Tony Blair’s Misguided Vision for The UN

In an open letter, Prime Minister Tony Blair laid out his vision for the future of the United Nations. Now, for your typical, internationally jaded conservative, any future that has a UN is a future worth skipping. If this describes your sentiments, you’re going to hate this. PM Blair not only envisions a future with a UN, but a future with an expanded UN.

As I read through the letter, there was only one sentence that I (partially) agreed with:

“Increasingly, there is a hopeless mismatch between the global challenges we face and the global institutions to confront them.”

Actually, PM Blair, it is not so much a “hopeless mismatch” as it is a systemic failure. The problem with the UN is that it aspires to be a world body, rather than a collection of like-minded states. As a result, the decisionmaking process gets filtered through the unique interests of each of its members. Unfortunately, the greater good gets lost in the process. PM Blair, however, sees it differently:

“[A] Security Council which has France as a permanent member but not Germany, Britain but not Japan, China but not India to say nothing of the absence of any representation from Latin America or Africa, cannot be legitimate in the modern world.”

Basically, PM Blair would like to model the Security Council after the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), which has representative nations from each global region. Of course, among those representatives are China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Russia and Azerbaijan. If anything, the UNHRC tells us that the Security Council should be contracted, not expanded.

This next section of PM Blair’s argument is actually insulting:

“In my nine years as Prime Minister I have not become more cynical about idealism. I have simply become more persuaded that the distinction between a foreign policy driven by values and one driven by interests, is obviously wrong. . . . Our values are our guide. To make it so, however, we have to be prepared to think sooner and act quicker in defence [sic] of those values — progressive pre-emption [sic], if you will.”

Out of curiosity, PM Blair, where does the Sudan tragedy fit in the value system that you speak of? I’m still waiting on you to call it genocide; as yet, America is the only nation to officially do so. Perhaps, PM Blair, you should concentrate on one crisis at a time. The solution to the genocide will not arise from multilateral negotiations in the UN. Military intervention is the only solution to this problem, though any resolution calling for intervention would be immediately vetoed by the Security Council. Please, PM Blair, work on that problem first, then offer your recipe for a new and improved UN.

Posted by Dr Politico at May 31, 2006 9:23 PM
Comments
Comment #153187

Reading your post, one would think the United States was not a part of the Security Council you so deride. The fact that you refuse to admit that as one of the Veto capable Members, the US is as much part of the problem shows your bias and myopia.

How many times has a Resolution been blocked by a SINGLE veto from the Five? All in FAVOR and the ONE Against? You wanna bet it was the US who did that?

Do some research.

Posted by: Aldous at May 31, 2006 9:40 PM
Comment #153190

Regarding my post:

“I’m still waiting on you to call it genocide; as yet, America is the only nation to officially do so.”

I should have been more clear. America is the only signatory to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide who has labeled it genocide.

Posted by: Dr Politico at May 31, 2006 9:44 PM
Comment #153191

Doc,

The US is probably the only signitory of the Convention that has also dismissed the UN as irrelevant.
So other than to bash the UN yet again, what exactly is your point?

Posted by: Rocky at May 31, 2006 9:57 PM
Comment #153195

So? Darfur is genocide. See? I can label it too.

It does not mean I expect US Marines to land tommorrow to stop Darfur. Darfur has no Oil afterall. You seem to take a lot of importance on symbolic statements that mean nothing on the ground.

Bottomline is while EVERYONE admits Darfur is BAD or GENOCIDE or EVIL or whatever, nobody wants to get thier soldiers killed trying to stop it.

And that’s all there is.

Posted by: Aldous at May 31, 2006 9:59 PM
Comment #153204

We need the UN in many ways. The work done in Geneva is pretty good. The political stuff in NYC less so.

Tony Blair has been a good friend. My initial inclination is to reject this, but I will give Tony Blair the benefit of the doubt and study up on it a little more.

Posted by: Jack at May 31, 2006 10:29 PM
Comment #153207

DR Politico, either the UN gets the reforms it needs and exands its role, or the U.S. goes bankrupt playing world cop. Pick your poison.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 31, 2006 10:33 PM
Comment #153216

Aldous, the USSR far and away leads individual vetos by the u.n. security council. The U.S. would be second with france third and China fourth. If you need the u.n. site for vetos it is www.un.org/Depts/dhl/resguide/scvote.htm

Posted by: scolex at May 31, 2006 11:08 PM
Comment #153222

scolex:

Vetoes where the US is the SOLE dissenting vote?

