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United Nations, RIP? With the UN preparing to play a key role in post-war Iraq, rumors of the world body's death have been greatly exaggerated. (United Nations).

"Get US out! of the United Nations--and get the United Nations out of the United States!" Such has been the war cry of the John Birch Society for more than 40 years. Now that the Bush administration has gone to war in Iraq despite the UN's apparent resistance, commentators on the Left and Right are suggesting that the once impossible dream of the JBS may soon come true.

"For the first time, Americans got to see what the United Nations truly is," wrote syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer on March 2 1st. "The experience has been bracing. The result has been an enormous and salutary shift in American public opinion.... On Sept. 12, 2002, you [President Bush] gave the United Nations a fair test: Act like a real instrument for collective security or die like the League of Nations. The United Nations failed spectacularly. The American people saw it. And the American people are now with you in leaving the United Nations behind."

"The U.N., a collection of regimes of less than uniform legitimacy, has anointed itself the sole arbiter of what are legitimate military actions," observed columnist George E Will on March 16th of this year. "And it has claimed a duty to leash the only nation that has the power to enforce U.N. resolutions. How long will that nation's public be willing to pay one-quarter of the U.N.'s bills?" And former Republican presidential candidate Steve Forbes weighed in with a column in the April 14th issue of Forbes magazine, claiming that "the old Wilsonian notion of a governing world body has been laid to rest."

The radical Left's take on the Bush administration's view of the UN is captured in nearly identical illustrations appearing on the covers of In These Times and The Progressive, both of which featured a burning UN flag. As the invasion of Iraq approached, the liberal news site melodramatically published an obituary for the UN, supposedly slain by the Bush administration.

Put the Funeral on Hold

Regrettably, that obituary is premature. In fact, the "conservative" Bush administration has performed a singular service to the UN by redefining the right-wing critique of the world body: Where conservatives historically have condemned the UN for doing, or seeking to do, too much, President Bush and his supporters now condemn it for not doing enough.

Administration officials from the president down have explicitly and repeatedly claimed that the war on Iraq is intended to enforce Security Council resolutions, thereby enhancing the UN's power and credibility. They have likewise made it clear that the UN will play a key role in the post-war rebuilding of Iraq, and in the open-ended "war on terrorism."

"Let me say something about the UN," stated the president during the March 16th pre-war summit in the Azores. "It's a very important organization. That's why I went there on September the 12th, 2002, to give the speech, the speech that called the UN into account, that said if you're going to pass resolutions, let's make sure your words mean something ... I understand the wars of the 21st century are going to require incredible international cooperation.... And the UN must mean something. Remember Rwanda, or Kosovo [where the UN didn't act forcefully]. And we hope tomorrow the UN will do its job. If not, all of us need to step back and try to figure out how to make the UN work better as we head into the 21st century."

It is possible that the UN could undergo significant restructuring. For instance, some neoconservative critics of the UN, such as Krauthammer and The Weekly Standard, suggest that the Security Council be reorganized without France as a member. The Standard suggested that the Security Council veto should be eliminated. The same reform has long been championed by world government advocates as a way of making Security Council decisions binding on the U.S.--something apparently ignored by neoconservatives eager to punish the French for their Security Council obstructionism.

In his 1962 study A World Effectively Controlled by the United Nations, an authoritative guide to long-term U.S. arms control policy, State Department adviser Lincoln P. Bloomfield pointed out that the all-powerful UN the study envisions "would not necessarily be the organization as it now exists.... In theory a radical rearrangement of power in the world could be codified through revision of the existing UN Charter ... or a new constitution could be designed."

In fact, Bloomfield continues, the process of empowering the UN "could be a completely new start, in the way the Articles of Confederation were scrapped to write the American Constitution. But it is not a terribly important point which method is used. The essential point is the transfer of the most vital element of sovereign power from the states to a supranational government."

Devil in the Details

The "most vital element" of sovereignty, Bloomfield explains, is control over military power: "The paramount issue in creation of an 'effective UN' ... [is] establishing new ground rules about the possession and use of military power in the world." Whether the existing UN is built into a globe-striding Colossus, or replaced by a successor organization, the "overwhelming central fact would still be the loss of control of their military power by individual nations," he concludes. "If this becomes achievable, the details will not be insurmountable."

Several well-placed observers have predicted that a new global framework will emerge from the unfolding military adventure in the Middle East.

The April 4th World Tribune quoted National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice as saying: "Once we have a better atmosphere in Iraq, one of the things we're going to have to look at is how the world gets itself better organized to deal with issues concerning weapons of mass destruction"--language that could have been lifted straight from Bloomfield's study. in a March 30th essay, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman declared that "we are present at the creation of some kind of new global power structure" founded on the NATO alliance.

As Dean Acheson, secretary of state in the Truman administration, pointed out in a March 1949 Washington, D.C., address, NATO was "designed to fit precisely into the framework of the United Nations and to assure practical measures for maintaining peace and security in harmony with the Charter." In other words, NATO is and always has been a UN subsidiary. It could, however, serve as an institutional bridge to a successor organization for the present UN, as well. "There is a need for a drastic change in the UN," opined former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali in an April 7th Ottawa Citizen op-ed column. "We must prepare ourselves for the third generation of international organizations to succeed the UN, just as it succeeded the League of Nations." This "third generation" would represent "a drastic change in the overall concept," continued Boutros-Ghali. A restructured world body would include participation by non-governmental organizations, transnational corporations, other multilateral institutions, and even municipal governments of major cities worldwide.

Even if the UN itself were to evaporate, this would not destroy the intricate globalist network referred to by Boutros-Ghali. Anne-Marie Slaughter, dean of Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, refers to "global policy networks" that knit together such organizations and institutions as the European Union, NAFTA, the World Trade Organization, and various non-governmental organizations. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Slaughter notes, has praised "global policy networks" as a means of "bringing together all public and private actors on issues critical to the global public interest." These networks, Slaughter explains, carry out "a form of global governance ... perform[ing] many of the functions of a world government--legislation, administration, and adjudication without the form."

The Bush administration's war on Iraq is laying the foundation for some form of UN-controlled world. President Bush has placed our own military at the UN's disposal to disarm Iraq; this decision results in what Bloomfield called "the loss of control of ... military power" by both the U.S. and Iraq. And in a singular feat of misdirection, the administration has allowed its courtiers in the neoconservative press to convince the public that this development is a defeat for the cause of world government, and a victory for American independence.
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Author:Grigg, William Norman
Publication:The New American
Geographic Code:7IRAQ
Date:May 5, 2003
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