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[P]
US thrown out of UN Human Rights Commission

By delmoi in News
Tue May 08, 2001 at 11:33:37 AM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

Apparently the United States has lost its seat on the United Nations Human Rights Commission. This event has generated a couple of stories on salon.com. Although I couldn't find any mention of it on CNN.com or USA today. ABC news had a bit in an interview with Condoleezza Rice. CBSnews mentions that some in our government are demanding that we hold off paying UN dues... again.




This came as a pretty big shock to me, and this is the first time since the UN's inception that the US has not held that seat. China, Sudan, and Sierra Leone are now on the commission as well. There are number of factors mentioned in the articals, but from what I can tell in seems to mostly be a symptom of international reaction to American arrogance. It doesn't help that we haven't paid them some 1.2 billion dollars in dues either.

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The US is
o No better or worse then anyone else 14%
o Arrogant 47%
o A brilliant light shining on the rest of the world 11%
o And oppressive regime fueled by the TV-numbed bourgeois 20%
o What's The "US"? 1%
o COWBOY BEBOP! 4%

Votes: 123
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Display: Sort:
US thrown out of UN Human Rights Commission | 103 comments (100 topical, 3 editorial, 1 hidden)
YES!! (3.00 / 13) (#1)
by washort on Tue May 08, 2001 at 02:58:18 AM EST

Now, all the US needs to do is kick 'em out of New York in retaliation, and everything will be *perfect*.

Care to read an article? (4.20 / 5) (#3)
by decaf_dude on Tue May 08, 2001 at 03:18:25 AM EST

US wasn't kicked out of the United Nations, it was just not re-elected to the United Nations Human Rights Commission.

Kicking the UN out of New York (presumably to another country altogether) would only hurt USA. Having the UN HQ on its soil gives US a lot of leverage through political semantics.

Not that UN wouldn't be better off without the Americans in the first place: they don't pay their dues and yet they use the UN the most to further their own national interests, as well as exercise a lot of arm-twisting through their permanent seat (and veto power) in the UN Security Council.

--
http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=89158&cid=7713039


[ Parent ]
League of Nations (5.00 / 1) (#7)
by Delirium on Tue May 08, 2001 at 03:40:52 AM EST

Not that UN wouldn't be better off without the Americans in the first place...

Yeah, just like the League of Nations.

[ Parent ]

Not the League of Nations argument! (4.00 / 1) (#10)
by decaf_dude on Tue May 08, 2001 at 04:41:27 AM EST

How can US even claim a seat in the UN? They don't pay their fees (over $1Bn due), strike down any resolution that even mildly disagrees with their "national interests" (Israel, Cuba, Iraq, Afganistan...), don't recognize the UN War Crimes Tribunal ("it may have dire consequences on the deployment of US troops abroad", as one of US senators eloquently put it - which speaks volumes on behaviour of US troops abroad, BTW)...

League of Nations was a failure, but UN, in its present form, is probably even bigger failure. US or not.

--
http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=89158&cid=7713039


[ Parent ]
some points (3.00 / 1) (#12)
by Delirium on Tue May 08, 2001 at 04:55:29 AM EST

How can US even claim a seat in the UN?

Apart from being its largest backer, and the largest force ensuring that at least some of the UN's resolutions are taken seriously? Who do you think primarily enforces UN-led sanctions? Who leads the peacekeeping missions?

They don't pay their fees (over $1Bn due),

The US does pay lots of fees to the UN, but the Congress disagrees with the UN's method of assessment of fees, so refuses to appropriate the money to pay them in full (despite repeated requests from several presidents). Regardless, the US is the UN's largest financial supporter, even taking the unpaid dues into account.

strike down any resolution that even mildly disagrees with their "national interests" (Israel, Cuba, Iraq, Afganistan...),

Sometimes, but not always. Often the US will actually abstain from votes, and the US doesn't use its veto any more often than the other permanent members of the Security Council. China and Russia in particular veto a lot of resolutions. It's the way the Council is set up - any of the big five can veto resolutions.

don't recognize the UN War Crimes Tribunal ("it may have dire consequences on the deployment of US troops abroad", as one of US senators eloquently put it - which speaks volumes on behaviour of US troops abroad, BTW)...

You don't appear to have done a ton of research on this. First of all, there is currently no UN War Crimes Tribunal to be recognized - the entire dispute was over the treaties that would (if passed) form it. The US was not concerned with, as you seem to imply, actual human rights violations or war crimes by its own troops abroad, but rather with the rampant anti-US sentiment in many countries. Most military and government officials fear that the UN War Crimes Tribunal system as currently proposed would make it far too easy for frivolous suits to be brought in order to harrass American peacekeepers abroad (either from those who dislike Americans to begin with, or who have some political reason to want to hamper a particular mission). In general I support the idea of a tribunal, but I do agree that there need to be safeguards against frivolous suits. As it's currently proposed the entire system would be bogged down with numerous unfounded complaints, probably mostly directed against Israel and the United States.

[ Parent ]

And the counterpoints... (4.00 / 2) (#17)
by decaf_dude on Tue May 08, 2001 at 05:50:34 AM EST

Apart from being its largest backer, and the largest force ensuring that at least some of the UN's resolutions are taken seriously? Who do you think primarily enforces UN-led sanctions? Who leads the peacekeeping missions?

Largest they probably are, backer they most certainly are not. To USA the UN is nothing but a body for int'l enforcement of US policies. Don't even get me started on the UN sanctions - most of the nations that deserve them don't have them, most that are under sanctions don't deserve them. Peacekeeping missions? Aside from the Balkans, where US always wanted to establish military dominance anyway, can you please specify where the US troops "lead" a peacekeeping mission in terms of number of forces provided?

The US does pay lots of fees to the UN, but the Congress disagrees with the UN's method of assessment of fees, so refuses to appropriate the money to pay them in full (despite repeated requests from several presidents). Regardless, the US is the UN's largest financial supporter, even taking the unpaid dues into account.

So you mean I don't have to pay 34% taxes this year, I can choose to pay 10% because that's how much I feel I should pay, right? My 10% is still more than most people's 30%, so I should feel really chuffed. You know what, that's great! I assume your IRS would have no problem with that either...

Sometimes, but not always. Often the US will actually abstain from votes, and the US doesn't use its veto any more often than the other permanent members of the Security Council. China and Russia in particular veto a lot of resolutions. It's the way the Council is set up - any of the big five can veto resolutions.

Give an example of one resolution by the Security Council that contradicted US national interests and yet wasn't vetoed. As counter examples, I can give you Russia, which voted for sanctions and actions against Yugoslavia despite being traditional allies, and France that voted for sanctions and actions against Iraq despite huge trade agreements that were in place beforehand.

You don't appear to have done a ton of research on this. First of all, there is currently no UN War Crimes Tribunal to be recognized - the entire dispute was over the treaties that would (if passed) form it. The US was not concerned with, as you seem to imply, actual human rights violations or war crimes by its own troops abroad, but rather with the rampant anti-US sentiment in many countries. Most military and government officials fear that the UN War Crimes Tribunal system as currently proposed would make it far too easy for frivolous suits to be brought in order to harrass American peacekeepers abroad (either from those who dislike Americans to begin with, or who have some political reason to want to hamper a particular mission). In general I support the idea of a tribunal, but I do agree that there need to be safeguards against frivolous suits. As it's currently proposed the entire system would be bogged down with numerous unfounded complaints, probably mostly directed against Israel and the United States.
I'll just ignore your snide remark, I prefer to discuss in a civil manner.
War Crimes Tribunal that was proposed (before being struck down by US) was modelled after the one formed in The Hague for war crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia. The difference would be that the jurisdiction would extend to all member-countries, not just the Balkans. However, US actions in Iraq (destruction of a convoy of retreating army and civilians with 1000+ dead, bombing of a civilian bomb shelter in Baghdad...), Afganistan and Sudan (cruise missile attacks on sovereign nation that destroyed among other things a pharmaceuticals factory in medicine-starved Sudan)... As for Israel, well I think there's even enough TV footage to convict of war crimes and crimes against humanity most of the cabinet in any given Israeli gov't from 1948 to date. Of course, we also have Indonesia - big buyer of US weaponry, Turkey - NATO ally ... Gee, I wonder why the US doesn't want an int'l war crimes tribunal?!


--
http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=89158&cid=7713039


[ Parent ]
random mumblings (none / 0) (#20)
by Delirium on Tue May 08, 2001 at 06:38:29 AM EST

Largest they probably are, backer they most certainly are not. To USA the UN is nothing but a body for int'l enforcement of US policies. Don't even get me started on the UN sanctions - most of the nations that deserve them don't have them, most that are under sanctions don't deserve them.

Well, nations that deserve them not having them can be blamed on the US's veto vote in the Security Council. But you can't pin the blame for UN sanctions against nations that don't deserve them solely on the US. Since any real sanctions have to be passed through the Security Council, this means that China, France, Russia, and the UK also must have assented (by at the least not using their opportunity to veto sanctions, if they indeed felt they were unjust). Not to mention that resolutions still need a majority of all members of the Security Council, which would indicate assent amongst at least some of the rotating member nations.

