By the way, Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown is right to criticize the failure of the U.S. government to defend the reputation of the United Nations with the American people. Brown made comments this week stating that the U.S. tends to take advantage of its membership within the U.N. when doing so is politically expedient (as in the case of Colin Powell's infamous defense of the Iraq invasion), but that in general, the federal government does nothing to defend or support the U.N. and its activities in the face of constant attacks by right wing media pundits such as Rush Limbaugh and Fox News. Brown states that such inconsistent treatment of the U.N. by officials within the U.S. government essentially sends mixed messages and constitutes bad policy. I think that basically Brown is making a plea for greater support for the U.N. and its objectives from the American government so that the American people will not be so distrustful of the organization.
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton (who is by all accounts kind of a jackass and who made quite a few public statements which were critical of the U.N. before being appointed ambassador) has expressed outrage and anger over the comments, saying they are condescending to Americans.
It's true that the American press has the right to say what they want and that the American people have a right to make their own decisions, but that's really not what this is about. Brown is asking for the government to have the courage to publicly support the U.N. consistently and as a matter of policy (I guess sort of in the same way that we consistently seem to support Israel or other nations that we deem allies).
The U.N. is, first and foremost, about preserving peace and helping to resolve international disagreements without war. In the furtherance of this goal, the U.N. lends diplomatic and peacekeeping services throughout the globe, as well as lending humanitarian aid to member nations which may be in crisis due to natural or man-made disasters world wide. True, there are many problems and hitches and difficulties in implementing practical solutions to the problems which the U.N. addresses, but I believe that the organization has its heart in the right place and that the end goals make the inevitable struggles involved in such massive undertakings well worth the effort. I'm a firm believer in the U.N. and in international diplomacy as a means of avoiding physical violence, and I wish that the U.S. would stand more firmly behind this organization.
Anyway, Bolton is mostly bitching because he's a conservative, appointed by politicans who appeal to a conservative base, and many conservative's attitudes toward the U.N. lean toward both arrogance and paranoia. They seem to simultaneously believe that the U.N. is trying to establish a world government that will somehow rob the United States of its sovereign decision-making power and to also believe that the U.S. shouldn't be required to hold itself accountable to other nations when taking actions which nevertheless effect other countries within the global community. Anyway, right wingers have been bitching about how the U.N. is trying to take power away from the federal government for many years. I think that this isn't a legitimate complaint, and that opponents of the U.N. are much more interested in maintaining America's ability to avoid responsibility for its actions than they are genuinely concerned about the U.N. chipping away at our sovereignty.
Bolton is crying and whining because doing so will be popular with the conservatives who put him in power. This is why the guy shouldn't be the ambassador to the U.N.. He's more concerned with scoring political points than doing what's right. We should be strongly supporting the objectives of the U.N., if not every practical detail of every program they come up with (but even where there are problems, we should be actively involved in those programs and trying to correct problems as we see them rather than just criticizing). Rush Limbaugh should just go pop some more pills and shut the f*ck up.