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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

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Jim Whyte

This comment contains 75% recycled material, but I think some things I said once before bear repeating. Churchill said jaw-jaw was better than war-war, but the dose makes the poison -- imbibe too much jaw-jaw, and war-war sneaks up behind you and billies you on the head.

If you look at Charles Ritchie's diaries you find that, in between bouts of dropping his striped pants for any skirt that came along, he did examine himself sufficiently to realize that "diplomacy is a profession in which protracted patience, discretion, and a glaze of agreeability prevail". (I suspect from the more personal parts of his diary that he occasionally had to examine himself for other things, but that is by the way.)

The UN, being populated by diplomats, things only of diplomacy and not of Frederick the Great's "music without instruments" maxim. Consequently -- except for Korea, when the Soviet delegate was out of the room -- they forgot, readily and easily, and all too probably willingly, about the UN's supposed foundation of collective security.

Everybody remembers Tina Fey impersonating Sarah Palin on SNL, but they forget Amy Poehler impersonating Hill the Pill in the same sketch: "I believe diplomacy should be the cornerstone of any foreign policy."

The viewers were meant to take that as profound. But how is it any less fatuous than Fey's "I can see Russia from my house"? (Which I realize Palin never said, before anyone feels the need to correct.)

Yet so much of the world never heard of Fred Hohenzollern, and thinks starry-eyed internationalist rubbish is common sense. They vote, too.

The UN has some useful moving parts like the ITU, WMO, WHO, ICAO, and related acronymic agencies. We should still be active and generous members of those. They, to use another Churchillian phrase, "secure a convenience" rather than "confer[ring] a compliment".

But the international political forum is a fool's errand, and the money-sucking tentacles like UNHCR/UNDP/UNICEF etc. are simply a scam. I am proud of my country for NOT standing for election to the Security Council (sorry, Pearsonian internationalists -- not). I'm proud we've turned our back on peacekeeping, a pursuit many in this country are very wrongheaded about.

I suggested on Jay Currie's blog years back that we should cut our UN support to a token $2 a year on the appropriations, maintain our membership, and accredit the lowest-ranking secretary at the NYC consulate-general as charge-d'affaires at the UN, with instructions to take the subway over to Turtle Bay every now and again and make an insulting speech or something. The UN deserves no better.

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