Havel Na General Assembly!

|

Glenn Reynolds is plumping for Vaclav Havel to replace Kofi Annan as head of the United Nations, and Jonah Goldberg agrees. Unsurprisingly, I think it's a capital idea, and would likely bring a gust of support behind the growing "Community of Democracies" reform initiative, supported by the bipartisan likes of Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell, Tom Lantos, and David Dreier, and described in these pages this March by Jonathan Rauch.

Advertisement

NEXT: An Infantile Disorder

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. And while we’re at it, can we please kick France off the Security Council and replace them with Texas?

  2. mobile,

    I’ll answer this troll straight:

    Texas is already represented by the U.S.

    You aren’t going to kick off France. What will likely happen is a dilution of power of the permanent members by adding new permanent members (e.g., India, Brazil, Germany, Japan, etc.).

    Also, if your bitch is that France is “obstructionist” on the UNSC, then that would also apply to the PRC and Russia as well.

  3. Kofi Annan’s term ends December 31st, 2006.

  4. They should replace all of the European (except Russia) members with a single seat for the EU. 🙂

  5. Havel would indeed be an ideal candidate. But I wonder if his (tentative) backing of the Iraq war and general friendliness with the US would derail his nomination with France, Germany, etc. Do those countries have enough power in the UN to pick the new head? Or would Havel’s popularity with so many lesser states (and newer democracies) overcome such objections? I don’t know UN procedure enough to speculate, but sure would be interested to hear more.

  6. I think Bush should spend his “mandate” and “political capital” from the general election on withdrawing the US from the UN.

    And then he should end the Drug War, too. That’d be sweet.

  7. Actually, there would be a good case for transferring France’s permanent seat to the new EU. Even better, there is an equally good case for consolidating all the European nations ratifying the EU “Constitution” into a single UNSC and General Assembly seat.

  8. Let’s lighten up — I find Mobile’s suggestion appealing, taking it in the spirit intended.

    But I like Mike H.’s suggestions better.

  9. MikeB,

    The UNSC recommends someone and the General Assembly votes on him. As far as Havel is concerned, the problem would not be France (they would vote for him because Chirac personally likes Havel) or Germany (it won’t be on the UNSC in 2006) or the UNSC generally (though the PRC or Russia might grumble about it), it would be lining up African, Middle Eastern and Asian General Assembly votes for the guy; that would require the usual “bribery” that any significant General Assembly vote requires.

  10. Jhn1,

    Well, given that the EU is not a sovereign body with a single foreign policy, etc. (and won’t be even if the Constitution is ratified – which is not likely at this point – indeed, it will likely lose in France and the UK at this point, thus making any such proposal moot), unlike the U.S., that would be problematic at best.

    Stevo Darkly,

    His comment is a troll; I take it for what it is.

  11. Yes, I’m sure that democratic Brazil agrees much more with US foreign policy than Pakistan. Name an issue where positions are clearly split between democratic an non-democratic countries. Irak, Iran, nuclear weapons, Sudan, whatever. It would be highly entertaining to see countries of the “democracy caucus” voting with dictatorships and against other members of the “democracy caucus”, that’s for sure.

  12. I won’t be happy until the UN is covered in brassy accents and water fountains with the name TRUMP emblazoned across the top. It’ll be Huge!

    Sell the UN and free up some damn parking spaces!

  13. As far as Havel is concerned, the problem would not be France (they would vote for him because Chirac personally likes Havel) or Germany (it won’t be on the UNSC in 2006) or the UNSC generally (though the PRC or Russia might grumble about it), it would be lining up African, Middle Eastern and Asian General Assembly votes for the guy; that would require the usual “bribery” that any significant General Assembly vote requires.

    Barring US withdrawal from the UN (yeah, I realize it’s but a pipe dream but let me have my fantasies, dammit) I’d like to substitute the word “blackmail” for “bribery.”

    One way to look at it is we’re already “bribing” the UN by hosting it in New York and giving it money. When do we get to start blackmailing?

  14. India definitely deserves a permanent seat and veto power (at least more than France does). It has 1/7 the world’s population and it’s a democracy.

  15. Can we at least take away Frances veto power? How did they ever rate it in the fist place?

    I mostly like Mike H’s suggestion.

