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Let’s just defund the UN and leave it immediately

Hidden deep below the headquarters of the United Nations’ aid agency for Palestinians here is a Hamas complex with rows of computer servers that Israel’s armed forces say served as an important communications center and intelligence hub for the Islamist militant group.

Wall Street Journal. ($)

Part of a warren of tunnels and subterranean chambers carved from the Gaza Strip’s sandy soil, the compound below the United Nations Relief and Works Agency buildings in Gaza City appears to have run on electricity drawn from the U.N.’s power supply, Israeli officials said.

A Wall Street Journal reporter and journalists from other news organizations visited the site this past week in a trip organized by Israel’s military. A tunnel also appeared to pass beneath a U.N.-run school near the headquarters.

The location of a Hamas military installation under important U.N. facilities is evidence, Israeli officials say, of Hamas’s widespread use of sensitive civilian infrastructure as shields to protect its militant activities. Tunnel complexes have also been found near or under some of Gaza’s largest hospitals.

Someone kindly explain to me the utility, at any level, of the United Nations. Take all the time you need.

30 comments to Let’s just defund the UN and leave it immediately

  • DiscoveredJoys

    The United Nations was formed in 1945. I have a rule of thumb which says that any organisation that is more than 70 years old will be corrupted by the careerist aspirations of the managers and ‘Spanish Practices’ of the workers.

    A few organisations will still adhere to their founding purposes, but usually because there is democratic control or a regular turn-over of top bosses. But ‘reorganisations’ don’t usually reset the founding purposes.

    I expect everybody’s list of disfunctional organisations will vary somewhat, although there will be a lot of overlap. The UN is on my list, as is the NHS, the BBC, the EU, and many national charities that have become political pressure groups. I used to think that political parties were held to account by the democratic processes… but arguably they have been captured too.

  • Martin

    It’s pretty useless, but since Britain does have a permanent seat at the security council with a veto, I’m happy for us to stay and keep it. Even if it’s to keep it out of the hands of someone else. If we did leave,rather than anyone follow our example, its more likely there would be a scramble about who would inherit our vacated position. I’m against UN ‘reform’ for similar reason. The reforms usually proposed will make it even worse.

  • Paul Marks

    Agreed, it is not a matter of the United Nations being “useless” it is actively evil – part of the general effort at international “governance”(the World Health Organisation, the International Criminal Court and-so-on) which is a terrible threat to what remains of liberty.

    There used to be a saying “Get the U.S. out of the U.N.” – this should be extended to all countries who make any claim to respect liberty.

    Whilst the United Kingdom remains a member of these international organisations, treaties, and “agreements”, Civil Servants and judges will continue to push policies that are against what the British people voted for in elections.

    For example, the United Nations, and other international organisations, have a de facto “free migration” policy – designed (yes – designed) to destry the United States, Israel (if Israel had anything like “free migration” the Jews who died quickly would be the lucky ones), the United Kingdom and other Western countries.

    Sadly having a veto in the Security Council does not prevent United Nations agencies pushing anti Western policies, nor does it prevent officials and judges in Western nations (such as the United Kingdom) using our membership of such organisations as a justification for following these policies – regardless of what the voters want.

  • William H. Stoddard

    Ayn Rand used to say that the United Nations was like a community law enforcement commitee that had seats for the heads of all the major criminal gangs. As so often, she had a point.

    The United Nations started out as a wartime alliance against the Nazis, the fascists, and the military Shintoists. It was maintained after the war as, nominally, an association of free societies—which was vitiated by the Soviet Union being one of the core members, even though Stalin was quite the equal of Hitler and much worse than Mussolini. Then it admitted one newly independent colony after another, on the polite pretense that those colonies had the same sort of governments as the United States, the United Kingdom, or France, even when it was obvious that large numbers of them were kleptocracies or worse. The whole thing was past saving the day World War II ended and should have been terminated.

  • jgh

    It’s like all such organisations. CEGB, Railtrack, Waterways Board. It starts off as engineers ensuring you can telephone or send post from one country to another, and shipping containers have a menu of common sizes, and weights and measures have defined references; and then it gets taken over by politicians of all sorts, who destroy it.

