Worst than the Grinch

As Mark mentioned, not everyone got into the spirit of UN Day yesterday. Niles Gardiner, from the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, published this:

As overpaid and under worked United Nations bureaucrats quaff champagne and feast on canapés and shrimp in Turtle Bay to celebrate U.N. Day, it is important for the world to remember those who have been failed by the organization, or have suffered at its hands.

He goes on to blame the UN for the Rwanda genocide, the Darfur genocide, and the suffering of “millions of Iraqis…under the brutal boot of the Baathist regime while Saddam Hussein plundered the U.N.’s Oil-for-Food Program,” among a list of other things.

The most disappointing part of Gardiner’s post is its single-minded view of world events. Nobody who is serious about foreign policy actually believes in reductions like his. Obviously there are other factors that, one would hope, should speak to his hypotheses. UN troops are “peacekeepers” and are not intended to be an invasionary force or successfully operate in areas where there is no peace to keep. Rwanda and Darfur were (and are being) failed by all of humanity, not specifically the UN. Those “millions of Iraqis” he mentions, 80 percent of the population, were actually supplied critical medical supplies and food through the Oil-for-Food program, not to mention the fact that Saddam Hussein was unable to develop a WMD program during that time. These were the stated goals of the program. The majority of the resources that flowed to Hussein during this period were due to “sanctions violations outside the Programme’s framework,” oil smuggling to the tune of $11 billion as compared to the estimated $1.8 billion in revenues from OFF manipulation.The world is a complex place, and the UN has repeatedly been asked to solve difficult problems nearly everywhere. The overwhelming majority of UN workers are in the field risking their lives and forgoing comfort in an effort to vaccinate children, reduce poverty, promote democracy, and keep the peace; very few, if any, are doing anything near quaffing champagne or feasting on canapés and shrimp (Gardiner’s characterization is more than insulting). Many of the challenges they are working to meet don’t have immediate solutions, and some of their many missions will inevitably fail (as they would were they to be taken up by any entity, including the United States). The fact that the UN is not a world government, but rather a platform for international cooperation (and thus dependent on engagement by Member States like the U.S.) should render discussions about the UN even more nuanced. Unfortunately, in Gardiner’s case, nothing does.

There is only one logical explanation from an individual who claims three
masters degrees and a Ph.D; he knows better. The deception is intentional, aimed toward an ideological victory not real solutions.

As I wrote yesterday in my UN Day post, “there are certainly steps to be
taken to ensure that the UN can more efficiently fulfill its mission.” Those steps — the paths to more effective global solutions — should be the topic of discussion, a fervent one at that; billions of peoples lives and livelihoods are depending on it. Drivel like Gardiner’s is more than distracting; it’s reprehensible.