Earlier today, I sarcastically criticized the British for not seeking assistance in its hostage dilemma from other nations, specifically citing those groups it has chosen to join and support — the European Union and the United Nations, both of whom had pledged to support the United Kingdom’s efforts, and had shamefully fallen down on those promises when Iran kidnapped 15 Brits.
That was sarcastic; this one not so much.
One of the more popular notions is that there is “the more, the merrier,” that there is “strength in numbers,” that consensus is superior to conflict. This might be true a lot of the time, but it’s not an absolute rule.
Stalin was famously quoted, when confronted that the Nazi tanks — and average soldiers — were superior to their Soviet counterparts, that “quantity has a quality all its own.”
I once heard a phrase that really struck home. Apparently a group went through some rough times, and its membership dropped significantly. One of the leaders reacted with the following statement:
“The ones who stay will make this a better community, and so will the ones who leave.”
This, I think, is a perfect response to the Stalin quote. Sometimes raw numbers don’t mean much. The majority can be wrong. And sometimes certain allies are more trouble than they are worth.
Jed Babbin, who served in the Defense Department under the first President Bush, famously opined during the buildup to the current Iraq war that “going to war without France is like going deer hunting without an accordion. You just leave a lot of useless noisy baggage behind.”
The ultimate example of this is the United Nations. The General Assembly is the closest thing to a purely democratic world government we have, and it’s utterly useless. Each nation, regardless of population, economic clout, military power, or form of government, is exactly equal. The communist dictators of China, the world’s largest democracy of India, the world’s most powerful democracy of the United States, the economic powerhouse that is Japan, and the tiny Pacific island of Togo (who?) all are equal in the General Assembly.
And what does that get us? Enough tsuris to choke a whale.
The battle cry of General Assembly (a bit of an oxymoron there) is “stability.” Stability is good, instability is bad. Anything that threatens stability must be stopped.
Dictators, you see, like stability. They like things just the way they are, and want to keep them that way. And in the United Nations, they’ve found that they can band together to keep the world’s official imprimatur on their grips on power.
The best description of the United States’ form of government I ever read was permanent, institutionalized, self-renewing revolution. We are constantly renewing, re-examining, re-making our government, keeping that which we like and discarding that which falls out of favor. We don’t need a violent revolution; if we don’t like those in power, we can get rid of them. Governors, Representatives, Senators, even Presidents must regularly return to the people to have their power reaffirmed — or get tossed out on their asses.
So, why do we keep turning to the United Nations for affirmation? It’s long lost sight of its original goal — to mediate disputes between nations — and instead has become the world’s biggest advocate of stagnation.
It’s long past time that we discard our love affair with inclusiveness and establish a new organization, a new Alliance of Freedom. (OK, I don’t love the name, either, but give me time. I’ll come up with something better.) This would be a group of nations who are committed to certain ideals — social, political, economic, and religious freedom, just to name four. Their goal would be to spread those ideals through example — and, when necessary, defend them forcefully.
Who would be candidates for this new alliance? Well, a good starting point would be to go down the list of places currently or formerly part of the British Empire. It’s not a perfect correlation, but the sheer number of free nations who got their start as subjects of the Crown is remarkable. The United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, India, the United States, and Ireland would all be good members.
Another list of nominees can be found in former Warsaw Pact nations. The Eastern European states spent far too long under the heel of the Soviet Union, and are some of the most vibrant examples of freedom to be found today. Poland, Slovakia, the Baltic states — all are still small and relatively weak, but they have a vigor that the rest of the world dare not ignore.
Japan and Israel don’t fit into any clearly defined category, but to overlook these two would be a huge blunder.
Western Europe? Not so much. Germany is showing signs of waking up and struggling back against the Jihadists, but Spain has already demonstrated their willingness to cave. The French are busy putting green embroidery on their traditional white surrender flags, but as much as I would like to, we can’t just let France be French and give in — that would give the Islamists too important a foothold in the West. Saving France is important to saving ourselves, I’m ashamed to admit. We will save the French from themselves, in spite of themselves — and earn even more of their contempt.
In fact, I think I prefer their condemnation over their endorsement. It’s usually a better touchstone.
So, with this new League, what will become of the United Nations? As much as I would like to see it bulldozed and shoved into the East River, freeing up some valuable Manhattan real estate, I think we should keep it around. P. J. O’Rourke once defended the United States Department of State as “some place we can send our Ivy League twits,” to keep them out of real mischief, and the same principle holds for the UN. And, occasionally, it does something right.
I’m sure it does, but no really good examples spring to mind.
Besides, with the establishment of the new League, the nations that give the UN the majority of its power and clout (I believe the United States provides about 25% of its total budget, and the nations I cited as potential members are the ones who provide most of the military clout the UN occasionally call upon. Their commitment to the UN would most likely decline as they grew more involved in the new League, and the UN would naturally fade into the background. Eventually, it might become in fact what it’s already trending towards: a club for dictators, totalitarians, and fascists to get together and sing each others’ praises.
Unfortunately, I don’t see this happening any time soon. President Bush started on the right path, with the previously-heretical notion that “stability” in the Middle East simply preserves the terrible status quo, and resolved to shake things up and try to make things better. But the resistance has been very staunch, and he doesn’t have the political clout to push for something this big — no matter how badly the world needs it.