WASHINGTON -- Now that we are stuffed like turkeys, consider that Thanksgiving is celebrated as an official national holiday in only two countries -- the United States and Canada. In both nations, it is uniquely mandated as a day for offering thanks and praise to God. Interestingly, there is no mention of God or thanksgiving in the U.N. Charter. Nonetheless, United Nations officials apparently take full advantage of the holiday as a respite from the grueling work of international diplomacy. Calls to the secretary-general's office (212-963-7162) on Thursday, Nov. 22, were unanswered. One can only wonder whether the striped pants set at Turtle Bay had gone to church.
If the turkeys at the U.N. weren't praying, they should have been because November 2007 has been a very tough month for the unaccountable do-gooders at "Big Blue." The power-hungry international organization, which turned 62 last month, is in very hot water -- and for very good reasons: graft, corruption, waste, fraud, incompetence and misfeasance, among them. Earlier this month, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared the U.N. Headquarters building to be a firetrap and announced plans to ban school children from touring the building. It went downhill from there.
On Nov. 15, Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N.'s nuclear weapons watchdog, acknowledged that he really doesn't know the state of Iran's nuclear weapons program. In his report to the Security Council, he said he had "found no evidence" that Tehran was using its 3,000 uranium-enrichment centrifuges to build nukes but that the IAEA "is not in a position to provide credible assurances about the presence of undeclared nuclear material and activities." In other words, if the theocrats in Tehran are building bombs in the basement and don't tell, the U.N. won't know.
U.S. experts say Iran's declared stockpile of 300 tons of uranium-hexafluoride gas is sufficient to build more than 35 nuclear weapons -- and that it would take Tehran less than two years to do so. On the Sunday talking-head TV programs, ElBaradei denounced U.S. "rhetoric" on the issue and said he is "very much concerned about confrontation" and sees "negotiation and inspection" as the only answer. In short: Just leave it to the U.N.
Leaving it to the U.N. hasn't worked for the people of Darfur in Sudan. Last week, the U.N. Security Council announced their long-awaited peacekeeping force won't be prepared to commence operations in Darfur at the beginning of 2008 as anticipated. More than a quarter-million people have died of rape, murder, starvation, dehydration and disease there since 2003. The U.N. has been "struggling" to assemble a peacekeeping force there ever since. According to spokesman Jean-Marie Guehenno, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has been in "constant talks with defense ministers around the world" and the Security Council will reconvene "soon" to discuss what to do about the problem.
Solving people's problems is, after all, what the nice folks at the U.N. say they do for us -- in between jet-setting global cocktail parties and afternoon naps. This week, for example, they made another run at seizing control of Nobel laureate Al Gore's Internet. At a U.N.-sponsored conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, representatives from around the world complained that the Internet is just one more manifestation of the American empire and that it would be better if it were managed by the folks who brought us the Oil-for-Food scandal and who once elevated Libya to chair of the U.N.'s Human Rights Committee. "Practical steps" must be taken, said Russia's Konstantin Novoderejhkin, to put control of the worldwide Internet "under the control of the international community."
The so-called "international community" apparently likes the idea of controlling things -- even the numbers it creates. This week, the UNAIDS Committee -- the U.N. organization that has spent billions of dollars "fighting the global AIDS pandemic" -- had to confess that, for years, it has inflated the estimates of AIDS cases around the world. Some suggest the overblown calculations were used as a rationale to raise more money. Regardless of the explanation, the U.N.'s proclivity to over-hype bad news that requires "global solutions" is important. The day after officials at Turtle Bay were forced to confess years of fraudulent estimates on AIDS, another U.N. agency -- the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change -- warned of "abrupt or irreversible climate changes" if the "international community" doesn't act to reverse the trend.
By its own actions, the U.N. has proved itself to be, at best, irresponsible -- and, at worst, downright dangerous -- to the interests of the American people. This week, yet another international company -- Vitol, an oil distributor -- pleaded guilty to grand larceny for giving bribes in the infamous U.N. Oil-for-Food program during Saddam Hussein's reign in Iraq. An investigation led by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volker found the U.N.-administered program was corrupted by 2,200 companies in 66 countries that paid $1.8 billion in kickbacks to Iraqi officials.
In his New York Times best-selling book, "Surrender Is Not an Option," former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton offers a detailed analysis of the pervasive corruption and inertia inside the organization -- and suggests meaningful remedies. His lucid critique and his distinguished service make "Surrender Is Not an Option" a must-read for those who care about the fact that our tax dollars are being wasted by incompetent U.N. bureaucrats on utopian ideals. Hence, we should be thankful that there are people such as John Bolton who are willing to expose the folly of the turkeys at Turtle Bay.