Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Now is the time for the UN to prove itself

Whatever you may feel about the rights and wrongs of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Whatever you might think about the motivations behind those wars it is hard to deny that at least the USA backs up it's rhetoric and tough talk with action. It's not the job of the USA to "police" the world and I, personally, believe that they would rather not have to, but the problem is that the body whose job it is to police the world, doesn't. That body is the UN.

I expect some people will disagree with that. If so, just what is the UN for?

Whatever it is supposed to do, it certainly isn't making the world a better, safer place. There are some places where it is able to maintain a shaky peace - but this generally tends to be in fairly small, localised conflicts. Cyprus for example. But even then it does not manage to make peace, just maintains a stand-off which, from time to time, flares up then quietens down again. The conflict is still there. The problem is still there.

Over the last couple of decades there have been a number of incidents where the UN could have (and should have) used it's muscle to intervene, but it failed to do so or did so too late. As a result we've had numerous Balkan wars and murder on a mass scale in Rwanda. We've also had two wars in the Gulf. In the first of those wars the UN did actually act, but then shied away from completing it's task and instead crawled back into it's shell.

The analogy of a tortoise is very apt. The UN looks solid and wise but is bulky, slow to react, frequently appears to be comatose and no one really knows what goes on inside.

It's inability to deal with anything and solve anything has emboldened more and more rogue governments. The situation in Darfur, for example, has been exacerbated by the UN's decision not to class what is happening as genocide. It's quite clear to everyone that it is genocide and on a significant scale, but if the UN agreed that it was, they would be compelled under their Charter to act. So they say it isn't - and the UN can go back to sitting on the sidelines.

Today's Telegraph, informs us that North Korea are providing Iran with technical assistance in their nuclear programme. This programme, which Iran has assured the world is for peaceful purposes only, appears to be preparing to test fire a small nuclear device underground. It is the UN's job to prevent nuclear proliferation. It is their job to act against North Korea and, if necessary, Iran. Action means doing something. Not more talk and more sanctions that do nothing except harm the people of those countries, but something that actually convinces those rogue governments to bow to international pressure and give up their nuclear arms and ambitions.

Because the UN will not do something, somebody else will have to - or we risk at the very least a new "Cold War" or at worst, nuclear war. If that someone is the USA or Israel, there is no doubt that this will lead to an escalation of the conflict between the West and Islamism - but that is surely preferable to even a restricted. localised Middle East nuclear exchange.

If the UN is to ever regain any credibility, if it ever had a reason for being, then this is it. The time for talk is over - what is needed now is action. If, once again, the UN fails to do so, then there is no point in continuing it's existence.

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