Democrats & Liberals Archives

Hotel Rwanda

I just saw Hotel Rwanda. Excellent movie. The kind that stays with you long after the sticky stuff comes off the soles of your shoes.

One of the interesting things about the movie is, though United Nations troops are the sole representatives of the world outside Africa, the movie places blame for not stopping the genocide right where it belongs: squarely on the shoulders of Britain, the United States, France, Germany, and all the other UN member nations that would not authorize the use of force.

Somalia, Rwanda, Darfur. I hear a lot of Americans calling the UN toothless, gutless, and irrelevant because it's reluctant to intervene or use force. The reality is, the UN is not some autonomous NGO answerable only to itself. The reluctance to commit troops to stop genocide lies with the leadership of its member nations.

The UN is - and rightly so - answerable and accountable to the leadership of its member nations. If there is blame to be handed out for not being more forceful in stopping genocide around the world, it must be placed at the feet of leaders like Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Jacques Chirac, Gerhard Schroder, and now, George W. Bush.

There are two philosophies competing for control inside the UN: the currently ascendant "traditionalists" who see the organization as being primarily beholden to its member states, and the up and coming "modernists" who believe the institution's mandate requires accountability to its own agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and the public.

The ironic thing about President Bush and the conservative's scapegoating of the United Nations, is that they're forcing the UN to become the thing they dread the most: a world government answerable only to itself.

In the face of criticism over its perceived irrelevance and impotence, Kofi Annan's proposed reforms include putting more power into the hands of the organization's modernists. How this will play out when the UN's ideals as an organization clash with its member nation's agendas is anyone's guess, but it appears that UN officials and employees are tired of being kicked around like dogs for doing what they're told rather than what they think is right.

Posted by American Pundit at January 22, 2005 8:49 AM