Peacekeeping missions? Aside from the Balkans, where US always wanted to establish military dominance anyway, can you please specify where the US troops "lead" a peacekeeping mission in terms of number of forces provided?

The only other recent example I can think of is in Somalia, which regardless of the messy turnout was a UN mission. But yes, Bosnia is the current largest US commitment, though it's through a multinational mostly-NATO force that works with the UN, but is not controlled by it. But on the other hand, I can't really think of any major non-US-led successful peacekeeping missions. The only ones that come to mind are the ones in Africa, which the US is wary of after the Somalia mess, and those aren't turning out any better generally.

As for the war crimes tribunal, I still think that it'd be used to harrass the US if it engaged in any activity whatsoever. Every single death that happened even remotely near a US soldier would result in someone bringing charges. Same with any unpopular country - Israel would be even worse off, and the Irish would bring up charges against the UK every chance they get.

Back to the issue of the dues, the US, while the largest deadbeat in terms of actual money owed, is certainly not the only one. From what I can find online, the UN is currently owed approximately $2.5 billion, of which approximately $1.1 billion is owed by the US. Now since the US's dues are 25% of the total UN dues, this means that its payment rate is slightly more than half the average (it accounts for 25% of the dues, but around 45% of the missing payments). Not stellar to be sure, but not atrocious; not paying the UN seems to be the fashion these days. All the same I'd certainly support paying the dues; they're really a rather paltry sum, something on the order of $300 million per year. I think a large part of the opposition comes from people who oppose much of the entire concept of the UN to begin with though, so that's unlikely to convince them. It's pretty clear that the deliberate non-payment is out of principle, not greed; the total amount owed the UN, including back payments, is not even 0.5% of a single year worth of welfare payments, so it's not really any significant monetary savings to the US.

Anyway I agree with some of what you're saying, but my main problem is with unconditionally taking the side of the non-Americans; that's not any better than unconditionally taking the side of Americans.

[ Parent ]

US pulled out of Somalia (4.00 / 1) (#24)
by cretin on Tue May 08, 2001 at 07:12:06 AM EST

Leaving everyone else to clean up their mess. Is that what you call "leading"? What were they leading? A retreat?

Digging deeper, you will find that the US presence in Somalia owing to which US lives were lost was not part of a UN peacekeeping mission at all. The UN mission included 3000 US personnel as logistical support, and was headed byt a US admiral, with a Turkish general as force commander. The UN mission was a success, stabilising the situation and ending the famine. The US mission to capture the warlord (I forget his name) was a failure.

To summarise: The UN mission was a success. The US mission ended in a messy failure.

"Truth in Labelling" - with thanks to Steve B.
[ Parent ]

If you can't think of any... (4.80 / 5) (#26)
by DeHans on Tue May 08, 2001 at 07:41:35 AM EST

current peacekeeping missions not led by the U.S. then I'll help you:

  • Congo: Force Commander Major-General Mountaga Diallo (Senegal)
  • Ethiopia / Eritrea: Force Commander Major General Patrick C. Cammaert (Netherlands)
  • Sierra Leone: Force Commander Lieutenant-General Daniel Ishmael Opande (Kenya)
  • Western Sahara: Force Commander Brigadier-General Claude Buze (Belgium)
  • East Timor: Force Commander Lieutenant-General Boonsrang Niumpradit (Thailand)
  • India-Pakistan: Force Commander Major-General Manuel Saavedra (Uruguay)

These missions vary in mandate, ranging from observers to full armies, and in strength, ranging from about 200 men to about 10.000 men. Some have been running for more than 10 years!!!

For more info look at the current peace keeping missions of the U.N.

So, don't think there are no missions led by Americans, just beacuse your media don't report them

[ Parent ]
Detail (none / 0) (#84)
by strumco on Thu May 10, 2001 at 10:12:20 AM EST

? Aside from the Balkans, where US always wanted to establish military dominance anyway, can you please specify where the US troops "lead" a peacekeeping mission in terms of number of forces provided?
The Americans only provide 20% of the KFOR troops in the Balkans.

DC
http://www.strum.co.uk
[ Parent ]

Veto record (5.00 / 2) (#21)
by Vulch on Tue May 08, 2001 at 06:48:25 AM EST

Sometimes, but not always. Often the US will actually abstain from votes, and the US doesn't use its veto any more often than the other permanent members of the Security Council. China and Russia in particular veto a lot of resolutions.

If you look at the record of UN Security Council vetoes you'll find the USA has used its veto far more often in the last 25 years than any of the other permanent members. Nearly three times as often as the UK which holds second place, and almost eight times as often as the USSR/Russia which is fourth behind France.

In the last five years there have been five vetoes, three from the USA and two from China, but you have to go back to the eras of Stalin and Kruschev before the majority of vetoes swings away from the USA.

[ Parent ]

veto (4.00 / 1) (#23)
by Delirium on Tue May 08, 2001 at 06:58:14 AM EST

The interesting historical thing is that from 1946-1965 the USSR used its veto over 100 times, while the US used it exactly zero times. That big of an imbalance seems rather odd. Anyone knowledgeable about that era of the UN have any comment? Did the US have the rest of the Council lined up behind it so it didn't ever need to veto (while Russia did)?

As for lately, it seems that the veto isn't that widely used at all. You noted that the US vetoed 3 resolutions, and China 2 in the last 5 years, but that's not even one per year for each country. It seems lately the majority of the resolutions pass or fail with a simple majority vote (often failing because of numerous absentions, if i recall correctly). Which would seem to give less weight to the "US abuses its power" argument, if the US has only even used that power three times in five years...

[ Parent ]

I'm late to the party... (4.50 / 2) (#89)
by SbooX on Fri May 11, 2001 at 12:58:43 PM EST

but I may be able to shed some light on this.

Back in those days communist China did not have a place on the security council. China's seat was filled by Taiwan, who the US recognized as the only legit Chinesse govt. This essentially left the US, UK, France and Taiwan vs. the USSR. Its a pretty safe bet that the big 4 ganged up on the Soviets a fair ammount.

Also back then, the Secretary General was pretty much controlled by the US. It wasn't until the 1970's I think that a non US loving leader was elected. Since then, America's love affair with the UN has been going down hill, largely due to the fact that we don't always get what we want.

---

god is silly. MGL 272:36
[ Parent ]

Who leads the peacekeeping missions???? (none / 0) (#45)
by Jordan Block on Tue May 08, 2001 at 02:05:18 PM EST

CANADA!

[ Parent ]
peacekeeping (none / 0) (#49)
by Delirium on Tue May 08, 2001 at 02:33:45 PM EST

According to un.org, Poland actually leads the peacekeeping missions (with ~1000 soldiers). Canada isn't even on the top 10 list. [shrug]. They all look like low numbers to me; no country offers more than 1000 soldiers?

[ Parent ]
Retaliation and reciprocation are 2 diff. things (4.00 / 1) (#63)
by Robert Hutchinson on Tue May 08, 2001 at 05:23:30 PM EST

US wasn't kicked out of the United Nations, it was just not re-elected to the United Nations Human Rights Commission.
That's no reason not to kick out the UN.
Kicking the UN out of New York (presumably to another country altogether) would only hurt USA. Having the UN HQ on its soil gives US a lot of leverage through political semantics.
And there's nothing the USA needs more than political leverage. Look at all the good we do with it, when given the chance.

Robert Hutchinson
No bomb-throwing required.

[ Parent ]

voting (4.16 / 6) (#2)
by Delirium on Tue May 08, 2001 at 03:05:28 AM EST

FWIW this wasn't technically being thrown out so much as not being re-elected. The elections for the commission are every X years, and the US has just happened to win one of the spots every election until this one. This one it lost by 3 votes (I believe it had 29 votes, while the last chair in the Western Europe/N.America region was filled by a country with 32 votes).

In that case... (2.83 / 6) (#4)
by physicsgod on Tue May 08, 2001 at 03:26:59 AM EST

Why don't we bomb the hell out of the country that took our seat (and maybe lob a few tons of explosive at the countries that didn't vote for us). That should send a message to all those peons that they should run the world the way we want it run, and be happy about it!

Now, if you'll excuse me I'll be removing my tounge from my cheek.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
well (none / 0) (#6)
by Delirium on Tue May 08, 2001 at 03:39:17 AM EST

Cuz we're allies with all the countries that filled the seats in our region. =]

[ Parent ]
Thrown out vs not being re-elected (3.50 / 2) (#28)
by Anonymous 242 on Tue May 08, 2001 at 09:09:52 AM EST

FWIW this wasn't technically being thrown out so much as not being re-elected.
Isn't the battle cry of the challenger against an incumbent more often than not the cry of "Throw the bum out!" It seems to me that in a case where: the US has just happened to win one of the spots every election until this one, it is quite fair to say that the US was thrown off the council.

Of course, this is just semantics. There is only a difference in perception, not in the facts. Kind of like the differences between being forced to quit, being layed off, and being fired.

[ Parent ]

Embarrassing, but probably won't change too much (4.25 / 4) (#5)
by MisterX on Tue May 08, 2001 at 03:32:21 AM EST

I read about this last week in the Bangkok Post. I must admit that I did have a chuckle to myself about it - China being elected to the UN Commission on Human Rights but not the USA is wonderfully ironic.

