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United Nations 2006

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#1 QueenTiye

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Posted 10 November 2006 - 08:13 PM

Last week I visited the UN for the first time.  Somehow or another prior opportunities to go passed me by - and so I finally said "this is silly!  I LIVE and WORK in the same city! I don't have to wait - I can just.. .GO!"  So I did. (Yes - I don't really don't live there anymore but close enough!)

It was a great trip, and I learned a lot.  Most importantly - I learned that the UN's mission is actually MOSTLY about such things as addressing the worlds ills, like the oppression of women around the world, the interests and rights of children, world trade and development issues, and the like, whereas security issues, for which it is most famous, only occupies 20% of its time.

I was intrigued to learn that entering the UN building was actually leaving the country! :o  The UN has its own fire department, police department, and post office - and you can buy stamps there that are only good if you mail them from the UN building! That was a fun fact.

Anyway - I left feeling like the UN is mostly misunderstood, and that we often criticize it unfairly.

So I'm interested in seeing what people's understanding of the UN, and its work.

QT

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#2 Lord of the Sword

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Posted 10 November 2006 - 08:47 PM

OK, we need help here, the UN has brainwashed QT.  ;)

Glad you had a nice time.
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#3 GoldenCoal

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Posted 10 November 2006 - 10:19 PM

The thing about the UN is that it's stuck right in the middle of every single country in the world. It can't do everything everyone wants. If it doesn't do something, people gripe. If they do something, people gripe. For the UN, a country's sovereignty is of upmost concern.

  What QT says about the main focuses of the UN are right, most of the UN's efforts are on the so-called "Millenium Development Goals," to do many of the thing QT has talked about.

  There's things that the UN does that it does relatively well (WHO, World Bank), and less well (Security Council), but the reasons for it not doing so well is because of the respect for a nation's sovereignty.

  I had a point, at one time, and I've talked at length about the UN here before. I guess the main point is that it's flawed where it is flawed because we, as nations, would never agree to it any other way.

#4 G1223

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Posted 10 November 2006 - 11:15 PM

View PostQueenTiye, on Nov 10 2006, 08:13 PM, said:

It was a great trip, and I learned a lot.  Most importantly - I learned that the UN's mission is actually MOSTLY about such things as addressing the worlds ills, like the oppression of women around the world, the interests and rights of children, world trade and development issues, and the like, whereas security issues, for which it is most famous, only occupies 20% of its time.

No the mission of the Un was to help bring food to needy nations rather than have a few corrupt people sell that food. Then because they were the family of a few third world  leaders these people were never charged and were moved onto other jobs at the UN.

Quote

Anyway - I left feeling like the UN is mostly misunderstood, and that we often criticize it unfairly.

So I'm interested in seeing what people's understanding of the UN, and its work.

QT


It is hard to not misunderstand a organization that cannot figure out that mass killing are acts of genocide. That when you tell a country to disarm and allow inspections and that country deliberatly refuses to cooperate it should be delt with.  

So these are the reasons the UN is untrustworthy.
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#5 QueenTiye

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Posted 10 November 2006 - 11:33 PM

I disagree.  Unless we are now to also say that our own government is not to be trusted because of corruption scandals, or that Republicans shouldn't be allowed around teenaged boys because of Mark Foley - I really don't think that the existence of a few corruption scandals should make us turn on the UN.  Rather, it should make us more interested in it - more interested in having ways to oust corrupt officials there the way we ousted them here.  My one concern about the UN is that it is not answerable to the populations of the member states - that the governments of the member states get to appoint officials.  This means that the UN officials are only as good as the governments that appoint them - in some cases, that might not be too good.

QT

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#6 BklnScott

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Posted 10 November 2006 - 11:45 PM

G, do you want the UN to have the kind of teeth it would need to exterminate genocide from the globe?  Or stand up to every petty dictator?

Seems like the criticism of the UN has changed radically from 10 years ago, when it was all black helicopters and threats of global government damaging the sovreignty of nations (or, rather, of one nation in particular--ours).  When the Republicans took congress, they famously withheld our UN dues.  

