It's time the United States considers quitting the United Nations. In the past, only the right-wing fringe argued for pulling out of the U.N., which, after all, was created in 1945, not only with the United States' blessing, but largely at our urging. In the nearly 58 years since, the U.N. has had, at best, a mixed role in preventing and resolving conflict. More often it has served as a debating society, whose member states were as likely to ignore as to adhere to the very covenants, declarations and resolutions they voted to adopt.
I say this as someone who has observed the workings of the United Nations firsthand. From 1992-1996, I served as the U.S. expert to the U.N. human rights subcommission, a position to which the U.N. human rights commission elected me. Each August for four years, I traveled to Geneva to participate as a voting member of the subcommission, whose role it was to hear testimony concerning human rights violations around the world.
Though we rarely were able to reach consensus about grotesque violations in countries such as China or Cuba, my fellow subcommission members had no trouble condemning the United States for its alleged transgressions, especially our supposed racism. Among the 18 subcommission members, only the British, Ukrainian and Belgian representatives were stalwart friends. Even the Belgian representative reflected his personal rather than his government's views, which he was entitled to do since each of us was supposed to act as "independent" experts. The French delegate was viscerally hostile to anything American; the Norwegian was sanctimonious; the Latin Americans were usually cowardly; the Africans, East Europeans and Arabs, frequently duplicitous.
Nothing about the recent U.N. back-stabbing over Iraq has surprised me. The real question is why we put up with it. What exactly has the United Nations accomplished in recent years that we could not have done on our own? The Gulf War, though sanctioned by the U.N., was almost entirely an American effort, with the usual help from the Brits and a handful of other nations. The U.N. has failed miserably in preventing horrific mass murder in Rwanda, the Balkans and Cambodia. It has been totally ineffective in promoting peace in the Middle East, engaging in vicious slurs against Israel while coddling thugs like Yasser Arafat. It has been unable to prevent terrorism anywhere.
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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