Thursday, January 06, 2005

Business buzzwords applied to world politics

Does anyone remember what synergy is? You know, the idea of combining resources so that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Well, consider this: in the past four years, the United States has:

  • Liberated Afghanistan from a brutal regime guilty of countless human rights violations, transforming the nation into a budding democracy
  • Deposed Sadaam Housein, a horrific dictator with a policy of genocide, conquest, and terrorism
  • Established the Roadmap to Peace for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, finally offering real hope for a peaceful end to that conflict
  • Saved thousands of lives in Southeast Asia in the wake of the tsunami by immediately carting in aid, followed by hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to come from both the government and private citizens
In contrast, the United Nations has:

  • Dragged its feet on promoting democracy in the former Soviet bloc (Ukraine is the most recent example)
  • Skimmed billions of dollars of blood money through the Oil-for-Food scam, while passing useless resolutions on Iraqi violations and refusing to back them with any sort of power, then condemned the liberation of the Iraqi people
  • Criticized Israel for protecting themselves instead of condemning Palestinian terror attacks
  • Completely failed the victims of the tsunami catastrophe by sending bureaucrats instead of food, assessment teams instead of rescue teams, and issuing reports instead of relief aid checks
Now, the US is one of 170+ countries in the UN. Add our most steadfast allies in these past four years—Great Britain, Australia, and Israel—and realize that these four countries, a mere 2% of the members in the UN, have effectively dealt with these four crises instead of (but with much hindrance from) the UN. In other words, pooling national resources under the UN has a negative impact on effectiveness. In these crises, four pieces are greater than the whole; the UN provided no synergy, no ‘bonus’ for coordinating the efforts of member entities. This means the UN is actually a drain on members who actually want results in response to various crises.

An interesting corollary is that the UN is particularly rewarding for members who want the opposite, i.e., a lack of international response to a crisis somewhere. It’s not hard to guess which kind of a member the Taliban’s Afghanistan or Sadaam’s Iraq would be, and I suppose that answers the question I asked earlier: the world puts up with the UN because there are sufficient members out there, motivated by greed or powerlust, who desire ineffective solutions for the world’s problems.

I suppose a better question to ask is this: why does the US still tolerate the UN?


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