Now, to judge by its detractors, you wouldn't think the UN could tie its shoelaces.  But whose fault is it that the UN lacks the resources and the political muscle to prevent a genocide?  Or to declare war when its sanctions are ignored?  

Would you be willing to support the creation of a real UN military?  'Cause that's what it would take.  Even then, there would be only so much it could do, and we'd have to take the chance that we wouldn't like some of what it did do.

Edited by ScottEVill, 10 November 2006 - 11:48 PM.

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#7 MuseZack

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Posted 10 November 2006 - 11:52 PM

The UN is only as powerful as its member states let it be.  Its two notable failures of the 1990s-- Rwanda and Bosnia-- happened because member states, including the US, crippled and limited the mandates of the peacekeeping forces sent there.

And unlike some other political entities (coughBushAdministrationcough), the UN actually managed to learn from its mistakes, and later peacekeeping and peacemaking missions were given more robust mandates and met with much greater success.  UN peacekeeping missions have largely succeeded in bringing peace and stability to Namibia, El Salvador, Cambodia, Mozambique, Eastern Slavonia, Sierra Leone and East Timor.  Even the biggest and most ambitious mission in Congo is beginning to pay dividends.  

As for G's caricature of the UN as a useless debating society-- tell it to the people of Liberia.  

ONE and a half years ago, Liberia was a failed state. Two separate groups of drug-emboldened teenage rebels controlled most of the country. A gangsterish president, Charles Taylor, was losing control even over Monrovia, the capital, where all sides were firing heavy artillery into office blocks and looting strategic spots such as the brewery. In August 2003 (see article), The Economist reported from that unhappy city that “famished townsfolk have already eaten their neighbours' dogs and are reduced to scrounging for snails.”

Today, thanks to the world's largest UN peacekeeping force, Liberia is calm. Some 15,000 blue helmets are keeping the streets more or less safe. There are still road blocks, but not the old sort, where militiamen stretched human intestines across the road as a signal to motorists to stop and be robbed. The UN road blocks are typically manned by disciplined Bangladeshis, of whom the locals vocally approve.


That's from The Economist, not exactly a bastion of rah-rah UN cheerleading.

http://www.economist...tory_id=3715904

A hard-headed but ultimately optimistic look at the UN's recent peacekeeping record was done by RAND.  A book-length report of it can be downloaded in PDF form at  www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/2005/RAND_MG304.sum.pdf
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#8 G1223

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Posted 11 November 2006 - 12:26 AM

You mean the same sort of peacekeepers who stood around while medical supplies were taken away from doctors.

You mean the same UN which stood around watched Serbs drag out people to go to 'happy' camps. Where women were raped and those same peacekeepers could not even keep their safe zones from comming under fire.  Those were UN rules of engagement.

This UN which stood around and would not call what was going on in Rwanda as  Genocide. While people were being marched off to mass graves.

Sorry that is the UN I call worthless.

Scott your question of the UN as a military force is answered by their unwillingness to support the resoultions that they made in Iraq. I suspect the UN will do more backpeddeling  if there was a call to stop North Korea by military action. Despite the fact the ceasefire calls on the UN to stand by it's ruling.
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#9 QueenTiye

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Posted 11 November 2006 - 12:36 AM

G - do you actually know where the UN rules of engagement come from?

QT

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#10 MuseZack

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Posted 11 November 2006 - 12:43 AM

View PostG1223, on Nov 11 2006, 05:26 AM, said:

You mean the same sort of peacekeepers who stood around while medical supplies were taken away from doctors.

You mean the same UN which stood around watched Serbs drag out people to go to 'happy' camps. Where women were raped and those same peacekeepers could not even keep their safe zones from comming under fire.  Those were UN rules of engagement.

This UN which stood around and would not call what was going on in Rwanda as  Genocide. While people were being marched off to mass graves.

Sorry that is the UN I call worthless.

Scott your question of the UN as a military force is answered by their unwillingness to support the resoultions that they made in Iraq. I suspect the UN will do more backpeddeling  if there was a call to stop North Korea by military action. Despite the fact the ceasefire calls on the UN to stand by it's ruling.

