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UN Ripe for Reform, American style

 
 
rayban1
 
Reply Wed 10 Aug, 2005 03:51 pm
Sounds good to me

John O'Sullivan
U.N. ripe for reform, American-style

August 9, 2005

BY JOHN O'SULLIVAN



Two days ago Benon Sevan, the United Nations official in charge of the corrupt Oil for Food program, resigned and accused his old friend, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, of throwing him to the wolves -- exactly one day before the official U.N. report, drawn up by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, accused him of taking bribes for allocating lucrative oil contracts under the joint U.N.-Iraqi program devised by Annan with former Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, now languishing in prison and threatening to reveal all at his forthcoming trial.

Meanwhile, President Bush has appointed tough guy diplomat John Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the U.N. with instructions to clean up the world organization. But Senate Democrats and other "friends of the U.N." are setting out to hamstring Bolton before he can get started.

Now read on.

Yes, it sounds a little like a soap opera -- one with all the usual plot complications but, alas, without a good part for Joan Collins or Heather Locklear.

Hang on, though. Maybe Locklear could play the part of Claudia Rosett who, almost alone among the fearlessly nonpartisan band of investigative journalists, delved deeply into the sleazy details of the Oil for Food program when the establishment media were dismissing it as a storm in an oil can. And in one of those plot twists that Hollywood scriptwriters earn millions for devising, Rosett, who exposed Sevan when he was still high, now comes to his defense on one vital point.

Sevan complains that he has been denied access to U.N. and other documents vital to his defense. Rosett endorses this -- but argues it is par for the course. The Volcker committee has regularly denied vital documents to Sevan, reporters, investigating committees from the Congress and other interested parties.

Nor is this secrecy wholly innocent. Both Rosett and the New York Sun's U.N.-watcher, Benny Avni, seem to think that Volcker will concentrate blame on a small number of U.N. officials, exonerate Annan of anything more serious than carelessness, and publish these findings on the eve of the September meeting of the U.N. General Assembly. These conclusions would likely then get overlooked amid the hoopla of major speeches by world leaders -- notably the new Iranian president outlining his vision of an Islamist Middle East which is expected to be a highly controversial rerun of Yasser Arafat's gun-toting address in the 1970s -- and be pushed down the U.N.'s capacious memory hole.

Annan would then be able to change the subject to the reform of the U.N. He might even get the support of Bolton and the Bush administration to push reforms through. After which the elder statesman would make a graceful exit as the author of a revived and reformed world body.

It is an appealing prospect in many respects. It would get everyone off the hook. And old rivals from Annan to President Bush would all make gains. As so often is the case, however, there is a snag in even the best-laid plans of mice and men. In this case, the snag is the nature of the reforms.

What the United States, its more hard-headed allies such as Australia and Israel, newly rising powers like China and India, and the GOP want from reform is a more efficient, more transparent, and more realistic U.N. -- one that would act as the diplomatic instrument of member-governments, and in particular of the great powers. So Washington seeks to limit the size of the U.N. Security Council so that it can act promptly to deal with international crises -- but it is leery about granting the U.N. more powers, authority or independent financial resources.

What the U.N. bureaucracy, the European Union, the smaller member-states, and liberal Democrats want is a U.N. that would be the center of a growing nexus of "world governance" in which U.N. and other transnational bodies, funded by taxes on international transactions and policed by NGOs, would exercise increasing authority over member-states on behalf of "the international community" in such matters as climate change, resource exploitation and international investment.

In essence, the debate over U.N. reform is ultimately about whether sovereign nation states or transnational U.N. bodies should be the main players in international relations. That helps to explain why the multilateralist Democrats in the Senate last May issued a report in which they tried to blame the oil-for-food scandal partly on the United States and Britain for not blowing the whistle on it earlier -- and why they opposed sending such a strong advocate of U.S. national interests as John Bolton to Turtle Bay.

Annan would usually belong in the second camp of transnational reformers (or "tranzis.") But the oil-for-food scandal has both weakened him personally and tended to discredit the view that the U.N. should enjoy more power and independence. So, earlier this year, he inserted ideas designed to win over the Bush administration (such as producing the international legal definition of terrorism the United States has long wanted) in his U.N. reform package. And because other elements in that package have provoked serious opposition since then, the United States enjoys even more leverage over the final result.

How should we use it? The answer may be surprising. While the Europeans, Chinese, Indians, Brazilians and Japanese are squabbling over the size and membership of the Security Council, Bolton should move to cut down the powers of the U.N. Secretariat.

This aspect of the U.N. receives little attention. But these largely unaccountable bureaucrats have been the cutting edge of the "tranzi" revolution. By manipulating U.N. conferences on issues from climate change to sustainable development, they have imposed a sort of political agenda for "global governance" on national governments. And yet, because they are deeply stained by the oil-for-food scandal, they are today ill-placed to resist an attack on their powers and privileges.

