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  • The United Nations: A serious discussion

    Okay, this thread is for a serious discussion about the United Nations. Let's keep the name calling and finger pointing within reason.

    Let's talk about what the UN's role really is, and if it truly fulfils that role. Let's also talk about the UN's performance in recent conflicts. We should also discuss how the UN is viewed by its member states, what authority it has, and how its members use its influence.

    Here is a snipped from a recent news article to get the debate rolling.

    KABUL, Afghanistan - The United Nations (news - web sites) may be forced to abandon its two-year effort to stabilize Afghanistan (news - web sites) because of rising violence blamed on the resurgent Taliban, its top official here warned Friday in an interview with The Associated Press.

    Lakhdar Brahimi said his team could not continue its work unless security improves. He called for more foreign troops to halt attacks that have killed at least 11 aid workers across the south and east since March.

    "Countries that are committed to supporting Afghanistan cannot kid themselves and cannot go on expecting us to work in unacceptable security conditions," Brahimi said.

    "They seem to think that our presence is important here. Well, if they do, they have got to make sure that the conditions for us to be here are there," he said. "If not, we will go away."

    U.N. calls for international troops to fan out across Afghanistan's troubled provinces have grown shrill since a French U.N. refugee worker was gunned down in the eastern city of Ghazni in October.

    The world body has suspended some operations in regions along the border, where Taliban militants and their allies have been most active, including help to thousands of refugees returning from Pakistan.

    NATO which commands a 5,500-strong peacekeeping force in the Afghan capital, Kabul, has agreed in principle to expand into the provinces. But nations have been slow to come forward with pledges of troops.
    Editor-in-Chief
    GameSquad.com

  • #2
    Why not use some of the UNs money to fund and train its autonomous military force for policing places like Afghanistan?

    "Artillery adds dignity to what would otherwise be a ugly brawl."
    --Frederick II, King of Prussia

    Comment


    • #3
      This is a prime example of why the UN is regarded as a joke by some people. The UN is a good platform to launch power plays and undermine opponent nations' credibility, but it has virtually no ability to actually enforce any of the resolutions that it passes.

      There are over 100 wars and large conflicts obgoing in the world at this very moment. Guess how many of them have a resolution from the UN security council endorsing them? None. Where is the outcry? Where is the clamor that international law is being flouted and terrible precedents set? Some politicians or countries seem to be selectively applying international agreements when it suits them.

      China and Russia generally ignore any conflict that doesn't directly effect their interests, but they will both shamelessly flout international law whenever it suits their purposes. The US, UK, and many other nations do the same. Why? Because all governments everywhere understand that they have to put the interests and security of their own people ahead of policy goals and feel good deals. That's not a crime, it's what all countries do from time to time.

      Did the UK have a resolution from the UN security council authorizing it to use force in the Falkland Island conflict? What about the Ivory Coast? What about the seven Arab nations that invaded Israel? When the USSR invaded Afghanistan? Serbia? Kosovo? Bosnia? Zaire? Congo? The list goes on and on. So why the righteous indignation when the US uses military force to expel one of the world's worst mass murderers? Are we to believe it is because "international law" has suddenly become sacred overnight, while so many other nations continue to violate it at will at this very moment?

      So if worldwide social utopia and the rule of international law are largely a pipe dream, what constructive role can the UN play? An important one in my opinion. The UN serves as a platform where nations can keep a channel of communication open with other nations, while at the same time giving them a forum to air their grievances and suggest ideas. This alone can be a fundmental step in making the world a better and safer place. In the rare instances where the UN can agree on anything at all and has the backbone to back up its words with action, it can be a legitimate peacekeeping force. To expect the UN to serve as a true world body capable of stopping major conflicts and policing hostile areas on its own is, of course, asking too much. It isn't able to stop the infighting and agree on anything long enough to put forward any meaningful initiatives.
      Editor-in-Chief
      GameSquad.com