Not surprisingly, the reaction from other countries to this tends to fall along the expected lines. The Chinese and Cuban governments are crowing while other governments more favourable to the US are playing it down.

Interestingly, the report in the Bangkok Post makes absolutely no mention of the dues owed by the US instead citing "total rejection of any criticism of Israel" as a possible cause. I'm not sure about that - I don't tend to follow international politics very closely.

Personally, I see this as a slap on the wrist to the US government by other countries - friends included - reminding them that no matter how big and powerful you are, you still need to play ball once in a while. This is the United Nations we're talking about here. I doubt this will have too much effect on current US foreign policy but it may make them think twice about such policies in future.

A good thing, I think. I'm looking forward to seeing what others here make of this.



the Israel problem (4.20 / 5) (#9)
by Delirium on Tue May 08, 2001 at 04:04:11 AM EST

I read about this last week in the Bangkok Post. I must admit that I did have a chuckle to myself about it - China being elected to the UN Commission on Human Rights but not the USA is wonderfully ironic.

Not to mention Syria and Sudan. The UN Human Rights Commission is going to have to do a lot of work to convince anyone that a commission with Syria as a member can do any significant work towards more human rights (though they aren't as bad as some countries in terms of things like religious tolerance - of Christians, not Jews of course - Syria offers virtually no political or intellectual freedoms).

Not surprisingly, the reaction from other countries to this tends to fall along the expected lines. The Chinese and Cuban governments are crowing while other governments more favourable to the US are playing it down.

Well, obviously Cuba and China are going to try to twist this into a rejection of US condemnation of those two countries. I don't think that's really the case though. The UN Human Rights Commission (unlike the Security Council) is a majority-vote-based commission, so the US cannot unilaterally pass anything; the condemnations of China and Cuba had to have received the support of quite a few other countries to pass.

Interestingly, the report in the Bangkok Post makes absolutely no mention of the dues owed by the US instead citing "total rejection of any criticism of Israel" as a possible cause. I'm not sure about that - I don't tend to follow international politics very closely.

From what I've read on the subject, that does appear to be the case. There are quite a lot of Arab countries with UN votes, and at the moment antipathy towards Israel is the primary goal of many (most?) of them. I don't think they even used the other issues (dues and such) as an excuse; generally they've been pretty straightforward in saying that the US needs to condemn Israel's "atrocities" and are quite irritated that it hasn't. If the US did, even a few times, strongly condemn Israel for human rights violations, you can bet many of those same countries would be lining up behind the US in an instant (having the US on the commission might be less favorable than say, Syria, but having the US on your side condemning Israel would also be more helpful and carry more weight than having Syria on your side condemning Israel). This is bolstered by the strong showing of France - it received 52 votes compared to the US's 29. That's not coincidentally related to its strong support of the Palestinians.

Personally, I see this as a slap on the wrist to the US government by other countries - friends included - reminding them that no matter how big and powerful you are, you still need to play ball once in a while. This is the United Nations we're talking about here. I doubt this will have too much effect on current US foreign policy but it may make them think twice about such policies in future.

I'm not sure. The US did get 29 votes for the commission seat, most of those from allies, so I don't think it was really an indication of dwindling support amongst the country's friends (by comparison, the last seat on the commission in the US's region was filled with 32 votes, so this wasn't even a particularly decisive loss).

The only real ways the US could react to this in its foreign policy would be to either ignore it (as appears to be the case currently) or to adopt a more anti-Israel stance to curry favor with Arab nations. I don't think a seat on the UN Human Rights Commission is significant enough to cause such a drastic change in US foreign policy though.

[Disclaimer: I'm not taking either a pro-Israel or pro-Arab stance here (or anti- either of them). I'm just attempting to analyze the reasons leading to this decision, which I do believe stem mainly from anti-Israeli sentiment amongst Arabs reacting to the US's support of Israel.]

[ Parent ]

anti-Israeli sentiment mostly (4.33 / 9) (#8)
by Delirium on Tue May 08, 2001 at 03:46:38 AM EST

Ok, I did a bit of research into this, and the main source cited by opponents of the US being on the commission is that they think the US is too lenient with Israel; they think the US should strongly condemn Israel for its human rights violations, while the US's response has generally been tepid ("we'd really rather you didn't reoccupy part of Gaza" is about as strong as it gets). In particular, the US received no support from predominantly Arab or Muslim countries, who instead favored Syria, Sudan, China, and to some extent France.

So it really has a lot more to do with politics of the Middle East than anything else; it's not really related to perceived "arrogance" or any dispute about dues. It's the same thing you see with the Pope's visit the Middle East; it's come to the point where everything Israel does is controlled by anti-Arab interest, and everything Arabs do is controlled by anti-Israel interest. And since there's lots of Arab nations with UN votes and only one Israel, they win these sorts of votes.

It's more than Israel (4.33 / 3) (#14)
by Philipp on Tue May 08, 2001 at 05:14:24 AM EST

A lot has to happen before the US gets votes from Arab countries. What should be more worrysome that countries in Europe, South America, Africa, and Asia get increasingly frustrated with the US, for many reasons:
  • Declaring Kyoto anti-global warming treaty "dead"
  • Blocking the International Criminal Court
  • Not signing the anti land mine treaty
  • Not ratifying nuclear test ban treaty
  • Insisting on patents for AIDS drugs
  • Not paying its dues
And this is just what I can remember right now. The US seems to believe that it can do without the UN, and only uses it when it is convenient. Some US senators (Jesse Helms) say this very openly. Also, Bush killed Kyoto, because he wouldn't do anything that would harm the US economy.

The rest of the world has very ambivalent feelings towards the US (even allies such as European countries). On the one hand you cannot have global progress without the US participating, but then the US only participates when it is to their own benefit.

Does the rest of the world have the strength to, e.g., fight global warming, even without US doing its part? I hope so.

alias kn 'killall -9 netscape-communicator'
[ Parent ]

not really (4.00 / 1) (#15)
by Delirium on Tue May 08, 2001 at 05:22:13 AM EST

While the things you cite might be annoyances to many countries, I don't believe they were really the decisive issue here. Things like the anti-landmine treaty, environmental accords, etc., are all pet issues of Europeans typically. However, the Europeans mostly still voted for the US in this particular vote (most of the 29 votes for the US were from allies - Europeans plus Canada, Japan, and a few others). The countries that did not support the US were primarily the ones to whom Israel is the major (sometimes seemingly only) concern, hence my post.

[ Parent ]
Some elaboration (3.00 / 1) (#16)
by Philipp on Tue May 08, 2001 at 05:42:48 AM EST

Israel is an issue where the US stand very alone, resolutions in the UN normally go US, Israel, UK (the 51st state) against everybody else. This has been like that for decades.

Currently, there are millions of people dying of AIDS in Africa. The currently standing proposal of the US is to offer a $1 billion credit to buy AIDS drugs. A loan that these countries could not repay and therefore simple refuted. The US is the most adamant supporter of drug companies patent rights that prevent the manufacture of generic drugs.

The Kyoto treaty is not just a "pet treaty" of Europeans. It has strong support in Japan. Countries such as the Maledives see it as a life or death issue. If the water level rises only a few feet, that country would disappear.

In a lot of ways the US behaves like a rogue nation. For instance the missle attack on a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan, on the bases of suspicions that turn out completely unfounded. Read more here.

A good read is also a recent ReWired article. The expressed feelings in there, by the way, are not fringe opions, but common attitudes all over the world.

alias kn 'killall -9 netscape-communicator'
[ Parent ]

rambling on us and non-us (3.00 / 1) (#19)
by Delirium on Tue May 08, 2001 at 06:11:26 AM EST

Israel is an issue where the US stand very alone, resolutions in the UN normally go US, Israel, UK (the 51st state) against everybody else. This has been like that for decades.

Yeah, and I think that's a large portion of the problem. With Israel being a hot issue lately, it's the basis (IMO) of a very large portion of the anti-US resentment. If the US were to adopt a strong stance condemning Israel's military actions, for example, I think a good deal of nations (primarily Arab and Muslim ones, but a few others as well) would forgive any other disagreements and welcome it as "an ally in the fight against Zionism" or something of that sort. Israel is for many countries right now (and to varying degrees for the past few decades) really the only important issue; US support of Israel makes the US an enemy, while US condemnation of Israel would quickly make it many friends in certain parts of the world, regardless of any other disagreements.

Currently, there are millions of people dying of AIDS in Africa. The currently standing proposal of the US is to offer a $1 billion credit to buy AIDS drugs. A loan that these countries could not repay and therefore simple refuted. The US is the most adamant supporter of drug companies patent rights that prevent the manufacture of generic drugs.

Well, that's because the drug companies are laregly in the US. Even if supporting the drug companies were the right thing to do (I'm not saying it is; I haven't studied the issue sufficiently to decide either way), I'd expect that the US would be the only one doing so; no other countries have a significant financial interest at stake, so they have no reason to support the drug companies. So I don't think the simple fact that the US supports them while the majority of the world opposes them proves anything; that's simply how you'd expect things to be if each country were acting in its own self-interest.