    -The things Bush cold do to better even Reagan;
    -End the war on drugs
    -Eliminate the income tax (or at least make it flat)
    -Privatize social security
    -If not end public school, then at least allow parents to pic their kid’s school
    -Concealed weapons permits good nationwide (even DC and SF, so that I wouldn’t be breaking the law when I go to those places, as I mentioned in an earlier thread).
    -End welfare, both corporate and individual.

    Well there is much more, but if he even did two of the above mentioned it would be sooooo sweet.

  16. India is democracy? How long has it been a democracy for?

  17. kwais

    You’re kidding, right?

  18. kwais

    You’re kidding, right?

  19. It’s interesting to me that Havel is becoming a pet intellectual of neocons, in exactly the same way that Reinhold Niebuhr was the pet intellectual of liberals in Lippman’s and Bell’s generation. But since Maudlin “indispensible nation” Allbright is a direct heir of the technocratic liberalism of Art Schlesinger, it’s not exactly surprising.

  20. I’d actually love to give Texas a separate seat at the security council. I wouldn’t give them a veto, but I would love to see some of their policy proposals (especially the ones advocating re-taking the Panama Canal, as outlined in the Texas GOP’s 2000 platform…).

  21. India is democracy? How long has it been a democracy for?

    Since 1949.

    Can we at least take away Frances veto power?

    If they didn’t veto our attempt to do so, yes.

    And guys, we’re never withdrawing from the UN. Staying in allows us to veto UN actions that we don’t approve of — and since we ourselves don’t actually need the UN to accomplish anything, the fact that other people can veto *us* doesn’t really matter.

  22. I also think that Havel would be a great idea, but I wouldn’t take it too seriously. The man’s health has been poor for a number of years, and I doubt he would be willing to give up his retirement villa in Portugal in exchange for a full-time job supervising the most corrupt organization on the planet.

    Also worth keeping in mind: Havel’s tenure as President of the CSFR, and then the CR, demonstrated that, while he is a great idealist, he is not a particularly adept technocrat. So, if the Sec. Gen.’s position is to reform from within, it may not be the best use of Havel’s talents.

  23. Ahh, UN reform. The mind boggles at the possibilities.

    Divide the UN into two pieces – The United Nations and the Council of Unrepresentative Despots. Members of the latter can petition the superior body all they want, but as a matter of procedures, must be on their knees when they do so. They can sit on no councils and have no input on any formal UN position.

    Qualification for the major body is not hard, just have any form of government in which power flows from the people. China will be sticky, what with the nukes and all, but we might be getting close to something acceptable there.

  24. Jason–

    Considering that France and England have seats, Germany wants one, and Europe is forming what is essentially one nation, why is Texas (or California or New York) not entitled to consideration?

    Perhaps that overstates the point, but the US has but one seat and why Europe should have 3 (4 if you count Russia) is beyond me.

    But the dilution idea also has merit. Add Brazil, India, Japan and South Africa (NOT Germany, see above). Allow France & England to continue, subject to reconsideration if the EU becomes UE. Allow these new states a veto, BUT make all vetoes require TWO votes, not just one.

    Requiring that all security council members, rotating or not, be multi-party democracies would be a good idea, but I think China (and maybe Russia) would complain. You could serve them notice, though.

  25. that’s to Jason B, not Jason L

  26. Isaac Bartram,
    Kidding about what?
    Not knowing that india was democratic? Nope, and I’ve been there too. I thought it was a dictatorship. I may be the most unread (meaning I have read little and thus know little)dude on the thread.
    Kidding about the other stuff? Those are libertarian issues, or half steps towards libertarian issues are they not?

  27. Although Texas as a UNSC member is fun to contemplate, when the Soviets proposed 15 seats in the UN for each of the Soviet Republics, the United States countered that that was fine, as long as there were fifty seats for several States.

    The compromise was that Belorussia SSR and Ukranian SSR got seats along with the seat for the Soviet Union proper. They even occasionally served in the Security Council (but as rotating members, not as permenant members of course)

  28. just get the us out/ more distanced from the un and leave it at that.

    calling for the stoopd (sic) idea of 86ing france to vent naive, trendy francophobia is probably the most fucking tiring theme since france decided she didn’t have interests in pursuing war in iraq.

    which should it be? working to get france out or get us out?

    and just leave the ignorant anti france shit out.

  29. and just leave the ignorant anti france shit out.

    Man, those grapes are sour.