      Comment


      • #4
        I consider the UN to be nothing more than a paper tiger, most of the bad guys know that if they do bad the UN will do nothing about it.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Don Maddox
          Did the UK have a resolution from the UN security council authorizing it to use force in the Falkland Island conflict? What about the Ivory Coast? What about the seven Arab nations that invaded Israel? When the USSR invaded Afghanistan? Serbia? Kosovo? Bosnia? Zaire? Congo? The list goes on and on. So why the righteous indignation when the US uses military force to expel one of the world's worst mass murderers? Are we to believe it is because "international law" has suddenly become sacred overnight, while so many other nations continue to violate it at will at this very moment?
          Concerning the Falklands, the British didnít need a resolution, their territory was attacked. It was their right to counterattack. Concerning Ivory Coast, there is defense agreements between Ivory Coast and France, and anyway what France does there is with the UN agreement. Otherwise many of your other example, Zaire, ex-Yugoslavia are more civil wars. The problem with America is that it is the most powerful country in the world and should be an example because of that, instead of using force without the UN agreement. When Saddam attacked Kuwait, I am sure he had many good reasons too, even the fact that he attacked a non democratic regime. Anyway it is not the same thing when a respectable and responsible country as the USA attacks another country and when it is done by a rogue state. So people are more indignant when America does it.

          The UN is nothing, it is only a place where countries can meet each other to discuss of something. Otherwise it is an ensemble of organization trying to help people in the world. It is stupid to criticize the UN, as the UN is nothing more than what its members are and do. And states think about their own profit before all. Concerning the Iraqi crisis, the USA wanted to use the UN to their profit, to say they have the international community with them, even if they wanted to invade Iraq for their own interest only. And it was the same for France or Russia, who used the UN to serve their own policy in this affair. The UN is efficient in the reconstruction of a country, in peacekeeping after the end of fights, but the UN canít resolve a diplomatic problem of a civil war.

          LaPalice.
          Monsieur de La Palice est mort
          Mort devant Pavie.
          Un quart d'heure avant sa mort
          Il ťtait encore en vie...

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by LaPalice
            Concerning the Falklands, the British didnít need a resolution, their territory was attacked. It was their right to counterattack. Concerning Ivory Coast, there is defense agreements between Ivory Coast and France, and anyway what France does there is with the UN agreement. Otherwise many of your other example, Zaire, ex-Yugoslavia are more civil wars. The problem with America is that it is the most powerful country in the world and should be an example because of that, instead of using force without the UN agreement. When Saddam attacked Kuwait, I am sure he had many good reasons too, even the fact that he attacked a non democratic regime. Anyway it is not the same thing when a respectable and responsible country as the USA attacks another country and when it is done by a rogue state. So people are more indignant when America does it.

            The UN is nothing, it is only a place where countries can meet each other to discuss of something. Otherwise it is an ensemble of organization trying to help people in the world. It is stupid to criticize the UN, as the UN is nothing more than what its members are and do. And states think about their own profit before all. Concerning the Iraqi crisis, the USA wanted to use the UN to their profit, to say they have the international community with them, even if they wanted to invade Iraq for their own interest only. And it was the same for France or Russia, who used the UN to serve their own policy in this affair. The UN is efficient in the reconstruction of a country, in peacekeeping after the end of fights, but the UN canít resolve a diplomatic problem of a civil war.

            LaPalice.
            LaPalice,

            What about Arab countries attacking Israel, were they condemned by the UN resolutions? No. There are no UN resolutions passed against them for being aggressors. The Arabs were the aggressors in virtually all of the wars with Israel. Even 1967 war can be clearly agrued as a defensive war rather than an actual offensive war for Israel. There is plenty of evidence that Arab forces were gathering to launch a surprise attack on Israel in 1967.

            What about China invading Tibet? Was there a UN resolution against China? No.

            Some of the countries you mentioned may have been civil wars, however, for many neighboring nations, they did interfere with the warring parties of that nation, thus a clear violation of the UN Charter. African nations are more like in 19th century where they're jacking for a better position to exploit the weaknesses of their enemies. Where was the UN in that kind of situation? No.

            There are dozens of wars or conflicts I could cite that the United Nations didn't take time to condemn or pass resolutions against such aggressors.

            I think the UN is nothing, but a hypocrisy that needs to be corrected badly. In fact, I prefer to see it disbanded as to prevent France, that means YOU, and the other countries frome exploiting America's weaknesses.

            Have you not listened to my posts? America did not go to war with Iraq in the name of profits. On the eve of war, a clear MAJORITY of Americans believed that a war was necessary because Saddam was hiding WMDs from us, and that there was a link between Al-Qaeda and Saddam, of which may have been dubious at best. A MAJORITY of Americans also believed it was a war of liberating Iraqis from Saddam's brutal regime, thus paving the way for democratization of Middle East.

