The UN Sucks

I didn’t catch President Obama’s speech to the UN last night. I had other things to do (like stare at a brick wall).

I think the UN actually deserves credit for helping to avert nuclear war between the Soviet Union and the United States. The UN also did a good job of containing any French, British, or Chinese jealousies that could have erupted during the Cold War by keeping them included in the decision-making process. The diplomatic institutions it put in place were voluntary and had three clear-cut goals in mind: 1) avert nuclear war between the two rising superpowers, 2) avert rivalries between the two fading European powers not defeated by the United States, and 3) ensure that tensions in the Far East remained manageable.

The UN did all of these fairly well.

Today, though, I think the UN is a sham. The few good programs it has, such as the ones focusing on health and clean water, can be better run by various agencies in a decentralized manner. The goals of the post-Cold War UN are vague and paternalistic, which is why I suspect it attracts the curiosity, awe and respect of so many young Leftists.

The Human Rights Panel, which Dr. Delacroix has written about before, is a sham as well.

The UN worked diplomatically before because it was designed to placate to the demands and desires of the Soviet Union and the United States. Every other actor was basically along for the ride. Since the spectacular collapse of the USSR, the UN has been unable to meet the demands of the factions involved in the UN, largely because it was not designed to perform such functions.

If I were the next president of the United States, I would immediately withdraw from the United Nations.

This doesn’t mean I am averse to international institutions, though. The federal republic I live in today started out as a conglomerate of international states, after all. Nor does this mean I would immediately begin to set up some kind of League of Democracies à la Senator McCain, either. That would be foolish and provocative.

What would be a better choice, I think, is to start implementing policies that will lead to more economic integration with our allies. This could be done while simultaneously withdrawing troops from regions of the world where they are no longer needed (like Europe, Japan, and Korea). By more economic integration I mean more economic integration, though. An individual living in California should be able to live, vote or move to a place like Oaxaca, Alberta, Tochigi, or Overijssel in the same way that he can live, vote, or move to a place like Nevada or Nebraska. The same would go for businesses as well.

There would be no need to establish any more political ties or clear the way for one central bank, either. Political competition between jurisdictions and economic competition between the central banks would keep each more honest than would a monopoly.

While we’re at it, why not offer Native American reservations full-fledged sovereignty or membership into the confederation of states?

And it would be wise to keep this economic confederation very inclusive as well.

The end goal would looking something like this: instead of a behemoth like the UN making Western states look bad by kowtowing to bad actors in the name of diplomacy, and instead of having a few national state actors trying to cobble together a front representing Western values and ideals, a confederation on the lines I’m thinking of would place those few national state actors on the backburner and instead place the hundreds of provincial actors in the front through political competition and economic cooperation. Just think about what a map of the West would like like if current national state boundaries became irrelevant within the West. Take Belgium (11 provinces), Luxembourg (3 districts), the Netherlands (12 provinces), Germany (16 states), the United States (50 states), Mexico (31 states), South Korea (17 provinces), Japan (47 prefectures) and Canada (13 provinces and territories) for example. There are nine states mentioned, but if economic integration were to be intensified, and political boundaries eroded so that a citizen of the West may travel, live or vote from Tochigi to Overijssel without hassle, then we would be looking at 200 polities rather than just nine. Talk about decentralization!

6 thoughts on “The UN Sucks

    • Thanks neenergyobserver!

      I know it sounds like a radical proposal. Adam Smith admitted as much back in 1776 when he proposed the exact same policies I am repeating here on this blog.

      Another way of looking at it: Western societies – from France to Nebraska to Uruguay to Japan – basically share the same culture, despite language barriers (everybody speaks English nowadays anyway!) and sub-cultural oddities. You know how in the United States we have sub-cultures that are a part of the national culture, even if some sub-cultures try to defy the national culture? Take this analogy one step higher: American national culture and, say, German or Japanese national culture are both sub-cultures within a larger Western culture. Remember, the West is an idea, not a region of the world. This is why it is so powerful.

      My simple political proposal, borrowed from the great classical liberals of the past, would not only eliminate the UN, it would also erode the power of Paris, Washington, Montevideo and Tokyo as well. In addition to eroding the power of national states, the increase in number of regional actors would erode the power of the sub-state actors (like Alberta or Overijssel or Alabama) simply through political competition.

      Imagine if the best and brightest individuals and organizations from Germany or Japan were able to move away from their high-tax hellholes and into a low-tax haven like South Carolina or Jalisco without the added hassle of international trade barriers or nationalistic demagoguery impeding the moves. Such political competition would not only help markets better allocate resources (making everybody better off), but it would also force governments – now more democratic, more numerous, and part of a massive free trade zone – to implement better policies in regards to taxes and public services.

      We’d get the internationalism of the UN without the hypocrisy, bureaucratic waste, and authoritarianism while at the same time getting the small-scale, democratic governance associated with the Swiss cantons and our own early republic.

      Again, I understand that implementing such a commonwealth is a tough sell politically, but the experience of the Dutch republic, the Swiss cantons, and our own federal republic shows that such a political structure is the best way to organize a polity, as long as individual liberty is your end goal, of course. My question is why not keep working towards this goal? I have nothing better to do… 🙂

    • I recognize you argument here , Brandon, and I’m not sure I don’t agree, on the macro level, it depends a lot on you is in and who is out. It;s a far better thesis than many I’ve read- in truth you have much right in comparing it with our federal organization-as it used to be, and that’s the rub. We show many sign lately of being just another state, how do we prevent this from becoming a superstate in its turn.

      This is very much what the classical liberals advocated, and what our founders tried for in our country, how do we avoid the same fate. Other than that, I like it. keep working on it, we need to change some paradigm soon. 🙂

  1. […] I thought I’d pick this apart for a couple of reasons, but the main reason would be because so many people read the words ‘decentralization’ or ‘secession’ and simply go into autopilot. Rick Searle shares his eloquent thoughts here. Moussa Cidibe shares his pertinent critiques here. Wbwise shares his criticisms here (some of Dr Delacroix’s well-informed thoughts are here, and in the same thread). Dr George Ayittey dedicated quite a bit of energy to tackling my argument (that’s two academics in a row, in case you lost count). Neenergyobserver is skeptical as well. […]

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