G, you're a great guy but I get awfully annoyed when you spout off without showing any evidence of actually having read the posts you're responding to.  I specifically referenced Bosnia an Rwanda as UN failures which they had learned from.   But your constant harping on those two examples while pointedly ignoring the much more numerous successes in peacekeeping is misleading and unfair.   It's like saying "America can't win wars, look at Korea, Vietnam and Iraq" while ignoring World Wars One and Two.

Oh, and it wasn't the UN that refused to call the mass murder of Rwandan Tutsis genocide-- it was the US State Department, much to the eternal shame of Madeline Albright.
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We shall harness for God the energies of Love.
Then, for the second time in the history of the world,
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#11 G1223

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Posted 11 November 2006 - 01:12 AM

Excuse me the UN has in it's charter a resposibility to act on acts of Genocide. Where was the call?  Why didn't it turn to China  which has the largest standing army and ask for troops?

Last time I checked the UN did not act according to the whims of the US State Department. In fact I have seen it work against the interests of the US.

I keep remembering those peacekeepers being kidnapped and murdered in Africa as well as not providing secuirty for their workers.
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When the fall is all that remains. It matters a great deal.

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#12 Mark

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Posted 11 November 2006 - 04:58 AM

View PostScottEVill, on Nov 10 2006, 10:45 PM, said:

G, do you want the UN to have the kind of teeth it would need to exterminate genocide from the globe?  Or stand up to every petty dictator?

Mark: As long as the U.N. has the U.S.A....they have their teeth.
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#13 Godeskian

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Posted 11 November 2006 - 05:41 AM

View PostMark, on Nov 11 2006, 09:58 AM, said:

View PostScottEVill, on Nov 10 2006, 10:45 PM, said:

G, do you want the UN to have the kind of teeth it would need to exterminate genocide from the globe?  Or stand up to every petty dictator?

Mark: As long as the U.N. has the U.S.A....they have their teeth.

Actually, as long as the UN doesn't have it's own troops and has to borrow them of nations like the US, it will never have teeth, because the US can simply withdraw troop support if it doesn't approve of the way the UN uses them.

The UN needs a standing armed force that takes it's orders first and foremost from the UN, not from it's member nations if it ever intends to be able to act decisively.

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#14 Rhea

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Posted 11 November 2006 - 12:47 PM

View PostGodeskian, on Nov 11 2006, 02:41 AM, said:

View PostMark, on Nov 11 2006, 09:58 AM, said:

View PostScottEVill, on Nov 10 2006, 10:45 PM, said:

G, do you want the UN to have the kind of teeth it would need to exterminate genocide from the globe?  Or stand up to every petty dictator?

Mark: As long as the U.N. has the U.S.A....they have their teeth.

Actually, as long as the UN doesn't have it's own troops and has to borrow them of nations like the US, it will never have teeth, because the US can simply withdraw troop support if it doesn't approve of the way the UN uses them.

The UN needs a standing armed force that takes it's orders first and foremost from the UN, not from it's member nations if it ever intends to be able to act decisively.

True. And that isn't going to happen as long as nations are afraid standing UN troops might work against them at some point. ;)
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#15 MuseZack

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Posted 11 November 2006 - 01:01 PM

View PostG1223, on Nov 11 2006, 06:12 AM, said:

Excuse me the UN has in it's charter a resposibility to act on acts of Genocide. Where was the call?  Why didn't it turn to China  which has the largest standing army and ask for troops?

Last time I checked the UN did not act according to the whims of the US State Department. In fact I have seen it work against the interests of the US.

I keep remembering those peacekeepers being kidnapped and murdered in Africa as well as not providing secuirty for their workers.

If you think China's going to intervene in a human rights crisis in Africa, you've got a lot to learn, but the fact is, the UN had other forces volunteering to go in and set up safe areas for Tutsi refugees.