  30. kwais,

    Who is “Frances?” 🙂

    France is the world’s fifth or sixth largest economic power, one of the most powerful military states on the planet (by virtue of its nuclear weapons if anything), holds key strategic bases in areas of interest to the U.S., is something of a surrogate to the U.S. in policing trouble spots that the U.S. would rather not get involved in, etc. During WWII and following the U.K. and the U.S. wanted a strong France in the post-war period as a buffer against the Germans (no one really trusted them not to start another war) and the Soviets, and that’s one of the primary reasons why France gained a seat on the UNSC. France’s empire at the time was still impressive too.

    Accordingly, France may not be as powerful as the U.S., but it is a powerful state nonetheless considering that no other state approaches the U.S. (with the future exception of perhaps China).

    Brant,

    There are far more corrupt organizations (at least with regard to the amount of money they can get in hand); take OPEC for example (which uses the UN on occassion as a surrogate in its corruption schemes).

    Kevin Murphy,

    Considering that France and England have seats, Germany wants one, and Europe is forming what is essentially one nation, why is Texas (or California or New York) not entitled to consideration?

    Because France and Britain (not England) and Germany are sovereign states with their own sovereign foreign policy powers; Texas does not have sovereign foreign policy powers – it can’t enter into state compacts without the express consent of the Congress, etc. The EU – at least at this time – is nothing like the United States.

    Perhaps that overstates the point, but the US has but one seat and why Europe should have 3 (4 if you count Russia) is beyond me.

    Because the UN is not based on some system of population-based, etc. representation. If you think the U.S. is getting screwed, look at China, which has over a billion people. Or Japan (which is a major contributor). Or India (world’s second largest population).

    Allow these new states a veto, BUT make all vetoes require TWO votes, not just one.

    Well, in the case of GWII, that wouldn’t have mattered, since Russia threatened the veto first, followed by France (the PRC also hinted at it too). Of course, the U.S. couldn’t even muster enough votes to get to the veto stage, so there is that to take into consideration too.

    Anyway, until all five permanent members agree, there isn’t going to be much change in the structure of the U.N.

  31. Mike H.,

    It seems to me that the sour grapes are coming from the other end and not drf.

  32. kwais

    Actually it was about India. I sorry I was snarky and double posted to boot. I figured that someone who generally seems so wellinformed would know it so I thought you were maybe being sarcastic.

    As to the wish list in your earlier post I agree these would be good things. I’m not sure whether it would surprize me more if they were enacted at all or enacted by GWB :).

    France got its veto because it is one of the original five members of the Security Council, the so-called Great Powers (the USA, Great Britain, France, China and the USSR) of the Allied Powers or the United Nations as they became known in ’42 or ’43. The fact that Britain was bankrupt and France was a collapsed state didn’t matter, in politics it’s all about perception and Britain was still seen to be in charge of its empire and France had made so many sacrifices and would surely soon be restored to her historic glory. Of course today it is hard to imagine that in 1945 Britain and France were considered Great Powers. China’s seat was for years held by the Nationalist Govt on Taiwan until reality set in in the 70’s

    Andrew

    I was trying to remember USSR’s multiple seats. I thought Georgia had one too.

  33. hey mike h!

    actually it was canned salmon mousse… i shoulda known not to consume “salmon au sacre bleu” from zut alors grocery, cathouse, and movie salon.

    🙂

    amicalment and happy thanksgiving!
    drf

  34. Isaac Bertram,

    Of course today it is hard to imagine that in 1945 Britain and France were considered Great Powers.

    Given the general state of the world at the time, its really not that hard to imagine. Oddly enough, during the first years of the UN these countries were called the “World’s Policemen.”

  35. Jason B;

    Frances: “My name is Frances, any of you homos touch my stuff, I’ll kill ya’. Any of you homos call me Frances, I’ll kill ya'”

    DI guy: “Settle down Frances”

    Does that answer who ‘Frances’ is for you Matt Damon? (It has been about 10 years or so, so the quotes might be a little off).

  36. Worrying about who should head the UN is like rearranging deck chairs on a pontoon boat.

  37. The biggest problem with the UN and the largest source of it’s “culture of corruption” is the fact that it is dominated by by a lot of faux (pardon the French) countries.

