Ban.

Nor does it matter to the rulers of the more than 100 counties that belong to the NAM and who are honoring Iran with the presidency of their organization for a three-year term.

Founded in 1961, the NAM used to claim to be outside both the American and Soviet orbits – viewing the former as no better than the latter. But such states as Cuba, a Soviet satellite, were admitted for membership anyway, ensuring that the Kremlin’s interests would be served while Washington’s were not.

The collapse of the USSR did not prompt the NAM to realign. Today, Iran, Venezuela and other anti-American states largely dictate the organization’s agenda. The Riyadh-based Organization of Islamic Cooperation (formerly the Organization of the Islamic Conference, 56 states plus the Palestinian Authority, a bloc the late scholar Bat Ye’or characterized as a “would-be, universal caliphate") also has a hand on the tiller.

This global anti-democratic alliance enjoys an automatic majority in the UN General Assembly. In the Security Council, autocratic Russia and China exercise veto power. Within this framework, one UN agency after another has morphed in ways that would have shocked even George Orwell.

The most infamous is the UN Human Rights Council which does nothing to promote human rights. On the contrary, it protects the world’s worst human rights violators while attacking Israel, the US, even Quebec. The Council’s newest member is likely to be Sudan, a jihadist dictatorship, responsible for genocide in Darfur. On Monday, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called that “callous, dangerous, and tragic.” The UN, she added, “has hit a new low.”

Then there’s UNESCO, the UN’s culture and science agency. Last March, 33 of the 58 states on its governing board announced plans to award a $3 million prize financed by Teodoro Obiang Nguema, president of Equatorial Guinea. Obiang came to power through a coup in 1979 and, since then, with UN assistance, he has managed to do nothing to alleviate the grinding poverty of the people he rules -- even as Equatorial Guinea has become Africa's third-biggest oil exporter.

Then there’s UNESCO, the UN’s culture and science agency. Last March, 33 of the 58 states on its governing board announced plans to award a $3 million prize financed by Teodoro Obiang Nguema, president of Equatorial Guinea. Obiang came to power through a coup in 1979 and, since then, with UN assistance, he has managed to do nothing to alleviate the grinding poverty of the people he rules -- even as Equatorial Guinea has become Africa's third-biggest oil exporter.

Another UN agency, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), has allegedly transferred American technology to both Iran and North Korea. WIPO has refused to cooperate with a Congressional investigation.

And does anyone remember the special tribunal established by the UN to investigate the murder of Rafik Hariri, the former Lebanese prime minister who was blown up in Beirut in 2005? Time and money were spent. Some high-level Lebanese and Syrian security officers were implicated. Hassan Nasrallah, head of Hezbollah, Iran’s Lebanon-based terrorist proxy, denounced the tribunal. Surprise: No case has ever been brought to court.

Iran has been named a member of the bureau overseeing the U.N. Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty -- even as it has been illegally supplying arms to Assad.

In recent years, Iran also has been a member of a UN advisory committee on international law, a member of the executive board of the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF), a vice-chairman of the U.N. Disarmament Commission, and a rapporteur of the UN Committee on Information, which is meant to support free speech and a free press. North Korea, China and Russia, sit on this committee, too.

We haven’t even touched on the UN’s failures in Rwanda and Srebrenica, its chronic financial corruption and the revelations that UN “peace keepers” have inflicted sexual violence on the women and children they were charged to protect.

Needless to say, this is not what the founders of the UN had in mind. In 1946, President Harry S. Truman hoped that the new organization would “provide the means for maintaining international peace.” The UN General Assembly, he said, would become “the world's supreme deliberative body.”

The UN claims for itself four main purposes: keeping peace; developing friendly relations among nations; helping nations work together to conquer hunger, disease and illiteracy and encouraging respect for rights and freedoms; and harmonizing the actions of nations to achieve these goals. Can anyone seriously argue that the UN has not flatly failed on every count and become, in columnist Charles Krauthammer’s apt phase, “a sandbox of dictators”?

Does anyone not understand that the real mission of those who now run the UN is to transfer money and power from the United States and other free nations to anti-American and anti-democratic regimes – and to do so in the name of “social justice”?

The United States has long been the UN’s largest funder, contributing close to a quarter of the organization’s total budget – nearly $7.7 billion in fiscal 2010. (The U.S. government has delayed releasing figures for last year and this – which leads me to suspect we’re now spending considerably more.)

In these tough economic times, will Americans not reach the point where we at least debate the wisdom of continuing to invest so much in an enterprise that produces considerable harm and little good? Is it not possible that a better way can be found to pursue the goals the UN was meant to achieve? Shouldn’t Ban Ki-Moon’s most recent holiday in Tehran take us to that point?


Cliff May

Clifford D. May is the President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.