‘UN Me’ Provides a Valuable Service

Bruce Bawer is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center and the author of “While Europe Slept” and “Surrender.” His book "The Victims' Revolution: The Rise of Identity Studies and the Closing of the Liberal Mind" is just out from Broadside / Harper Collins.


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Most readers of this website, I suspect, do not need to be told that the United Nations is a joke, a scandal, a cesspit of careerism, corruption, and colossal indifference, and, all in all, a gross and, in many cases, criminal betrayal of every noble principle on which it was founded.  But there are millions of people around the world who still don’t get it. For while the UN may not have done a particularly effective job of tackling the challenges it is supposed to address, it has done a bang-up job of promoting itself – especially to captive audiences such as schoolchildren, who in many countries routinely have slick UN propaganda pressed upon them by their teachers.  The Nordic countries, especially, have a special place in their hearts for the UN.  In Denmark, Finland, and Sweden, UN Day is an official “flag day.”  According to one survey, in no country are the citizens fonder of the UN than in Norway: if one hardly ever hears a good word here about Israel, one virtually never hears a bad word about the UN, which is almost universally viewed as virtue set in system.

Which is why it’s a pleasure to greet the release of a first-rate new documentary entitled UN Me, written, produced, and directed by Ami Horowitz and Matt Groff.  The film, which starts by reminding us of the high ideals that inspired the UN’s formation, quickly shifts to recent times, making it clear, in one segment after another, just why, for many of us, the bloom fell off that rose quite a while ago.

UN Me begins by according us a few brief glimpses of the sheer sloth that characterizes the whole shebang.  Old UN hands describe the short working days, long lunches, and frequent midday naps that characterize the everyday life of many of its functionaries.  Wandering the halls of UN headquarters in New York shortly after 5 PM on a weekday, Horowitz (who’s the on-camera guy throughout the film) encounters a virtual ghost town: almost everybody has long since cleared out for the day.  This institutional torpor is, he makes clear, emblematic of the whole worldwide enterprise.  Ken Cain, a former UN peacekeeper in Cambodia, recalls that during his UN hitch there was “no discipline, no accountability.”

Horowitz reminds us that countries like Libya, Sudan, Zimbabwe, and China have sat on the UN Human Rights Commission – and, later, on the Human Rights Council that was meant to be an improvement on that comically corrupt agency.  In 2010, Iran was elected to the UN Commission on the Status of Women.   At one point in the film, Horowitz asks Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and director of the UN’s 2009 anti-racism conference in Geneva, why Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, of all people, was named keynote speaker at that event.  That question, she replies in a small voice, is “not for me to answer.”  (No, you don’t get far at the UN by providing honest answers to reasonable questions like that one.)  Horowitz informs us that Article 6 of the UN Charter actually “calls for the expulsion of any nation that consistently violates the principles of the charter.”  Yet no member country has ever been expelled under Article 6.  Shashi Tharoor, UN information chief, cheerfully explains that it’s best to have everybody “under the same tent.”

An early segment of the film covers some of the more egregious scandals involving UN peacekeeping.  Though there’s nothing here about Srebenica (presumably the filmmakers assume that their audience knows enough already about that disgraceful episode), we hear anecdotes about peacekeepers in various countries who, in their interactions with the people they were there to protect, acted like thugs, got rich trafficking drugs, spent their time whoring, and sexually abused minors.  Peacekeepers in the Congo committed literally thousands of rapes.  At least one ran a pedophilia ring.  We’re shown video of UN bureaucrats solemnly vowing that errant peacekeepers will be caught and punished.  But in fact almost no UN peacekeeper has ever been held accountable for anything.  In Côte d’Ivoire, peacekeepers actually fired on peaceful, unarmed protestors.  But was anyone punished?  No; that’s just not the UN way.  When Horowitz, in a sit-down interview with Abou Moussa, head of the UN mission in  Côte d’Ivoire, asks about the episode, Moussa gets up and leaves.

The film moves on to the absurdity that is the International Atomic Energy Agency – which, tasked with preventing nuclear-arms proliferation, has actually helped North Korea, Iran, India, and Pakistan to acquire nuclear technology, purportedly for peaceful purposes.  Since, as the film notes, the IAEA can only perform inspections in countries that invite it to do so, it spends more than 80% of its $380 million annual budget inspecting facilities in – believe it or not – Germany, Japan, and Canada.  Iran’s nefarious nuclear-related activities are transparent – and yet the IAEA is reluctant to blow the whistle and impotent to act.  “It’s all about process, not results,” we’re told.  “The results are worthless.”