            That means a MAJORITY of Americans did not believe Bush went to war with Iraq in the name of profits! WILL YOU READ THAT? I am damned sick to death that everybody claims the Operation Iraqi Freedom was nothing, but profits. If that is so true, then why is Bush ordering Haliburton to pay back the overcharged prices to the government? If you feel the war was for profits, then Haliburton would have kept all overcharged profits to themselves, heck, Cheney was against it.

            But, no, you're going to keep claiming it was the war in the name of profits. Well, I'm glad you're not an American!

            Or are you saying the MAJORITY only concerns of these in the world rather than in a single country's voting population? If true, then you're nothing, but a hypocrite as you would rather force America to submit to the UN like a puppy, when it is a CLEAR VIOLATION of the US Constitution. The Constitution is the supreme law of land in America, it defeats all international agreements, why, you might ask? Because it is made for Americans, and respected by Americans.

            In all, I prefer to keep Westiphalian System established since 1648 alive, not taken over by the United Nations.

            Dan
            Major James Holden, Georgia Badgers Militia of Rainbow Regiment, American Civil War

            "Aim small, miss small."

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Cheetah772
              If true, then you're nothing, but a hypocrite as you would rather force America to submit to the UN like a puppy, when it is a CLEAR VIOLATION of the US Constitution. The Constitution is the supreme law of land in America, it defeats all international agreements, why, you might ask? Because it is made for Americans, and respected by Americans.
              Please don't bring up the Constitution, I might have to point out a few things......
              "Have you forgotten the face of your father?"

              Comment


              • #8
                The United Nations is neither inherently good or bad. Let's face it, the world was messed up after World War Two and the UN was basically founded to avoid WWIII. This goal has been accomplished so far.

                However it's a bit much to expect the UN to stop most conflicts in the world. A organization like this has to give each state a voice in matters. It isn't going to follow anyone's agenda since so many groups are fighting for power.

                If you do want the UN to do more, give it more authority and power. Give it the power to tax and raise an army. Give it sovereignty over other nations. Then it will be able to do more for sure, although there will be many times when particular nations disagree with decisions made. If you're not prepared to do this, don't complain when it is unable to act because it's a paper tiger.
                Last edited by Chuck?; 13 Dec 03, 09:53.
                "There is no great genius without some touch of madness."

                Seneca (5 BC - 65 AD)

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Tim McBride
                  Please don't bring up the Constitution, I might have to point out a few things......
                  Why not? I am tired of the courts subduing parts of the Constitution, because of the international agreements.

                  Either the international agreements or the United Nations are the supreme law of land in America or is it the US Constitution? Pick one.

                  It's not that hard to compehrend. For me, I prefer to honor the US Constitution over that of the United Nations, after all, I didn't vote any of the UN representatives. It is a damned tyrannical organization hell-bent on destroying America's national sovereignty.

                  Dan
                  Major James Holden, Georgia Badgers Militia of Rainbow Regiment, American Civil War

                  "Aim small, miss small."

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I believe the United Nation's greatest flaw is the Security Council. Determining "the common interest" of the world, and motivating people to risk their lives in pursuit of it has proven far more difficult than once envisioned. More importantly, achieving the state of peace (absence of war, equilibrium, utopian state of spiritual & social harmony, etc) continues to be an extremely unrealistic ideal.

                    Deciding when war is necessary is more suggestive, than academic. More importantly, the organization has already proven that certain countries have more authority to define the conditions justifying war than others.

                    The conditions of the world today makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible to reach a concensus on the situation that justifies war. Nations like the US, with widespread global interest, will logically feel more threatened by an unfavorable country than a nation who has less interest to risk. At the same rate, countries like the US should not expect nations to readily accept our conditions to the point of risking their lives.

                    Most UNSC resolutions carry little rate in any case. The US and her allies decide on their own what they will and will not support. These agree-ments establishes the perception of cooperation without commitment, which is unrealistic.

                    The UN should not be used to validate foriegn policy. Since this is inevitable because of the defects of man; the United Nations would do better to not justify any war under any condition. Instead, the organizations should focus on non-violent means to promote the ideal of humanity. Focusing solely on the state of peace. Countries must decide on their own when they are prepared to die for something. We should quit pretending we think and behave otherwise.
                    "As soon as men decide that all means are permitted to fight an evil, then their good becomes indistinguishable from the evil that they set out to destroy."-Christopher Dawson - The Judgement of Nations, 1942

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Cheetah772
                      LaPalice,

                      What about Arab countries attacking Israel, were they condemned by the UN resolutions? No. There are no UN resolutions passed against them for being aggressors. The Arabs were the aggressors in virtually all of the wars with Israel. Even 1967 war can be clearly agrued as a defensive war rather than an actual offensive war for Israel. There is plenty of evidence that Arab forces were gathering to launch a surprise attack on Israel in 1967.

