Sunday, March 20, 2005

Kofi's Got a Purse For Sale

In an attempt to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, Kofi Annan has revealed his recommended United Nations reforms. I've blogged before on why a Security Council expansion would be a disaster in waiting; however, even the worst-laid plans of mice and men can sometimes have a silver lining (I'm expecting a visit any minute from the Metaphor Police). Replacing the Human Rights Commission with a smaller Human Rights Council that would have to win 2/3 of the General Assembly's support is a small step in the right direction (guess what two countries, under this system, would never have a snowball's chance in Hell of being on the commission, and win a shiny 'attaboy').

The problem, of course, is that this is like polishing a...well, you know what I'm talking about. The problem isn't that the UN has major structural flaws (it does); it's the premise itself that has become outmoded. World government and multilateralism are fool's dreams; just immerse yourself in the arcana of European Union squabbling if you want to laugh yourself silly. In the free market society that I so fervently support, as Adam Smith and Ayn Rand reminded us, we celebrate the virtue of selfishness and the invisible hand, yet out of this seeming greediness, the best outcome for all is reached (ideally, yes, but politics is about ideals).

There is no reason to suppose the same isn't true for nations. What at first glance might seem a recipe for lawlessness (hey, I can do what's best for me? Then I want nuclear weapons...) would result in a saner world (oh, if I rattle my nuclear sabre, then my nation becomes a pariah). I have chosen a bad example, you might say, with your mind firmly on North Korea; but is Kim Jong-Il pursuing his country's best interests? The answer is abundantly clear that he is not. Aha, but then, don't we need a UN to deal with irrational leaders like this?

That answer is plain as well; has the United Nations kept North Korea from becoming a nuclear power? Will it stop Iran? Could it have ever liberated Iraq? The question is not whether irrational people and irrational national policy exist; they do and it does, and it will forever be so. The real question is why anyone supposes an organization composed of dozens of nations, united by little, respected by few, and proven impotent time and again in times of great crisis, is the solution to this vexing problem.

I don't have the answer; neither does George W. Bush; and Kofi Annan surely doesn't. How to deal rationally with the irrational is, perhaps, the pressing issue of our age. I can say without hesitation, however, that the policies of George W. Bush have made this nation safer than a thousand UN resolutions ever have. If the UN wants to continue, let it do so without us...but then, without us, it would surely fail...well, so be it. That's the price of being rational; some dreams have to die...

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