    It’s 2004, kids. Why are we even pretending that nations run by non-democratic, unrepresentative “governments” deserve representation in the UN as real countries? At best, non-democracies should be allowed only non-voting provisional memberships, and should have no legally recognized “rights” beyond those afforded corporations.

    :jackson

  38. Given that Isaac Bartram has taken me down a couple of notches (with my help) would now be a good time to admit that I have no idea what Kevin Carson said at 01:28 PM on this thread.

  39. NaGila is the best beer Israel has to offer!

    Hava NaGila!

  40. Well, given that the EU is not a sovereign body with a single foreign policy, etc. (and won’t be even if the Constitution is ratified – which is not likely at this point – indeed, it will likely lose in France and the UK at this point, thus making any such proposal moot), unlike the U.S., that would be problematic at best.” -Jason Bourne

    Well…Let’s have a look…

    Article I-6: Legal personality The Union shall have legal personality.

    4. The Union shall have competence to define and implement a common foreign and security policy, including the progressive framing of a common defence policy.

    -From the proposed EU Constitution

    It sounds like a single foreign policy to me. So I’d agree that it would only be fair to limit the EU to a single UN seat since the EU members would be acting collectively, as a single sovereign entity, with one foreign policy. To allow otherwise (allowing EU members to have separate seats) would seem like an act of collusion to me. Not that I’d ever expect the UN to do the “fair” thing. And I’m sure that it wouldn’t be the first (or last) act of collusion perpetrated by the UN…

  41. India definitely deserves a permanent seat and veto power (at least more than France does). It has 1/7 the world’s population and it’s a democracy.

    More importantly, it has nukes.

    As to France’s “great power” status, you aren’t a great power unless you can project power outside your borders. By this standard, the world’s great powers are the US, England, probably China, maybe Russia still, and that’s probably about it.

    France doesn’t cut the mustard. It has one dysfunctional aircraft carrier, no heavy airlift capacity, etc. Its hard pressed to kick around its impoverished former African colonies.

  42. Great comments….some really intuitive minds working here….BUT….I like the TEXAS idea best….

  43. Great comments….some really intuitive minds working here….BUT….I like the TEXAS idea best….

  44. MayDay,
    Yeah, like the Brits are ever going to concede their foreign policy to the continent. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but Spain and the UK sent troops (initially at least) to Iraq. France and Germany did not. Hardly sounds like a unified foreign policy.

    And no, I didn’t forget Poland, I just failed to mention them. 🙂

  45. Oh and if TX gets a seat, California damn well better get one too. We have more people, more money and a more robust and diverse economy. Here’s the deal, we send TX and Alaska to OPEC and California gets a UCSC seat.

  46. Jason Bourne

    I was trying to say that TODAY it is hard to imagine….You’re right, in 1945 it made sense.

    Even though I grew up in the 1950’s I still have to stretch back to recall how strong people thought GB and France were. After all they went to kick Egypt’s ass over Suez and could have gotten away with it to if the times hadn’t changed. They were also testing A-bombs on a regular basis, or at least the Brits were, I can’t quite remember when the french got their bomb.

    R C Dean

    I think you’ll find France’s ability to project its power is at least as great as Britain’s.

  47. The Soviet Union had multiple seats in the General Assembly, notably seats for Bylorussia and Ukraine. Practically the old Soviet Union also controlled the votes of Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and other Warsaw Pact countries. All are independent now, though Bylorussia is a major dustup at the moment because of election fraud.

  48. Don’t you mean the Ukraine?

  49. MayDay72,

    Well, (a) the Constitution has not been ratified (and neither France nor the U.K. appear to be willing ratify it at this time – or at least their repsective populations don’t want to*), and (b) each nation-state will continue to have its own independent foreign policy, even if a majority of the states have a different one.

    * Keep in mind that both will have referendums on the matter.

    R.C. Dean,

    Now you’ve slipped into some alternate universe. If France can’t “project power” outside of France, why the hell are all those French troops sitting in Cote d’Ivoire? Or Haiti? Why does France continue to have one of the world’s system of overseas bases (from Latin America to the South pacific to Africa)?

    It has one dysfunctional aircraft carrier…

    The problems with the CDG were fixed in 2001 (during its sea trials I might add – when one is expected to encounter problems – you need to stop being such a Freeper). And it has more than one dysfunctional aircraft carrier. France has the largest navy outside of Russia in Europe now (yes, larger and newer than Britain’s), and in the Lafayette class of DDs some of the most coveted military ships on the planet.