Posted by: Aldous at May 31, 2006 11:30 PM
Comment #153276

Aldous,

Seems that ~no matter what the topic, you respond by bashing America. Whether unrelated / poorly related to the topic / prev posts, unsubstantiated (your current guess re vetoes), etc.

While I encourage everyone in the US to hold our country to ever higher standards, I also would like you to treat America at least as well as you treat other countries (benefit of the doubts, etc.).

It seems like hatred, intolerance, phobia, or…? Or do you *enjoy* being so negative/unfair against the US? Just please don’t use double-speak to say you are helping the US by trying to be so caustic / hurtful, as so many America haters sometimes say. You know that would not be honest.

I don’t think being so negative against the US across the board is intellectually honest. And maybe your responses today seemed especially so – You know, it is theoretically possible for the UN to have problems even though the US is a member – why such Anti-American anger for saying the UN has problems (if Bolton hadn’t been emasculated by the Dems, maybe he could have done a little more UN Reform (slim/none that he could have made major reform, I bet)).

Or do you think the US should be blamed for all the UN’s problems just because we are a member (as some seem to blame the US for ~everything bad in the world, because the US has interaction with most things in the world … good and bad)? I hope not — this position seems very bigoted to me.

Re the UN: US Farmers, Union workers, Engineers, White collar workers, Dot-Com’ers, etc (nearly all sectors … except for Lawyers and Education) have been massively Restructured the last few decades. After 60yrs, maybe the UN should be, too.

Why should there be any Sacred Cows? You don’t really think the UN is above (major!) change, do you?

Don’t mean to be singling out only you, when there are more than a few who seem to belong to the Hate-America-First clan, but maybe post fewer responses, that are less biased against America, and more enlightening & truthful. Empty wagons make the most noise, mom said. Let’s all hope for less noisy posts from everyone.

You have energy, you have some good points occasionally. You are a fighter. You can help keep in check those on the Right if/when one is intellectually dishonest. But this does not seem to be you right now.

Best wishes my friend.

Posted by: Brian at June 1, 2006 6:24 AM
Comment #153305

Aldous
If America was the “one vote” to veto any UN resolution, what are the odds it was something that made us bow to a tinpot dictator or come out less than equal to a banana republic? If we can’t make decisions that are best for America, why bother? Let’s just throw sovereignty out the window and kneel before the crown princes of thuggery. How long did it take for the “America sucks” crowd to jump from the total inefficiency of the UN to Big Oil? Talk about reading from a script! Any - I repeat - Any thoughtful, or even simplistic, look at the record of the UN in making a difference in the world reveals it’s rotten core, corruption and inadequecies. The US must take a stand, fight against the things that would hamstring US domestic and foreign policy and defend it’s principles, to try to turn the UN into something to be trusted. Looking away while Nero fiddles would be self immolation. Please tell me why the UN is necessary for today. Explain it’s latest contribution to the betterment of any individual country or peoples. My guess is that any meaningful contributions relied heavily on good old Uncle Sam. And explain, please, the need for the Sec. Gen. of the UN to live in an approximately $50,000,000 NY residence. How much food, how many pairs of shoes, how many school supplies, how much medicine could be purchased with that money? But that’s OK, at least he and his ilk FEEL like they’ve made a difference.

Posted by: JR at June 1, 2006 9:38 AM
Comment #153341

I find it contradictory that the same people that love the role of the UN are the same people that are afraid of the possibility of something like the Illumati. Isn’t that what you want to see from the UN? An all-powerful world source of logic, reason and control?

Posted by: Bruce at June 1, 2006 11:26 AM
Comment #153343

JR and Brian… I couldn’t have said it better myself. Aldous and his compatriots are about one thing: Pointing out every negative aspect of the US, real or imagined. No matter the subject, there will always be a focus on how the USA is bad, evil, corrupt, inept, or plain stupid.

Posted by: Bruce at June 1, 2006 11:31 AM
Comment #153364

JR,

Explain it’s latest contribution to the betterment of any individual country or peoples.

UNAIDS, between 2001 and 2006 have increased anti-retrovirii terapies access worldwide from 200,000 (mostly in wealthy nations) to over 1,300,000 today everywhere, African, Asian and South American areas included.
And before you argue about US being the major donor funding this program, check twice: Netherland alone gave quite as much as US, when Europe nations all together contributes more than half the total budget since 10 years.

