Well not really, since its been brewing now for two years. The Senate subcommittee for investigations that’s been looking into the United Nations Oil for Food program that was in place before the invasion of Iraq has panned out two more names of people who were likely receiving some sort of kickback.
The UN is a great concept. Gather nations together and hope to avert war and other various and sundry problems by already having opposing nations at a diplomatic table. On paper it sounds great, but in practice, it really has failed in the last few years. It was a good tool from the fifties through the eighties (at least early on) because of the cold war and the mutual respect that was forced on the United States and the USSR because of detente. (That means that we had a bunch of bombs to hurt their people, and so did we, therefore no one pushes the button.) Because of it, the two superpowers were forced to negotiate. Now that there is only one superpower in the world, the UN’s face needs to change somehow.
There needs to be a recognition that drafting cleverly worded articles is not going to convince a third world dictator that he needs to change his ways. As with the US/USSR confrontations, the driving force behind diplomatic words was the threat of serious attack. Many people were rightly fearful during the Cuban Missile Crisis because of that very fact. If diplomacy didn’t resolve the situation, there was a good chance that a lot of people would die. Today, with one superpower, that same threat needs to be in place, but as always, it needs to be under control. You can only threaten to knock someone in the mouth for so long until they totally disregard the threat.
As of late, the body has had a tendency toward corruption. Not only in the Oil for Food scandal, but other reports of UN workers raping people in Africa, receiving kickbacks in other parts of the world, and the list continues to grow. When a body has no clear focus, it tends toward corruption. Nearly everyone in the world has called the death in Darfur over the last year and a half a genocide. Thousands have been slaughtered simply because of who they are. The UN issues a stern rebuke of the rulers in the area, but never called it a genocide. If they had, they would have been forced to take other measures, involving sending in a group of peacekeepers, rather than just sending food. This leads me to believe that there is not a desire to truly stand up for what is right at the UN today. The leadership desires to look good, but not do everything possible to avert terrible situations such as Darfur and Iraq. (In Iraq, the UN threatened for 11 years, eventually to be ignored by Hussein.)
I do think that there is hope for the body, but it is in need of reform. We need ambassadors to the UN who have a mind to do that which needs to be done. People who will call a spade a spade. I don’t know if John Bolton is that man, but I think he would deserve at least a try.