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From Brexit to Visions of a UN Exit?

Britain's vote last week to leave the European Union -- the Brexit -- was a vote for freedom, a revolt against an unaccountable bureaucracy in Brussels. Amid the excitement, Fox News briefly reported the story as even bigger than it was, with a TV screen banner proclaiming not that the UK was leaving the EU, but "UK VOTES TO LEAVE UN."

Yes, some things are too good to be true, and this was one.

As parody, it would have been genius. As a piece of news reporting, the Fox mixup of the EU and UN inspired  plenty of derision -- a bit of comic relief, gleefully seized upon by the stricken members of a pro-EU global elite and commentariat. They cannot fathom why a majority of British voters would choose to reclaim from the commissars of the EU the full freedom to control Britain's own borders, bananas and vacuum cleaners. In that context, Fox's botching of a news banner helps feed the narrative that the Brexit vote was some boorish mistake cooked up by a know-nothing mob.

Except that's false, in ways far more profound than the mistake in the Fox chyron. For an eloquent defense of Brexit, see Roger Kimball's "Focused on Disaster Narrative, Media Ignores Obvious Benefits of Brexit." To this I'd add that even in Fox's erroneous UN-exit caption there was, along with the comedy, some grist for serious thought.

I'm not defending Fox's proofreaders. Accuracy matters, even on TV. But it's not completely daft that a copywriter in a hurry would read "EU" and write "UN." There are some pernicious similarities between the two. Both belong to the clan of multilateral institutions set up with the mission of promoting peace and prosperity, post-World War II. Both have proved better at promoting themselves and their own backroom deals. They are clubs of governments, breeding big, intrusive and unelected bureaucracies; largely self-serving, unaccountable and in various ways damaging to and divorced from the real interests of the populations they claim to serve. As Ambassador John Bolton writes in a piece on "How America Should Answer the Brexit Vote," peace in Europe since 1945 is a product not of the EU, but of the U.S.-led military alliance of NATO.

Both the EU and the UN have a distinct tilt toward central planning, with all the warped incentives, waste and disregard for free choice that this entails. In the EU, this takes the form of regulation. At the UN, it is packaged as an endless array of UN-orchestrated development goals, capacity-building programs and bureaucratically directed spending of other people's money, much of it funneled through despotic governments whose oppressive misrule is the main reason for the poverty and perils the UN proposes to alleviate.