The Kyoto treaty is not just a "pet treaty" of Europeans. It has strong support in Japan. Countries such as the Maledives see it as a life or death issue. If the water level rises only a few feet, that country would disappear.

Well yes; it's main a European concern, but there are a few other countries who strongly support it (Japan and Canada often side with the Europeans in international affairs). I see both problems and good things in the Kyoto protocol; I think both sides of the issue are at least partially wrong. The Bush administration is wrong to completely scrap it; the unconditional defenders of the treaty are wrong in asserting that it has no problems that need to be solved before adoption.

In a lot of ways the US behaves like a rogue nation. For instance the missle attack on a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan, on the bases of suspicions that turn out completely unfounded.

Well, I personally opposed the attacks on both Sudan and Afghanistan, regardless of whether they were well-founded or not. From what I've read there's strong doubts about whether anything illicit was being made at the Sudanese plant, though there are conflicting reports (even from non-US groups), while most seem to agree that the Afghanistani strikes were actually against terrorist camps, as was claimed. Either way, I don't think they were a good idea. They certainly didn't do enough military damage to significantly hamper any terrorist operations, and as far as a message, they did more to incite anti-American feeling than to deter terrorism, since the US was clearly not prepared to back up their threats with full-scale assaults in foreign countries (or with anything more than they did really; it was clear that this was a one-time strike, and everyone was free to resume whatever they were doing previously).

A good read is also a recent ReWired article. The expressed feelings in there, by the way, are not fringe opions, but common attitudes all over the world.

Yeah, I'm fairly aware of opinions of Americans in other countries. Half my family is Greek, and I visit there quite often, and there's fairly open anti-American sentiment there. While some of it is justified, a lot of it isn't. For example, Greeks mostly are angry at the United States because of its perceived support of Turkey; while the US does support Turkey as part of NATO, it also supports Greece quite a bit (also as part of NATO, as well as lingering Marshall Plan type programs), and generally tries to remain neutral. This in many cases is the cause of problems - this attempt at neutrality leads to the Turks thinking the US is too pro-Greek, and the Greeks thinking the US is too pro-Turk, and then everyone ends up hating the US. Generally with a country as powerful as the US, where it's clear that it can do a lot of things, many people won't be happy unless it does everything they think should be done. Frankly, I don't think most Greeks would be happy with the US unless it invaded Cyprus and expelled the Turks from the island, and possibly from a few other disputed Aegean islands for good measure (and maybe some of Asia Minor too.)

Anyway that long Greece side-rant was just an example of anti-American opinions I've perceived. In my experience many foreigners have many of the same faults they criticize Americans for; it's just that the US is the superpower so a convenient target. If you take a look at things, the Europeans and others are quite intransigent and rather arrogant on a good deal of issues (stuff like running Aerobus as a cartel, tit for tat trade disputes, etc.).

So my main point is that I agree that the US is often at fault, and certainly neither the country nor its citizens are perfect. However, I'd caution against unconditionally taking the other side in arguments; Europeans, Japanese, Arabs, Israelis, Africans, South Americans, etc., all have significant faults as well, though they might not come up as often. But I guarantee you that if someone else, say France, were the current world superpower, they'd be the ones bearing the brunt of everyone's disdain rather than the US.

[ Parent ]

Harumph (none / 0) (#60)
by ghjm on Tue May 08, 2001 at 04:18:32 PM EST

The UK isn't the 51st state, it's the 52nd. Canada was a US state well before the UK became one. So there.

[ Parent ]
We stand alone a hell of a lot more often (none / 0) (#62)
by ZanThrax on Tue May 08, 2001 at 04:58:48 PM EST

than the UK does. I don't think the British have disagreed with what the US told them to do since the end of WWII.

Time for a new .sig


[ Parent ]
Not true (none / 0) (#83)
by strumco on Thu May 10, 2001 at 09:45:57 AM EST

I don't think the British have disagreed with what the US told them to do since the end of WWII.
Well, we sent them quite a stiff letter after they invaded Grenada without telling us.

DC
http://www.strum.co.uk
[ Parent ]

So does New Hampshire. (none / 0) (#100)
by ghjm on Sun May 13, 2001 at 11:53:48 PM EST

Name one thing, of any kind, that's uniquely Canadian. Bonus points if you can do it without involving Quebec.

[ Parent ]
The Arab rulers really care about these things? (none / 0) (#91)
by marlowe on Fri May 11, 2001 at 03:44:28 PM EST

That's a bit of a stretch.

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
Voted off another UNESCO body (3.85 / 7) (#13)
by finn on Tue May 08, 2001 at 04:59:19 AM EST

The US has been voted off another UNESCO body - International Narcotics Control Board (BBC News article).

As the chap says, "There's clearly something happening out there".


----


Re: Voted off another UNESCO body (3.50 / 2) (#22)
by Ray Dassen on Tue May 08, 2001 at 06:49:51 AM EST

What the BBC story doesn't note, but the yahoo one does, is that the Netherlands was elected. The Dutch policy towards drugs (distinguishing soft drugs from hard drugs; tolerating possession of and small-scale sales of soft drogs) seems to be becoming less of a pariah internationally.

[ Parent ]
ECOSOC, not UNESCO (4.00 / 1) (#33)
by Kellnerin on Tue May 08, 2001 at 10:23:25 AM EST

The International Narcotics Control Board is a UN Economic and Social Council body, not affiliated with UNESCO (according to the UN Department of Public Information, the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization is an "autonomous organization working with the United Nations ... through the coordinating machinery of the Economic and Social Council.") Also, according to the INCB annual report, its 13 members "serve in their personal capacity, not as governmental representatives." It seems to be more of a monitoring and enforcement body than a policy-making one. So I'm not sure this is such a horrible slap in the face that the US candidate wasn't elected, but considering that both INCB and UNHRC are elected by the same body (i.e, ECOSOC), and that the votes took place on the same day, there's certainly a trend here ...

--Stop it, evil hand, stop it!--
[ Parent ]
Voting process important (4.28 / 7) (#18)
by bjrubble on Tue May 08, 2001 at 06:02:37 AM EST

I didn't see it in the links, but the voting process goes by group. That means the US was competing against 3 Western European countries for 3 open spots, while Sudan was competing against other countries for other spots. The voters didn't choose Sudan over the US. Although they did choose France, Sweden, and someone else I can't remember. This also means that the Commission isn't in that much danger of being "taken over" by the abusers; they are mostly confined to their (admittedly large) blocs.

The other thing is that this doesn't happen unless a lot of our "friends" are angry at us. The abusers always vote against us, it's takes places like Denmark or New Zealand or Canada voting against us for us to actually lose. Secret ballot, of course, but the numbers aren't at all near our "friend" count.

In my mind, this is a canary in a coal mine. The UNHRC is a feel-good yet largely powerless group; but it raises the question, if the US can't even keep itself elected to this chair, how is it going to manage the really hard stuff?

Intriguing (4.00 / 4) (#27)
by jd on Tue May 08, 2001 at 09:05:19 AM EST

And not entirely unexpected. The US does not have a particularly good human rights record, has a phenominally bad record on paying, and has been playing hard-ball ever since GWB got into office.

(Indeed, the US has, more than once, considered withdrawing from the UN altogether. The reasons vary, but are usually along the lines of "uniting nations is a socialist trap", or "they're part of the illuminati, and want to take over the world".)

Having said that, some of the countries voted in are likely to be just as bad news, if not worse. Sometimes, it really =is= better, the devil you know. The countries named may well give the Human Rights Commision a louder bark, but likely at the cost of ripping the few teeth it had out.

IMHO, the UN needs to spend more time and effort in being effective, rather than being "politically correct". Bob Geldoff (KBE) visited the UN, after the spectacular success of the Live Aid international concert in obtaining aid and essentially shaming governments into being more active. (Though that didn't last long.) His opinion was that they were a bunch of stuffy nobodies, who waffled a lot but said nothing.

The UN has a serious problem, and it's not just the US. If the UN is seen as ineffective and immature, and the next generation of inhabitants are the ones who've done the seeing, then the UN will REMAIN ineffective and immature.

The "shows of strength" that the UN has attempted, in Bosnia, for example, were amazingly ineffective. Two, maybe three, UN "safe havens" were totally overrun, and UN "peace-keepers" were forced to flee. Serbia ignored the UN, and was only forced to suspend its plans on building an empire, when the US finally condescended to take action.

Even then, the "house arrest" of Milosovich looks more like a staged operation, until the media goes away. After that, we may well see Serbia continue it's plans of conquering. And, now that Europe has shown itself as "weak" and an "enemy to Serbs", there is no reason to believe that such a plan would stop on Yugoslavia's borders.

THIS is the kind of danger the UN creates, rather than removes. Without teeth, without real direction, without any ability to enforce it's resolutions, and without any ability to penalize countries that violate those resolutions, it's nothing more than a stage show.

This is not to say that the UN =can't= be effective, but it can only be effective if it's taken seriously. And that is something that the existing UN is incapable of.

Result: The US losing a seat is going to create a few headlines, but that's it.

