Sunday, January 02, 2005

It's 2005, and the UN Still Must Go - A Modest Proposal

The Diplomad is a blog by career foreign service officers, not just a snarky site by a know-it-all like me, so I take what they say pretty seriously. The same UN that criticized the US for its stinginess is doing just short of nothing to help the tsunami victims. I quote:
The UN is taking credit for things that hard-working, street savvy USAID folks have done. It was USAID working with their amazing network of local contacts who scrounged up trucks, drivers, and fuel; organized the convoy and sent it off to deliver critical supplies. A UN �air-freight handling centre� in Aceh? Bull! It's the Aussies and the Yanks who are running the air ops into Aceh. We have people working and sleeping on the tarmac in Aceh, surrounded by bugs, mud, stench and death, who every day bring in the US and Aussie C-130s and the US choppers; unload, load, send them off. We have no fancy aid workers' retreat -- notice the priorities of the UN? People are dying and what's the first thing the UN wants to do? Set up "a camp for relief workers" one that would be "fully self-contained, with kitchen, food, lodging, everything." The UN is a sham.

I couldn't agree more (hat tip to Arthur Chrenkoff, back from vacation and in fighting trim...).

Meanwhile, reports Power Line, the USS Abraham Lincoln is offshore with a group of military personnel who are fired up and ready to do whatever they can.

It appears increasingly likely that Paul Volcker's investigation will not provide enough impetus to remove Annan from the job, so it's up to the US Congress to keep the heat on, and the bloggers, because we know the MSM is largely going to let Oil-For-Food die if at all possible. Stories like the one above, however, show that more than just a little $21 billion fraud is involved: as I and others have said many times, the UN is failing in its most basic tasks, repeatedly. It doesn't function well for relief work, peacekeeping, or diplomacy. It cannot administer funds with any degree of accountability. It cannot prevent genocide. It cannot enforce its own decrees. What in God's name is the point of all that money? How many billions in overhead go to paying all those diplomatic salaries? What is the cost of the upkeep of the United Nations building?

Here's a proposal...pull the funds the United States is providing to the UN (all the funds mentioned above, not just direct operational cash), and split it into thirds: one-third to fighting AIDS in Africa, one-third to debt relief for the poorest nations, and one-third into a general humanitarian fund to handle things like this recent disaster. Does anyone doubt this would benefit the world more than the status quo?

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