Bolton has the chance to halt the transnational revolution in its tracks by way of reforming a dysfunctional U.N. After what the Senate Democrats did to him on the tranzis' behalf in the confirmation process, he has every reason to show no quarter.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 2 • Views: 3,248 • Replies: 58
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Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Aug, 2005 08:35 pm
Why, exactly, does it all sound good to you?
0 Replies
 
rayban1
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Aug, 2005 10:04 pm
Merry Andrew wrote:
Why, exactly, does it all sound good to you?


Because Bolton will get his chance to change the UN.......his chance that would have been denied by a few corrupt Democratic Senators. Rolling Eyes
0 Replies
 
goodfielder
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Aug, 2005 02:56 am
rayban1 wrote:
Merry Andrew wrote:
Why, exactly, does it all sound good to you?


Because Bolton will get his chance to change the UN.......his chance that would have been denied by a few corrupt Democratic Senators. Rolling Eyes


How can one person change the UN? Bolton is just one among many.

It does need reform, that's for sure, but it won't be achieved by the dictate of Bolton. He will need to garner support for a plan surely.
0 Replies
 
Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Aug, 2005 06:06 am
I didn't realize that Bolton was a gun-totin' marshall, sent into a wild West cowtown to clean up a mess. Since when is the US running the UN? Since when is it our mission to 'clean up' the UN? What is 'corrupt' about a Senator wgho -- quite rightly -- sees tha this megalomaniacal Bolton is probably the worst choice the administration could have made for UN ambassador? What's he going to do? Throw a temper tantrum as is is his wont? Withdraw the US mission from the UN? That wouldn't surprise me one bit. The Bush White House pulled a fast one in appointing Bolton as interim ambassador because there was no chance that the Senate would approve him. And before you start bad-mouthing 'corrupt' Democrat senators, condier that the Senate has a GOP majority. There were quite a few Republicans who weren't going to fall for this dumb appointment either.
0 Replies
 
revel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Aug, 2005 06:24 am
Also consider that the US was also tied up in the Oil for Food scandal. Why is that so overlooked by the republicans who keep harping on this OFF scandal?

I agree that one man can't bully his way into the UN or "clean house" by himself even if the US wasn't one of the ones who needed cleaning.
0 Replies
 
Bi-Polar Bear
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Aug, 2005 06:27 am
rayban1 wrote:
Merry Andrew wrote:
Why, exactly, does it all sound good to you?


Because Bolton will get his chance to change the UN.......his chance that would have been denied by a few corrupt Democratic Senators. Rolling Eyes


that is the most childish thing I've read here lately. There are posters in this forum, myself for sure, who post childishly on purpose and transparently, but this quoted post is serious.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Aug, 2005 06:29 am
This is hilarious--the right wingnuts are unable to say "Democratic Senator" without appending "corrupt" . . . it would choke them to death otherwise. Of course, the Republicans are very purity personified.

They could clean up that bad old UN in a heartbeat--turn it over to Halliburton and Bechtel, and send in Cheney, Perle and Wolfowitz to supervise. They'd straigthen out all those wimpy foreigners lickitysplit.

God, the right cracks me up . . .
0 Replies
 
mysteryman
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Aug, 2005 06:34 am
Quote:
The Bush White House pulled a fast one in appointing Bolton


No,Bush used his constitutionally given authority to appoint a person to fill a position.
If the Nomination had been allowed to go to the floor for a full Senate vote,then it would not have been neccessary to use a recess appointment.
Bush didnt "pull a fast one",he did his job.

Quote:
And before you start bad-mouthing 'corrupt' Democrat senators, condier that the Senate has a GOP majority. There were quite a few Republicans who weren't going to fall for this dumb appointment either.


If this is true,then why not allow it to go to the floor for a vote.
If the majority was going to vote against Bolton,I would think the dems would want that to happen,just for the political capitol they could get from it.
Instead,they bottled him up in committee,and refused to allow it to go to the floor for a vote.
That makes no sense to me.
0 Replies
 
revel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Aug, 2005 06:53 am
The republicans were not so hot to hold it for it a vote either, I think it was because they didn't want to vote for him nor vote against the WH and it end up plamegated.
0 Replies
 
old europe
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Aug, 2005 06:56 am
Has anybody else noted how the music has changed recently? Remember all the rhetoric we got to hear pre-IW II? Rumsfeld, Bush et al. telling everybody how insignificant the UN was? How the US and the "coalition of the willing" could do it all alone?

Even at the beginning of this year, when proposals for UN reforms were brought into discussion, the US administration indulged in doing one specific thing: ignoring it.

But the "coalition" has dwindled, and less and less nations seem to be "willing". And while the situation in Iraq is far from being stable ("challenging", at best), new old issues arise: Syria, Pakistan, North Korea (again), and recently Iran is in the headlines. Again.

