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An Organization That's Become a Hostage to World Security

May 20, 2010
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 When Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke at the United Nations earlier this month, he made his umpteenth attack on Israel and the United States.

His speech prompted John Bolton, a former United States ambassador to the United Nations, who quit his post out of frustration, to tell Israel Army Radio that he is not surprised that the "head of an enemy state can arrive in the United States, take the podium in the center of New York, castigate the United States and Israel, and accuse them of mutual nuclear aid."

He called the United Nations an organization "empty of all content," and one that has "lost its legitimacy a long time ago." He labeled its committee to stop the spread of nuclear proliferation -- the committee to which the Iranian president spoke -- yet another U.N. body "that has no teeth or significance."

The fact is that the political architecture and the political mathematics of the United Nations have changed. Not only has the number of nonpermanent members in the Security Council been increased from six to 10, but the pivotal position in the General Assembly once held by Latin America is now held by Third World countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. They have hijacked the United Nations, and transformed it into one of the most anti-Western, anti-American, anti-Semitic and anti-democratic organizations on the planet.

The United States keeps the Security Council at bay because it has a veto there. But in the veto-free General Assembly, America -- which pays about 20 percent of the United Nations' regular budget and about a third of its peacekeeping budget -- has only four options: to abstain on a resolution, to support one it doesn't like, to introduce one it does like or to water one down to utter ineffectiveness in order to get the two-thirds vote required to pass a resolution in a General Assembly that is unrecognizable from the one the U.N.'s founders envisaged in San Francisco in 1945.

Whatever usefulness the United Nations had in its early years has been dissipated by its indecency and irresponsibility in later years. The predominant case in point is its incessant denunciations of Israel, to which the United Nations gave birth and legitimacy when it adopted the Palestine partition resolution in November 1947.

But Palestine and Israel aside, other vital issues -- such as America's recognition of Communist China, the ending of the Korean and Vietnam wars, and the defusing of the Cuban missile crisis -- were settled not by the United Nations, but by diplomats operating outside of it.

Like Ambassador Bolton, I think it is time for the United States to separate itself from the United Nations, and encourage it to move its headquarters from New York City to a place more congenial to its present anti-democratic orientation.

To those who would say that jettisoning the United Nations would mean America's return to pre-World War II isolationism, I answer that in the age of the computer, the Internet and the jet airplane, the United States can defend its vital national interests and still be part of the world in old-fashioned ways: ambassadorial diplomacy, summit meetings, trade talks, cultural and scientific exchanges, and bilateral and multilateral treaties.

The Israeli government should also abandon the United Nations. Together, perhaps, the United States and Israels of the world can become the nucleus and the catalyst for a new organization: The League of Democratic States.

Edward Bernard Glick is professor emeritus of political science at Temple University.

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