Do I need to talk about UNICEF actions worlwide since decades too?

But I agree, no UN programs have done anything very usefull for Americans, and only them.
Not that it wasn’t tried in some occasion. For example while, thru UN, many nations offered their help both logistic and financial to US rigth after Katrina, they were replied “thanks but we don’t need help”. And, no doubt, in many many occasions UN is opposing the will of US, like in march 2003 on the Iraq War…

I, and the rest of the world, guess that US don’t needs other nations help. Great for you! But many nations worldwide *do* need help from other nations, and many nations *do* want to help them.
If americans think they don’t want anymore to join these nations, please quit UN now. It’s *that* simple. And will be a very symbolic move for the rest of the world, too. But, hey, why bother!?

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at June 1, 2006 12:45 PM
Comment #153368

things are going as usual concerning Alger Hiss’s organization and a non Christian country.

Posted by: An Employee at June 1, 2006 12:53 PM
Comment #153397

Let’s add to…

Europe nations all together contributes more than half the total budget since 10 years.

… that I’m not saying here “see, EU give more, boohoo on US”, because it’s just fine and I don’t care that much.

What I’m trying to state is that US != UN anymore, that many nations are actually making something usefull for the world community under UN programs umbrella.
Even if it’s never as effective as we all hope, it’s better than… nothing actually. Except the usual “every man for himself”…

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at June 1, 2006 1:55 PM
Comment #153436

Where has all the funding come from? All the europeans combined make up half. Excellant. Cuba, China, Russia, Saudi Arabia et al, I’m very sure give out of the compassion of their hearts - everyone knows how communist’s and socialists feel about AIDS. The UNITED NATIONS, our motto? UNITED AGAINST ANYTHING THAT MAKES THE US LOOK LIKE THE ECONOMIC, FREEDOM LOVING GIANT IT IS, AND KNOCKS ‘EM DOWN A PEG. Never answered me about DeCaf Annon, why the extravagence? No answer because it’s OK, he means well, even when GENOCIDE occurs on his home continent. It’s OK, no oil for food for DeCaf enrichment schemes here - pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. Without the generosity of the US, it’s unending patience with thug human rights councils and socialist anti-American diatribes, the Disjointed Nations would have no whipping boy, no strawman to point to and say, “see, I told you they were evil!” Give it a rest.

Posted by: JR at June 1, 2006 3:03 PM
Comment #153452

Ok… time to clear up the misconceptions…

The USSR/Russia has used the solo veto more often than the US has, BUT the US has used it more often in recent history (last 30 years or so). Most of the US vetos have been regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

As far as labelling the crisis in Sudan as “genocide” or not… does it really matter? The UN has called it a crisis, and has asked member nations to send troops to address the issue. Nobody has yet stepped up to the plate. So what if the US has labelled it “genocide”. Do you really think applying labels will solve the problem?? “Oh, we did our part! We called it genocide. What more do you want?”

JR,

Any thoughtful, or even simplistic, look at the record of the UN in making a difference in the world reveals it’s rotten core, corruption and inadequecies

The UN has made a difference in the world. Do you remember all the bombs, mushroom clouds, and millions dead during World War III…?

… neither do I. That’s the point.

For all the hopes and dreams of the UN being the grand policeman of the world or whatever, there is one thing that the UN is good at — preventing international wars. Their record on genocide sucks. Their record on regime change sucks. Their record on spreading democracy sucks. But that’s not what they exist for. The first line of the UN Charter states:

We the people 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,

“Twice in our lifetime” refers to WWI and WWII. The UN’s primary purpose is to prevent WWIII. Look out your window. If WWIII hasn’t happened yet, thank the UN.

As for dealing with a country’s INTERNAL problems (genocide, tyranny, etc.)… the UN sucks. Overhauling it may help, but unless the member states (including the US) are willing to step up and do their part, it would be a waste of time.

Posted by: Rob Cottrell at June 1, 2006 3:42 PM
Comment #153491

What is like to be Glosterminn?

Posted by: Glosterminn at June 1, 2006 5:28 PM
Comment #153494

“The problem with the UN is that it aspires to be a world body, rather than a collection of like-minded states.”

