- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 30, 2004

U.N. needs more than reform

Eugene Kogan does not get it. His column “The case for U.N. reform” (Commentary, Tuesday) encourages the Bush administration to start a dialogue with the United Nations about achieving world peace and security.

Mr. Kogan claims that the United Nations embodies modern international law, and he advocates that President Bush appoint a coordinator for U.N. reform. His idea of reform ignores the reality that the United Nations is a failed organization that has not lived up to its expectations. He has not made any case for U.N. reform but seeks to sweep its failure under the proverbial rug.

Where has Mr. Kogan been these 50-odd years? The United Nations failed its initial test by not supporting Israel in 1948, when Israel, established by the U.N. Partition Plan, was attacked by five invading Arab armies intent on its destruction. The United Nations failed to prevent or resolve the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the slaughter in Rwanda, the war in the Balkans, the continuing conflicts in Kashmir and Chechnya and the Gulf War.

It is doing nothing to resolve the slaughter in the Darfur region of Sudan and did nothing to stop the murder of some 2 million Sudanese Christians at the hands of the Islamic government. The United Nations is being bamboozled by an Iran developing nuclear capability; it is not involved in resolving the China-Taiwan dispute or the North Korean threat. It was heavily involved in an oil-for-food scam that saw the Iraqi people deprived of humanitarian aid, and it enriched U.N. officials and assisted Saddam Hussein in amassing a fortune now being used to support terrorists to kill American soldiers.

The United Nations needs an overhaul, not reform. It is composed of too many nondemocratic states not accountable to anyone. The power of these states must be curtailed. The United Nations has evolved into regional and religious blocs indifferent to world problems with too many decades of incompetence and double standards. The oil-for-food scam should never have happened. Syria, a state sponsor of terrorism, should not have a prominent position on the U.N. Human Rights Commission.

A United Nations controlled and managed by a consortium of democratic nations offers the best hope for world peace. These are the real issues Mr. Kogan should have addressed.

WARREN A. MANISON

Potomac

Eugene B. Kogan has proposed that President Bush appoint a coordinator for U.N. reform (“The case for U.N. reform,” Commentary, Tuesday). Unfortunately, he would assign to the coordinator the task of implementing the suggestions of the secretary-general’s high-level panel rather than critiquing them.

The suggestions, like the membership of the panel, contain some good and some bad. On terrorism, for example, the panel wisely adopted the elements of the definition contained in Security Resolution 1566 of Oct. 8, which made it a crime, without exception, to attack civilians. But after pointing out how the commission on human rights has been taken over by governments that wish to ward off criticism of their human-rights violations, it offers a proposal to increase the commission’s membership to all 191 U.N. member-states.

First, the only credible solution to the problem is to limit membership to states that respect human rights. Second, there is already a body of all 191 states that deals with human rights. It is called the General Assembly’s Third Committee, and it recently refused to condemn genocide in the Sudan. U.S. Ambassador John C. Danforth then accused it of “condoning atrocities.” The panel’s recommendations regarding the Security Council are also flawed.

Thus, the most constructive approach for a U.N. reform coordinator would be to analyze the high-level panel’s proposals and recommend support only for those proposals that would enhance the ability of the United Nations to carry out its functions under the U.N. Charter.

HARRIS O. SCHOENBERG

United Nations Plaza

New York

The writer served as secretary of the U.S. Commission on Improving the Effectiveness of the U.N. and later as president of the Center for U.N. Reform Education.

Mr. Kogan’s claim that the United Nations’ “universal membership makes [it] a unique legitimating mechanism” to support our war against terrorism is wrong. It is because the United Nations accepts any nation as a member (including the dictatorships and theocracies that are our enemies in this war) that it has no legitimacy.

It is the United States’ membership in the United Nations that legitimizes the tyrannies among its members and that sanctions their actions, not the other way around. To legitimize evil is as impractical as it is immoral. The United States cannot defend the freedom of its citizens and prosecute a war in their defense by associating itself with human- rights violators and hostile terrorist regimes.

The reason the United States accepts the legitimacy of dictatorial nations is that American leaders are unable or unwilling to challenge assumptions about self-determination and multiculturalism. Self-determination holds that people in every nation have the right to determine their own form of government, regardless of how brutal or unjust that form might be. Multiculturalism holds that all nations and cultures are equally moral and should be treated with respect regardless of their particular nature. In reality, however, not all forms of government are equally just, and not all nations are morally equal.

The United States should continue to pursue a foreign policy that supports human rights and combats Islamic totalitarianism, but it should do so on its own, or in alliance with other nations that share its values. If the United States really cares about human rights and the security of its people, it should not, as Mr. Kogan proposes, reform the United Nations. It should withdraw from it — and kick it out of New York. Then the world might get the message that respect for human rights and the safety of America are more important than membership in a morally bankrupt organization.

DAVID HOLCBERG

Ayn Rand Institute

Irvine, Calif.

Muslims recognize importance of season

I appreciate Helle Dale’s column about Christmas (“Christianity in retreat?” Op-Ed, Dec. 22) and the excessive political correctness that is destroying its very expression and meaning. This Christmas season, along with recent others, was very disappointing in terms of the general public’s ability to express good wishes to each other without worrying about possibly “offending” someone by mentioning the forbidden (blasphemous?) word “Christmas.” (I live in very liberal New York City.) Although other holidays, religious and cultural, fall during December, the national holiday is Christmas, and it is a federal holiday no matter on which day of the workweek it falls.

I am a Muslim, and still I recognize the importance and symbolism in celebrating the true “reason for the season.” It is Jesus’ birthday, period. The point of the holiday (in my view) is to celebrate His life and His message, sent through Him to the world by God. Muslims hold Jesus in extremely high regard and acknowledge and believe in the virgin birth. (The Koran makes this very clear.) Although we do not believe that Jesus is the son of God above other humans, we do try to emulate His peaceful, humble and spiritual nature. I doubt very much that He would approve of our society’s dilution of a day originally meant to remind the world of God’s love for all mankind.

Morality is not something from which our society should run. It will be a sad day indeed when our country, in its desire not to offend anyone, resembles France and offends everyone who chooses to maintain a faith. Let us not confuse freedom of religion with freedom from religion.

IMANI CRAWFORD

New York

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