Other bloggers have been following the Ukrainian issue in great detail, or at least constantly linking to people who are, so I don’t feel the need to spend lots of time on that.
Instapundit has regular updates with links to European and Ukrainian bloggers. I find the whole thing very fascinating and important on a global scale.
However I have wanted to follow the UN scandals with more aplomb. So here you go.
Alan Dowd of American Enterprise Online has an article analyzing Annan’s response to all of this turmoil. Kofi appointed a special panel to propose reforms in the UN. Dowd describes it as “Given the UN’s systemic problems, the reform plan is akin to shuffling the chairs on the deck of the Titanic—or perhaps better said, adding chairs to the deck.”
I’ve seen other articles on this panel and their recommendations. The titles of the articles and the content, i.e. what they picked out of the 101 recommendations t talk about, tells a lot about where they are coming from.
There’s the Washington Times, a relatively conservative paper, fronting it as: “UN Panel backs pre-emptive force.” The Voice of America calls it a “Sweeping Reform Proposal.” Some articles note that the panel was hard on America due to the Iraq invasion.
Despite all of this, most of what Alan Dowd referred to covers most of it. The panel couldn’t decide on a change in the membership of the Security Council, which probably means that the divided UN SC and the full membership probably won’t agree on a change there either.
The changes proposed in both recommendations were to add members to the Security Council. Is that really wise? The council has enough trouble deciding things as it is, adding more voters will only complicate that. The real debate should have been who do we add AND who do we remove from permanent positions on the council. The permanent seats on the council are basically the major allies from WW2: US, Britain, France, Russia and China. Of those I can think of one who is not a democracy (China), one who does not exist as the same entity it was during the 1940s and is currently drifting toward autocracy (Russia), one who is economically, militarily, and governmentally (and morally) challenged and is now accused of taking bribes from Saddam under the Oil for Food scandal (France). Shouldn’t these players get re-evaluated as permanent members of the SC?
On military intervention, the panel was obtuse and vague at best. At one point the report says that there are times when force is justified “preventively and before a latent threat becomes imminent.” What the hell does that mean. That sounds like exactly what the USA did almost two years ago. Really the UN and the EU gets on America’s case for invading without a UN mandate, but the only countries that were blocking that invasion were France and Russia. Two countries that had much to lose from us opening that can of worms.
Which brings us to the point that much of what the panel’s report suggests is only slight changes, if not totally cosmetic, to what the UN’s original charter said that it was supposed to do.
In a related article, Japan is not cool with the proposals in the report, all of which state that there will be no countries added to the group that has veto power on the security council. Which means that if Japan gets a permanent seat on the council, which they deserve, they will not have equal voting rights to, say, France.
Legal Affairs online has an interesting debate by Frederick Rawski and Ruth Wedgewood looking at the successes and failures of the UN, and the challenges to reform that exist within. Frankly I think they are both being a little too easy on the UN. Many of the successes they talk about have other problems after the cameras turn off. Reports are coming in like wildfire in places where the blue helmeted troops of the UN run prostitution rings, abuse citizens and don’t really get countries to that nice point where they can run themselves without some fascist taking over and starting this all up again. Let’s just say their nation-building skills have yet to produce much success.
Anyone who thinks that the UN has the moral high ground, or isn’t a weenie when it comes to aggressive nations should read this.
Glenn Reynolds in the WSJ on replacing Kofi with Vaclav Havel.
William Safire is very hard on Kofi, and says that his resignation will only be the end of the beginning of the scandal.
And lastly, here is a post from Winds of Change called, “If you see blue helmets, RUN!”
Update: Story at ABC news' website implicates former Clinton pardonee Marc Rich as accepting millions from Saddam in suspect oil deals, and might have bribed Iraqi officials in order to get future oil contracts. Not one of Clinton's greater moments in office.