Put up or shut up (4.00 / 6) (#29)
by jabber on Tue May 08, 2001 at 09:39:39 AM EST

There are a couple of reasons why this happenned. First off, it is back-lash from the countries that the US has lorded "Human Rights" over in the last decade or few. This is payback for the 'holier than thou' attitude that the US has taken within the UN, and despite the UN, to push it's agenda onto less developed and less influential nations.

What this removal from power does is take away from the US the means (to some extent) of continuing to force other nations to abide by it's policies in the name of "Human Rights". Now, if the US complains about Human Rights violations in China, it is simply stating an opinion, and has no more leverage that any othe member of the UN. Previously, while on the Committee, the US could sway sanction votes and issue authoritative statements against those nations which it saw as violating Human Rights. Facts aside, it was a powerful bargaining tool. This takes away the US megaphone on the issue.

Effectively, if the US wants to now continue to force the 'lesser' nations to honor it's policies, it will have to change it's tactics. It will no longer be able to hold World Opinion as a barganing chip. It will no longer be able to threaten blackmail with sanctions over humanitarian transgression. It will now have to kiss arse like everyone else. It will have to admit that it values it's own people's convenience over the wellfare of the global population, as evidenced by the walkout from the Kyoto treaty and it's opposition to the ban on anti-personnel mines.

Consider that to politically embarass China now, the US will have to go on a rabid marketting campaign world-wide to keep pushing the Human Rights issue. The US just doesn't have the voice anymore to simply issue a statement and have it be respected. The US will now have to butt heads economically instead, and face the facts that it needs Chinese manufacturing prowess - and has to pay for it. The US will now have to be a lot more delicate about who and why it would extend it's proposed missile defense system over. It might have to make such a system Global, instead of only including those countries which honor it's version of "Human Rights".

What's more, the US might get a taste of it's own medicine. Certainly, the US is light years ahead of places like Sudan and Sierra Leone in popular safety and overall quality of life, but the embarassment of having diplomats from those countries issue statements on the fact that in the Land Of The Free war veterans suffer side-effects from toxins they were exposed to during past wars, that they suffer mental illness and die of malnutrition and exposure on the streets of New York and Los Angeles, that children shoot each other in schools... Well, it's all true, and we all know it. The US being held accountible for such things on the World Stage, by the likes of Sierra Leone of all places, would be an embarassment that the US could not really afford, given it's arrogance.

Ultimatelly, this is an overdue humbling experience. The US will have to put up or shut up. It will have to come to terms that it is one of many nations in the world. In some aspects it is better than most, in others it is worst of them all. The US will have to make nice, even with the little guy in the funny hat, who runs that little country of limited strategic importance. And if the US doesn't, all those little guys in funny hats will gang up on it, call it a 'rougue nation', and slap sanctions on it that will make the impending $3/gal gas prices of this Summer look like a blessing.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

Um, yeah. (4.00 / 5) (#31)
by regeya on Tue May 08, 2001 at 09:59:14 AM EST

Let's ignore the fact that the U.S. at one point wouldn't get involved with anything outside its own borders, and that other nations were furious that we wouldn't engage in military action in other countries.

Yes, let's conveniently ignore that it was the rest of the world, not the U.S., that wanted the U.S. to act as World Police. The rest of the world's changed their mind now, and wants to ignore the fact that, a mere century ago, they were singing a totally different tune.

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

A mere century ago? (3.00 / 1) (#34)
by jabber on Tue May 08, 2001 at 10:42:18 AM EST

The world was a completely different place 'a mere century ago'.. Hell, a mere 2.5 centuries ago the US didn't exist. Two mere millenia ago Romans ruled the known world (and the Chinese ruled the rest). A mere 60 million years ago, dinosaurs roamed the earth.. I see your point.. Nothing's changed.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

A mere century ago? (none / 0) (#88)
by kirghiz on Fri May 11, 2001 at 11:09:06 AM EST

Hmm... 1901.

British Empire intact, Brits still running India, French still in Indo-China, Africa divvied up between the European powers. I don't know what the US was doing at the time. I wonder why not?

Perhaps you meant a half-century ago... 1951. A totally different story, with the European empires in ruins, Europe itself just recovering (and the recovery is still not complete) from the self-annihilation of two world wars. Placing the Americans in the driving seat, where they've been since.

Who is to say that in another half-century the USA will no longer exist? I think Americans have a tendency to generalize about the future based on the past half-century. Perhaps not knowing your own history does this...

[ Parent ]

*ha ha ha ha* (4.00 / 1) (#32)
by _Quinn on Tue May 08, 2001 at 10:19:46 AM EST

"... face the facts that it needs Chinese manufacturing prowess - and has to pay for it."

   Excuse me while I roll out of my chair laughing. The economy of the United States is nine times larger than China's, and quite frankly, depends less on import and export (well, oil, but we have more than large enough reserves to conquer Venezuela (or wherever) if worse comes to worse) than other country within shouting distance of the top fifty. That's why the US is so fond of economic sanctions, and the Europeans not -- it would require, quite literally, the entire rest of the world to embargo the United States before it became a substantial problem. And all of them would be hurt very nearly as badly as the US would.

   That being said, being able to bully doesn't mean that the US should. And it is true that the US has declined in importance (from just over half the world economy to just under a third) since World War II -- and that the US should put up, but the idea of being forced to do anything by the UN is ludricous enough to make me laugh.

-_Quinn
Reality Maintenance Group, Silver City Construction Co., Ltd.
[ Parent ]
So what you're saying is.. (3.00 / 1) (#35)
by jabber on Tue May 08, 2001 at 10:50:16 AM EST

that we are on the verge of an economic Cold War?

I never said that this was a polar reversal of roles. All this does is take the 'human rights' card out of the US hand. It changes things somewhat, and forces the US to reevaluate it's tactics and strategies wrt those countries over whom it has previously held a 'moral judgement' regarding human rights, that's all.

Why does everyone always jump to conclusions, and assume that just because something is changing a little, it's suddenly all different?

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

US as abuser? (3.57 / 7) (#36)
by jasonab on Tue May 08, 2001 at 11:01:46 AM EST

I totally do not understand the people here talking about the poor human rights record of the US. Regardless of what issues the US may have, we do not kill prisoners to harvest their organs, we do not detain people without trial (and hold them incommunicado, to boot), we do not arrest people because of their religion, we do not force abortions on mothers, and we do not send people to "reeducation camps." And that's not even mentioning Sudan!

The #1 reason the US was kicked off the commission is because abuser countries don't want their records exposed. Even as we continue to make the US the land of the free, we must continue to expose the evils of this world wherever they exist. Popularity is a small price to pay for defending the defenseless.

Oh? (none / 0) (#47)
by bored on Tue May 08, 2001 at 02:29:52 PM EST

I think I could effectively argue that the US does "detain people without trial" and we do send people to "reeducation camps." I know what you were thinking when you made these statements but to a lesser extent things like this do happen in the US. Then there are the human rights violations that we don't talk about, like police brutality for instance. There is something fundamentally wrong with the nation that claims it is freer than any other imprisoning a larger percentage of its population than any other nation in the world.

[ Parent ]
Sure we talk... (none / 0) (#66)
by brion on Tue May 08, 2001 at 06:31:34 PM EST

Then there are the human rights violations that we don't talk about, like police brutality for instance.

Seems like I can hardly open a newspaper without reading about a member of X-minority group being brutalized by police. Certainly we talk about it! Don't *do* much about it, but we do talk about it...



Chu vi parolas Vikipedion?
[ Parent ]
Our fun wars (4.50 / 2) (#86)
by coffee17 on Thu May 10, 2001 at 05:05:51 PM EST

Don't forget our human rights abuses which have been brought about by our war on poverty and our war on drugs. The war on poverty thru many people from mental institutions to the loving and well-warmed-at-night street. Also, a lot of "flop houses" have been closed down. Given a choice between sleeping in a flop house and the street, I'd at least try a flop house once, sleeping on the street sucked, especially when it would rain.

then there's the war on drugs which brought about such great things as seizure of property without needing prof of guilt, and requiring the ex-owner of said property to prove the innocense of the property in order to get it back. Not to mention the jailing of non-violent drug offenders. And possibly as bad as the jailing is the slander which has been spread against drug users (not just drug abusers). Things are bad enough that people have lost their jobs and become mostly unemployable when they were never convicted of a crime. The mere accusation is more than enough to fuck someone over. And do you think these fucked over people will "learn the error of their ways" and suddenly become greatly productive people?

[ Parent ]

Reasons? (5.00 / 1) (#48)
by blixco on Tue May 08, 2001 at 02:32:41 PM EST

we do not kill prisoners to harvest their organs
Nope. We just kill them without doing anything useful or beneficial with their bodies.
we do not detain people without trial (and hold them incommunicado, to boot)
Everyone I know who has been arrested (I admit that's only a couple of hundred people) is held without trial. Some have been given their phone call. After 4 days, most have been released. One is still in prison, but has never been charged.

As terrible as some other countries are, the US purports to be a sanctuary of freedom, a place where human rights are not abused. That's the myth, the advertisement. No one believes this anymore, but if they do, here's a list that might help change their minds.

