Wednesday, March 09, 2005

What do they do on a rainy night in Rio? A-rinky-dinky-dink...

I appear to be in a small and unpopular minority in curling my lip at John Bolton's UN nomination. Kenneth Anderson makes the case in favour.

Je n'est convinced pas.

However, his treatment of the UN is spot on:

....a UN bureaucracy that is both deeply anti-American while being
deeply reactionary - reactionary, paradoxically, in its attachment to a vision
of the UN that is inconsistent with its moral and political reality.What is that
vision? It is the vision of a sapling growing ultimately to be a towering tree
of global governance; for the sake of the tree to come, we have to forgive any
difficulties with the sapling. But this vision is morally dead, for a simple
reason. The moral limits of the UN are the moral limits of an institution that
deliberately withholds moral judgment on its members - the good are treated
equally with the wicked, the democracies with the dictatorships, it's all the
same thing. There are reasons why the world needs a forum that adopts this moral
equivalence - but those reasons are entirely matters of prudence and
pragmatism, a talking shop for the sake of a certain level of world
. But that means that the UN can never rise above a certain moral
status - and, as expected, it has not. Much better if the US pushes a vision of
the UN as institutionally good and efficient at certain narrowly defined tasks,
and a place to discuss issues between sovereigns, but nothing more expansive
than that.

Exactly! My Contemporary Security Issues seminar group (and indeed any regular readers from the early days of this site) has heard me bang on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on about this for months. The UN is a forum through which states pursue their national interests. In terms of heart-warming, crotch-tightening sexification, it's never going to rise much above that.

Repeat after me:

The UN is not a moral actor.
The UN is not a moral actor.
The UN is not a moral actor.
The UN is not...


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