UN Withdrawal: Never Wound a King

American should not withdraw from the United Nations without first ensuring that the organization cannot retaliate.

“Upon this, one has to remark that men ought either to be well treated or crushed, because they can avenge themselves of lighter injuries, of more serious ones they cannot; therefore the injury that is to be done to a man ought to be of such a kind that one does not stand in fear of revenge.”
–Niccolò Machiavelli

The recent actions of the Obama administration and the UN Security Council have renewed calls for the United States to withdraw from the United Nations.  The arguments for withdrawal are compelling and based on firm moral and practical considerations, but, so long as they leave the United Nations’ various organs intact, they will continue to wreak havoc in the world, unencumbered by our veto.  American withdrawal will not reduce the United Nations’ mischief, but unleash it.  Machiavelli addressed this when he wrote the passage quoted above, which can be summed up as, “never do an enemy a minor injury.” 

The United Nations has two major organs that we must address.  First there is the General Assembly, a vicious conglomeration of thuggish dictatorships, spineless social democracies and failing states.  These countries unite only to attack the threats to their retention of power, or to deflect attention from how they wield it.  This is why the vast majority of its condemnatory acts focus on the United States and Israel.  The one good thing about the General Assembly is that it is utterly toothless; its resolutions carry no weight, and can be ignored without consequence.  Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the Security Council. 

The United Nations Security Council has all of the flaws of the General Assembly, but it has teeth.  It can back up its resolutions with UN Peacekeeping troops (levied from states whose records of adherence to the laws of war are, too put it politely, highly questionable), and its resolutions are binding on the member states.  The former Soviet Union found this out the hard way. 

In January 1950, the Soviet Union decided to boycott the Security Council in response to the defeat of a resolution to expel Nationalist China from that body.  This proved to be a strategic miscalculation, as the Soviet representative was not present to veto the Security Council’s resolution to defend South Korea a few months later.  Their boycott not only failed to accomplish the objectives of the Soviets, but permitted the Western allies to act in their absence.  The Korean War checked the ambitions of Stalin and Mao, and provided a potential framework for further cooperative efforts against communist expansion.  The Soviets learned from their mistake, and ensured that they were present at all future sessions, where they could use their veto to prevent a unified response to their aggressions.  We need to learn from it, as well.

Any American action that ends our association with the United Nations but leaves the structure intact will cede it to our enemies, and eliminate our veto over their actions.  Rather than eliminating the power of the Security Council, our withdrawal will let the remaining states use it to our detriment.  The absence of an American veto will empower the rogue states to push for resolutions on every lunatic position that they can think of in the Security Council, from climate control to nuclear disarmament, all of which will be studiously ignored by the states that are the worst offenders, but imposed on the US and Israel with impunity.  The lawless International Criminal Court will have its jurisdiction expanded to encompass non-signatories.  The various and sundry United Nations agencies and committees will have their venom codified into policy.  This is not in our interest. 

Before the UN can be abandoned, it must be defanged, declawed, discredited and otherwise rendered so weak that it cannot be used against us when we finally do exit that noxious relic of World War II.  In addition, the actions taken should not only weaken the United Nations, but push as many other members into our camp as possible.  This can be done in several ways:

