While no big fan of the United Nations, I have not been as outspoken a critic as many conservative bloggers. But events of the last few days have me singing another tune. In the recent tragedy of the Indian Ocean Tsunami, and the devastation it has wreaked,the response of the United Nations as contrasted with the response of nations and individual citizens has highlighted what a partisan, self-interested, corrupt, petty thing the UN has become.
First there was the comment by UN official Jan Egeland, criticizing the West for stinginess. Egeland has retracted his statement, and claims it was never directed at the US. But given how many people, both around the world and in the US, and of different political stripes, have inferred it as being anti-US, I find it hard to believe that it was not also implied, at least to some extend. Furthermore, even before he retracted it, the meme had been debunked, by the overwhelming amount of aid that has poured in, especially from private individuals. As I blogged, the criticism of the US ignores private giving and focuses on governmental.
But criticizing the amount of giving was not enough. Nooooo.... as soon as it became obvious that the amount of giving would be huge, UN officials began complaining because the aide wasn't being channeled through the UN:
Bush 'Undermining UN with Aid Coalition'
By Jamie Lyons, PA Political Correspondent
United States President George Bush was tonight accused of trying to undermine the United Nations by setting up a rival coalition to coordinate relief following the Asian tsunami disaster.
The president has announced that the US, Japan, India and Australia would coordinate the world’s response.
But former International Development Secretary Clare Short said that role should be left to the UN.
“I think this initiative from America to set up four countries claiming to coordinate sounds like yet another attempt to undermine the UN when it is the best system we have got and the one that needs building up,” she said.
“Only really the UN can do that job,” she told BBC Radio Four’s PM programme.
“It is the only body that has the moral authority. But it can only do it well if it is backed up by the authority of the great powers.”
Ms Short said the coalition countries did not have good records on responding to international disasters.
She said the US was “very bad at coordinating with anyone” and India had its own problems to deal with.
“I don’t know what that is about but it sounds very much, I am afraid, like the US trying to have a separate operation and not work with the rest of the world through the UN system,” she added.
First of all, I wasn't sure whether I should laugh or scream when a UN official used the phrase "Moral Authority" with a straight face. Are you kidding me? The Secretary General's own son, a UN official himself, is implicated in one of the biggest scandals in history. How man billions of dollars were misdirected, mishandfled, siphoned, or embezzled in the Oil for Food Scandal? Can you say Darfur? Rwanda? This is the organization that put Libya on the Human Rights Committee? And they speak of Moral Authority? Please.
Second of all, How DARE you complain about the US not backing up the UN, when the UN has done nothing to back up the US?
And you're right, Clare, we AREN'T using the UN system. We can get the aid there faster and more efficiently by doing it ourself. The contrast to the Food for Oil Program makes perfectly my earlier post's point about private reliefe organizations doing a better job of relief than a bureaucracy. And the bigger the bureaucracy, the worse the job.
Finally, an important question: If the relief gets to those who need it, WHY THE HELL DO YOU CARE HOW?????? By stamping your feet and pouting because you're not the center of the universe in this relief effort you just reveal yourself as petty and egocentric. I've got news for Clare Short and the UN:
It's not about you. Really, it's not. It's about the victims. Now get over it and lets get on with helping them.
Thanks for the Memory to Sir George at The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler.
See what I mean?
"With the death toll rising above 117,000, European governments were taking soundings on holding an international donors conference Jan. 7."
Taking soundings on holding a conference. Oh, that's compassion in action if I ever saw it.