The Magazine

Don't Appease the United Nations

We're better off going it alone.

May 20, 2002, Vol. 7, No. 35 • By ARNOLD BEICHMAN
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FROM THE FALL OF FRANCE and the retreat from Dunkirk in June 1940 until America was attacked at Pearl Harbor, England fought alone against the most formidable military machine in the world. Germany had also invaded its onetime ally the Soviet Union in June 1941, but that battle did little to diminish the power of the Luftwaffe, which rained destruction over Britain night after night. Continental Europe was in Nazi hands and couldn't help. Britain fought for its survival alone for 17 months. And won.

Today, as the United States prosecutes the war on terror, it finds itself like Britain six decades ago: with few reliable allies. The Europeans are ambivalent about this war. The United Nations is often hostile. Indeed, defending democracy and human rights against the world's terrorist thugs is something the U.N. actively interferes with doing.

Well, so be it. We're often told that America can't "go it alone," but that's preposterous. America is almost infinitely stronger than Britain was six decades ago. If our core values are at stake, then of course we can shoulder the burden of defending them alone.

The degradation of the U.N. is symbolized by the nose-thumbing action of the majority ensconced in the U.N. Commission on Human Rights. This is the same group that booted the United States last year in a fit of pique. Whom have they now seen fit to add to the commission? Zimbabwe, whose dictator Robert Mugabe has violated about every principle that the commission presumably stands for. And against the power of the anti-democratic U.N. majority, a parliamentary trick had to be exploited by the West in order to return the United States to membership on this commission. It is an obscenity that this commission includes such human rights violators as Cuba, China, Libya, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan, whose genocidal race and religious war against that country's Christians goes bloodily on without demur from the CHR.

In other words the CHR is one of several U.N. institutions where the criminals sit in judgment on themselves, exploiting the democratic idea of majority voting, a practice banned in their own countries, to absolve themselves of crimes against their own people. Mugabe fixes his own reelection, arrests his election opponent, suppresses press freedom, encourages lynchings and seizure of private property, so Zimbabwe is elected a member of the Commission on Human Rights. With members like these, whom does the U.N. investigate? Well, Israel mostly. And Australia, for alleged mistreatment of refugees and aborigines. And Canada, for allegedly practicing "torture" and mistreatment of minorities.

This week, just after another suicide bombing had killed 15 near Tel Aviv, the U.N. General Assembly voted 74-4 to condemn Israel for its lack of cooperation with that body. This vote is of a piece with the U.N.'s usual double standard: one that indicts democracies and another that exculpates the anti-democracies.

Like its other moral inversions, the U.N.'s challenge to Israel's right to exist as a nation is also a challenge by the U.N. majority to the United States and its goal of spreading freedom and respect for human rights worldwide. This challenge will only grow if we fail to confront the anti-democratic bloc that now runs the United Nations.

When the U.N. came into existence in 1945, there were 51 members. Today there are 189, all of them blessed by the U.N. Charter, which states that "the organization is based on the sovereign equality of all Members" and that membership "is open to all peace-loving states which accept the obligations contained in the present Charter and in the judgment of the Organization are able and willing to carry out these obligations." What this sovereign equality means is that the votes of Burundi, Cuba, Fiji, Haiti, Palau, and Somalia equal the votes of the United States or Japan or Germany. And Zimbabwe and China get to sit in judgment on violations of human rights in Canada and Australia, all in the name of equality.

The alternative to going it alone is appeasement. When Zimbabwe can be elected to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights and the West swallows it meekly, that's appeasement. In 1940 and 1941, Britain fought alone against great odds and won. Our fight is not only against worldwide terrorism but also with those who cheer, encourage, and even legitimize the terrorists. And all these cheerleaders of terror sit in the U.N., an "organization [that] is based on the sovereign equality of all Members." Winston Churchill knew what to do.

Arnold Beichman, a former correspondent at the United Nations, is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.