But the UN doesn't own any C130s.  It was dependent on the US and other countries with airlift capacity to help get forces in.  The US explicitly refused to provide airlift to get more forces in that other African forces volunteered and that the UN commander on the ground (who heroically protected thousands of people with his tiny force) repeatedly begged for.
"Some day, after we have mastered the wind, the waves, the tides, and gravity,
We shall harness for God the energies of Love.
Then, for the second time in the history of the world,
we will have discovered fire."
--Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

#16 SparkyCola

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Posted 11 November 2006 - 01:12 PM

Quote

"America can't win wars, look at Korea, Vietnam and Iraq" while ignoring World Wars One and Two.

On 11/11 - I feel obliged to point out that America did not win the world wars single handedly.

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#17 Godeskian

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Posted 11 November 2006 - 02:12 PM

View PostRhea, on Nov 11 2006, 05:47 PM, said:

True. And that isn't going to happen as long as nations are afraid standing UN troops might work against them at some point. ;)

Essentially yes. Do you really think any nation trusts any other nation enough to garantuee that it will make the troops available, even if they are being used against their own interests? Of course not.

Additionally, most troops swear their oaths to their nations, their laws, and their rulers depending on the country and the specific oath. How do you ask a person who has sworn to say obey the duly elected goverment of the UK, to then go into the field in active opposition to the Uk's interests, or god forbid against other UK troops.

(please note, while i'm using the UK as an example, any other nations name can be used equally well.)

And this is why the UN will never have teeth. Not untill they have a force that is loyal only to the UN, and that will never happen.

Defy Gravity!


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#18 Rhea

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Posted 11 November 2006 - 02:53 PM

View PostSparkyCola, on Nov 11 2006, 10:12 AM, said:

Quote

"America can't win wars, look at Korea, Vietnam and Iraq" while ignoring World Wars One and Two.

On 11/11 - I feel obliged to point out that America did not win the world wars single handedly.

Sparky

That's for damn sure. The Brits slogged on through both World Wars till we got involved, and it took a much higher toll on the country. We may have helped turn the tide, but the Allies did it together.
The future is better than the past. Despite the crepehangers, romanticists, and anti-intellectuals, the world steadily grows better because the human mind, applying itself to environment, makes it better. With hands...with tools...with horse sense and science and engineering.
- Robert A. Heinlein

When I don’t understand, I have an unbearable itch to know why. - RAH


Everything is theoretically impossible, until it is done. One could write a history of science in reverse by assembling the solemn pronouncements of highest authority about what could not be done and could never happen.  - RAH

#19 G1223

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Posted 11 November 2006 - 02:58 PM

Yeah we got attacked in the second one. And the first one was Mr. Wilson's war and a war we had no business being in.

We showed up both times and helped bring an end to them.
If you encounter any Trolls. You really must not forget them.
And if you want to save these shores. For Pity sake Don't Trust them.
paraphrased from H. "Breaker" Morant

TANSTAAFL
If you voted for Obama then all the mistakes he makes are your fault and I will point this out to you every time he does mess up.

When the fall is all that remains. It matters a great deal.

All hail the clich's all emcompassing shadow.

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Member of the Order of the Knigths of the Woeful Countance.

#20 Rhea

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Posted 11 November 2006 - 03:30 PM

View PostG1223, on Nov 11 2006, 11:58 AM, said:

Yeah we got attacked in the second one. And the first one was Mr. Wilson's war and a war we had no business being in.

We showed up both times and helped bring an end to them.

But we didn't do it by ourselves and an acknowledgement of that would be gracious and decent. I'd love to know how you think we could've stayed out of WWI. :p

Edited by Rhea, 11 November 2006 - 03:31 PM.

The future is better than the past. Despite the crepehangers, romanticists, and anti-intellectuals, the world steadily grows better because the human mind, applying itself to environment, makes it better. With hands...with tools...with horse sense and science and engineering.
- Robert A. Heinlein

When I don’t understand, I have an unbearable itch to know why. - RAH


Everything is theoretically impossible, until it is done. One could write a history of science in reverse by assembling the solemn pronouncements of highest authority about what could not be done and could never happen.  - RAH



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