Jonah Goldberg

As legend has it, Groucho Marx sent the Friars Club a telegram that read, "Please accept my resignation. I don't care to belong to any club that will have me as a member."

At least the Friars Club had standards. What to make of the United Nations? It has a single criterion for membership: existence.

Admittedly, this is an unattainable standard for such fictional realms as Westeros, Erewhon, Kreplakistan and numerous locales from the TV series "MacGyver" (Gnubia, Kabulstan et al.). But if you're a nation-state that actually exists, you're a shoe-in, like Kate Upton trying to get into a nightclub or a Kennedy applying to Harvard.

There are other, more exclusive organizations around the globe. Many are important, but most of them have fairly uninspiring membership requirements, too. The most common are regional outfits based on geography, such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the African Union or the European Union. And there are plenty of economic clubs, such as OPEC and the G-8. Although the G-8 is essentially back to being the G-7 these days because Russia was kicked out, at least temporarily, for general evilness.

But evilness won't get you kicked out of the U.N. Just ask North Korea. One need only review the repugnant record of the U.N. Human Rights Council (formerly the U.N. Commission on Human Rights), which for decades has served as a magnet for the world's most vicious regimes. It's a global version of what economists call "regulatory capture." The worst offenders don't want to be chastised by the agency, so they take it over. These Legion of Doom nations then spend most of their time condemning Israel as a way to pander to their domestic populations and take the focus off themselves. Since 2006, the UNHRC has condemned Israel nearly 50 times -- far more than Syria, Sudan, North Korea, Congo, Myanmar, Somalia, Libya and Iran combined. Feel free to criticize Israel, but if you think its human rights record is worse -- never mind vastly worse -- than Syria's or North Korea's, you're a fool.

Heck, the Chinese and the Russians -- and before them, the Soviets -- aren't merely U.N. members, they are power brokers. As permanent members of the Security Council, they get to veto any proposal they want. The authority of the Security Council is derived entirely from military might, not moral right, which is why we're on it, too.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
TOWNHALL DAILY: Be the first to read Jonah Goldberg's column. Sign up today and receive Townhall.com daily lineup delivered each morning to your inbox.