All You Need to Know About the UN: 155 Votes for Libya
All you really need to know about the United Nations is that today, in the 192-member General Assembly, 155 member states -- yes, 155 -- voted in favor of giving Libya -- yes, Libya -- a seat on the Human Rights Council.
And something you need to know about the Obama administration is that just after the vote, President Barack Obama's cabinet-rank ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, praised the recent trajectory of the Council as "progress."
There are lots of nuances one could add, but if you remember only the two items above, that's what it boils down to. A full exposition of this scene would be akin to an extremely tedious crawl through all nine levels of Dante's hell. The equivocators, the cowards, the deceivers, betrayers... it's all there, wrapped in the baby-blue flag.
Benny Avni has a good wrapup on the web site of the NY Sun, noting that in the new Libya-inclusive Human Rights Council, democracies hold only 40% of the seats, down from 49% last year (this would cover the period since the U.S. joined in 2009 -- the period during which Rice says there has been "progress"). I have a column out on Forbes today, Paging Ambassador Susan Rice, which details more of the rot seeping out of the UN, as the U.S. abdicates its old role as a defender of freedom -- and also skips out on such chores as trying to keep an eye on how the UN spends its fat dole of U.S. credibility and taxpayer dollars.
What's to be done? Nothing is about to dislodge the UN, where Libya currently presides over the General Assembly, sits on the Security Council and has just won itself a seat as an arbiter of "human rights." And Libya is only a piece of this scene, to which dictators and their bagmen ride in royal style, to be received as "Your Excellency," handed their ballots in the "Parliament of Man," and seated in gilded chambers (well, some of the chambers are gilded, or tapestried; some are kitted out with a lot of flat screen TVs; and the Human Rights Council chamber in Geneva has a $23 million artwork ceiling). This is a place where Pakistan serves as compradore for the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Iran peacocks on the stages and governing boards (sanctions notwithstanding), and Cuba --faithful mascot -- gnaws the scraps of this gang and carries the water.
Yes, democracies send their envoys too. But if we have reached the point at which 155 out of 192 states cast their secret ballots for seating Libya on the Security Council, and the U.S. ambassador would even dream of using the word "progress" in the aftermath of such an event, any democracies still worth their salt would be well-advised to pack up and go start a new and more discriminating club of nations someplace else. Don't hold your breath.