Looking up the skirts of the United Nations

The battle cry of the Kerry campaign, when it comes to international relations, seems to be “the United Nations!” The UN is the panacea, the miracle cure, the wonder of the modern age that solves all problems. “Get the UN involved.” “Turn it over to the UN.” Get the UN’s approval.” “Take the dispute to the UN.”

Just what is it about the United Nations that inspires such faith? What great achievements can be laid at its feet that give it such credibility? What ideals and principles does it embody that merits such trust? I went looking.

(Yeah, it’s another long one. Consider yourself warned.)

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First, I looked at its membership. 191 nations constitute the General Assembly. After some research, I discovered that at least 50 of those nations are monarchies, dictatorships, tyrannies, or other un-democratic regimes. They have exactly as much weight as the most liberal democratic republics (notice the use of lower-case; nations that put “Democratic Republic” in their name, such as North Korea, never qualify for either) hold.

And it’s not just in the General Assembly. The United Nations Human Rights Commission currently counts Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Libya, and the Sudan, those bastions of enlightenment, liberty, and freedom, as members. I know there’s an old clich

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An individual unready, with reservations


  1. David Anderson August 29, 2004
  2. Brent Papworth August 29, 2004
  3. Tim Worstall August 30, 2004
  4. Jay Tea August 30, 2004
  5. Tim Worstall August 30, 2004
  6. Ian Gordon September 23, 2004
  7. Ian Gordon September 23, 2004