  • Myno

    It provides a target.

  • Kirk

    The UN has been corrupt since day one. It was never going to be anything else…

    The fundamental issue with the UN is that it is basically a full-employment program for the diplomats of the world, most of whom do not regard themselves as “representing” their nations. They’re diplomats, a special class of people apart from everyone else. As such, they’re smarter and more special than the mere plebs…

    The only way the UN was ever going to be anything more than a sad joke would have been if it had been set up from the get-go to be representative. Which would have required direct election of delegates to it, somehow proctored and made honest in even nations like China that were run by dictators. You could have done a bicameral house deal, where there were directly-elected reps, and then another house of diplomat types selected by the governments of the various nations in it, but… I see no way that could have been made to work practically.

    As such, setting it up was always a bad idea. It’s yet another example of Woodrow Wilson’s essential stupidity and the nature of his delusional belief system that said the world ought to be run by an academically-trained carefully selected meritocratic elite. The UN was always meant, at the root of things, to take over the governing function of the world. That this idea would never work didn’t matter… Wilson and his ilk all believed really, really strongly that the common man could not be trusted, and that the educated elite could do a much better job of things…

    Given the track record since Wilson’s time, I’m pretty sure that this has self-refuted itself as a proposition. The problem is just like that of a computer program; garbage in, garbage out. If you select people on the false premise that “doing well on all the tests” proves their competence and capability, you’re going to find that your testing regimen is inadequate and more than likely looking for the wrong things.

    There is one true “test” that you can apply; real-world performance under real-world conditions of chaos and mayhem. All of our “elite” today are selected, trained, and promoted based on things that are patently inadequate… Which a blind man could discern from the state of the world today.

  • bobby b

    As Churchill, said, “Meeting jaw to jaw is better than war.” The original function of the UN was to facilitate that sentiment – to ensure that there was SOMEWHERE in which countries could maintain a dialogue with each other after it had collapsed everywhere else.

    But that original function did not include the UN becoming the ruling body over anything.

    Once we accepted UN votes on issues, the original worthy purpose was no longer served. It was no longer just a safe space to pursue dialogue. It encouraged people to think in terms of “world government.” And that is an idea whose time has not yet come.

  • Steph houghton

    I think wlsc’s line was that it was better to jaw jaw than to war war.

  • Bongo

    The UN security council veto which the UK currently has should be sold. No questions asked about the credentials of the buyer, could be the Arab League, ASEAN, the EU or an individual country.
    Doesn’t do the UK any good to have it and might as well have a couple of day’s national income for the price.

  • bobby b

    That’s what I thought, too, until someone countered me with this:


  • Earnest Canuck

    bobby b — huh! One is always being tripped up by these misattributed or entirely invented quotes — much like the “folk etymology” around terms like ‘posh’ and even ‘fuck,’ ffs. That said, ‘jaw to jaw’ is a pretty weird weird way to describe conversation/ negotiation – you picture Sir Winston and say Stalin dancing an uncomfortably intimate tango…

  • Kirk

    What’s amazing is how many cites you can find for the wrong quote…

    Like so much of the world’s “knowledge”, you’re often disappointed to find out how much of it is just plain erroneous or outright lies. I swear to God, about 80% of my post-secondary “education” has consisted of either trying to convince me of a new set of lies, or refuting all the various and sundry “truths” that I was taught.

    And, people wonder why I’m so damn cynical about the value of higher education and the competence of our elites? Consider that I’ve been told for years that the inaccurate quote here was the true one, and that is just a single minuscule data point intermingled among all the rest of the lies and inaccuracies. Sweet babbling baby Jesus, but how many times have they gone back and forth on the nutritional value of eggs and coffee in my lifetime, each iteration being trumpeted as the “final, definitive answer…”?

    The real wonder is that anyone, anywhere, believes a damn thing that they’re told or taught. I’m rapidly approaching the point where if I see it on a major media outlet, I’m automatically dismissing it as a lie. Maybe not that an event happened, but certainly the interpretation of it…

  • Fraser Orr

    I’m have often wondered why it mattered who actually said some witty or profound statement. Shouldn’t it stand on its own? It just seems like a bit of an appeal to authority. However, I always felt that anything witty should be attributed to Mark Twain, anything thunderously profound to Churchill, anything stoic to Marcus Aurelius, and anything with funny English to Shakespeare. That should cover it. Oh and if you want a bit of an air of “you can’t argue with this” a good Bible quotation is always a good choice.

