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A book review of 'Inside the Asylum'

By Bill Muehlenberg - posted Friday, 9 March 2007


Like many ideas, the desire to set up a structure such as the UN was probably well-motivated and a legitimate concept at the time. But a strong argument can be made that the UN no longer serves its original purpose, and may in fact be acting against its founding ideals.

That is certainly the case being made by Jed Babbin, a leading American national security analyst. He argues that the UN has become a moribund, corrupt, biased and bloated bureaucracy which does little to promote the good of the world, but much to support tyrants, dictators and leftwing causes, as well as its own longevity.

When the UN was formed in 1945, it had some laudable aims. But also built into the original UN charter were some glaring defects, argues Babbin. The first error was to apply the doctrine of the equality of all men to nations. But not all nations are equal. Dictatorships, terrorist states, and Communist states are simply not on a par with free, democratic states.

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Another problem is that “any nation, pseudo-nation, or ‘thugocracy’, such as Iran under the mullahs” can be a member of the UN. This makes the whole exercise of peacekeeping and the promotion of human rights become counterproductive.

And the lack of accountability and a system of checks and balances makes the UN answerable to no one. Thus the opportunities for mismanagement and corruption are many.

Indeed, the Oil-for-Food scandal is a classic case in point. This debacle has yet to fully see the light of day, but we do know that the UN was implicitly involved in this. Indeed, UN officials provided Saddam Hussein with the means to “bribe politicians, to deprive his people of needed food and medicine, and to literally steal billions of dollars”.

Not only was this the biggest financial scandal of the UN, much of the money siphoned off ended up lining the pockets of UN bureaucrats, along with various politicians.

The UN has been especially impotent to deal with terrorism. But worse than that, it has tended to side with the terrorists and tyrants against the US and much of the West. The democratic members of the UN seek to abide by its resolutions, but rogue states regularly flaunt them. By routinely co-operating with terrorists, the UN is not making the world a safer and more peaceful place, says Babbin.

He argues that reform of the UN is probably impossible, and the wisest course for the US may be to simply pull out altogether. Indeed, given that is directly and indirectly pumps around $7 billion a year into the UN (being its largest benefactor), and gets nothing but grief and hostility in return, that may not be a bad option.

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Babbin says a coalition of like minded states could seek to do what the UN was meant to do, but has been unable or unwilling to do. Such a proposal may or may not be workable. But to stay in a system that has proven to be a failure is certainly not the way to proceed.

Other books have been recently written making a similar case to Babbin’s. But if just one volume is to be consulted, this would be a good starting place indeed.

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About the Author

Bill Muehlenberg is Secretary of the Family Council of Victoria, and lectures in ethics and philosophy at various Melbourne theological colleges.

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