Just because we're not as bad as "third world" (whatever that means) countries, doesn't mean we are perfect. In the context of the UN, though, it seems they are more interested in balance of representation, and not so much in human rights records.
-------------------------------------------
The root of the problem has been isolated.
[ Parent ]

UN (5.00 / 1) (#55)
by Delirium on Tue May 08, 2001 at 03:25:54 PM EST

Nope. We just kill them without doing anything useful or beneficial with their bodies.

Well, that's certainly an improvement. At least that way there isn't a positive incentive to kill. Turning executions into a major revenue source for the government is dangerous.

Everyone I know who has been arrested (I admit that's only a couple of hundred people) is held without trial. Some have been given their phone call. After 4 days, most have been released. One is still in prison, but has never been charged. As terrible as some other countries are, the US purports to be a sanctuary of freedom, a place where human rights are not abused. That's the myth, the advertisement. No one believes this anymore, but if they do, here's a list that might help change their minds.

Most people consider the US far better than other countries in this regard, even many foreigners I know. Sure, people are held without trial, but pending trial. Courts rarely deny a request for writ of habeus corpus (a list of charges and reasons for being held). There are only approximately 20-25 people being held incommunicado without charges, and these are all non-US citizens suspected of involvement in terrorism. While I oppose this (as do several Congressmen working to change the way things are done in those cases), it's nowhere near as widespread as you seem to indicate.

Just because we're not as bad as "third world" (whatever that means) countries, doesn't mean we are perfect. In the context of the UN, though, it seems they are more interested in balance of representation, and not so much in human rights records.

That's probably true, which is what I see as a major problem with the UN. In many many areas they're more interested in the balance of representation (what trhurler disparaged as "egalitarianism between nations") than actually getting anything useful done. It seems as long as the representation is balanced it's ok if that representation doesn't actually do anything. As for this current issue, it seems more a backlash against the US refusal to criticize Israel's human rights record (whether this is good or bad is another issue entirely).

[ Parent ]

correction (none / 0) (#65)
by Delirium on Tue May 08, 2001 at 06:06:18 PM EST

There are only approximately 20-25 people being held incommunicado without charges, and these are all non-US citizens suspected of involvement in terrorism.

After doing a bit more research, it doesn't even appear to be this bad. There are approximately 20-25 people being held indefinitely without being informed of charges against them, but they none of them are being held incommunicado - all of them have access to at the very least a lawyer and their families. The main problem is that neither they nor their lawyers have access to the charges, because the charges themselves are classified. I still oppose it, but even in its extremely limited form this isn't neraly as bad as what happens routinely in places like China.

[ Parent ]

Right. (none / 0) (#68)
by blixco on Tue May 08, 2001 at 11:28:58 PM EST

OK. I'll concede that things aren't "as bad" as china.

Things are still pretty freaking awful for a country that purports to be the champion of things such as human rights and freedom.

And I think we agree that the real issue isn't the actual offenses, but the politics of the situation.

Human rights violations occur in this country with a fairly alarming regularity. More than that, though: we have this thing called the constitution that we seem to ignore when it best suits the folks in charge. Things like free speech and freedom of assembly (or the ability to disagree with the popular rule) are ignored. The rest of the world sees this as hypocritical; we're The Land of The Free with a million or more in jail.

I'm less interested in what the UN thinks of us and more interested in the truth about this country. The UN (and any ensuing headlines) might bring the media to bear on the issue....but I didn't see this getting covered in any media outlet other than kuro5hin.
-------------------------------------------
The root of the problem has been isolated.
[ Parent ]

boy that just makes me feel all gushy inside (1.10 / 10) (#76)
by mushroom on Wed May 09, 2001 at 12:40:37 PM EST

"I know. Sure, people are held without trial, but pending trial. Courts rarely deny a request for writ of habeus corpus (a list of charges and r reasons for being held). " WOW WE ARE SO GREAT. WE DESERVE A PAT ON THE FUCKING BACK. WE MAY SUCK ASS BUT AT LEAST WE ARE BETTER THAN MOST PEOPLE SORT OF LIKE OUR ARMY IS BETTER THAN MOST ARMIES OH WAIT, THAT WOULD NEVER BE ACCEPTABLE. WE NEED TO BUILD MORE BOMBS FOR PEACE!

[ Parent ]
hrm (none / 0) (#70)
by delmoi on Wed May 09, 2001 at 02:06:23 AM EST

Regardless of what issues the US may have, we do not kill prisoners to harvest their organs,

No, but we do kill a lot of people, usually poor minorities that can't afford good legal representation

we do not detain people without trial

Kevin Mintnik? Wen Ho Lee?

Objectively, no, the US probably isn't as bad as China. but that doesn't mean we're perfect either.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
grrr (none / 0) (#93)
by axxeman on Fri May 11, 2001 at 10:26:07 PM EST

Your pretty-picture-rating-thinge does not work in Opera. IE evil. Nutscrape BAAAAAD!

Being or not being married isn't going to stop bestiality or incest. --- FlightTest
[ Parent ]

holding without trial (1.28 / 7) (#75)
by mushroom on Wed May 09, 2001 at 12:35:03 PM EST

ever heard of kevin mitnick? as for the rest of it, get a clue. you cant even discuss the bible in american public school. we dont have 'reeducation through labor' but we do have thousands of people in jail for smoking pot, and they are given the 'great opportunity' to 'redeem' themselves by working for 50 cents an hour in privately for-profit corporately owned prisons. you sound like the nazis who used to say 'the international rumors of jewish abuse are outlandish lies'

[ Parent ]
And ? (none / 0) (#95)
by mami on Sat May 12, 2001 at 10:25:57 PM EST

I would expect from a country, which claims to be the leader of the free, democratic world and a superpower, to compare itself with other democratic, Western European countries. It's very easy to claim a superior human rights record, if one compares oneself just with countries, which haven't had a long history of constitutional democracies, free elections and industrial development.

If you want to make a fair comparison, I think you should look at the human rights record of the U.S. since 1950 and compare it to countries that belonged to the "developed" and non-communist world. Then tell me why the U.S. is so superior. (as those were also the competitors against which the U.S. competed for a seat).

Can you tell me why for example the U.S. has a better human rights record than France, Great Britain, Sweden, Holland or Switzerland etc. ?





[ Parent ]
Hehehehe... (3.17 / 17) (#37)
by trhurler on Tue May 08, 2001 at 11:21:11 AM EST

China? Sudan?! Hehehe... well, the UN human rights commission just officially became a total fucking joke, if it ever was anything else. China kills people convicted of stealing food from street vendors(after sham trials, no less,) and then harvests their organs for sale to foriegners with money. They torture and murder people that even they regard as innocent as a way of getting information. They strictly censor everything. They assault religions they disagree with. In China, you have no enforcable rights to speak of. Sudan makes China look like a paradise.

Anyway, we've now officially seen that the UN is more interested in trying to enforce some ridiculous notion of egalitarianism among nations than it is solving any real problems. We ought to just kick their asses out of New York, quit giving them billions of dollars a year only to be told we're not paying our fair share, and see what the UN means when the largest economic and military power in the world doesn't want to play anymore.

Let's see the UN "Security Council" oust the next invader into some oil rich nation without US help. I mean, really. What a joke. They'll find that "binding resolutions" don't mean dick without huge carriers, massively long range bombers, AWACS style communications and control, antiradar weaponry, the best avionics money can buy, and so on. None of which most of our "allies" have in any significant quantity. The US flew 70% of the flights against Iraq in 1991. There's a reason for that - the other 30% were considered safe enough that allied planes probably wouldn't go down flying them despite their inferior avionics and weapons systems. Of course, we don't say that in public, seeing as it isn't a way to endear yourself to your "allies," but why are we pandering to a coalition of impotent screaming little kids anyway?! Do we really need to listen to France "deploring this action," Russia threatening us with some unspecified harm(what, a noogie?!) every time they don't get their way, China making ominous growling noises as though they actually think they can bite the big dog without getting snapped in half, and Saddam Hussein's goons rumbling on about destroying the great Satan while simultaneously begging us to quit bombing their air defenses?!

Let's see the IMF continue to function after we quit giving them money to prop up their ill-advised ventures.

Let's see the blue helmets "keep the peace" without US communications, command, and control infrastructure. I mean, really. This one will be especially rich; I'm sure all the world will be happy when their sons and daughters start coming home in bags for lack of proper communications.

Fucking pathetic morons. If they want to make a point, WE should make a point. We've got Iraq accusing the US of gross violations of human rights at the UN - think about that. Those clowns shouldn't even be allowed in a UN facility for anything but a damned war crimes tribunal!

The UN is the sickest joke ever perpetrated on mankind.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

pride before the fall, etc (none / 0) (#40)
by speek on Tue May 08, 2001 at 12:50:05 PM EST

Although it often feels good to lash out in this childish fashion when wronged, it's just not constructive. If you work in a team, and you are individually wronged, do you stamp your feet and walk out, saying, "let's see how they do without me"? Maybe so - I certainly have seen many do that, and I've felt that way myself many, many times. But, for a country to act that way would be very stupid. For the most powerful country in the world to act that way would be stupid and bizarre. Usually, those who truly are in a position of power do not have to act so ridiculous - they're confident enough to let such things slide off. They simply get back to work trying to improve things.