Of course the US admin is never going to say something like "We can't do this all alone", because that would sound like admitting mistakes in the past. Basically, the US need the UN. Now, how do you sell this unwelcome fact to your voters? Easy: just tell them "We need to reform these f*cking UN. American style!"

As one can see, they buy into it.
0 Replies
 
Sturgis
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Aug, 2005 07:00 am
Setanta wrote:
This is hilarious--the right wingnuts are unable to say "Democratic Senator" without appending "corrupt" . . . it would choke them to death otherwise. Of course, the Republicans are very purity personified.




Conniving cheating lying Democratic Senator. There! I did it and not once did I put in the word corrupt to describe said imaginary Senator. And to think, you said it could not be done Rolling Eyes .
0 Replies
 
Bi-Polar Bear
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Aug, 2005 07:05 am
old europe wrote:
Has anybody else noted how the music has changed recently? Remember all the rhetoric we got to hear pre-IW II? Rumsfeld, Bush et al. telling everybody how insignificant the UN was? How the US and the "coalition of the willing" could do it all alone?

Even at the beginning of this year, when proposals for UN reforms were brought into discussion, the US administration indulged in doing one specific thing: ignoring it.

But the "coalition" has dwindled, and less and less nations seem to be "willing". And while the situation in Iraq is far from being stable ("challenging", at best), new old issues arise: Syria, Pakistan, North Korea (again), and recently Iran is in the headlines. Again.

Of course the US admin is never going to say something like "We can't do this all alone", because that would sound like admitting mistakes in the past. Basically, the US need the UN. Now, how do you sell this unwelcome fact to your voters? Easy: just tell them "We need to reform these f*cking UN. American style!"

As one can see, they buy into it.


not all of us....
0 Replies
 
old europe
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Aug, 2005 07:25 am
Yeah, bvt, I would have assumed that much...

Very Happy
0 Replies
 
rayban1
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Aug, 2005 07:32 am
Did any of you "knee jerk" reactionaries bother to read the article? If you had you'd know that the most inept , ineffective Secretary General of all time is very vulnerable, because of all the corruption he has allowed on his watch.

Take off your blinders and admit that the UN needs reform and Bolton, with Bush's backing, may, I repeat, may be able to ram through something significant. The focus would be to initiate changes that would transform the UN into a meaningful and relevant organization with transparent accounting of funds and staffed by individuals who can be held accountable for their actions.
0 Replies
 
goodfielder
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Aug, 2005 07:49 am
rayban1 wrote:
Did any of you "knee jerk" reactionaries bother to read the article? If you had you'd know that the most inept , ineffective Secretary General of all time is very vulnerable, because of all the corruption he has allowed on his watch.

Take off your blinders and admit that the UN needs reform and Bolton, with Bush's backing, may, I repeat, may be able to ram through something significant. The focus would be to initiate changes that would transform the UN into a meaningful and relevant organization with transparent accounting of funds and staffed by individuals who can be held accountable for their actions.


Who you calling a reactionary Willis? I can't be reactionary AND progressive.

Anyway it's transparent that Bush wants Bolton to make the UN cry "Uncle". Won't happen without the rest of the world agreeing.

Anyway you and the Bush Administration need to sort yourselves out. Is it a corrupt administration that needs to be removed? Or is Bolton supposed to engineer a US takeover of the UN? Get your story straight or it will be confusion all round.
0 Replies
 
Bi-Polar Bear
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Aug, 2005 07:53 am
rayban1 wrote:
Did any of you "knee jerk" reactionaries bother to read the article? If you had you'd know that the most inept , ineffective Secretary General of all time is very vulnerable, because of all the corruption he has allowed on his watch.

Take off your blinders and admit that the UN needs reform and Bolton, with Bush's backing, may, I repeat, may be able to ram through something significant. The focus would be to initiate changes that would transform the UN into a meaningful and relevant organization with transparent accounting of funds and staffed by individuals who can be held accountable for their actions.


but you don't care about that, you're just gleeful that one of the boys on "your team" gets a turn at bat. I'm not sure who you think you're fooling with your patriotic window dressing.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Aug, 2005 07:54 am
I find it so hilarious to be described as reactionary, that i can barely type . . . that's a lifetime first ! ! !
0 Replies
 
rayban1
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Aug, 2005 07:57 am
Quote:
Anyway it's transparent that Bush wants Bolton to make the UN cry "Uncle". Won't happen without the rest of the world agreeing.


The rest of the world....MAY....be ready. They just need a little leadership.
Cool
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Aug, 2005 07:57 am
Re: UN Ripe for Reform, American style
JOHN O'SULLIVAN wrote:
What the United States, its more hard-headed allies such as Australia and Israel, newly rising powers like China and India, and the GOP want from reform is a more efficient, more transparent, and more realistic U.N.

Why should the UN have that kind of system of governance when the US doesn't?
0 Replies
 
 

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