- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 25, 2000

Sen. Jesse Helms, North Carolina Republican and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, appeared before the United Nations Security Council on Jan. 20. Mr. Helms is opposed to the idea that the United Nations would "establish itself as the central authority of a new international order of global laws and global governance … an international order the American people … do not and will not countenance."
Woodrow Wilson refused to compromise with Congress and introduced the 14 Principles that were to set the foundation for the League of Nations (the predecessor of the United Nations) as if they were the Commandments handed down to Moses. The seasoned French prime minister, George Clemenceau, remarked that Moses delivered Ten Commandments, Wilson delivered 14. It seems that the present French ambassador to the United Nations, Alain Dejammet, was not happy with Mr. Helms' message to the Security Council. Along with every member of the Security Council, Mr. Dejammet, "challenged Sen. Helms' bleak portrayal of the United Nations and criticized the United States for letting it down." (New York Times, Jan. 22).
Why bring the person most hostile to the United Nations to speak before its most important executive institution, the Security Council? The reason is obvious. Without the United States, the Security Council would become a toothless lion. The French and British ambassadors act as if all five members of the Security Council are equal. Unquestionably by law they are. In fact, each one has veto power. However, even if the United States pays only a quarter of its U.N. fees, it still pays the lion's share of peace missions in Bosnia and elsewhere, and is therefore first among equals in the Security Council.
Mr. Helms used the Security Council platform to enunciate his opposition to Wilsonian liberal internationalism, which is the underlying political ideology of the United Nations. Yet the practices of the United Nations in the last three decades demonstrate aggressive nationalism and unfulfilled internationalism. If it was established for the purposes of peace and security, it has played no role in the most significant conflicts in the last half-century. It was the American nuclear umbrella and NATO that protected Western civilization from Soviet aggression. It was the liberal United States that played a key role in the anti-colonial movement, which it generously supported in hopes the former colonies would become responsible and democratic members of the international community. This, of course, did not happen. A great number of them went to war against one another. Some oppressed their own minorities.
During the last 40 years, the United Nations has become a playground of blocs. The Third World bloc has been openly hostile to the United States. Led by the likes of Chou En-Lai of China, Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, Marshal Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia, Sukarno of Indonesia, and Jawaharlal Nehru of India, the Third World non-alignment so-called neutralist bloc opposed the West and the United States consistently at the U.N. and elsewhere. This bloc was composed, with the exception of India, of a motley group of non-democratic, communist, autocratic, praetorian, kleptocratic members that supported the Soviet Union in every measure they could conceive against the United States.
The most pernicious United Nations act, shepherded by the Afro-Asian Arab bloc, was to isolate, delegitimize, and turn the liberal, democratic Israel into a pariah state. Praetorian, oppressive, corrupt Arab regimes, and the undemocratic monarchy of Saudi Arabia had the gall to falsely condemn the only democracy that emerged out of the colonial world after World War II.
The pernicious resolution of "Zionism is Racism" that was approved by the majority of autocrats and kleptocrats in the United Nations, passed without a peep from most of the Western states other than the United States, including France, which shamelessly appeased the Arabs for its own greedy purposes. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the reign of the non-Western blocs in the United Nations General Assembly was over. Nevertheless, tens of anti-Israeli resolutions that were inspired by a terrorist organization called the PLO (do you remember?) were supported and passed by the so-called "neutral," "progressive" members.
The United Nations has indeed abolished the idea of the inequality of states. All member states, from Fiji to the United States, have one vote in the General Assembly. But real inequality in the United Nations system is found in its administration, institutions and specialized agencies like UNESCO for instance.
The elephantine, inefficient bureaucracy of the United Nations suffers from the inequality of the quota system that governs the appointments to United Nations administrative agencies. The United States and Western Europe have exhausted their quota. Thus, the offices are manned by the majority in the Assembly from the Third World. Frequently, the persons with more education and skills, and greater experience are subordinated to the less skilled, educated and experienced members by the quota system. The system is administratively irrational and devoid of merit.
For instance, UNESCO in the 1970s, was run on the African basis of president for life, i.e. that the chief executive of UNESCO, Mr. Mba acted very much like African dictators for life until he was forcibly removed. Endless efforts to audit the United Nations ended in failure. For many members of the Afro-Asian bloc, it has become a perk to lead the good life in Paris, London or New York, with non-taxed salaries. To make the United Nations solvent, U.N. reform must abolish the quota, adopt a merit system, and establish a ruthless audit system. The history and evolution of the United Nations demonstrate it is impotent to resolve major international conflicts (Vietnam, the Gulf war, Afghanistan, Kosovo), and unless radical change takes place in its system of governing, any increased American contribution is like putting money in a sack with a hole in it. Mr. Helms told it like it is.

Amos Perlmutter is a professor of political science and sociology at American University and editor of the Journal of Strategic Studies.

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