At 60, The United Nations Is Still Taking Fire

Posted on Tuesday, October 18 at 11:28 by robertjb
Author and New York Times Magazine contributing writer James Traub recently suggested, in a piece in the magazine dated September 11, that the U.N. be abandoned and a new "democracy-friendly" institution be created. The new organization might look "more like NATO, which consists only of members with a (more or less) shared understanding of the world order and thus a shared willingness to confront threats to this order." The new entity would define and battle terrorism, demand that countries protect the rights of its citizens, and combat extreme poverty. Traub's bottom line: "No such organization, no matter how constituted, could prevent the United States from pursuing what it deemed a matter of vital national interest, as the U.S. did in the case of Iraq." Whether Traub's vision, or a similar one, comes to fruition remains to be seen. Nevertheless, since Team Bush took office in January 2001, it has displayed a general antipathy, if not downright disgust, for the U.N.: The administration threatened that the international body would descend into irrelevancy if, among other things, it did not offer its unqualified support for President Bush's War on Iraq. The administration insisted that UN weapons inspectors in Iraq were taking too much time to do their work and risked being snookered by Saddam Hussein. Moreover, apparently without any regrets, Team Bush allowed Secretary of State Colin Powell to debauch the Security Council with a pre-invasion of Iraq presentation that consisted of a litany of misinformation and disinformation. Now, along comes the Hudson Institute with its "EYE on the UN" (website) project to promote the Bush Administration's grousing about the U.N. Starting from the premise that the UN "has squandered the commitment and passion of its original benefactors," "EYE on the UN" is dedicated to "making the U.N.'s record transparent, offering a unique analysis of U.N. output and bringing together a wide range of articles and documents detailing U.N. failures to live up to its Charter." The site is produced and edited by Anne Bayefsky, a Senior Fellow with the Institute and a Visiting Professor at Touro College Law Center, who has been "following the UN for more than 20 years." Other participants include assistant editors Gillian Collins, the Project Coordinator and Chief Researcher of the Human Rights Treaty Study at York University, Toronto, Canada, and Rebecca Tobin, a researcher at the Hudson Institute specializing in human rights and the United Nations "EYE on the UN" offers a series of articles on a broad cross-section of issues including: Anti-Semitism;Darfur and Sudan;Discrimination against Israel;Genocide;Human Rights;International Court of Justice;Management Issues;Oil for Food Scandal;Sexual Harassment;Suicide Bombing;Syrian Occupation of Lebanon;Terrorism;Criticism of the US;UN Expansion;UN Peacekeepers;UN Reform;UN RWA;Using the UN as terrorist cover. The web site touts an impressive stable of prominent conservative writers and longtime UN-bashers, including: Andrew Apostolou, whose biography posted at The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (website) "Fighting terrorism and promoting freedom through research, education and communication" -- lists appearances on Fox's The O'Reilly Factor, Fox and Friends and Your World With Neil Cavuto. The Foundation's Board of Directors includes Steve Forbes, the CEO of Forbes Magazine, Dr. Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, the former Ambassador to the UN, and Jack Kemp, the former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich and former Director of the CIA, R. James Woolsey, are listed as Distinguished Advisors to the Foundation. Helle Dale is the Deputy Director of the Davis Institute and Director, at the Heritage Foundation (website). Jed Babbin was the former deputy undersecretary of defense in the administration of President George H. W. Bush. A contributing editor of The American Spectator and National Review, he is the author of the new book Inside the Asylum , a takedown of the UN. Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld is the director of the New York based American Center for Democracy (website) and the author of Funding Evil; How Terrorism is Financed and How to Stop It. Ehrenfeld is represented by Benador Associates (website), a public relations firm and international speakers bureau founded by Eleana Benador (bio). David Frum is a former speechwriter for George W. Bush, and the author of The Right Man: The Surprise Presidency of George W. Bush and co-author, along with Richard Perle, of An End to Evil: How to win the War on Terror. Frum is the Readers Digest resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (website) and he writes a daily column for the National Review Online. Frank Gaffney is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy (website), a columnist with the Rev. Sun Myung Moon-owned Washington Times, a contributor to Defense News and Investor's Business Daily, and a featured speakers listed with Benador Associates. Nile Gardiner is a Fellow in Anglo-American Security Policy at the Davis Institute at The Heritage Foundation. Newt Gingrich is the former Speaker of the House of Representatives who is currently a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. He recently founded the Center for Health Transformation (website), and he appears regularly as a contributor on the Fox News Channel. Earlier this year, Gingrich's latest book, Winning the Future, may have presaged another run for elective office. Aaron Goldstein, a former Democrat who turned Republican, is a contributor to the Phoenix, Arizona-based publication The American Daily, operated by an entity called the Move Off Network. Stephen F. Hayes is a staff writer at Bill Kristol's The Weekly Standard (website). Before joining The Weekly Standard, Hayes was a senior writer for National Journal's Hotline and formerly served for six years as Director