In 1945, the United Nations was created through the delegations of the five major powers of the world at the time: the United States, the Soviet Union, the UK, France, and China. The intergovernmental organization was set up with the goal of international co-operation in the hope of avoiding similar circumstances that led to the two major wars that engulfed global politics in the first half of 20th century. Replacing the discredited League of Nations, the UN is made up of organizations that are tasked with different subjects of interest around the world: from politics (General Assembly), internal activities and management (Secretariat), justice (International Court of Justice), economics (Economic and Social Council), and security (Security Council). The organization is currently made up of 193 member states, and 2 observer states (Vatican City and Palestine).
Whatever it’s initial intent, the UN has expanded into other avenues of which seriously bring into question it’s mission in the modern world, as well as establishing it as a threat to national sovereignty. The recent events in Israel have seen the organization give the PLO a seat on the General Assembly, as well as observer status to Palestine, even though the relationship between the Israelis and Palestinians continues to be tenuous at best. This infringement in the internal politics of Israel not only encourages other groups of people in other nations to strive to do the same (which will probably not amount to much since they aren’t as “notorious” as Hamas and other Palestinian groups have been with their presentation in the media…Taiwan anyone?), but also makes that more difficult for the people of any particular state to handle their own issues. By getting involved in the internal politics of a nation that has experienced internal strife for decades (which doesn’t seem to have produced any meaningful results despite our continued insistence over much of those same several decades), it continues to become harder to see how the situation will be any different going forward. The whole conflict was a foregone conclusion after the outright creation of Israel in 1948 by the UN General Assembly, instead of allowing the released British territory to attain it’s own identity. Forcing association by decree and continued micromanaging of affairs has not led to compromise or better relations, and doesn’t seem to be ready to recede anytime soon. Whether the Israelis and Palestinians want a 2, 1, or other state solution should be their decision to make…not bureaucrats in some ivory tower that feel it necessary to stick their nose in affairs that don’t concern them.
The UN has also shown recently their ability to infringe through their reckless use of treaties (even though such documents are rarely worth the paper they are printed on since many are hardly ever enforced…just see the situation in Iraq from years ago). The recent Arms Trade Treaty, which seeks to regulate the movement of firearms around the globe (and took effect in Christmas Eve 2014), is one such example. Though the Obama administration supported such an endeavor, many other lawmakers correctly saw how such a treaty can profoundly affect the ability of our citizens to be able to arm themselves effectively by getting involved in our nation’s imports, and other topics.
The organization has also increasing become more contrary to our national interests, now made largely of nations that make a habit of voting against our confidence by more than 50 percent. What is unfortunate is that many of these nations get foreign aid from us…as if the insult weren’t bad enough (http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2013/09/the-united-states-30-years-of-voting-in-the-united-nations-general-assembly; http://www.heritage.org/global-politics/report/un-general-assembly-foreign-aid-recipients-vote-against-the-us). The Security Council has been largely made ineffective of late due to the fact that Russia and China have made it difficult to hold certain nations to account when they violate human rights and other treaty rules. This is helped by the fact that Russia and China, as with ourselves and the other major powers, need only 1 veto to ruin an initiative. The International Court of Justice is hardly to be seen in any such events. The Human Rights Council, given minimum standards that were supposed to be tailored toward those nations that “uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights”, is largely made up of authoritarian nations such as China, Cuba, Egypt, Iraq, Malaysia, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela (Russia was once on the council, but lost re-election).
It is the combination of these circumstances that showcase why the UN has become a shell of what it’s goal was meant to be when it was first implemented. However, removing ourselves from the organization would be a mistake in my view. Power abhors a vacuum, allowing the floor to instead be occupied further by those who would be opposed to our interests. In fact, it is probably our increasing disinterest, and complacency, in involvement in the UN that has led to the current predicament. Instead, we must take a different number of steps: begin to be more frugal in our use of foreign aid, particularly with careful connection to those nations that are more in line with our values and endeavors. As the United States funds the majority of any country in the world toward the UN, we shouldn’t be hesitant to use such power against the organization when it continues to implement policies or treaties that infringe upon our constitutional rights. It is only engaging the global community that we can hope to protect the concepts that we hold dear.
Besides the UN, another organization that has become a shell without rudder or compass is the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Created to protect against an expansive-minded USSR in 1949, the almost 30-nation alliance has become rather listless in recent years. While the United States continues to largely fund the organization through it’s taxes and military power, most European nations involved have skimped on sharing in cost-sharing such defensive measures…despite the fact that such burden sharing is a part of the organization treaties. Sharing in the defense of other nations that share our values is good and all, but not if they aren’t willing to do so themselves. NATO also has much to share in how geopolitical mishaps that have taken place in recent decades, such as the creation of a failed state in Libya, admitting of countries that serve no real military gain except to inflate the member list (or include increasingly authoritarian regimes such as Turkey)…and bring us closer to Russia’s border, and so on. Unless there is serious reform, no reason why the United States should continue the status quo of support for an organization that is increasingly becoming anachronistic. Here is some good analysis on this: http://foreignpolicy.com/2014/06/20/think-again-nato/; https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/us-should-stop-collecting-allies-facebook-friends-alliances-should-benefit.