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We few, we happy few

Earlier today, I sarcastically criticized the British for not seeking assistance in its hostage dilemma from other nations, specifically citing those groups it has chosen to join and support -- the European Union and the United Nations, both of whom had pledged to support the United Kingdom's efforts, and had shamefully fallen down on those promises when Iran kidnapped 15 Brits.

That was sarcastic; this one not so much.

One of the more popular notions is that there is "the more, the merrier," that there is "strength in numbers," that consensus is superior to conflict. This might be true a lot of the time, but it's not an absolute rule.

Stalin was famously quoted, when confronted that the Nazi tanks -- and average soldiers -- were superior to their Soviet counterparts, that "quantity has a quality all its own."

I once heard a phrase that really struck home. Apparently a group went through some rough times, and its membership dropped significantly. One of the leaders reacted with the following statement:

"The ones who stay will make this a better community, and so will the ones who leave."

This, I think, is a perfect response to the Stalin quote. Sometimes raw numbers don't mean much. The majority can be wrong. And sometimes certain allies are more trouble than they are worth.

Jed Babbin, who served in the Defense Department under the first President Bush, famously opined during the buildup to the current Iraq war that "going to war without France is like going deer hunting without an accordion. You just leave a lot of useless noisy baggage behind."

The ultimate example of this is the United Nations. The General Assembly is the closest thing to a purely democratic world government we have, and it's utterly useless. Each nation, regardless of population, economic clout, military power, or form of government, is exactly equal. The communist dictators of China, the world's largest democracy of India, the world's most powerful democracy of the United States, the economic powerhouse that is Japan, and the tiny Pacific island of Togo (who?) all are equal in the General Assembly.

And what does that get us? Enough tsuris to choke a whale.

The battle cry of General Assembly (a bit of an oxymoron there) is "stability." Stability is good, instability is bad. Anything that threatens stability must be stopped.

Dictators, you see, like stability. They like things just the way they are, and want to keep them that way. And in the United Nations, they've found that they can band together to keep the world's official imprimatur on their grips on power.

The best description of the United States' form of government I ever read was permanent, institutionalized, self-renewing revolution. We are constantly renewing, re-examining, re-making our government, keeping that which we like and discarding that which falls out of favor. We don't need a violent revolution; if we don't like those in power, we can get rid of them. Governors, Representatives, Senators, even Presidents must regularly return to the people to have their power reaffirmed -- or get tossed out on their asses.

So, why do we keep turning to the United Nations for affirmation? It's long lost sight of its original goal -- to mediate disputes between nations -- and instead has become the world's biggest advocate of stagnation.

It's long past time that we discard our love affair with inclusiveness and establish a new organization, a new Alliance of Freedom. (OK, I don't love the name, either, but give me time. I'll come up with something better.) This would be a group of nations who are committed to certain ideals -- social, political, economic, and religious freedom, just to name four. Their goal would be to spread those ideals through example -- and, when necessary, defend them forcefully.

Who would be candidates for this new alliance? Well, a good starting point would be to go down the list of places currently or formerly part of the British Empire. It's not a perfect correlation, but the sheer number of free nations who got their start as subjects of the Crown is remarkable. The United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, India, the United States, and Ireland would all be good members.

Another list of nominees can be found in former Warsaw Pact nations. The Eastern European states spent far too long under the heel of the Soviet Union, and are some of the most vibrant examples of freedom to be found today. Poland, Slovakia, the Baltic states -- all are still small and relatively weak, but they have a vigor that the rest of the world dare not ignore.

Japan and Israel don't fit into any clearly defined category, but to overlook these two would be a huge blunder.

Western Europe? Not so much. Germany is showing signs of waking up and struggling back against the Jihadists, but Spain has already demonstrated their willingness to cave. The French are busy putting green embroidery on their traditional white surrender flags, but as much as I would like to, we can't just let France be French and give in -- that would give the Islamists too important a foothold in the West. Saving France is important to saving ourselves, I'm ashamed to admit. We will save the French from themselves, in spite of themselves -- and earn even more of their contempt.

In fact, I think I prefer their condemnation over their endorsement. It's usually a better touchstone.

So, with this new League, what will become of the United Nations? As much as I would like to see it bulldozed and shoved into the East River, freeing up some valuable Manhattan real estate, I think we should keep it around. P. J. O'Rourke once defended the United States Department of State as "some place we can send our Ivy League twits," to keep them out of real mischief, and the same principle holds for the UN. And, occasionally, it does something right.

I'm sure it does, but no really good examples spring to mind.