    …no heavy airlift capacity, etc.

    France and Germany have already largely fixed that problem with new aircraft to come on-line between 2006-2008; note that Britain still hasn’t addressed it. Indeed, note that without U.S. airlift capacity, Britain would have taken several extra weeks getting its troops, etc., to Iraq in the run up to the war. As a kicker, let’s thrown in UAVs. France has developed one which the British are now buying from them.

    Educate yourself.

  50. Isaac Bertram,

    One thing that is detrimental for the UK is that it largely closed down its overseas bases since WWII, whereas France has spent a lot of time and energy keeping a large portion of its overseas bases open.

  51. Sour grapes about France? That would assume we really wanted them at some point anyway. They were there only because we and the U.K. needed them to give us an edge over China and the U.S.S.R.

    In typical French fashion, they betrayed that help and tried to be the “third way”. Nothing sour grapes about it – they’ve always been the most vile, dishonorable and despicable nation of the West (even Germany has more honor).

    But why should a country with a population smaller than Viet Nam and GDP smaller than California’s have a permanent seat? They’re military is only good at killing unarmed brown people. In other words: why France and NOT Japan or India (or both). It’s debatable whether you’d put Britain in with the EU, being that they are not totally integrated yet. But from a geopolitical and cultural sense, Brazil, India, China, Russia, the EU, the U.S. and POSSIBLY South Africa make a far better mix. It’d be nice to have better representation from Africa, but then it’d be nice to have better representation worth having.

    And no, we shouldn’t leave the U.N. As noted before, we can leverage or hold it up. That’s good enough. A separate organization of democracies should be formed as a counter-weight and as something to shine a light on the darkness and stupidity of having a democratic union of countries where a majority of members aren’t democratic.

  52. R.C. Dean,

    Also note that whenever the U.S. starts prattling on about creating a rapid reaction force within NATO they think of two other countries besides of the U.S. to make up the bulk of that force – France and Britain. For the proposed EU rapid reaction force 1 division (out of ten) will come exclusively from France (whereas six of those divisions will have mixed forces from France).

    For a country its size, France has one of the world’s most premier militaries.

    Now, if you want to start slapping around a country for having an anemic military despite its wealth, then slap around Italy.

  53. They should replace all of the European (except Russia) members with a single seat for the EU. :

    Absolute genius.

  54. And guys, we’re never withdrawing from the UN. Staying in allows us to veto UN actions that we don’t approve of — and since we ourselves don’t actually need the UN to accomplish anything, the fact that other people can veto *us* doesn’t really matter.

    Then you’ll agree that we could continue to hold membership, but we could at the very least stop the rest of the world from freeloading on us! Pull the damned funding. Make everyone else pay a share.

  55. “In typical French fashion, they betrayed that help and tried to be the “third way”. Nothing sour grapes about it – they’ve always been the most vile, dishonorable and despicable nation of the West (even Germany has more honor).”

    i guess we’re lucky that lafayette wasn’t like that… phew. otherwise we’d all be speaking english… um…

    “even germany has more honor” – since all of a sudden non-individuals can be honorable/dishonorable en toto, pray tell, besides not being able to pick up the french exchange chick in high school, what’s yer beef with france?

    are you one of the “might makes right” types, too?

  56. Havel to replace Annan? What a joke.

    Wait I have better one:
    Let Havel be the head of the UN; Vaclav Klaus will run the World Bank; and the coup-de-maitre would be Vladimir Meciar as NATO chairman — and so at the dawn of the new age it came to pass, that the ancient tribes of Czechs and Slovaks ruled the world again – for the first time, anyway.

    Or maybe we should just scrap the UN. It was a good fun, we had lots of laughs back in the forties, but now its just lame.

  57. Jason Bourne

    Some of this I think is a function of leadership.

    The importance of De Gaulle cannot be overestimated.

    France has also had a growing and dynamic economy since WWII and has constantly prospered. It could afford to maintain its overseas infrastructure.

    GB on the other hand suffered serious stagnation or decline through the 60s and 70s and simply couldn’t afford much. Luckily the dominions took a more prominent role in the world. Even though Britain does not control the Commonwealth all that red on the world map still creates an illusion of empire.

  58. Oh and if TX gets a seat, California damn well better get one too. We have more people, more money and a more robust and diverse economy. Here’s the deal, we send TX and Alaska to OPEC and California gets a UCSC seat.