Gee, I wonder if this is called a democracy. Can you imagine, a democratic body whose members may have conflicting opinions? Prime Minister Blair in pointing out, that the makeup of the Security Council no longer is representative of the powers and population of the nations of the world, is only suggesting realignment is in order. If the UN’s status as a recognized democratic body is to continue, then the Security Council composition should reflect the changes in the world since WW II.

The UN was not set up to be a rubber stamp for the wants of the U.S. It is meant to be a pseudo-democratic body. Like our own Congress, therefore, it can be ineffective at times. Also like our Congress, the UN has a charter that limits its ability to act, such as the case in Darfur

“Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter.”

A similar scenario existed in Bosnia, and that is why President Clinton utilized Nato during that little excursion. It was only after the United States and Nato went into Bosnia and took over, could the United Nations be involved.

Posted by: Cube at June 1, 2006 5:34 PM
Comment #153496

Rob
The UN stopped WWIII? Nice job. I hope I don’t scare you but we are in WWIII right now! Islamofacists want to dominate the world and implement Sharia law and dhimmitude in every country of the world. Islamofacists are the enemy of this war and it will go on and on until we root out and kill the leaders, help those trapped in its grasp reach out for personal freedom and make self determination a goal of the peace makers in those countries, not the tyrant. Every country on the planet is at risk of attacks, with the hopes of breaking the resolve of anyone who opposes their worldview. What in a tangible way has the UN done to stop the spread of terror? Besides putting Col. Qadgoofy on its’ human rights watch back when his country was busy blowing up buildings and planes. I’d just as soon allow non-profit orgs, faithbased groups and others to lend a hand in medical-education-infrastructure projects and ask NATO to help with policing efforts. No, sorry, the UN is not important to the world at large as long as it’s an impediment to US policies and it acts as a huge money making machine for those lucky few at the top. Hey, that reminds me of another global system - yep, thats right - just like Communism!

Posted by: JR at June 1, 2006 5:38 PM
Comment #153526

The UN has not achieved anything worth noting. It is a morally bankrupt institution. It is not effective in dealing with problems throughout the world. I now wants to tax US citizens on different levels.

Let’s put it this way. The best achievement that the UN could accomplish is for the UN building to topple into the East River and put something on the ground it once occupied that would be more worthy of manking.

Posted by: tomh at June 1, 2006 6:48 PM
Comment #153533

JR,

Yes, there is currently a war on terrorism. But World War III? If Korea and Vietnam didn’t count as WWIII (and IV), the current conflict definitely doesn’t.

Like it or not, the UN helped keep the US and the USSR from nuking humanity back to the stone age. It was a forum in which we could argue and puff at each other without blowing each other up. The real “World War III” was the Cold War, and it only remained “cold” because the US and USSR fought wars of words against one another in the UN.

And do you honestly think that the terror attacks on 9/11 were done as an attempt to implement Sharia law? You really can’t think of any other reason why they’d want to attack us?

Posted by: Rob Cottrell at June 1, 2006 6:59 PM
Comment #153537

Could UN bashers/haters here actually make some efforts to provide FACTS backing the claims (no achievement, totally corrupted, etc) they’ve expressed strongly beside huge free name calling? Thanks.
Hint: UN is much more than the UN Security Council.

Otherwise, continuing this thread seems more and more worthless.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at June 1, 2006 7:16 PM
Comment #153557

Rob
So the UN is useful as a coffee house, where we sit around and bluster at each other to stave off war? Nope, don’t buy it. Korea? I thought the UN was to stop wars BEFORE they break out. Islamofacists? They don’t need us to provoke them. Study history, look at the statements made by the terror leaders and compare it to their “holy book”. It’s clear as day. Kill all who don’t believe in allah, or force them into dhimmi status, (think of it as jim crow laws gone to the Nth degree). No, they have their reasons in their religion, nothing we have done, didn’t do, will or won’t do is really the basis for the attacks, we are not muslims, not slaves to their wahabbist teachings and Quranic demands, so we die. Unless you wish to convert, of your own free will of course, no threats here!

Posted by: JR at June 1, 2006 8:18 PM
Comment #153629

Please stop reducing UN to UNSC alone.
Or officially change the title into “Blair’s Misguided Vision for the UNSC”.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at June 2, 2006 3:55 AM
Comment #153785

What Tony Blair should have said was “since you guys at the U.N. have no real police powers,are totally biased against the U.S. and can’t seem to begin to get past your mean spirited,plundering of third world countries,why don’t you just disband?