of the Institute on Political Journalism at Georgetown University. Charles Krauthammer is a longtime syndicated columnist with The Washington Post Writers Group. He is a prominent neoconservative and a member of the Project for the New American Century( website). Arlene Kushner, an Israel-based journalist whose report "Links to Terrorism - UNRWA: The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East" was published by The Center for Near East Policy Research in October 2004, is a frequent contributor to David Horowitz's FrontPage magazine. Joseph Loconte, a William E. Simon Fellow in Religion and a Free Society at the Heritage Foundation, writes frequently about religion and politics and is a regular commentator on religion and culture for National Public Radio's All Things Considered. Joel Mowbray is a syndicated columnist who contributes to a number of major daily newspapers, and is a regular guest on cable television's talking head programs. Hillel C. Neuer is the Executive Director of UN Watch (website), a Geneva, Switzerland-based non-governmental organization that "aims to uphold the principles of the UN Charter, including its guarantee of 'the equal rights of nations large and small.'" Nimrod Raphaeli, is a Senior Analyst with the Washington, DC-based Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) (website). Claudia Rosett, the Journalist-in-Residence at The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, formerly served on the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal and currently writes "The Real World" column for the paper. Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute who recently served for 18 months in the Office of the Secretary of Defense as an Iraq and Iran advisor; he is also listed with Benador Associates. Andrew Srulevitch is the former Executive Director of UN Watch. "EYE on the UN" is a project of the Indiana-based Hudson Institute, which was founded in 1961 by the late Herman Kahn, and his colleagues Max Singer and Oscar Ruebhausen from the RAND Corporation. According to SourceWatch, a project of the Center for Media & Democracy, until his death in 1963, the Hudson Institute basically focused on Kahn's interests; domestic and military uses of nuclear power, the future of the US workplace, and the science of "futurology." While the Institute hasn't cleared the vaults of right wing foundation money, it received a respectable $15 million between 1987 through 2003. According to Media Transparency, a website tracking the money behind the conservative movement, the Institute received some 237 grants from such conservative foundation heavyweights as The Carthage Foundation, Sarah Scaife Foundation, Castle Rock Foundation, the John M. Olin Foundation, Inc., the Smith Richardson Foundation, and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. In 2003, the Olin Foundation gave $10,000 to support the work of Robert Bork and $50,000 for a research fellowship for neoconservative Norman Podhoretz. Over the years, the Bradley Foundation has ponied up well over $1.5 million, promoting the Institute's Welfare Policy Center and its Center for Philanthropy & Civic Renewal. On Wednesday September 7, the much-awaited report of the Independent Inquiry Committee into the Iraq oil-for-food-program, headed by former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Paul Volcker, did not find UN Secretary General Kofi Annan guilty of wrongdoing, but it did report that his "cumulative management performance" fell short of the standard the United Nations "should strive to maintain." Two days later, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice expressed support for Annan, as long as he continued to pursue a "reform" (US) agenda at the UN. "We are going to continue to press management and secretariat reforms. They have to be concrete reforms, not just oratory language about how important it is to reform," Rice said. "In the light of the oil-for-food problem, I think it's even more urgent that those get done." Rice's statement is quite ironic given the several hundred billion dollars spent rather capriciously on the war on Iraq. Rice added that since the United States "is the largest single donor to the United Nations ... we owe the American taxpayers an accounting for the fact that their tax dollars are being used well." In a speech to the World Jewish Congress, new US Ambassador John Bolton called for a "cultural revolution" in the way the United Nations does business: "This is the kind of development that I think shocks our conscience in America, to see the humanitarian impulse so cynically manipulated," Bolton said in a speech to the World Jewish Congress. This year, the U.N. is celebrating its 60th anniversary. On September 17 Condoleezza Rice said in her first participation in the General Assembly "the time to reform the United Nations is now. And we must seize this opportunity together." "The United States believes in the United Nations," Rice added. "And we have ambitious hopes for its future." "When President George W. Bush greeted Secretary General Kofi Annan last week," the New York Times recently reported, "he gestured toward" U.S. ambassador John Bolton "and asked: 'Has the place blown up since he's been here?'" According to the newspaper, "The internal United Nations television sound boom that picked up the jest did not record any response from the secretary general, who simply smiled." On Sunday, September 18, Anne Bayefsky, the producer of the Hudson Institute's "EYE on the U.N.," blasted U.S. Secretary-General Kofi Annan for "delud[ing] the world about the consequences of the [recently concluded World] Summit and the future of the United Nations... further damage[ing] ... his credibility..." Bayefsky concluded, "The Summit was closer to a nail in the coffin of UN-led multilateralism than to its resurrection." With Bolton in place and the Hudson Institute's "EYE on the UN" tracking the organization's every move, the U.N. is in for a bumpy ride.

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