Belmont Club

Leaving America

The New York Times has summarized a new UN report by Lakhdar Brahimi, who was assigned to examine why United Nations personnel were attacked in his own country, Algeria, by al-Qaeda in Mahgreb using two car bombs containing a total of 800 kg (1,700 lb) of explosives. There was no mistaking the message in the devastating attacks, which practically obliterated the UN offices in that country. Separate UN facilities were targeted and leveled. There was no question of the UN being a victim of collateral damage. Nor were the targets particularly associated with America. They included the offices of the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), UN Development Programme (UNDP), the World Food Programme (WFP), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the Department of Safety and Security (DSS) and the Population Fund (UNFPA). There was no way around it: an al-Qaeda franchise had attacked the UN.

Brahimi, a diplomat who once argued with Bremer over whose writ should run in Iraq — the UN’s or America’s — was charged with an independent review to examine the inherent vulnerabilities of UN operations around the world as highlighted by the Algiers attack. According to the NYT, Brahimi concluded that “United Nations personnel around the world are increasingly likely to be targets for attack because the organization is perceived by some as a tool of powerful members, rather than an unbiased advocate for all nations”. In other words, America, or at least the West, was the indirect provocation for the Algerian bombings. Had the International Labour Organization not been associated with the UN, which was in turn tainted by the membership of America, which invaded Iraq — why then it might still be standing. A UN press conference called to describe his findings paraphrased Mr. Brahimi’s message.

Asked what the United Nations could do about the perception that it acted as a tool for the “big movers”, Mr. Brahimi acknowledged that the Panel, wherever it went, had been told that the Organization was not perceived as impartial, independent and neutral. What happened in the Middle East had a lot to do with that. There was also a perception that the big Powers used their muscle to influence the Organization, and that the United Nations, at times, did not speak on behalf of its 192 Members. When the Security Council decided to send people somewhere, it should consider how that decision would influence the security of those people. The Secretary-General should tell the Council what it needed to know, and not what it wanted to hear, he added.

The logical inference is that the UN should distance itself from the US so that the taint of even remote association with it should not endanger the members of the organization. In this, Mr. Brahimi is entirely correct. In order to avoid this danger the United Nations should address the following problems.

The first problem is that the UN is headquartered in New York, where its members are subjected to the corrupting influence of Jews, cab drivers, hookers and American TV. The second is the American membership on the Security Council, from whose perch the US unfortunately succeeds in casting its baleful influence on the World Body’s decisions. Thirdly, America taints the UN with its money; some of which Mr. Brahimi regrettably receives and would doubtless return, were he only given an opportunity to do so. Until these problems are solved there’s no telling what al-Qaeda will do to UN offices wherever they may be found.

The obvious solution to Brahimi’s concerns would be to reduce America’s unwanted presence in the UN. A phased withdrawal of membership in the UN can be planned by the incoming administration so that by 2012, the last UN headquarters personnel can be removed to Algeria, the final American session on the Security council will have taken place and the last dollar paid into the UN coffers. In the stead of the UN, the US might support a Global League of Democracies, consisting of all the nations whose policies Brahimi finds so problematic at present. But America will continue to listen to the UN; a small American liaison office in Algiers should continue to observe the weighty and momentous activity of the World Body. Or maybe its sessions can simply be followed by webcam and supported by Google ads.

But sarcasm aside, a move by the UN to the Third World will force the likes of Brahimi to focus on the real reason groups like al-Qaeda bomb not only UN offices but anything in sight: themselves. Another NYT article which focuses on the resurgence of the Algerian militants under an al-Qaeda franchise shows that the roots of its discontent are largely local. The “wide open spaces of the Sahara”, under the sway of smugglers, tribal law and criminal gangs, plus the problems of Algerian society itself are far deeper roots than the cosmetic problems which Brahimi doubtfully mentions. The bombing of the UN offices is driven more by the trends which produced Robert Mugabe than those which elected George W. Bush.

A hypothetical transfer of the UN to Algiers would symbolically return the problem to its home ground; away from Western locales with their distorting intellectual fads and their associated funding. One of the first actions a global league of democracies should consider is concluding a treaty with every Third World country aimed at making their leaders accountable for governance. For example, every government official above the rank of bureau director or colonel should execute a waiver giving up the prospect of residence, citizenship or bank accounts in developed countries. In that way, any aspirant to the post of El Presidente will be forced into a make or break commitment to his country.


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