December 03, 2004

The UN it is a-changing...

Lee Feinstein on the proposed reforms to the United Nations. Again, all of these reforms -- expanding the Security Council, defining terrorism, figuring out some way to let peacekeeping missions do their work -- are good and noble solutions to current problems. But there's not much talk about what the UN is actually for.

After World War II, the UN was set up to prevent strong states from invading weaker states and protect sovereignty. Today, that's not a problem, insofar as strong states don't tend to invade weaker states (Iraq did it, but that's a single data point, and the UN only prevented it because the United States decided rather radically that we should start getting involved in the Middle East.) The exception, of course, is the United States, which does invade weaker states. But as long as there's only one superpower, the UN is never going to thwart the United States. Some of its lesser goals -- promoting human rights, development, health care -- are good, but if the UN is going to be nothing but a global charity, then it really ought to set itself up as a global charity and not waste time doing other stuff. Maybe the UN should do more than charity; fine, but let's be clear about defining those goals.
-- Brad Plumer 4:57 PM || ||