  • The United States accounts for 22% of the United Nations budget, due to the progressive scale of payments (most United Nations members pay almost nothing, and what they do pay is often offset by travel allowances for their personnel).  Simply withholding these funds would reduce United Nations operations significantly.  In addition, a demand for changes to the payment schedule (right now, it’s based on ability to pay, rather than, say, population) would impose more costs on the smaller freeloading states, and reduce the burden on the wealthier ones.  China’s expanding economy should impose far more dues on it, and it would be difficult and embarrassing for the Chinese to argue that they are not a major financial power.
  • Demand changes to the permanent membership of the Security Council.  France has not been a major power since 1940.  In fact, it can be argued that French membership in the European Union makes it far less of an independent nation than a federated state within Europe.  It is readily apparent that France’s permanent seat should be reallocated as a European Union seat (which would not affect France’s seat in the General Assembly).  This would put France in conflict with the rest of the EU, especially Germany and Belgium.  It is unlikely that Russia or China would object to this, nor would Britain (that Brexit vote will pay an immediate dividend here), and France would be in the awkward position of explaining to the rest of Europe that it is unwilling to share its veto with them.  On the other hand, India is a rising power whose population dwarfs Europe’s, much less France’s.  There is no compelling argument for India not to be a permanent member of the Security Council, and many compelling arguments for it.  Israel, which has good relations with India, could probably be prevailed upon to sponsor the resolution in the General Assembly.  Of course, this will enrage the Muslim states, which will vote as a bloc against it, but that will force a schism between the Muslim dictatorships and India, which would put them closer to the rest of the Anglosphere in terms of long-term interests.
  • The United States should clog the schedules of all bodies on which it sits with resolutions that would not only divide the membership, but also force them to address awkward questions.  These resolutions should also be drafted in terms of the leftist mindset that permeates the United Nations for maximum impact.  For example, the resolution on Israeli settlements should be followed up by resolutions on New Zealand’s historically genocidal policies towards the Maoris, Russia’s military adventures in Ukraine and Georgia (and let’s not forget Syria), France’s discriminatory policies towards its Muslim population and sinking of Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior (and, of course, their colonial record), Britain’s colonial history (a virtual cornucopia of leftist grievances) Venezuela’s economic policies (the humanitarian crisis there fairly begs for some United Nations bloviating), Japan’s World War II crimes in China,  Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood (a terrorist group, its condemnation would serve to strengthen the al-Sisi government while dividing the Sunni terrorist-supporting states)and China’s occupation of Tibet and massive carbon emissions.  Of course, this need not be limited to current Security Council members.  Turkey’s Armenian genocide and suppression of the Kurds, Iran’s terrorist activities and misogyny (not to mention Saudi Arabia’s), Syria’s use of chemical weapons and Sudan’s genocidal attacks on their neighboring states are all targets of opportunity.  The list is almost endless, and the beauty of it is that it attacks the member states on criteria that leftists cannot easily ignore (they will try, of course, but how can feminists argue against censuring Iran and Saudi Arabia? Or environmentalists fail to respond to attacks on Chinese pollution?  Alinsky would be proud).  Even though the vast majority of these resolutions will end up defeated, the caterwauling from the targeted nations will highlight their hypocrisy in the targeting of the United States and Israel, and provide an amusing spectacle in their own right.  Now, it may not be in our interest to pursue all of these resolutions (the next administration will have its hands full trying to repair relations with Britain, and strengthening them with Japan, to name two examples), but just the threat of these resolution should keep some of these countries in line.
  • Many of the United Nations’ member states do not have diplomatic relations with the United States, but have UN missions within United States territory.  Narrowing the scope of diplomatic protections of the personnel of those missions to the immediate area around the United Nations and their missions, with free passage between them, would make Manhattan far less attractive for these diplomats and their support staff (which includes significant espionage assets).  Such persons could even be declared persona non grata, and be denied the pleasures of New York’s culture and amenities.  This would significantly curtail their activities and impacts on the city, especially in terms of the massive costs of UN scofflaws.  Simply imposing the same parking rules that burden regular New Yorkers on the staffs of these missions would go a long way to making New York City less livable for them (and the cash-strapped DeBlasio administration would have a difficult time arguing that it cannot use those revenues).  Imagine opponents having to argue that the representatives of impoverished rogue states should be allowed to attend the Metropolitan Opera, dine at 5-star restaurants and party like rock stars while their people starve. 

Ideally, when the United States finally does leave the United Nations, we will not do so alone, but in the company of those nations which share our ideals and interests, and with which we can forge alliances that will undermine the goals of the dictatorships.  The desired end state is not just American withdrawal from the United Nations, but the elimination of the United Nations as a breeding ground for destructive mischief, the advancement of American interests and the empowerment of our with allies and weakening of our adversaries. 

Odysseus is a retired Army officer.