Besides, with the establishment of the new League, the nations that give the UN the majority of its power and clout (I believe the United States provides about 25% of its total budget, and the nations I cited as potential members are the ones who provide most of the military clout the UN occasionally call upon. Their commitment to the UN would most likely decline as they grew more involved in the new League, and the UN would naturally fade into the background. Eventually, it might become in fact what it's already trending towards: a club for dictators, totalitarians, and fascists to get together and sing each others' praises.

Unfortunately, I don't see this happening any time soon. President Bush started on the right path, with the previously-heretical notion that "stability" in the Middle East simply preserves the terrible status quo, and resolved to shake things up and try to make things better. But the resistance has been very staunch, and he doesn't have the political clout to push for something this big -- no matter how badly the world needs it.


Comments (17)

So, ... what will become... (Below threshold)
ijosha:

So, ... what will become of the United Nations? As much as I would like to see it bulldozed and shoved into the East River ... I think we should keep it around.
P. J. O'Rourke once defended the United States Department of State as "some place we can send our Ivy League twits," to keep them out of real mischief ...

Agree that the UN is today far from what it was meant to be or should have been, and likewise agree that it needs to be kept around. I'm just not sure I still want it on our continental soil any more, especially given the types currently involved and their essentially unhidered comings and goings. How about we relocate it to an abandoned oil rig out in the Gulf of Mexico?

In a nutshell, stability is... (Below threshold)
_Mike_:

In a nutshell, stability is only desirable when the current conditions are acceptable.

Or in the broader sense....
Stability and peace only retain their value when they're accompanied by their mother - freedom.

There is probably some effo... (Below threshold)

There is probably some effort to make the hostage situation appear as small as possible so as not to trigger a major crisis with Iran, so world community members may be intentionally slow to publicly show support for Britain and the UN mandate to police Iraq for this very reason.

On a different aspect, I'm deeply disappointed how easily the British sailors seem to confess to wrongdoing in absense of torture. My own grandfather from Norway was a merchant marine captain of a major military supply ship during WWII, captured by the Japanese, and refused to give them information about American or British troops in the face of torture such as brutal floggings. It seems that modern soldiers lack the strength and character of others from the past who stood up to our enemies and would not sell out their country or fellow soldiers so easily.

Not standing up for what your believe or what is right for your nation or fellow troops should be a great source of personal remorse for these sailors.

NeoCons of the world unite!... (Below threshold)
blackcat77:

NeoCons of the world unite! :)

They're sort of stuck, Paul... (Below threshold)

They're sort of stuck, Paul. The first part of what you said can't be separated from the second part. If Iran isn't the enemy, why shouldn't they cooperate?

Personally I'm far more upset about the Islamic dress they've trussed the female sailor into than about anything any of them have *said*. I'd like to think that would be the "you're going to have to torture me first" issue if it were me, the "I'm going to destroy my own face so you can't show me off" point of it, if it were me. At least I can hope so.

The words? Who really cares about a confession if they aren't giving info about codes and procedures? Well, okay, we do care about that but again it goes to the first issue. If Iran isn't the enemy and your own country isn't responding forcefully, why should you?

(I really can't express just how upset I am about the Islamic dress. They didn't dress the men up. The fact that they took her uniform away and dressed her up like a proper Muslim lady is putting her in her proper Muslim place. (And so much as saying she was *im*proper previously. A whore. It's insulting, and it is a forced *religious* statement, and every one else should be every bit as upset about it as I am. Grrrr.)

Some suggestions1)... (Below threshold)
jpm100:

Some suggestions

1) Alliance of Self-Governing Nations
2) League of Extraordinary Nations (aka Lenny for short)
3) Team America & Friends

I am against saving France ... (Below threshold)
Kat:

I am against saving France again. Let them be an example of what happens to a country when taken over by Islam. I am sick of their arrogance. Let them "eat cake".

P. J. O'Rourke once def... (Below threshold)
Jo:

P. J. O'Rourke once defended the United States Department of State as "some place we can send our Ivy League twits," to keep them out of real mischief ...

Bwahahahahahahahahahah....that is HILARIOUS. Mainly because it's so TRUE. Love it.

Jay are you kidding? The U... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Jay are you kidding? The United States won't be leading any group of Western Nations in any new Alliance of Freedoms for a long while. Or haven't you read the opinion polls, our foreign policy (if you can call it that and by implication our country) is absloutely loathed in Europe, including Britain. In our denial of haebus corpus, the soverignity of the Hague Court, global warming, the Geneva Conventions, our condoning of kidnapping, secret overseas prisons and extreme-rendition, the legacy and hubris of the Bush administration will be lucky if they haven't set back back the cause of human and political rights to where it was a millenium ago..just about the time before the Magna Carta.

