Irresponsible Punditry

The Pittsburgh Tribune Review devotes Sunday editorial space to Mark Malloch Brown’s so-called “hissy-fit” last week. Though the irony is probably lost on the Tribune’s editorial board, their brief exposition is Malloch Brown’s thoughtful critique of US-UN relations made manifest.
The Tribune hits the tired notes and common distortions frequently associated with conservative screeds. (E.g., the authors issue the baseless claim that “peacekeepers’ sexual abuse of refugees, including children, keeps surfacing while offenders face neither trial nor punishment.” In fact, over 140 personnel have been punished thus far, including six commanders.) Nonetheless, the Tribune cannot let the facts obscure the truth as they would like it to be.

I doubt that the Tribune-Review actually thought through some of the consequences of a United States withdrawal from the world body. For one, I wonder if they considered how American interests in the Middle East would be sacrificed by a whole scale abandonment of the United Nations.

For example, it has been a longtime goal of United States foreign policy to disentangle Syria from Lebanon. This week, the lead UN investigator into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri released a CSI style report detailing the assassins’ tools and methods. This report follows a separate investigation into the complicity of Syrian authorities in the killing and subsequent cover-up. It also comes just one year after a UN team concluded that Syria had complied with a Franco-American Security Council resolution to withdraw all its military forces from Lebanon.

After a 29 year occupation, this was a major victory not only democratic reformers in Lebanon, but for global security and American interests in the Middle East. That the Tribune editorial board would choose to ignore this achievement is evidence of Malloch Brown’s observation (pdf) that conservative media outlets seek to keep the accomplishments of the United Nations a mystery to large swaths of the country.