Earlier this week, Kevin addressed UN Official and asshat (but I repeat myself) Jan Egeland, who denounced the US and other nations as being “stingy” over relief for the tsunami-struck area of Southeast Asia, based on our initial pledges of assistance.
I was as horrified as anyone by the disaster, but I am by nature a political thinker. I couldn’t help myself; I immediately started thinking of the political ramifications of the tragedy, and how to deal with them.
At first I felt guilty, but I realized that politics are an essential part of human nature, and they will not be stifled or suppressed for long for any reason. The best we can do is try to anticipate them and shape things to promote the most good — or, at the very least, minimize the harm.
So I took Mr. Egeland’s pronouncements and immediately started thinking of how best the United States could respond. And I think I came up with a win-win scenario for us.
The US should immediately pledge a very sizable amount of money to the UN for tsunami relief. (The first three thoughts I had were half a billion, a billion, and to match dollar-for-dollar the amounts three or so leading US charities raise privately for the cause, just to show what the American people can and will do on their own.) Just take the money and give it straight to the UN, then quietly sit back and watch like a hawk just what happens to that money.
If virtually every penny goes to helping the victims, that’s wonderful. We will have shown the world that we can work with the international community, and taken a huge lead in helping recover from this tragedy. We will have shown that we can rise above our previous disputes with UN officials when the need is there and done what few other nations have both the ability and inclination to do.
But if the UN reverts to its kleptocratic nature and healthy portions of the money are skimmed off, disappear into corrupt individuals’ pockets, is channeled into favored parties and corporations, is flagrantly wasted, or is in any other way used for anything BUT helping the tsunami victims, we will have been handed a huge moral club to beat the corrupt swine that currently hold the reins of the United Nations. Those who are pushing for reforms at the UN will be strengthened with irrefutable proof that the UN is little more than an effete gang of petty crooks.
And those bomb-throwers who want the US out of the UN (and the UN out of the US) — whom every day I find less and less extremist, and more and more pragmatic — will be given the political equivalent of a nuclear bomb.
One of President Bush’s favorite political tactics over the years has been to spot when there is a difference between what his opponents SAY they want and what they REALLY want. What he does is devastatingly simple: he simply gives them what they want, then sits back. If they accept it, they have to shut up about their real goals for a while. And if they reject it, he beats them over the head with their deceptions, shredding their public credibility. And for some reason, it keeps working. People keep falling for it, like the marks in a street corner three-card monty game.
The UN’s ultimate goal isn’t to get the United States to give more money to disaster relief. It’s to get the US to give more control to the UN. The US is by far the greatest single power on the face of the earth, and we refuse to kowtow to our “betters.” In fact, we often tell them that we will do what we think is best for us and the world, regardless of their opinion. And then we do it.
I once heard someone say that “if a friend owes you $100.00 and you never hear from them again, it was probably worth it.” If we give the UN a billion or so dollars and they use that money to utterly destroy their credibility and moral standing instead of using it as they promise, to help the devastated people of Southeast Asia, I think it’s more than worth it.
And the beauty of this is, if I’m wrong, what’s the worst that happens? Those people get a whole bunch more aid a lot faster.