Obviously, it should be the... (Below threshold)
Sheik Yur Bouty:

Obviously, it should be the Justice League!

Very good point, Steve. An... (Below threshold)
blackcat77:

Very good point, Steve. And far more than anything which actually happens in Iraq, this will be our greatest defeat from Bush's adventurism.

Stevie and kittycat are sho... (Below threshold)
jhow66:

Stevie and kittycat are showing their true colors--red, white, and blue haters. Wonder why they still live here in the USA? Hmmmmm

jhow66, Actually I now liv... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

jhow66, Actually I now live in Brazil, but Jay is talking about Bush a kind of modern Wilsonian of the right, whose legacy is to spread and enforce this bizarre brand of Bremmar coporate, almost evangelical freedom to all corners of the globe, or was. However as Jay implies, Bush doesn't have the political clout anymore,... for example, to even get a puffed up bigraphy, written by of his most avid erstwhile political supporters, Vic Gold, without a withering critique...and this was to be the official biography, the red,white and blue one if you like, the hagiography. It's title Invasion of the Party Snatchers: How the Holy-Rollers and the Neo-Cons Destroyed the GOP." Can't wait for the unofficial biography, the critical one.

No no, jhow66, blackcat is ... (Below threshold)

No no, jhow66, blackcat is right.

"Very good point, Steve. And far more than anything which actually happens in Iraq, this will be our greatest defeat from Bush's adventurism."

It's not about what's happening in Iraq or anything else, it's Bush's adventuring that has everyone upset. It doesn't matter that compared to anyone else, we're angels. It matters that we're big and the *only* thing that keeps us from steam-rolling over the world is our own good manners. It's why the US is seen as a worse threat than people who saw the heads off journalists or blow up nightclubs and trains.

This list of US infractions that gets pulled out... nasty stuff. But it's presented as if we're so very bad, which only works if what anyone else does is totally ignored. Deny habeous corpus? OH MY GAWD. You'd think the US actually had a bad record on this compared to others, but noooooo. The others just don't have the same expectations. Egypt can lock up bloggers. Iran can stone rape victims (you don't have three male witnesses? tough titties girly) and can parade captured soldiers in front of cameras and force female captives to dress "properly" and the court systems don't even have to make a passing nod at being any sort of *fair* but OH MY GAWD is America evil.

Everyone hates us and it's all Bush's fault because he screwed up so badly.

Possibly by shaming all those who see the horror in a lot of the world, such as in Saddam's Iraq and the Taliban in Afghanistan (and now Somalia and elsewhere) and wring their hands and moan. If the US weren't made out to be even worse, how could they ever justify their inaction?

Actually, Steve, I said no ... (Below threshold)

Actually, Steve, I said no such thing. I said what I think should happen, what we -- as a nation, as a society, and as a part of a group of nations -- ought to do. I don't see Bush working towards this, nor do I or he say he ought to be leading it.

If it's going to happen now, though, he's going to have to be the one to do it. Period. I, personally, don't think he has it in him. I'd like to think he'd find the strength if he tried, but I don't see him trying it any time soon. Part of that is that a very significant portion of the electorate would start trying to breathe water if W came out pro-air. (Any resemblance between that remark and certain commenters here is purely intentional.)

I don't give a rat's ass whether or not you believe me, but I don't think about Bush every single time I sit down and write about politics. I think the way things are, the way I think they ought to be, and how I think we can get from the former to the latter. Anything else is pretty much incidental.

Unless, of course, I can work in a dig at Massachusetts at the same time. That's almost a moral imperative.

J.

J.

But it's presented as if... (Below threshold)
Brian:

But it's presented as if we're so very bad, which only works if what anyone else does is totally ignored.

It's nice to see that you have no sense of pride or integrity, and adjust your morals and ethics by what others do. You also seem to think that American is capable of being "evil" (your word) only once everyone else in the world is good. Neither position makes you someone to admire.

Deny habeous corpus? OH MY GAWD. You'd think the US actually had a bad record on this compared to others, but noooooo.

Actually, I don't give a shit what record "others" have. I know what America stands for, and I know what the founders said, and I understand the law and the Constitution. And they are not subject to your flimsy situational morals.

Hey guys, the greatest aid ... (Below threshold)
kim:

Hey guys, the greatest aid to peace is commerce, and those who love peace most are functioning democracies.

WalMart's gonna gitcha, gitcha, gitcha.
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