The US should get out of the UN, and NATO for that matter. These are the very types of entangling alliances that George Washington and Jefferson so wisely warned us against.
“It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliance with any portion of the foreign world” – George Washington
“Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations-entangling alliances with none.” – Thomas Jefferson
Below is an article that I wrote in 2003 on this subject. While some of the information could be updated (such as the Commission on Human Rights membership), it is still relevant. In fact, if anything, things have gotten worse rather than better. The recent call for the US to pay reparations for slavery, ignoring the fact that slavery existed in every country and among almost every people on the globe, is just one more in a pile of reasons why the UN has lost whatever slim margin of moral or factual credibility it might have had, for one second, at some point in its history. Also, I’m not sure at this point if I would agree with a new body, regardless of how strenuous the membership requirements. And I definitely would not agree if this body were granted any binding powers whatsoever.
As David Fromkin pointed out, “From 1789 until the Second World War, excepting only our relationship with Panama, the United States refused to enter into treaties of alliance with anyone. In the 25 years since the end of the war, however, in a dramatic reversal of national policy, we have allied ourselves with half the world.” Think about that, ONE alliance from 1789 to 1941. And that with a country that we created through one of our imperialist adventures. Since then, we have entangled ourselves with an increasingly dangerous web of alliances that commit us to making war on half the world on behalf of the other half of the world. We need to back off of this approach and begin to unravel the Gordian knot of entanglements. If we cannot untie the knot, there is a simpler solution.
Why We Should Ditch The U.N. (2003)
“Truth is not the heritage of any individual, it is absolute and universal; mankind ought to seek and profess it in common.” – John Henry Cardinal Newman
The legend of the Gordian knot tells of a knot that was tied and that could not be easily untied. An oracle announced that whoever could untie the knot would be the ruler of all of Asia. Alexander the Great came by, got off of his horse, drew his sword, and cut the knot in half. He went on to conquer what was then known of Asia. The lesson for us is that sometimes we hide behind complexity of the details and ignore the fact that the issue itself may be quite simple. The failure of the UN is just such an issue. The United States and all free countries should ditch the United Nations and replace it with a body of free nations that can truly live up to the values officially espoused by the UN.
According to the United Nations Charter, its stated purpose is to prevent war, to promote human rights, and to establish justice and social progress. The United Nations has 191 member nations all subscribing to this Charter. A 2001-2002 study by Freedom House rated the state of political and civil liberties in 192 nations. It gave only 85 a rating of Free based on the evaluation that they “maintain a high degree of political and economic freedom and respect basic civil liberties.” Another 59 were rated as Partly Free with the remaining 48 rated as Not Free. In terms of world population, these categories account for 38.9, 25.3, and 35.8 percent respectively. Of the 48 listed as not free, 13 received the survey’s lowest rating of 7 for political rights and 7 for civil liberties. These countries include Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, and Syria. Afghanistan under the Taliban was also included in the lowest 13 but presumably would have risen in the ratings with the recent regime change.
How does the United Nations go about accomplishing its Charter? Well, the current chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights is from Libya – one of the nations with Freedom House’s lowest human rights ratings. In addition, the upcoming UN Conference on Disarmament is to be co-chaired by Iraq and Iran and the irony should be obvious. But these examples are just the more ludicrous symptoms of the systemic flaws that ensure that the United Nations cannot effectively achieve its stated purposes. The UN provides a form of representation by giving each nation’s government a vote and a voice in the General Assembly. In practice, what this means is that Omar Qaddafi has one vote, Fidel Castro has one vote, until last week Saddam Hussein had one vote, and all of the people of Canada together have one vote. In fact, applying the Freedom House ratings, 25% of the member nations are not free and 35.8% of the world’s population has no voice in the United Nations at all. How can a system designed to promote human rights and peace do so when so many of its parts act contrary to these goals?
The idea of a United Nations supporting and promoting peace and human rights is good but has yet to be truly tried. The United States should dump the current organization and form a rival – a Council of Free Nations, for example. This Council would initially be open to the obviously free nations. If additional nations petitioned to join they would have to go through a rigorous multi-year vetting process that would not only observe the status of political and civil rights in the candidate nation but would also provide funding, expertise, and assistance to strengthen freedom.
The United States, as a nation, has not always acted in accordance with its ideals. This is especially true when it comes to foreign policy. The long term impact to the United States of supporting nations and regimes that do not share our principles is negative. The enemy of our enemy is not always (or even usually) our friend. Replacing the United Nations with a representative body of like-minded nations would be the first step in truly promoting human rights throughout the world.