Columns

The Useless United Nations

By: Nancy Smith | Posted: August 13, 2014 3:55 AM
I Beg to Differ

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, stopping by CBS' "Face the Nation" the other week, summed up the state of the planet about as well as anyone could: "To put it mildly," she said, "the world is a mess."

That certainly was to put it mildly. In fact, I don't think I've seen the likes of the current world situation in my lifetime. 

Ethnic cleansing and genocide in Kurdistan ... a commercial aircraft shot out of the sky in the Ukraine ... Russia moving tanks across a national border ... Hamas firing an average 100 rockets a day into Israel ... extremist groups from Syria surging into Iraq, seizing key territory and resources. The list goes on.

What's missing from this picture? The one thing I look for every day and don't see.

A United Nations presence.

Where is the United Nations?

Never mind, that's a rhetorical question: Of course the U.N. is doing what it always does in times of crisis. Its dour-faced Security Council is gathered, wringing its hands and issuing statements of "deep concern" over the failure of a permanent cease-fire along the Gaza strip or penning "condemnations of the persecution of Christians and other minorities" in Iraq.

U.N. Security Council

U.N. Security Council session

But really do something to assemble an armed, multinational force to end even one of the violent humanitarian nightmares in the world? Don't be silly -- it's not happening.

Since Saturday I and millions of others have watched in horror as American, Iraqi and now British soldiers, hour after hour, worked daring helicopter rescues of the tens of thousands of Yezidis -- a handful at a time. These people are trapped on a mountain in Northern Iraq by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS, take your pick) -- extremist thugs who want them Muslim or dead. These innocents had to flee for their lives; they are traumatized, without food or water.

ISIL also took Mosul’s dam — Iraq’s biggest — reportedly hoisting the black flag of the caliphate over it. By controlling the dam, which powers the country’s second largest city, Islamic State fighters could flood entire towns and cut off water and electricity to hundreds of thousands of people.

Meanwhile, the ISIL jihadists  have issued a chilling statement to America: "See you guys in New York."

Did any of this light a stick of dynamite under the U.N.? You decide:

In a written statement (from a safe distance), U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called himself "appalled."

"Reports of Yezidis amassing along the Turkish border as well as thousands also trapped in the Sinjar mountains in desperate need of humanitarian assistance are of urgent and grave concern," the statement said. Ban Ki-moon also called on the international community, and "especially those with the influence and resources to positively impact the situation, to support the government and people of Iraq and to do all it can to help alleviate the suffering of the population affected by the current conflict in Iraq."

Sure thing, Ban. The Yanks and Brits are in there; the Aussies will probably join soon. Never mind that terrorism is an international threat. You relax, Ban, keep squeezing those worry beads.

I remember Bosnia, when United Nations troops didn't show up until 1994 -- two years late. This is deja vu.

Except for one thing.

Twenty years ago I didn't know how much it cost the Unites States to belong to the U.N. I didn't know what our -- or any other nation's -- dues were. Please -- allow me to tell you.

Every member state is legally obligated to pay its respective share toward peacekeeping. This is in accordance with the provisions of Article 17 of the Charter of the United Nations

Most everyone knows the United States is the largest contributor to the United Nations and its affiliated funds, programs, and specialized agencies. But nailing down precisely how much we pay every year isn't so easy, and before 2005 we didn't have precise totals.

To cut to the chase, the totals in fiscal year 2010 exceeded $7.691 billion -- that's billion with a "b" -- more than $1.3 billion higher than fiscal year 2009’s record of $6.347 billion. In fiscal year 2011, the total is more than $9 billion, and in 2012 more than $10.4 billion.

We're talking just the United States' share.

Now, I happen to believe the United Nations is vital for this nation -- a principle for us, leader of the free world, to support no matter what. At the very least, the U.N. is the torch of hope we want to keep alight. It should be a vehicle for sharing with the rest of the world the innate goodness of who we are as a nation.

But I agree with Florida Congresswoman Illeana Ros-Lehtinen who has, over and over again, urged reform in this behemoth of an organization that plays by its own rules because it's allowed to. People are dying in a world that seems to grow needier every year. The U.N. must be made to fulfill its promise as peacekeeper.

Just once I would like to see it move as quickly to assemble boots on the ground as it does to issue its endless, good-for-nothing letters of condemnation. Enough is enough.



Reach Nancy Smith at nsmith@sunshinestatenews.com or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith 

 


Comments (5)

P Ashley
9:27AM AUG 14TH 2014
The U.N. Resolution 2117 lists 21 points dealing with firearms control, but perhaps of most interest is point number 11: “CALLS FOR MEMBER STATES TO SUPPORT WEAPONS COLLECTION, DISARMAMENT.
Senator Bill Nelson YES.
Frank
10:23AM AUG 14TH 2014
Yes, this site always attracts them . . . .

Resolution 2117 was concerned with "armed conflicts", but then that fact is conveniently ignored by you, as is the fact that it also states that it is premised on "recognizing that small arms and light weapons are traded, manufactured and retained by States for legitimate security, sporting and commercial considerations" and "Emphasizing that the right of individual and collective self-defence recognized in Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations and the legitimate security demands of all countries should be fully taken into account" . . . . .

But all that eludes you as you selectively spew truthiness, correct . . . . . did you previously even READ all of 2117 ? . . . . . thought not . . . . so let's just allow ISIS to get all the arms anyone wants to supply them with, correct . . . .

Mindless rhetoric and politics of the "Big Lie" . . . . . selectively . . .

Pathetic . . . . .
Frank
9:21PM AUG 13TH 2014
Gee . . . . . and here, many of your dutiful readers are just SURE the UN is so powerful it's going to overtake the sovereignty of the United States through Agenda 21 . . . . . just like the 2012 GOP Presidential platform states: "We strongly reject the U.N. Agenda 21 as erosive of American sovereignty" . . . . . . . . . . Get Your Demonizing Truthiness Straight !! . . . .

Pathetic . . . . .
Mark
2:50PM AUG 13TH 2014
The United Nations is yet another example of an outlived agency. They occupy valuable realestate, the do not pay any property taxes nor do they even pay their financial debt to the United States.(don't hold your breath!)
It's time to do away with this gathering of nations which has absolutely no power in truly major issues, and either create a better form of country representation, (holding their meetings in another country such as Switzerland), cut down the amounts of staff personnel, and somehow force joining nations to pay their way in, PLUS annual dues, and for whichever country defaults, they're not at all allowed to be in the building until those debts are paid in full!
Fire
9:33AM AUG 13TH 2014
Do your homework you will find now today's U.N. works uh doesn't work. The get together having meetings then they voice opinions. Why no U.N. boots on the ground in Northern Iraq handing out food and water or helping these people. Why no U.N. in Central America confronting these leaders with sanctions for not having control of the lawlessness. Where is the U.N. helping the U.S. by taking invading children to other U.N. member Nations why is it only a U.S. problem. Get the U.S. out of this lazy corrupt U.N. today or maybe put Hillary Clinton in charge of the U.N. since she's such a brilliant World leader.

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