    There is a new thing of attributing quotes about the environment or short sightedness to American Indian Chiefs of various kinds. Which always struck me as odd. The American Indians never even discovered how to make even the most basic of tools, and lived a life comparable to Europeans from 1000BC. It isn’t at all clear to me why they have some especially good wisdom to offer. But they sure do make great memes on facebook.

    And finally on the UN — the theory is that it is a talking shop, but why does it need a budget of $3billion? I mean you can rent a room at the local Hilton hotel for a couple of hundred bucks, which seems to serve the same function, no?

    But they do offer one useful feature. They serve such a good example of how ridiculous these types of organizations are. One need only list the members on the UN Human Rights Council to make even the most ardent of internationalists slink off in shame.

  • Earnest Canuck

    (Sorry for previous double-post — was trying to correct some typos and bollocksed it up. Errata are as mortifying as holes in one’s tuxedo, as someone possibly said once.)

    When it comes to attributing a good quote/ line/ sentiment you’re deploying for present needs, I’d say: just don’t.

    You can acknowledge the borrowing without naming the source, especially if that source is obscure, disputed
    wholly invented, or as is common when dealing with Timeless Wisdom, dead.

    You can use judicious quote marks and a handy phrase like “As the poet said…”

    This solves the vexatious attribution problem, by ignoring it. And in terms of the ethics of rhetoric, it puts you one level above Claudine Gay.

  • William H. Stoddard

    Fraser: One of Robert Anton Wilson’s novels featured a radical environmentalist president of the United States, and was decorated with quotations from his writings. Apparently all of those quotations were actually lifted from Mein Kampf. . . . I thought that was a nice bit of satire.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    Years ago, I thought that we should set up an Allied Nations, composed solely of real democracies (multi-party, etc.). Trade rights should be first-class between the Allies, and second-class between Allies and everyone else. They would meet to help defend each other, and co-ordinate defense forces.

  • William H. Stoddard

    Nicholas: I’m envisioning Marxist dictatorships carefully calculating just how large a second party had to be, and how many votes it had to get, to qualify as “multi-party,” without having any risk of actually winning an election and making small changes in policy. And Third World dictatorships making scattered efforts to do the same thing.

  • APL

    As with the UN, so with NATO.

  • Runcie Balspune

    The UN doesnt seem to be doing much regarding the decades old issue of Israel’s membership and that it is not recognised by some of its members, a situation that if resolved would go a long way to improving the position of UNRWA.

    Maybe they don’t want it to change, better to keep on lining ones pockets.

    We have a bizarre situation where UN members call for UN resolutions on a country they don’t recognise as being a member of the UN, and none does anything about it.

  • Kirk

    Thinking about it, I have to conclude that the UN is a near-perfect example of what comes of giving someone power without accountability or responsibility.

    The bits of the UN that claim real-world power, like UNWRA and WHO both have some real power; what they don’t have is accountability. UNWRA can spend decades teaching hate to Gazan Arabs, support their terrorist activities, and there is zero accountability for any of the employees or administrators. They’ve spent our money; they’ve literally participated in terrorism, and people keep sending them money and according them respect. There’s no downside to what they do; same as WHO, which is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Chinese, rubber-stamping all their COVID-related BS and excuses.

    Similarly, in the US system? The same things go on with regards to all the various agencies and departments. The EPA kills most of a river in the Western US, and the responsible employees are not only not punished or even censured, they’re given performance bonuses and commendations for their work. This is a problem throughout governance in the West, and the world: No accountability, no responsibility for the people screwing things up.

    I am pretty damn sure that we’re doing this wrong, but I’ll entertain alternative explanations. Human beings are just bad at organization, and without extreme external pressure, these reef-structures we create to solve our problems are far too prone to being corrupted and suborned from their stated purpose. Ever heard of a bureaucracy looking around one day, and recognizing that it has fulfilled its purpose, then shutting itself down? Nope; never happened, never will. You have to kill these things with fire.

    Bureaucracy is the only thing that humanity has created that is apparently immortal, immune from death by natural causes. You have to eradicate these things via fire and sword, otherwise they just won’t die. They’re worse than vampires or zombies.

    I’ve got a friend of mine who had to deal with Turkish bureaucracy during a military exercise. Per his anecdote, there’s an office of a department of the Turkish customs bureaucracy that has been in continuous operation since the days of the Byzantine Empire, and it is still going strong, having survived the Ottoman Empire and everything since. Based on what I experienced during the prep-work we did to take the US Army’s 4th Infantry Division through Turkey and into Northern Iraq, I’m pretty sure that office and its regulations is still in existence and full operation…

    Bureaucracy. Don’t start none, won’t be none. I would suggest that such things are inimical to the human race, and perhaps that we should avoid their creation. You apparently have to kill the host, in order to get rid of the parasitism…

  • JJM

    The UN security council veto which the UK currently has should be sold… Doesn’t do the UK any good to have it and might as well have a couple of day’s national income for the price.

    Not so. The five permanent-member vetoes are the best feature of the UN because they effectively render it far less of a global nuisance than it otherwise could be.

    (Also, a sinecure at UN headquarters or in some UN organization further afield – albeit rather expensive – is an excellent way to get tiresome political busybodies out of your country and inflicting themselves on some other poor benighted nation instead.)

  • george m weinberg

    According to the International Churchill Society , who are probably a bunch of poseurs, what Churchill actually said was ‘Meeting jaw to jaw is better than war.’ It also claims Churchill never said that the great English naval traditions were rum sodomy, and the lash, but that he should have.


    I had been under the impression that it was Twain who said that people will accept your ideas more readily if you tell them Ben Franklin said it first, but according to this site it was Harriet Becher Stowe

    other siees (jokingly) attribute the quote to Franklin himself, but apparently the ancient Romans really were in the habit of saying
    “omnia dicta fortiora si dicta Latina”, everything sounds more impressive when you say it in Latin.

  • Paul Marks

    Leave the United Nations, and other such world organisations, be independent.

    These organisations can not be reformed – the whole point of such things as the World Health Organisation or the International Criminal Court (with its demand to try “Climate Crimes” and so on) is world “governance”.

  • GregWA

    Leave? Not so fast, the OP cites evidence that UN staff are actively aiding a known terrorist organization in its military operations. The UN staffers and their commanders are combatants.

    That calls for a kinetic response, not a diplomatic one.

    Now, who has the balls to attack the UN? No one on our side that’s for certain!

  • William H. Stoddard

    Greg: If the UN people are aiding Hamas, which is the other side in a war, but are not openly proclaiming themselves to be combatants, doesn’t that count as espionage or something similar? In any case, some violation of the laws of war?

  • TomJ

    In the words of the poet, on the attribution of bons mots:

    If, with the literate, I am
    Impelled to try an epigram
    I never seek to take the credit
    We all assume that Oscar said it.

  • TomJ

    Oh, and one the Winnie definitely did say was his speech defining the view of the aircrew in the Battle of Britain: “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few”. The duty joke in Fighter Command the next day was along the lines 0f, “The game’s up chaps – the PM’s found out about the Mess Bills.”

  • William H. Stoddard

    TomJ: Spoonerisms, such as “I have a great affection for our queer old dean” or “The Lord is a shoving leopard,” are widely credited to the Reverend Mr. Spooner, but I seem to recall that he protested that he only said a small number of them, and people made others up and attributed them to him.

  • Runcie Balspune

    Not so. The five permanent-member vetoes are the best feature of the UN because they effectively render it far less of a global nuisance than it otherwise could be.

    With China and Russia at one end, and America and Britain at the other, the deciding vote is with France, not a great “feature”.

    One reason behind the 2nd Iraq War happening when it did was that Saddam was sweetening up three of them with cushy oil deals, in the hope many resolutions could be overturned by majority and he’d get back to business as usual, so the other two just made a unilateral decision to stop it.

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