Then there’s terrorism.  After 9/11, the UN passed Resolution 1373, which was supposedly designed to fight terrorism.  It would appear to be as toothless a measure as was ever ratified by a deliberative body.  Horowitz interviews Javier Ruperez, whose title is – get this – Executive Director of the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate of the Counter-Terrorism Committee of the Security Council.  Asked what the committee actually does to fight terrorism, Ruperez speaks blandly of the production of reports.  Member countries, you see, are asked to file reports indicating whether or not they’re aiding terrorists.  The directorate, or committee, or whatever it is also sends inspectors for, oh, a week or so to various countries to find out whether anything fishy is going on there.  None of this, of course, actually accomplishes anything.  Asked whether the UN has official lists of terrorist groups and of countries that support terror, Ruperez says no: “This is not the practice of the UN.”  (Of course not: that would offend certain member states, and we can’t do that.)  Another question: how does the UN define terrorism?  This, Ruperez declares, is still a “pending matter.”  At the UN, needless to say, everything is still a pending matter, and always will be.

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  • Ken

    The United States should not be funding this corrupt organization in ANY way!!

  • Larry

    The ridiculous thing about Srebrenijca and Rwanda was that the UN peace keepers in both places were forbidden by the UN rules they were operating under to take military action to protect people.
    Those rules were such that any officer who gave such an order, or any peace keeper who obeyed such and order, would have been charged and convicted for doing so. I know for a fact that certain members of the Australian force in Rwanda seriously considered shooting the UN official who was preventing them from acting, and if you go and dig through Dutch reports you will find that quite a number of the Dutch force in Srebrenijca have committed suicide and many more have under gone psychiatric help for the guilt that they feel.

    In the aftermath of Rwanda the Australian Defence Force will no longer under take peace keeping missions where the officer on the spot doesn't have the right to order the use of force. Since then Australia has undertaken far fewer peace keeping missions than prior to it.

  • http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com Robin

    I am so glad you wrote about this film. I wrote about the UN's push to change the nature of education globally towards what it calls "Quality Basic Education for All." This is a post on how the Millenium Development Goals are to be achieved by 2015 and are grounded on this view of education to change people and thus the existing cultures of the West. And Norway has been on board for a long time. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/if-facts-wont

    The next post on June 3 explains what quality learning is to UNESCO. If you seek to change values and make responding from emotion the preferred habit, education is the stealth vehicle of choice.

  • ajnn

    it is useful to have people from every country in the world in one place to smooth and sometimes avoid disputes.

    the problem is not that the un in its present form is useless, rather it has added many, many functions that it manages abominably. that is what beaurocracies do: they grow.

    keep the un, but strip it down to a 100% diplomatic club instead of an essential international umbrella organization.

  • Indioviejo

    The UN has been so corrupt and unhelpfull from its inception,as to when the former USSR became a permanent member of the Security Council, just as the World's Democracies had barely defeated other totalitarian tyrany's, made it all a lie. The Muslim nations by themselves made it a joke when they rejected the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and later came out with their own "Cairo Declaration" supporting Sharia Law. No credibility remains of a stupid idea to beguin with. It was bad as a League of Nations and it became worse as the UN. We owe this world class mistake to Woodrow Wilson and Frankilin Roosevelt, two Social-Democrats if we ever saw one.

  • PDK

    I believe the time has long since come to relieve America of this UN burden, and put an end to the liberal charade. The UN has lived beyond its intended usefulness since the JFK, Adlai Stevenson and the Cuban missile crissis. It has become a joke, a very expensive joke.
    Multiculturalism will never work, not for America not for the UN, too many Cheifs no enough braves.
    The time has come, IMHO, for America and allies to begin anew. First, throw the UN out, the whole kit and kaboodle. Second, build a new facility in rural Idaho, call it the "Confederation of the Friends of Liberty and Capitalism ", and be specific to our cause, not understanding of theirs.
    Keep America sovereign and American sovereignty, end the one world governence of America and like fellow nations by the buffoon liberals and Islamics.
    Godspeed America. Thank you.

  • topeka

    re: Srebrenica

    wikipedia has one version:

    wikipedia also.. apparently believes the Kosovo conflict occurred with only one side (Serbs) firing any weapons.

    The following comment: h/t http://atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com/atlas_shrugs/b

    Not everyone agrees with the official version on Kosovo. Normally, I would not go more than one iota towards a conspiracy theory… but frankly when it comes to the Religion of Peace… nothing I know of for certain surprises me.

    So while I have my doubts – it would not surprise me to find out the following observations have been verified …

    NOTE FROM JULIA GORIN:

    So that the reader isn’t left with the impression that ALL THOSE CIVILIANS TRAPPED inside Srebrenica mentioned above were massacred along with the “Muslim men and boys” (indeed, if they were, we wouldn’t be hearing the qualifier “men and boys” ad nauseum), note that Ratko Mladic’s forces organized buses to take the civilians to Muslim-held territory, as the civilians had wanted from the start. He saw them off, talking to those seated on the bus and assuring them safety. There’s video of this. But the press uses these assurances to paint an even more sinister picture. For example, look at the insidious, malevolent writing that St. Louis Post-Dispatch writers Phillip O’Connor and Stephen Deere used in this article they co-wrote upon Mladic’s capture:

    Just hours before the 1995 attack, Mladic appeared in a now infamous video stroking the cheek of a terrified child and telling the crowd, “Don’t be afraid, no one will hurt you.”