    France is already on the SC.

  59. Grayson,

    I dunno, its always Francophobes who start babbling about how much they hate France; so it sounds like sour grapes or some other psychological issue to me.

    They were there only because we and the U.K. needed them to give us an edge over China and the U.S.S.R.

    First of all, you are ignorant of the basic historical record (that should tell us something about your overall argument I think). China was made a UNSC permanent member BEFORE it became the PRC, and that seat was held by the ROC (Taiwan) until the 1970s; so France didn’t bcome a permanent member because of some issue with China’s change to communism. Second of all, supporting a strong France was more due to fears about Germany than the USSR. Third, France was one of three countries to run occupation zones in Germany (largely because it had fielded a large enough army by 1943 to help invade Italy, southern France, southern Germany and Austria).

    In typical French fashion, they betrayed that help and tried to be the “third way”.

    France didn’t “betray” anything. Again, the U.S. couldn’t even muster the requisite number of UNSC votes for either France, Russia or China to veto the second resolution. In other words, over half the UNSC sided with them.

    Nothing sour grapes about it – they’ve always been the most vile, dishonorable and despicable nation of the West (even Germany has more honor).

    I can just treat this as the trolling that it is.

    But why should a country with a population smaller than Viet Nam and GDP smaller than California’s have a permanent seat?

    Of course the same could be said of Britain, or, in the case of GDP, Russia (or Brazil or South Africa or India as you propose), as well?

  60. drf

    “….pray tell, besides not being able to pick up the french exchange chick in high school, what’s yer beef with france?”

    Classic. LOL

  61. so, yeah, i still call it ignorant. and i’d advise those types to get off their asses, learn some foreign languages well enough so they’ll never be mistaken for an american, and then test some of these broad opinions.

    Fair enough. Having spent almost six months there for business, I have come to really loathe the place. I’ve taken to thinking of it as a fairy tale. Almost everything that I “hear” from people about France is pretty much untrue. No matter where it comes from, France, US, liberal, conservative, academic. Actually, the academics are far and away the most wrong.

  62. drf,

    Being anti-French in certain circles is a bit like being anti-corporation amongst the environmental movement.

  63. Thomas Paine’s Goiter,

    Having much experience with France and French culture I will continue that it is nothing like you characterize it to be. France is not a perfect country by any means, but these hyperbolic accounts we hear from you and others simply do not measure up to reality.

  64. but these hyperbolic accounts we hear from you and others simply do not measure up to reality.

    Nor do the romantic characterizations of french cities, people and culture.

  65. Thomas Paine’s Goiter,

    By whom? Me. Please demonstrate such. We’ve had plenty of examples of what I’m wiritng of and none of what you contend here.

  66. By whom? Me. Please demonstrate such. We’ve had plenty of examples of what I’m wiritng of and none of what you contend here.

    To which statement are you responding?

  67. I’m sick of hearing about who should have a vote or the bigest translation headphones!

    We’re selling the UN buildings to The Donald unless you folks can name 5 great (or merely worthwhile) things they’ve ever done that merit their continued presence on the East River.

  68. We’re selling the UN buildings to The Donald unless you folks can name 5 great (or merely worthwhile) things they’ve ever done that merit their continued presence on the East River.

    I can name 5 dictators that they’ve built or propped up. Does that count?

  69. It’s 2004, kids. Why are we even pretending that nations run by non-democratic, unrepresentative “governments” deserve representation in the UN as real countries?

    That depends. What’s the point of the United Nations?

    If it’s to represent the people of the world, why do we give seats to governments? Why should a nation of 1 billion, a nation of 300 million, and a nation of 55 million all get the same equal vote? On the flip side, why should some nations pay more, to fund the UN, than others? And how, exactly, do we give people in non-democratic nations a say in what the UN does?

    If, on the other hand, it’s to represent the nations of the world, then the fact that some nations aren’t democratic doesn’t matter. The government of China is undemocratic, but so what? It still rules China.

  70. The first thing a Community of Democracies or a United Democracies could do is to set a date for free elections in every non-democratic nation.

    Of course, the lead-up to those elections would involve setting up independent court systems and opening up the political processes to free speech, a free press and free opposition political parties. (Even Russia would have to start from scratch here.)

