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The U.N.'s "virtue" is its vice

By Elan Journo
web posted October 24, 2005

The United Nations, according to many, is a crucial institution nobly working to foster peace. Even the UN's critics, believing that its manifold flaws can be papered over with "reforms," agree that it is indispensable. But such adulation of the United Nations -- which was officially born on Oct. 24 sixty years ago -- evades the organization's essence: its corrupt "ideal" of moral neutrality.

The fundamental feature of the United Nations is its policy of opening membership non-judgmentally to all nations -- whether free or oppressive, peaceful or belligerent. This is upheld as the UN's central virtue and a vital means to peace. Admitting blatantly tyrannical regimes, proponents say, creates opportunities for "dialogue" and rehabilitation. As Kofi Annan explains, the very fact that such "nondemocratic states" sign on "to the UN's agenda opens an avenue through which other states, as well as civil society around the world, can press them to align their behavior with their commitments."

But UN membership did not prevent the USSR (a founding member) from herding its citizens into gulags and forced-labor camps, murdering untold numbers of them, and invading other states; nor China from crushing under its military boot pro-freedom demonstrators and peaceful ideological dissenters; nor Iran and Saudi Arabia from infusing Islamist terrorist groups with abundant financial means and the ideological zeal to wage jihad against the West.

The UN's policy of neutrality accomplishes precisely the opposite of its putative effect; it actually protects and bolsters vicious regimes.

Participation in the UN confers on them an unearned moral legitimacy. That the leaders of such regimes are routinely invited to speak before the UN rewards them with an undeserved respectability. So it was with Fidel Castro: his self-justifying UN speech after seizing power in Cuba elicited rapturous applause. He was raised to the dignity of statesman -- a man who deals in reasoned argument -- despite being a totalitarian ruler who brutally silences dissidents. And the unwarranted recognition of arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat as a statesman arguably began when he first spoke at the United Nations in 1974. Though such men attain and hold power by force, though they preach murderous ideologies, though they devastate the lives of their subjects -- the United Nations unfastidiously endorses them and their regimes.

The United Nations thus gives them a means to entrench their power.

Consider, for instance, the beleaguered UN Human Rights Commission, ostensibly responsible for protecting rights across the world. On the principle of neutrality, a country's brutal practices are no disqualification from joining this commission. Indeed, it has become infested with tyrannies; Syria and Cuba, two blood-soaked dictatorships, have each served as its chairman. And through the commission, notorious violators of individual rights scheme to bury any criticism of themselves. A bloc of Islamic countries, for example, self-righteously defends barbaric practices -- stoning to death, crucifixion -- carried out in certain states governed by Sharia. When a proposal was drafted to censure North Korea, which arbitrarily executes its enslaved citizens, the motion was soundly defeated thanks to Cuba, Algeria, Libya, Sudan, Zimbabwe, and others all guilty of similar and worse atrocities.

Or consider the money corrupt regimes gain access to. For years the United Nations has showered millions of dollars in aid on the Palestinian Authority, the interim government in Gaza and the West Bank. That aid, mostly swallowed up by the leadership, has buoyed up a brutal regime that strips its people of their rights, their wealth, their dignity, and foments terrorism against Israel. UN aid has also flowed into North Korea's belligerent Stalinist dictatorship, which starves its people in order to fund an enormous military machine and a nuclear weapons program. What these handouts do is reinforce the walls of prison regimes like North Korea, exacerbate the misery of their citizens, and arm corrupt rulers.

That the United Nations benefits evil regimes is a necessary consequence of its avowed ideal of neutrality. The willful refusal to discriminate between good and evil, between freedom and slavery, can benefit only the vicious. It is only an evil regime that fears moral scrutiny, that needs to conceal its crimes, and that struggles for a veneer of moral legitimacy. The UN's policy of moral neutrality is precisely what evil desperately craves: a license to commit any depravity and escape with a reputation for being decent.

No organization can resolve conflicts if it evades the objective difference between right and wrong, and perversely treats an aggressor as the moral equal of his innocent victim. The United Nations is far from a means to achieving peace. Because it arms and bestows a moral sanction on vicious regimes, it is an accessory to their incalculable atrocities and murders.

The 60th anniversary of the United Nations should be a time not to celebrate, but to end this morally irredeemable organization.

Elan Journo is a junior fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute in Irvine, Calif. The Institute promotes the ideas of Ayn Rand -- best-selling author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead and originator of the philosophy of Objectivism. Copyright © 2005 Ayn Rand® Institute. All rights reserved.

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