    After women and children were loaded onto buses and transported out of the area, the killing began. It went on for days.

    This is supposed to stick in the reader’s mind as if the child didn’t make it to safety; the writers are conflating the subsequent deaths of escaping soldiers with the children Mladic gave candy and safe passage to. The “candy” mention comes from similarly insidious wording in this AP report, which the above article copies almost verbatim at some points (which is how Balkans reporting has always been done anyway):

    Just hours before the massacre, Mladic handed out candy to Muslim children in the town's square, assuring them everything would be fine and patting one child on the head. Then the shootings began and the bodies of the victims were bulldozed into mass graves.

    • topeka

      contd
      I think that the aforementioned “infamous video” of Mladic “stroking the cheek of a terrified child and telling the crowd, ‘Don’t be afraid, no one will hurt you’”—may be this one, viewable to those with a Facebook account:

      http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=1223665

      It's basically him hopping onto each bus and saying "Hi, I'm Ratko Mladic, you are all going to be safely evacuated." The monster!

      Meanwhile, the evactuation that the Serbs did–which the Bosnian government refused to do in order to keep the civilians in danger—is of course being referred to in media and government as ethnic cleansing. Just one example—and a more mild one at that—comes from that same AP report:

      “In early July that year, more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were executed by Serbian forces, and the town's women and children were driven out of the area.”

      (This recalls how a Serbian bishop was threatened by the internationals with a war crimes indictent for ethnic cleansing for obliging to help put together buses to clear Muslim women and children out of the crossfire in a Herzegovina town.)

      What else they’re doing in the media now is adding the phrase “including women and children” with regard to who was killed in Srebrenica. This is perhaps a conflation of Srebrenica and Sarajevo, or perhaps they’re seizing on the fact that, among all the remains at the identification office, exactly 5 are female so far. (Here I must emphasize that most of the remains are indeterminate re the potential cause, manner, place and time of death over the course of living through three years of war. But you’re just supposed to think they were “executed,” and by Serbs.)

      In an email from Nebojsa Malic, we get a broader picture of what happened (emphasis mine):

      Upon taking Srebrenica, the Serbs find it empty. Muslim soldiers had gone off towards Tuzla. The Serbs find the Muslim civilians overflowing the UN camp in the nearby hamlet of Potocari. They detain SOME men, and SOME of those are MIA presumed dead – but neither the Dutch nor ANYONE else who was there actually witnessed them die. The civilians are told they can stay if they want to, or be evacuated to Muslim territory. They choose evacuation. Gen. Mladic organizes buses and trucks (at a time when fuel was incredibly difficult to come by, no less) and sees them off personally. There are videos of him talking to the civilians in the buses (you can see clearly there are a few men in there as well, and boys aplenty), and guarantees them safety. They are bused to Kladanj and handed over to the Muslims.

      (NOTE: It’s not surprising that plenty of males survived as well, since the Serbs were weeding people out in order to find the perpetrators of the raids on their villages. Indeed, the majority of Srebrenica’s 40,000 population survived, with 35,632 registering with the World Health Organization and Bosnian government by the first week of August ’95.)

      If Mladic had used the same standard the Croats applied to Serbs a month later [Operation Storm], he'd have made them walk on their own, and shot them up every so often, just for LOLs. Instead, the Serbs WENT OUT OF THEIR WAY to AVOID harming civilians.

      Or as Emil Vlajki (half-Croat, half-Jewish VP of the Serb Republic currently) said on TV recently, "Had the Nazis acted the way the Serbs are accused of acting, 4 million more Jews would have been alive today." (Many of his own relatives perished in the Shoah.)

      One thing to keep in mind about Srebrenica is that it didn't start out as an enclave. Starting in March 1992, Oric actually marauded up and down the Drina valley, until his defeat in the spring of 1993. Oric then retreated to Srebrenica, where the Serbs had him cornered. The UN commander at the time, French general Morillon, led a convoy through Serb territory to get food into the town Muslim propaganda claimed was starving to the point of cannibalism. Once there, he tried to get some civilians out, but Oric prevented him – suffering civilians were a key element of the Muslims' war strategy; without them, there was no CNN Effect, and no chance of an outside intervention. Morillon did eventually manage to evacuate some seriously injured people and kids and set up food convoys into the town.

  • topeka

    … re the UN Me

    I will buy a copy and watch it…

    but I doubt I will learn anything – my granny taught me they were commie-pinkos representing mass-murderers… back in the 60's.

    I wish I could recall details – but in those days I only wanted to read Spiderman comics…

    Every year I live my granny seems brighter every day…

  • Ronald Johnston

    Pure evil!!!!