The Right Coast

September 25, 2005
Model UN
By Maimon Schwarzschild

"There is No Cure for the UN", says Mark Steyn. The Oil for Food scandal is only a case in point -- although it's a massive one:
[Kofi Annan] and his Deputy, Canada's Louise Frechette, simply failed to notice the world’s all-time biggest scam exponentially expanding under their noses and with the enthusiastic participation of their closest colleagues.

Possibly they carelessly assumed it was just the usual nickel and dime UN corruption — like the child-sex rings and drug cartels that operate out of pretty well every peacekeeping operation. But the point is, while it may have happened on Kofi’s watch, he wasn’t watching, so that’s OK. Like OJ promising to hunt down the real killers, Mr Annan and Mme Frechette are committed to staying in their jobs and redoubling their efforts to spearhead the reforms the UN vitally needs.

I, too, am in favour of Kofi Annan staying on, not just till his term expires in December 2006, but for five, ten years after that, if he wishes. If I was as eager for UN ‘reform’ as its supporters claim to be, I’d toss Kofi to the sharks and get some new broom in to sweep clean. But if, as I do, you believe 90 per cent of UN ‘reforms’ are likely to be either meaningless or actively harmful, a discredited and damaged secretary-general clinging to office is as good as it’s likely to get —- short of promoting Didier Bourguet, the UN staffer in Congo and the Central African Republic charged with running a paedophile ring. A UN that refuses to hold Kofi Annan to account will be harder to pass off as a UN that represents the world’s ‘moral authority'...

What’s important to understand is that Mr Annan’s ramshackle UN of humanitarian money-launderers, peacekeeper-rapists, and a human rights commission that looks like a lifetime-achievement awards ceremony for the world’s torturers is not a momentary aberration. Nor can it be corrected by bureaucratic reforms designed to ensure that the failed budget oversight committee will henceforth be policed by a budget oversight committee oversight committee.

The oil-for-food fiasco is the UN, the predictable spawn of its utopian fantasies and fetid realities. If Saddam grasped this more clearly than [the UN's modish-leftish admirers], well, that’s why he is — was — an A-list dictator and they’re not.
(Steyn has now posted the piece. Read the whole thing.)

The conventional apology for the UN is that it reflects the world's governments as they are; and that it is a forum for peacemaking. But the UN is also a petri dish for corruption and for ideological extremism. Many of the UN's member governments behave much worse at the UN -- and certainly take a much more fervid anti-American and anti-semitic line there -- than they do in their own capitals, on their own, away from the UN.

The manic anti-Americanism -- and the relentless, Nazi-edged anti-semitism -- are nothing new at the UN. They were fully developed by the early 1970s.

I had a few years' personal taste of it in that era. (I was barely 20 years old, with journalist's credentials at the UN that didn't bear much looking into.) I was there in the General Assembly Hall when Yasser Arafat gave his thuggish, rapturously-received speech. And I stood around in the Delegates' Lounge afterward and watched the even more rapturous reception line for him: the world's diplomats queued up to fawn over him, most of them barely able to contain their glee -- and their malice (for you know who).

For the first time in my life -- really, the only time in my life -- it was a first-hand taste of what a Nazi Party Rally in Nuremberg must have felt like.

Meantime, by way of comic relief, here is a transcript, and -- much better still -- the live audio of Donald Trump's testimony to the Senate International Security Subcommittee last July about renovating the UN Building in New York. It is vintage Trump: not an atom of humility. But he obviously took some trouble to look into what will be done at the UN Building, and how much it should cost. The short answer -- no surprise -- is that the UN is planning to spend billions more than ought to be spent.

Don't just read the Trump transcript. Listen to the audio. You'll laugh: at Trump. At first. Then -- even if ruefully -- you'll start laughing with him.

The UN aspect apart, you learn something about Trump from this performance (especially if you listen to the audio). What comes through is that the guy may be awful, but it's no accident that he's a gazillionaire. He knows his business: at least, he knows to the dollar what everything costs to build and renovate in New York, and how much he has spent, himself, on every aspect of every one of his projects. There's pleasure (guilty or otherwise) in listening to a guy, any guy, who knows his business.