Sunday, January 07, 2007

"United It Wobbles"

Read the full review by Samantha Power, subtitled "Should we blame the U.N. for its shortcomings, or the countries that make up the world body?" in the Washington Post Book World (January 7, 2007).

This is a review of two books:
* THE BEST INTENTIONS: Kofi Annan and the UN In the Era of American World Power By James Traub, and
* COMPLICITY WITH EVIL: The United Nations in the Age Of Modern Genocide By Adam LeBor
I quote:
Since the United States helped found the United Nations in 1945, American ties with the organization have often been strained. Because the last six decades have coincided with an epoch of U.S. hegemony -- first as the stronger of two superpowers, then as the lone post-Cold War "hyperpower," now as an economic powerhouse that has been politically neutered by the catastrophic invasion of Iraq -- Americans have generally seen the United Nations as a body more likely to curb U.S. power than to enhance it.

But something appears to be changing in the United States. Poll data show that Americans are at last grasping that the major 21st-century threats -- transnational terrorism, nuclear proliferation, global warming, public health calamities, large-scale refugee flows -- cannot be met by individual nations. For all their frustrations with international organizations, Americans have also come to understand that U.S. policies with international backing are more likely to succeed than those advanced solo.

Because the United States needs help, and because the United Nations is the lone body that gathers all of the world's countries in one place, reflections on the organization -- how to live with it and how to reform it -- seem suddenly urgent.

No comments: