Friday, December 21, 2007


In assessing whether the war on terror is "moral," Assistant Village Idiot starts by examining whether the U.N. is moral.

My view is simple--when evaluating a club, look at its members: "In 2003, a majority of UN nations were classed (see page 23) as 'not free' or only 'partly free.'"

source: Joseph Schwartzberg, Revitalizing the United Nations (2004)
Surf to AVI for more in the series.


AVI makes it clear:
Simple pronouncement. The idea of the United States is better than the idea of the United Nations. The latter idea aims higher and claims more, but is thus even more spectacular – and potentially diabolic - in its fall. The idea of the US is a plan to have an actual good government somewhere on the earth, and we have succeeded about 75% with that. The UN, with its exalted goals, has succeeded about 15% - and that total is not rising.

This is not just an I-support-George-Bush-and-the-neocons argument. If you were to tell me that in 2011, President Clinton and Congress, plus Prime Minister Brown and Parliament, declared that we should invade Greater Bumblestan but the UN said no, I believe it is much more likely that the Hillary and Gordon would get it right than that the Security Council did.

This is because nations have to actually eventually do something, and the UN does not. The UN will never do anything but talk, harbor spies, and spend money (see Part III). It is not capable of doing anything but talk, harbor spies, and spend money. It was designed that way, though not intentionally. The three things it is actually dedicated to preserving are the right of western intellectuals to talk like moral authorities, the right of dictators to use international organizations as espionage tools, and the right of rich people in poor nations to demand money. If one nation wishes to do anything, the UN can always counsel inaction, because it pays no cost for inaction. Nations do pay a cost. Nations, real actors in a real world, know that both intervention and nonintervention are unstable, calculated risks.

There is a wide variety of ethical perspectives one can take to judging war, but most of them answer back to Just War doctrine in some way. More importantly, most of the political discourse in America and Europe has sprung from this approach, implicitly or explicitly. Just War Theory actually does take into account the cost of inaction.

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