That's what the US should do. It's possible we're wrong on some things, and we should fix that. It's possible we've damaged our relationships with our allies, and if so, we should fix that too. To assert that we don't need anyone else is to let your arrogance cloud your judgement. We absolutely need the rest of the world. They are critical to our livelihoods here in the US.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

You're missing one thing here (2.00 / 1) (#43)
by trhurler on Tue May 08, 2001 at 01:17:34 PM EST

These people are not just asking us to work on a team. They're taking more from us than most of them combined put in, and then they're going after us if we don't go along with their delusions of splendor. You know what I did in school when a group project was full of people who thought I'd do all the work for them? I let them all fail. I still passed the course - they didn't. Similarly, if we don't go along with the demands of some two bit dictator in a desert, nothing too horrid will happen to us, even if we suffer a bit, whereas if he decides to stomp on OUR toes, we're going to have stubbed toes and he's going to starve in the desert.

All that said, the UN is not and has never been a team. Early on, it was mainly a tool of the west, and lately, it is becoming a tool by which others exact their revenge on the west. The US needs trade with other countries, but it isn't as though those other countries don't need it just as much; we don't need the UN for that. Whenever the UN embarks on a military venture, either it is trivial to the point of being irrelevant to US interests or else it has to be primarily run by US forces anyway; we don't need the UN for that. They're just there to take our money and gripe at us for not giving more and pretending they're all as big and strong as we are. Who needs that?

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Take it from another viewpoint (4.00 / 1) (#79)
by Corwin on Wed May 09, 2001 at 12:45:02 PM EST

These people are not just asking us to work on a team. They're taking more from us than most of them combined put in, and then they're going after us if we don't go along with their delusions of splendor.
It appears to me that you're saying that whomever puts in the most money should have more say in how affairs are handled. Money equals power, right?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't that something that a democracy or republic is supposed to be against? All the people vote on who gets to lead them, right? Just like all these countries voted on who gets to lead them?

If I am reading your post correctly, it should be a fair extrapolation to say that you would support your country being run by the CEOs of the five richest corporations in your country, because after all they pay more taxes (membership dues) to the government than most of the rest of us combined, don't they?

---
I'm in search of myself. Have you seen me anywhere?
[ Parent ]
changed the subject (none / 0) (#85)
by speek on Thu May 10, 2001 at 01:31:19 PM EST

Our problem isn't with two-bit dictators in the desert. Our problem is with our "allies". If we're pissing off our allies, that strikes me as a problem that should be handled in a mature fashion.

They're taking more from us than most of them combined put in...

You make it sound as though the US is being oppressed. Do you really believe they're getting more from the US than the US gets from the rest of the world? You know what I did in school when a group project was full of people who thought I'd do all the work for them?

Given your arrogance, I wouldn't be at all surprised by the problems you must run into with people on a daily basis.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Hum hum (none / 0) (#98)
by Betcour on Sun May 13, 2001 at 10:40:06 AM EST

These people are not just asking us to work on a team. They're taking more from us than most of them combined put in

Okay look at your shoes... where were they made ? Look around you ? How many things were made in the US ? 5, 10% ? The US depends on the rest of the world for it's survival - heck the trade balance is hugely negative. Now if the US think it can live all by itself without any other country fine, but don't come crying after about how expensive your life is, how gas prices have gone thru the roof, etc...

[ Parent ]
Relax (none / 0) (#41)
by rawthorne on Tue May 08, 2001 at 01:01:28 PM EST

chill, have a beer, have a smoke, cool down. What happened, the UN rape your mom?

There were three places available to Western countries on the UNHRC. Austria, Sweden and France got chosen. The US didn't. Big fucking deal. Nobody gave a shit about the UNHRC when the US was on it, nobody'll give a shit about now the US is off it either. Deal with it, no-one else is crying.

[ Parent ]

Sure... (none / 0) (#44)
by trhurler on Tue May 08, 2001 at 01:25:13 PM EST

And they're forming a court that can prosecute US citizens on US soil without the consent of the US government despite the fact that most of their trials to date have been mockeries of justice by US standards and despite the fact that they offer NONE of the protections of the US legal system to defendants, and they're starting to rumble about essentially taking over the job of the Fed, and their one-nation one-vote regime is causing ridiculous propositions such as nonbinding resolutions to put peacekeeping forces in Washington DC to actually have as much as 10% support(they've never voted on such a thing, to my knowledge, but there's been talk of it among the various idiot-states such as Iraq, Sudan, and so on,) and that's barely the beginning. We ought to be kicking these peoples' asses in, rather than giving them money.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
trials (none / 0) (#52)
by Delirium on Tue May 08, 2001 at 03:19:44 PM EST

Well, your first point is exactly why the US refuses to support the proposed international court. Many congressmen (perhaps a majority) are ardently opposed to any situation taht could lead to an American being convicted in a trial that offered anything less than the full rights and protections of the US justice system.

[ Parent ]
Yes, but... (none / 0) (#56)
by trhurler on Tue May 08, 2001 at 03:31:33 PM EST

That's beside the point. We can refuse to support it all we want; if they vote for it, we either have to openly defy the UN on a major policy initiative or else put up with it. The former is as good as saying the US isn't a member of the UN anymore; it says we'll do what we want, and ignore the rest. The latter would be unconstitutional and foolish, among other failings.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
One name : OJ Simpson (none / 0) (#97)
by Betcour on Sun May 13, 2001 at 10:32:50 AM EST

Yeah - the US is the pinnacle of perfection, the place where justice is always so perfect no other country can come close. After all, if OJ Simpson can buy his innocence and if you can fry *real* innocent people just because they are black and poor, how better can it be ?

[ Parent ]
isn't genocide a human rights violation? (4.00 / 1) (#46)
by fonebone on Tue May 08, 2001 at 02:21:14 PM EST

Fucking pathetic morons. If they want to make a point, WE should make a point. We've got Iraq accusing the US of gross violations of human rights at the UN - think about that. Those clowns shouldn't even be allowed in a UN facility for anything but a damned war crimes tribunal!

The UN is the sickest joke ever perpetrated on mankind.

actually, during the gulf war, the united states bombed all the major food producing factories in Iraq while demanding a trade embargo. the result was a million deaths due to starvation in Iraq.

if you're wondering why you didn't hear anything about this, it's because the US reported these bombings (knowingly as a lie) as destroying weapons factories. of course, you'd never hear about this through american news. try this video on free speech tv.




---
PHP and Ajax Web Development
[ Parent ]
Not that I have the facts here... (4.50 / 2) (#50)
by trhurler on Tue May 08, 2001 at 03:11:49 PM EST

But just HOW did Iraq count those bodies? The US isn't good at that sort of thing on that scale, and we're a lot more organized, well equipped, and so on than Iraq. In addition, Iraq consistently lies to everyone about everything anytime they think it will help them. So, what I want to know is, if this is true and can be verified, why didn't the Democrats bring it out to beat up on Republicans at some point? It would have been a crushing blow, after all, and surely some Democrat SOMEWHERE knew about it!

Answer? Because you've just bought into a bunch of propaganda, most likely. Odds are the death toll was much lower, and probably included a lot of people who were starving anyway as a result of Saddam's insane economic policies. I don't doubt that the US did some sick things in that conflict; for all that we talk about being nice guys, we usually fight wars to win, and Vietnam was a painful lesson in what happens if you don't. However, a million dead? That's a little bit hard to believe without some evidence other than a video made by someone with an ax to grind.

Then again, remember that we don't have a leader who has his guards kidnap young women, rapes them repeatedly, and then has them killed and dumped off the sides of rural roads, either... Saddam has been known to do that.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
even if it were 1 thousand... (none / 0) (#54)
by fonebone on Tue May 08, 2001 at 03:25:25 PM EST

Odds are the death toll was much lower, and probably included a lot of people who were starving anyway as a result of Saddam's insane economic policies. I don't doubt that the US did some sick things in that conflict; for all that we talk about being nice guys, we usually fight wars to win, and Vietnam was a painful lesson in what happens if you don't. However, a million dead? That's a little bit hard to believe without some evidence other than a video made by someone with an ax to grind.

well, i don't dispute that number seems plucked out of the air. and, it's hard to believe in those 'facts' when there's no references (as far as i remember, i watched it quite a while ago). but, there's no doubt in my mind that the US did bomb food factories right along with weapons factories. and there's no doubt in anyone's mind that the US started the trade embargo.

the point is, even if it wasn't 1 million dead as a direct result of the US, the US did fight that 'war' partially geared towards hurting innocent civilians, something that definitely goes against anyone's human rights.




---
PHP and Ajax Web Development
[ Parent ]
Well, (5.00 / 2) (#59)
by trhurler on Tue May 08, 2001 at 03:46:29 PM EST

I will be the first to say that in a war, human rights are violated. That is why starting wars is unacceptable; military aggression is beneath contempt. However, once someone has started a war against you, you have two choices. You can fight back, which will mean that you will engage in some violations of rights, or else you can be trampled, in which case you can rest assured that the violations will be more numerous and carried out for a far longer period of time, not to mention being targeted at your people exclusively.

