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    UN follies

    Dean links to this post by political scientist R.J. Rummel. It’s the first in a series, which–given that the topic is problems with the UN–promises to be lengthy. What he’s arguing here is that the UN is no longer an agent for global justice, and this passage in particular caught my eye:

    Out of the vast array of facts that make this case, I will select a few. But first, as one who made considerable use of UN reports, studies, and statistical services, such as the Demographic Yearbook and Statistical Yearbook, for my research, the story of the United Nations is not entirely negative. Indeed, some will make the argument that on balance the UN has contributed to the welfare of countries. But, then, one would have to downplay or ignore the political functions of the UN.

    It’s that last item that interests me. The “has contributed” part could simply indicate that if we take the UN’s entire post-war history, the net influence of its non-political organs has been for the good. I can see arguing that, if you qualified it. But Rummel’s main point is not about the UN’s cumulative history but about where it is now, and if you downplay its political functions, that leaves…. Hmm. I’d be very interested to see it argued that the UN has not roamed off-course in its economic and humanitarian roles, too.

    There’s the World Health Organization, with its shift in focus from life-threatening diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria toward the sorts of voluntary behaviors that have become favorites of first-world busybodies: auto safety and smoking, for example. UNICEF’s goals haven’t diffused so alarmingly, but you have to wonder why WHO isn’t attending to several of them already.

    Look, even cursorily, for criticisms of the efficacy of World Bank lending policies, and prepare to drown. The tone of this Guardian piece is as snidely anti-capitalist as you’d expect, but the essential charges don’t need to be. Giving countries money for vainglorious public works projects they may not be able to maintain, requiring privatization of a major industry in a country where only a tiny group of cronies have the means to own anything, and expecting to end corruption without changing the circumstances that make it attractive–you needn’t be a socialist to see the folly there. (Note also that the World Bank has taken to joining forces with WHO on its global-nanny territory, issuing a finger-wagging report about the pitfalls of alcohol abuse.)

    Anyway, Rummel’s posts look to be interesting, given that he acknowledges he spent decades as a true believer. If he continues to tackle political functions specifically–and why not? he is a political scientist–I’ll be eager to read what he thinks about the latest push to change the terms of membership on the Security Council.

    2 Responses to “UN follies”

    1. Mrs. du Toit says:

      Not to mention their anti-gun stance on everything.

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      Well, guns are a health hazard. Almost up there with cigarettes, right?