Commentary Magazine


America and the UN

To the Editor:

Joshua Muravchik has provided the most comprehensive article I’ve read on the ineptitude and corruption of the United Nations [“Putting the UN in its Place,” January]. The long, focused hatred of the UN toward Israel does not promote peace—and the UN seems to have no interest in changing that fact. Our participation in the UN and support of it are an obscene waste of tax dollars. Reducing or withholding our support might hurry the demise of the UN that Muravchik favors. I have long believed two things need to happen: The U.S. should get out of the UN, and the UN should get out of the U.S. It doesn’t matter which happens first, so long as both occur soon. Relocating the UN to some place like Venezuela or Zimbabwe sounds right. Assuming of course that these countries would even be willing to play host. 

Scot Heter
Spokane, Washington

Joshua Muravchik writes:

Scot Heter is right that Zimbabwe would be a good fit, but the reality is that the headquarters would be moved to Geneva or someplace else abundant in creature comforts. Which brings me to the serious point implicit in this letter. Despite all the hullabaloo about “unilateralism” during the presidency of George W. Bush, the U.S. almost never acts unilaterally. Even the globally unpopular invasion of Iraq was undertaken with dozens of allies (and would have come off more smoothly had we been able to keep Turkey in our coalition). Were the United States to leave the UN, it would be interpreted as a return to isolationism, and the adjustments other countries would make to that perception (e.g., propitiating our enemies) would redound to our disadvantage. Also, each time Washington wanted to round up allies for some action or other that mattered to us, such as sanctioning Iran, the conversation would inevitably begin with, “If you were in the UN?.?.?.?” And it might not progress beyond that point. The UN does more harm than good, but mitigating that harm will require assiduous statesmanship.




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