Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Bolton at the UN...

...adding to Bush's legacy.

The three-day summit to reform the United Nations for the Twenty-First Century is about to open, and the monkey wrench John Bolton threw into the planning of the event by belatedly issuing hundreds of changes to the draft document to be discussed at the summit has had the desired effect: a complete stall on the most important issues.

The Star Tribune has the straight news story:

Negotiators met into the early hours today to try to reach agreement on a watered-down plan for reforming the United Nations, having abandoned many of the sweeping changes Secretary-General Kofi Annan recommended.

The seven issues facing negotiators were terrorism; a stronger Human Rights Council to replace the discredited Human Rights Commission; a new Peacebuilding Commission to help nations emerging from conflict; new responsibility for governments to protect civilians from genocide and war crimes; disarmament and nuclear weapons proliferation; overhauling U.N. management; and the promotion of economic development.

Annan also had urged the 191 U.N. member states to agree on a plan to expand the powerful U.N. Security Council, but the negotiations became so contentious the idea was shelved last month.

Germany's Pleuger said member states underestimated the amount of preparatory work needed to reach consensus. The negotiating process also was thrown into disarray when United States submitted hundreds of amendments a few weeks ago, he said.
[Emphasis added]

Dealing with issues of poverty in the world, not important. Making the Security Council more reflective of the world, not important. One need only read the op-ed piece in the NY Times by Vance Serchuk (a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute)to see why that is.

THIS week, the heads of state of more than 170 countries are meeting to consider wide-ranging reforms for the United Nations. But any mention of the expansion of the Security Council will be off the agenda, thanks in no small part to the diplomatic exertions of the Bush administration.

The White House's foreclosure of discussion on Security Council expansion has drawn cheers from conservatives worried about any dilution of American power, and scorn from liberals convinced that the Bush administration is once again unilaterally sabotaging the international system. In fact, both sides are wrong.

The American position, by prioritizing practicable goals like cleaning up the Human Rights Commission and strengthening peacekeeping capabilities, is actually good for the United Nations, which would suffer from a drawn-out fight over Security Council expansion. But while the Bush administration's stance helps United Nations reform, it does not serve America's interests. To understand why, it's necessary to recognize that the expansion debate is above all a geopolitical contest for power and influence.

A seat on the Security Council, after all, is a prized symbol of power and prestige, establishing a country as a regional leader. This has particular importance in Asia, where China is determined to preserve its regional monopoly on the Security Council, while Japan and India are equally determined to break it. Given the Bush administration's concerns about Beijing's rising power and Washington's avowed interest in deepening our relations with Tokyo and Delhi, it's clear which side of this debate we should be on.

It hasn't done so, partly because it fears a larger Security Council would be less effective. But the sad truth is, the council already isn't likely to help Washington on first-tier problems like Iran or North Korea. And while a bigger membership would make deliberations more unwieldy, we shouldn't worry too much about damaging an institution that is already broken.
[Emphasis added]

In other words, the UN, as an institution "is already broken" because it hasn't been "likely to help Washington" and might dilute our power. The narcissism inherent in such a statement, which is even more egregious than that of the Bush administration (if that is possible) suggests that the whole point of the UN has already been lost...if it can't be ruled by the US, then, to hell with it.

After all, it is always and only about us.


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