Sunday, 11 December 2005

UK support = no discernible benefit

I realize I’m not making the tenured-law-school-faculty big bucks these days, but some of Glenn Reynolds’ analysis deserves a second look:

More importantly, the persistence of the whole [uranium in Niger] issue demonstrates the colossal folly of the Bush Administration’s effort to take the United Nations seriously in 2002, something that—like Bush’s failure to fire a lot of people at the CIA following 9/11—has led to considerable grief and no discernible benefit.

I guess the certitude that the U.S. wouldn’t have had the support of Britain, Spain, and Italy in launching the war in Iraq without the “effort to take the United Nations seriously” isn’t a “discernible benefit” in Glenn’s book. How soon he forgets the unbearably cheesy “Click Here to Thank Tony” ad that used to run on his sidebar!


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[Permalink] 1. TigerHawk wrote @ Sun, 11 Dec 2005, 9:31 am CST:

I agree. However, your point also implies that it is in the interests of the United States to weaken the credibility of the United Nations. Blair, Aznar, etc., only needed the United States to deal with the United Nations because they are democracies, and the UN has such a golden reputation in Europe (which has decided that national sovereignty is an obstacle, rather than the sine qua non of governance). If the UN were not so popular in Europe, perhaps we wouldn’t need to pander to it so much.


I’m not personally convinced that undermining the credibility of the UN is in the best interests of the United States; as currently constituted, the General Assembly is useless, but there are worthwhile political goals that the United States can pursue through the Security Council and specialized UN agencies.

I think the popularity of the UN in Europe is largely tied up in public misunderstanding of the purpose of international organizations in the global political system (a misunderstanding fed by the nature of the European Union, a highly-atypical international organization) and the relative success of left-wing NGOs in promoting their use of UN agencies to accomplish humanitarian goals in the third world to European publics—as opposed to public attention to the UN’s failures in those areas, which is more par for the course on this side of the pond.

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