                      What about China invading Tibet? Was there a UN resolution against China? No.

                      Some of the countries you mentioned may have been civil wars, however, for many neighboring nations, they did interfere with the warring parties of that nation, thus a clear violation of the UN Charter. African nations are more like in 19th century where they're jacking for a better position to exploit the weaknesses of their enemies. Where was the UN in that kind of situation? No.

                      There are dozens of wars or conflicts I could cite that the United Nations didn't take time to condemn or pass resolutions against such aggressors.
                      Yes, of course, I am right with you there. But it is not the fault of the UN, it is the fault of its members, more particularly the members of the security council. Why did America not try to pass a resolution against those war ? It is possible that the USA did it, and then received the China or USSR veto, I donít know, but what I mean is that before criticizing the UN, try to know what its members did.

                      I think the UN is nothing, but a hypocrisy that needs to be corrected badly. In fact, I prefer to see it disbanded as to prevent France, that means YOU, and the other countries frome exploiting America's weaknesses.
                      ME ? Really ? Sure, I exploit USA weakness every night, in my dreams, and all the women (well the most beautiful) admire me. Otherwise, sorry, I am not convinced, I think that America invaded Iraq for its profit, whatever the American public opinion thinks. Propaganda is so easyÖ

                      Have you not listened to my posts? America did not go to war with Iraq in the name of profits. On the eve of war, a clear MAJORITY of Americans believed that a war was necessary because Saddam was hiding WMDs from us, and that there was a link between Al-Qaeda and Saddam, of which may have been dubious at best. A MAJORITY of Americans also believed it was a war of liberating Iraqis from Saddam's brutal regime, thus paving the way for democratization of Middle East.

                      That means a MAJORITY of Americans did not believe Bush went to war with Iraq in the name of profits! WILL YOU READ THAT? I am damned sick to death that everybody claims the Operation Iraqi Freedom was nothing, but profits. If that is so true, then why is Bush ordering Haliburton to pay back the overcharged prices to the government? If you feel the war was for profits, then Haliburton would have kept all overcharged profits to themselves, heck, Cheney was against it.

                      But, no, you're going to keep claiming it was the war in the name of profits. Well, I'm glad you're not an American!

                      Or are you saying the MAJORITY only concerns of these in the world rather than in a single country's voting population? If true, then you're nothing, but a hypocrite as you would rather force America to submit to the UN like a puppy, when it is a CLEAR VIOLATION of the US Constitution. The Constitution is the supreme law of land in America, it defeats all international agreements, why, you might ask? Because it is made for Americans, and respected by Americans.

                      In all, I prefer to keep Westiphalian System established since 1648 alive, not taken over by the United Nations.

                      Dan
                      Sure, the funny thing is that I heard that this invasion of Iraq is a violation of this spirit of 1648.

                      LaPalice.
                      Monsieur de La Palice est mort
                      Mort devant Pavie.
                      Un quart d'heure avant sa mort
                      Il ťtait encore en vie...

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Chuck
                        The United Nations is neither inherently good or bad. Let's face it, the world was messed up after World War Two and the UN was basically founded to avoid WWIII. This goal has been accomplished so far.

                        However it's a bit much to expect the UN to stop most conflicts in the world. A organization like this has to give each state a voice in matters. It isn't going to follow anyone's agenda since so many groups are fighting for power.
                        Well said Chuck. When viewed in the context of what this body can actually do, the UN is a success in most respects. It has made the world a better place and it would be a shame to see it go away. In fact, it could be downright catastrophic if the basic principle of bringing nations together to talk foundered.

                        If you do want the UN to do more, give it more authority and power. Give it the power to tax and raise an army. Give it sovereignty over other nations. Then it will be able to do more for sure, although there will be many times when particular nations disagree with decisions made. If you're not prepared to do this, don't complain when it is unable to act because it's a paper tiger.
                        This is really the problem. As I said earlier the UN is basically a success when it is viewed in its proper context. When nations start expecting that the UN will actually agree on much of anything or be able to back up its positions by overwhelming force, that's when the organization begins to fail. The UN should not be viewed as some type of surrogate "world government." That idea is exrememly dangerous and could very well provoke untold tragedy should it be pushed too far.

