April 18 2017
For those of you who sometimes wonder why the U.S. has given billions of dollars to support an institution whose prime purposes seem to be supporting luxurious lifestyles for diplomats from kleptocracies and condemning our ally Israel, have I got a book for you . . .
The United Nations is failing abysmally, and dangerously, in its mission. Founded in 1945 as a vehicle to avert war and promote human dignity and freedom, the U.N. has instead become a self-serving and ever-expanding haven of privilege for the world’s worst regimes, rife with bigotry, fraud, abuse, and corruption, both financial and moral. Yet the American foreign policy community treats it as taboo to speak seriously about sidelining, supplanting, or leaving the U.N. The usual argument is that the U.N. may be imperfect, but it’s all we’ve got.
In this Broadside, Claudia Rosett explains why the U.N.’s basic design means it cannot really be reformed and why it is becoming ever more urgent to seek alternatives. Rosett argues that it’s time to break the taboo, and to bring the question of how to dispense with the U.N. altogether into America’s foreign policy debates.
I've just ordered the book so, while I can't offer a review, I can look back at Claudia's trenchant remarks about the United Nations when I interviewed her for a Portrait of a Modern Feminist profile. I asked Claudia, one of the world's foremost experts on the U.N., what the whole shebang in Turtle Bay is costing the American taxpayer:
"The answer is we actually don't know. You and I don't know--in fact, we cannot know," Rosett says. It is this hidden budget that leads to "all sorts of corruption." The U.S. contribution may be double digit billions. "I can send you a chart of the UN which makes a great place mat--it is complicated beyond belief at this point," Rosett says.
Rosett believes that the U.S. and allies would accomplish more with smaller alliances built around real shared interests such as NATO. When it is remarked that NATO was "toothless" during Russia's recent encroachments into the Crimea, she points out that "NATO wasn't toothless during the Cold War and it is not toothless when the United States leads." She jokingly says that there would be no harm in "renting a gym in Topeka, or maybe Russia’s Novosibirsk, as a talking shop and calling it the U.N." As long as there is no budget--the budget, largely amounting to an entitlement bankrolled by the developed democracies, is the "fatal element" in the U.N.
While you are waiting for the book to come, you can read Claudia's excellent piece this morning in The Hill on how President Trump is juggling the foreign policy balls dropped by his predecessor.