Posted by: jblym at June 2, 2006 3:54 PM
Comment #153830

“Hint: UN is much more than the UN Security Council”

Isn’t that “council” and its “mission” the primary reason US military troops get killed?
Illegally forcing US troops to serve and die like that is what pisses the majority of anti-UN Americans off.

Make the UN a volunteer org with no say at all in US affairs, and a great many of us would quit getting so upset over it.

Posted by: kctim at June 2, 2006 5:27 PM
Comment #153945

Bob,

If you think the UN somehow held off WWIII then I have some nice bottomlands to sell you. Are you kidding? The fact that both sides knew they couldn’t attack each other without being destroyed themselves (Mutual Assured Destruction or MAD) prevented WWIII. The UN hasn’t done a damned thing to prevent war and usually prevented a robust response to minor threats and let them become major ones.

I wouldn’t trust the UN to police a herd of sheep to say nothing of actual peacekeeping. How about in Bosnia where they let Serbs abduct Muslims and slaughter them because they a: didn’t have the combat power to do anything about it and b: didn’t have the authority to fire on people who were killing the very civilians they were sent to protect. I miss the UN here in Iraq like I miss my accordion when I go hunting.

Furthermore, the UN is a foolish idea because it artificially inflates the power of minor states and gives legitimacy to large numbers of nations that violate its own charter. How sad is it that America needed to seek the approval of “nations” with a smaller budget than NYC and a “military” that the LAPD SWAT team could take out? There are corporations that have more of a right to be on the UN than half of the countries on it.

The US should not withdraw from the international diplomatic scene, but the UN is a proven loser when it comes to preventing war, the very reason it was created. IF its rampant corruption could be reined in, it might make a worthwhile international humanitarian organization, but I would sooner serve in the French Foriegn Legion than in a UN operation.

Posted by: 1LT B at June 3, 2006 4:43 AM
Comment #154153

I have to jump in here because no one has defended Aldous against that attack.
I don’t know anything about which country has vetoed what, but his posting about Sudan was very valid.
The history of our country is full of examples that we act on our monetary interests, not on what we say our values are. I’m not saying we’re alone in that - but we’re a bigger target because we also try to hold ourselves up as unreproachable.

JR and 1LT B-
Why does the fact that other countries do not have our monetary power mean that we do not have to consider what they think?
The behavior and actions of individual leaders can be opposed but not on the grounds of their budget or “banana republic” status

Finally, adding new members to the UN is not something that Tony Blair thought up. I remember hearing about it on NPR last year
UN reform movement looks different from the inside

Christine

Posted by: Christine at June 3, 2006 11:01 PM
Comment #154157

Sorry - I’m not sure what I did wrong there…
UN reform movement looks different from the inside

Christine

Posted by: Christine at June 3, 2006 11:12 PM
Comment #154423

kctim,

Isn’t that “council” and its “mission” the primary reason US military troops get killed? Illegally forcing US troops to serve and die like that is what pisses the majority of anti-UN Americans off.

Illegally? Since when???
Your country agreed to commit these troops to the UNSC forces. If now you disagree, just quit the UNSC. That simple.
As UN own a veto power, I fail to see how your government could have been forced in any voted resolutions to commit troops against its will. Please explain how it could have happened???

Beside, maybe US military troops get killed because they’re not *that* invincible, particulary when most of US military budget is spent otherwise than on shielding their soldiers enough…

Make the UN a volunteer org with no say at all in US affairs, and a great many of us would quit getting so upset over it.

Define US affairs. If you mean US domestic affairs, that’s already the case, no?
If by “US affairs” you mean “US interests” or Global issues, I fail to see how every nations on earth will agree to let US push their self interests only. Unless if everybody would profit from it in such process, which is higly doubtfull, right?

But, *again*, nobody force you country to be an UN member. Quitting was and is always an open solution. I don’t see the point to whim about something you could totally, definitively and officially disagree with without whiming about your participation within.
So, just quit UN: it will be more clearer for everybody. Or keep honoring what you agreed to do when your country signed the UN membership agreement. Or push for the UN reform from inside.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at June 5, 2006 8:10 AM
Comment #154424

Grrr:

“As US own a veto power at UNSC, …”

Please pardon this error. And the others, too :-(

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at June 5, 2006 8:11 AM
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