                        If France (just as an example) were to propose some resolution on something and the majority of the members were to reject it, that doesn't really mean that France is wrong. France might very well be able to prove every single point in their resolution and back it up with hard facts. The reality that the majority rejected it simply means (a) they are unwilling to accept it or, (b) they are unable to accept it. The other members might have competing priorities that outweigh (from their viewpoint) the good that the resolution might do. In this example if France we to go ahead with the action on their own - even though the majority of members voted against it - the UN has little authority to do much about it. International law is more of a guideline for better or worse. Again, the UN is not the world government and it is dangerous to see it in that light. It is doomed to fail in such a context.
                        Editor-in-Chief
                        GameSquad.com

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Don Maddox
                          This is really the problem. As I said earlier the UN is basically a success when it is viewed in its proper context. When nations start expecting that the UN will actually agree on much of anything or be able to back up its positions by overwhelming force, that's when the organization begins to fail. The UN should not be viewed as some type of surrogate "world government." That idea is exrememly dangerous and could very well provoke untold tragedy should it be pushed too far.

                          If France (just as an example) were to propose some resolution on something and the majority of the members were to reject it, that doesn't really mean that France is wrong. France might very well be able to prove every single point in their resolution and back it up with hard facts. The reality that the majority rejected it simply means (a) they are unwilling to accept it or, (b) they are unable to accept it. The other members might have competing priorities that outweigh (from their viewpoint) the good that the resolution might do. In this example if France we to go ahead with the action on their own - even though the majority of members voted against it - the UN has little authority to do much about it. International law is more of a guideline for better or worse. Again, the UN is not the world government and it is dangerous to see it in that light. It is doomed to fail in such a context.
                          There can be no 'law' if there is no 'enforcement'. The UN is a lot like the Articles of Confederation. This setup the United States government to be so weak it couldn't do anything. All real power was with the individual states.

                          It's the same with the UN. All power is with the member countries. Basically if the UN is to be effective, it needs more teeth. However if this is done, we must be prepared to be bitten too.

                          Also, in my view there is already a surrogate "world government" slowly being installed via such things as trade agreements, multinational corporations, the WTO, and to lesser extent, the UN. Sure, there is no flag or name for it, but it certainly exist and will continue to grow more powerful into the future. It's primary authority comes not from the people, but the flow of capital.
                          "There is no great genius without some touch of madness."

                          Seneca (5 BC - 65 AD)

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Deltapooh
                            I believe the United Nation's greatest flaw is the Security Council. Determining "the common interest" of the world, and motivating people to risk their lives in pursuit of it has proven far more difficult than once envisioned. More importantly, achieving the state of peace (absence of war, equilibrium, utopian state of spiritual & social harmony, etc) continues to be an extremely unrealistic ideal.
                            The Security Council does have it's flaws. What would be the replacement however?

                            The UN should not be used to validate foriegn policy. Since this is inevitable because of the defects of man; the United Nations would do better to not justify any war under any condition. Instead, the organizations should focus on non-violent means to promote the ideal of humanity. Focusing solely on the state of peace. Countries must decide on their own when they are prepared to die for something. We should quit pretending we think and behave otherwise.
                            What would replace the UN for conflict resolution? To avoid WW3 there will have to be much in the way of discussion and hard negotiations. Under what framework do these take place?
                            "There is no great genius without some touch of madness."

                            Seneca (5 BC - 65 AD)

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Chuck
                              The Security Council does have it's flaws. What would be the replacement however?


                              What would replace the UN for conflict resolution? To avoid WW3 there will have to be much in the way of discussion and hard negotiations. Under what framework do these take place?
                              Good questions? I really don't know. At times I feel that no organization might be better than what we have now. The special interest of various members have turned the UN into nothing more than a stage for actor/actresses to come and perform. None are truly committed to protecting and promoting the Charter of the United Nations. The most important UNSC resolutions are no longer negotiated. They are purchased with the ultimate price being the integrity of the organization as a whole.

                              Of course, removing the the Security Council would likely compromise the organization. Much of our commitments to the organization is based on the belief it furthers our own security.

                              So I guess we're stuck.
                              "As soon as men decide that all means are permitted to fight an evil, then their good becomes indistinguishable from the evil that they set out to destroy."-Christopher Dawson - The Judgement of Nations, 1942

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