The United Nations at 70: Should the United States Drop Out?
On October 24, 1945, the United Nations officially opened for business. Today, 70 years later, most people have no memory of a world without the U.N. Inertia has set in. We passively accept the U.N., never questioning its worth or America’s key role in hosting and supporting it.
Thinking about the United Nations turning 70 triggered a flashback: My earliest visual political memory is about the U.N. The memory is of a roadside billboard exhorting, “Get the US out of the UN.”
Should America get out of the U.N.? Maybe. Let me present some of the risks posed by the U.N.; perhaps another writer will write about its perceived benefits.
The very structure of the United Nations is problematical. It is essentially undemocratic and unaccountable. “We the people” did not elect U.N. officials to their posts, nor have we any way of removing them from office for malfeasance.
Look at how domestic bureaucracies (undemocratic, unelected, and unaccountable just like the U.N. and other multilateral institutions) are asserting more and more power over Americans: theEPA (my nominee for most dangerous runaway bureaucracy) and the BLM are bypassing Congress in their brazen attempts to restructure domestic energy; the FCC has hijacked the Internet; the NLRB wants to control where private businesses build factories, and it is trying to undermine the franchise business model; the Financial Stability Oversight Council and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (both created by the Dodd-Frank law a mere five years ago) are capturing and cartelizing “systemically important financial institutions”; etc., etc.
If domestic bureaucracies behave so heavy-handedly against Americans, is it not reasonable to suppose that international bureaucracies, comprised of a majority of non-Americans, would have even fewer compunctions about wielding power over us? As an example of potential mischief, consider the cases of the IMF—unelected bureaucrats given the ability to spend billions of taxpayer dollars—who seem to have partially taken over the government of Greece and of the
<href=”#_Toc342146855″ target=”_blank”>OECD which is using our tax dollars to eliminate financial privacy, help spendthrift governments track down wealth, and discourage governments from “harmful tax competition” (i.e., lowering taxes to gain a competitive advantage). We should heed the warnings of Lord Acton—that “absolute power corrupts absolutely”—and F.A. Hayek, whose chapter “Why the worst get on top” in the book “The Road to Serfdom” explains that the establishment of powerful institutions attracts the sort of person who most strongly yearns to exercise power over others.
In his short classic “Bureaucracy,” Ludwig von Mises wrote of the common mistake that people make when they support a powerful government: They assume that the government will use its powers exactly for the purposes that the people themselves want it to. In the case of the U.N., its supporters assume it is busy making the world a better place. Contradicting that vague notion is a disturbing record of negative behavior. Here are a few examples of United Nations misdeeds and disrespect for American laws and principles: 10 years ago, U.N. “peacekeeping” officials weresexual predators in African lands they were supposed to be protecting; three years ago, the U.N.’s Human Rights Council “‘include[d] such systematic abusers of human rights as China, Cuba, Russian, and Saudi Arabia,’ as well as slavery-infested Mauritania;” many U.N. diplomats are scofflaws in America, ignoring and refusing to pay thousands of traffic summonses (Egypt takes the cake, owing almost $2,000,000 to the city of New York); earlier this month, a former president of the U.N. General Assembly and some associates were implicated in a bribery scheme as a result of a corruption investigation. The U.N. is moving to increase its power through an international tax initially designed to raise $400 billion annually. Indeed, the U.N.’s highly politicized Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is trying to use climate change alarmism as a pretext for overseeing a massive international redistribution of wealth. Accompanying its steps to becoming a global tax collector, the U.N. seeks to disarm the citizens of the world, and for decades it has been striving to obtain its own military force. (In one online debate, 60 percent of people favor the U.N. having its own permanent standing army.)
Many of the United Nations’ supporters believe that a global government will mean an end to competing nation-states, and thus as end to war. Unfortunately, this hope is misguided as both history and theory demonstrate. Historically, once the Bolsheviks completed their conquests, crushed armed resistance, and brought fifteen constituent republics under one government, it’s true that there was no war, but that did not prevent the USSR from being a very violent place. The Soviet government brutally imposed its central plans on a defenseless populace. The economic theory of monopoly alerts us to the dangers of eliminating competition. A world with many nation-states acts like a competitive marketplace in which dissatisfied individuals have the possibility (however restricted in places like North Korea and Cuba) to escape to countries where they will be freer. With a single government having a monopoly on power, the incentives to treat people well withers away and people can’t emigrate away from that government’s control.
A realistic assessment of the U.N.’s actual conduct teaches us not to be beguiled by the idealism propounded by its supporters. We should reconsider our country’s commitment to this problematical institution.