    Once that date for elections passed, I would encourage the United Democracies to offer a bounty of about $2 million for the capture alive of every unrepentant dictator on Earth. Make ’em squirm, put them in jail. The United Democracies would publish a list of those dictators who had not attempted to liberalize.

    But the most exciting thing about a United Democracies would be the “associate membership” status allowed to dictatorships. Dictators’ ambassadors would not be permitted to vote, and each time an associate member is called on to speak, the ambassador would be addressed as “the representative of the illegitimate government of China,” or “the representative of the illegitimate government of North Korea,” and so on.

    Such a protocol would be a constant reminder that the goals are freedom and freedom’s lasting peace.

    Frank Warner

    Of the Free Frank Warner blog

  71. Brant: Havel isn’t an adept technocrat? So much the better. The more incompetents they have at the helm, the less harm they can actually do!

    Regarding the UN in general, I’m with a lot of people here. The idea that a tiny medieval dictatorship should have the same say as a giant republic is not just silly, it’s obscene. The UN’s fine as far as being a forum where everybody can get together and discuss things, because we need more of that. But when it comes to actually doing things… Has anyone here ever read any UN internal publications? I checked out a bunch of them a few years ago. Their reports on their projects invariably fall into two categories:

    1. “This project is a huge success, so give us more money”, and
    2. “This project is a terrible failure, so give us more money.”

    Not so different from any bureaucracy in that way, but it’s laid particularly bare at the UN.

  72. The role of the UN is not to represent the people of the world. See the UN Charter’s preamble to understand its original goal (much of it – of course – is quite noble):

    WE THE PEOPLES OF THE UNITED NATIONS DETERMINED

    to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and

    to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and

    to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and

    to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

    AND FOR THESE ENDS

    to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours, and

    to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security, and

    to ensure, by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest, and

    to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples,

    HAVE RESOLVED TO COMBINE OUR EFFORTS TO ACCOMPLISH THESE AIMS

    Accordingly, our respective Governments, through representatives assembled in the city of San Francisco, who have exhibited their full powers found to be in good and due form, have agreed to the present Charter of the United Nations and do hereby establish an international organization to be known as the United Nations.

    http://www.un.org/aboutun/charter/

  73. From Article I:

    The Purposes of the United Nations are:

    To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace;

    To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace;

    To achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion; and

    To be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations in the attainment of these common ends.

  74. In regards to Havel being made SecGen, that seems unlikely given the custom of rotating the SecGen position between continents (that’s why Boutros Ghali was replaced with another African) and that North America still hasn’t held the seat. Someone from Central America or Canada would be a more probable candidate.

  75. Well, if the United Nations’ highest goals are eliminating the scourge of war and guaranteeing human rights, the best way to reach those goals is to insist each nation become democratic and free.

    In fact, the United Nations did issue that command in 1948, when it adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The rights listed in the Declaration include all the fundamental elements of liberal democracy.

    In the entire 20th century, no two established democracies went to war with each other, and, in those same 100 years, dictators killed more of their own people than all the world’s wars combined. That’s proof democracy is safer for the world and for individual liberties.

    But the U.N. almost never makes that case. Why not? Because it’s too polite to offend its dictator members. That’s the problem with U.N. diplomacy. When it fails to promote democracy, it’s deadly.

    Frank Warner

  76. But the U.N. almost never makes that case. Why not?

    Because the purpose of the UN is to keep large numbers of bureacrats employed.

  77. Interesting…

  78. I think this is a great idea.

    Especially since it would take roughly 3 seconds for Havel to offend his right wing American supporters and be labelled an ingrate.

    The man is nobody’s tool.

    As for the UN, there are these things in the world called “national governments.” That’s not going to change. Now, is it better that we have a forum within which they can hash out their differences, or not? Remember, the alternative is a lot more war.

    The number of people who prefer option 2, simply because the United States is particularly good at waging war, is pretty disgusting. Fortunately, they’re a minority.

  79. “Now, is it better that we have a forum within which they can hash out their differences, or not? Remember, the alternative is a lot more war.”

    I don’t buy it joe. The UN gives nations the excuse to evade their differences, plus it creates new differences of its own.
    Anarchist speaking: ANY organization is created for the purpose of “Let George do it,” George being the organization. Consequently conflict resolution–or any positve action–is perpetually put off, or, at the very least, inefficiently done.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.