UN-charitable thoughts
Posted by aogWednesday, 02 July 2003 at 10:18 TrackBack Ping URL
The UN is feeling hurt by anti-UN feelings in the US. The Atlantic Monthly has an interesting article on it that I just have to play with.

Secretary General Kofi Annan recently told a group of scholars that U.S. President George W. Bush wanted to end the searing attacks by administration officials that have deeply wounded the United Nations since the Iraq war began. That was a surprise. But the question that lingers at a demoralized United Nations is whether, without some public show of support for Annan from the White House, the organization can ever recover from this low point in U.S.-U.N. relations. Too much damage may have already been done and another anti-U.N. campaign is out of control across the United States.
Listen to the dog that didn't bark - any connection between this and what the UN actually does. The entire article treats this rift as purely a public relations issue, disconnected from the real world. Here, why should there be a show of public support for Annan from the US? The only rational offered is to help the UN. Given that that the basic problem is that the US citizenry doesn't like the UN, that hardly seems a strong motivation.
Ironically, it may be Iraq, the focus of the problem with Washington, that will ultimately temper the ugly mood, since the United Nations, with experienced officials back on the ground, may soon be bailing a beleaguered U.S. occupation out of at least some of its morass. […]
UN officials helping out the US? After the massive failures of the UN in the Middle East? Perhaps the UN could do for the Ba'ath what they've done for the Palestinians.

The article describes how hurt UN staff members are by anger from the US. A number of them apparently feel

that the Americans seem to hate the United Nations for not supporting the war, while a lot of the rest of the world hates the organization for not preventing it.
Note the subtle shift here, from "support" to "prevent". Normally, the antonym of "support" would be "oppose". This trick of language cleverly elides over the fact that the UN opposed the US in an ineffectual manner.

But even in the throes of despair, there's no way to avoid bashing President Bush.

supporters such as William Luers, president of the U.N. Association of the United States of America, say they are stunned by the level of ill-informed contempt for the organization and even for the secretary general displayed by otherwise fair-minded Americans who took their cue on this issue from the Bush administration.
Oh yes, there's no reason to despise a child sex slave procuring organization like the UN. The article then cites polls showing that respect for the UN in the US has dropped like a rock after the Iraq war. After some more whining about Richard Perle's comments, we have this classic:
The United Nations, largely founded by Americans or under American encouragement in 1945, has since taken a lot of hits from the United States. Gamely, it has often tried to find ways to counter bad publicity.
Yes, that's right, it's purely a PR problem. It's certainly the case that the UN has been willing to go to great lengths to counter bad publicity as long as that didn't involve any changes in behaviour [except for UNESCO, which while still a problem, has made real, significant improvements].

But the article ends on an unexpected note.

there is in this mix more than a little European visceral dislike for a Republican like Bush. […] Coupled with official French disdain for cultures outside Europe, recently displayed again at the European Union summit in Greece, [Edward B. Burling professor of international law and diplomacy at Johns Hopkins, Ruth] Wedgwood said, French willingness to cripple the Security Council bodes ill for the future of the U.N. vision for the world.
You mean it's not all Bush's fault? Now that will be news to a lot of people.
Comments — Formatting by Textile
Noel Friday, 04 July 2003 at 19:23

All Bush’s ‘fault’?

That’s not a fault, it’s a feature! Contrary to the UN booster’s statement, Americans don’t dislike the UN because they are ignorant about it; the more they know, the more they dislike it.

You ARE quite annoying, btw; refreshingly so. Keep up the good work.

End of Discussion