Now, whether the US should have moved to help Kuwait is another question, but if helping Kuwait was a worthy cause to fight for, then yes, people were going to be mistreated in doing so. That's war. Don't like it? Don't go to war. There is no such thing as a "gentleman's war." Anyone who tells you otherwise is a fool or a liar, and fairly obviously has never seen an actual war. As early as the US Civil War, long before the serious development of the study of logistics, there were generals on both sides who were convinced that the best way to win was to crush the other side economically - which means dead civilians. They were right - and the thing about a war is, if the other guy will do things that you won't, then you are going to lose - which means you have to be willing to kill civilians, or else you might as well just concede and go home, letting the enemy do whatever he pleases.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Hehehe (4.00 / 1) (#61)
by ZanThrax on Tue May 08, 2001 at 04:53:16 PM EST

Of couse, your sources are far more reliable right trhurler? I mean, you must have first-hand knowledge of the particular evils that Saddam engages in, because, after all, if the person telling you something doesn't have unquestionable proof, its just a propaganda attempt, right?

Time for a new .sig


[ Parent ]
Iraq (4.50 / 2) (#51)
by Delirium on Tue May 08, 2001 at 03:17:20 PM EST

1) The trade embargo passed the UN Security Council. This requires the assent of China, the UK, France, and Russia (and a majority of total members, which means the assent of at least a few of the rotating members). So if indeed this is "genocide," then quite a few countries are guilty of genocide indeed.

2) The truth about casualty totals is mostly likely somewhere in between. Undoubtedly the US did bomb several non-weapons factories. Whether this was known ahead of time or not is not entirely clear; even the US does not have perfect reconaissance. While it's fine to not completely buy US propaganda, I'd caution against completely buying even less accurate Iraqi propaganda.

[ Parent ]

propaganda <= truth (none / 0) (#58)
by fonebone on Tue May 08, 2001 at 03:34:44 PM EST

The trade embargo passed the UN Security Council. This requires the assent of China, the UK, France, and Russia (and a majority of total members, which means the assent of at least a few of the rotating members). So if indeed this is "genocide," then quite a few countries are guilty of genocide indeed.

sure, a trade embargo is a perfectly legitimate way of bringing a country to it's knees. what the US did was take away Iraq's ability to feed themselves before/during the embargo. The US (and the UN) had a problem with the leadership of Iraq, not with the people of Iraq. They should have realised that Saddam wasn't nearly responsible enough to react to starving citizens.

The truth about casualty totals is mostly likely somewhere in between. Undoubtedly the US did bomb several non-weapons factories. Whether this was known ahead of time or not is not entirely clear; even the US does not have perfect reconaissance. While it's fine to not completely buy US propaganda, I'd caution against completely buying even less accurate Iraqi propaganda.

I wouldn't be surprised if this piece exaggerated the truth a bit, and it clearly stands out as propaganda. I don't take any of their numbers as fact, but it's hard to dismiss the entire thing. I really wouldn't be surprised for a second if the US and previous knowledge concerning which factories produced what. I'm sure they had the manpower to do a little research.




---
PHP and Ajax Web Development
[ Parent ]
Do you realize... (5.00 / 1) (#64)
by trhurler on Tue May 08, 2001 at 05:48:56 PM EST

Saddam regularly starved a lot of his own people anyway, all the moreso when he was gearing up for a conflict - he'd use the output of his food producers to provide for his military at the expense of any and all else. Odds are those people weren't getting that food anyway, and odds are the Iraqi military was getting it. We saw the news reports about Iraqis deserting - do you really think they were scared of our army, or do you think maybe being hungry, confused, and constantly bombarded with the techniques of psychological warfare(pictures of dead comrades, etc,) might have had some effect on this? I'm guessing the latter.

That said, I stand by what I said before - war is not a civilized thing. You cannot fight a civilized war. People die, and some of them are going to be innocents. Don't like it, don't fight wars. But be prepared for the fact that your decision to be the better man won't keep the other guy from killing you.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
war crimes (1.60 / 5) (#78)
by mushroom on Wed May 09, 2001 at 12:42:54 PM EST

"if we were gonna do this sort of work we had better make sure we won this war" -- chuck yeager on strafing civilians in WWII

[ Parent ]
This is perverse. (2.87 / 8) (#38)
by xdc on Tue May 08, 2001 at 11:32:59 AM EST

Sudan and China are on the UN Human Rights Commission and the US is not. Wow. Clearly, it is the United Nations that is intolerably arrogant and wrongheaded -- far in excess of any US "arrogance". Read this Weekly Standard article on Sudan and this one on China for glimpses of their dismal human rights records.

Despite all of this country's faults, I must consider myself very fortunate to be an American -- certainly where human rights are concerned.

Human rights (3.50 / 2) (#42)
by fluffy grue on Tue May 08, 2001 at 01:13:23 PM EST

My feelings are that as bad as China and Sudan are, at least they're open about how bad they are. The US as a whole tends to turn a blind eye to the problems, and just says, "Oh, we're great, we have no problems whatsoever," which just makes it more hypocritical. The US is certainly not perfect, but as a whole, the US claims to be.

I mean, just think: if China were really as oppressive as we're led to believe, would we actually hear about any of their problems?
--
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

different question (4.00 / 1) (#53)
by ichimunki on Tue May 08, 2001 at 03:20:44 PM EST

rather than ask "if they were so oppressive, would we even hear about their problems?" perhaps we should ask, "given what we are hearing about, what else is there that we aren't hearing about?"

(note: i'm not defending the U.S. -- but i think our (as an American) issues are quite out in the open (look at Cincinnati recently), but most Americans don't want to talk about it since this sort of introspection is distracting at the drive-thru)

[ Parent ]
I don't see the problem (4.83 / 6) (#39)
by YesNoCancel on Tue May 08, 2001 at 12:02:06 PM EST

The voting process for the seats goes by group, and there were four western countries (Austria, France, Sweden, United States) competing for three seats. The three countries that got the seats most likely have better human rights records than the US. So, what's the problem?

There's no problem (none / 0) (#96)
by Betcour on Sun May 13, 2001 at 10:25:21 AM EST

The USA are just pissed of that for once they didn't got their ass publicaly kissed but other countries. Worse, as they know nothing about how the UN nations work, they think Sudan took their seat and hence draw the conclusion that's a rigged election.

Apparently the fact that it's a democratic process flies high above their head, but then what does USA knows about democracy when they have to count and recount and recount the votes of some elderly people in florida to know who is their president (and then put the guy who had less votes as the winner).

[ Parent ]
Of the 4 western countries standing... (4.66 / 6) (#57)
by Uri on Tue May 08, 2001 at 03:31:41 PM EST

... the US definitely has the weakest human rights record. Yes, it's way better than China's and Sudan's, but if there was no attempt to have representation from all around the world, you'd just end up with a group of Western countries telling everybuddy else what to do.
As to why the US was ejected: maybe it was something to do with its opinions on landmines, its attitude to the availability Aids drugs, its refusal to condemn its allies (Israel), its obsession with condemning its foes (Cuba), and its atrocious death penalty record (it's the only country apart from Saudi Arabia, DR Congo and Yemen to execute children; it's one of the only countries to execute the mentally ill; and it has an atrocious record both on race-factors in death-penalty trials, and in failing to prove consular contact to foreigners in such trials). Don't get me wrong, I think the US is great! It'd just help dropping the "holier than thou" attitude for a moment, and doing a bit of soul-searching.

better then sudan? (none / 0) (#71)
by kellan on Wed May 09, 2001 at 03:31:31 AM EST

i'll reserve judgement on that question until Sudan bombs all our medicine factories like we did to them.

kellan

[ Parent ]
Re: better than Sudan? (none / 0) (#73)
by Uri on Wed May 09, 2001 at 06:45:57 AM EST

While bombing Sudan was a gross violation of its sovereignty and international law, the human rights situation in Sudan is frightening, even in comparison to the US. This has mainly been the result of a long and bloody civil war between an Islamic government in the north, and Christian and animist rebel forces in the south. Presently, there are huge restrictions on freedoms of expression, association, religion and press, and a total ban on opposition parties and trade unions. Slavery is still practiced, and the government's increasingly fundamentalist line has made negotiations very difficult.

[ Parent ]
tongue in cheek (none / 0) (#80)
by kellan on Wed May 09, 2001 at 05:20:59 PM EST

i think you overstate the case a bit, but that is natural to the medium. you're right, sudan is going through ugly times, i did some research on it as part of a trip to africa i'm planning, and it definitely made the list of "only visit here if you want to come home in a box".

my comment was tongue in cheek. i don't remember what you said in your original comment, doesn't particularly sound like i was arguing with you (i would go back and check but i'm on a slow connection), but i know i've made a similiar remark to several people recently as an attempt to point out that not all human rights abuse look the same.

kellan

[ Parent ]

Why China? (1.66 / 3) (#67)
by aralin on Tue May 08, 2001 at 06:58:18 PM EST

Its absolutely clear that China should sit on this board. There are several reasons for this but let's say at least the two most important:
  • China has 1.2 billion people which accounts 1/5 of world population.
  • China has a lot of work to do on this field and it should have therefore some vote in how it will be done.
If there would be just countries with no problems, what would this be about? Just like when US was leading it, about blackmailing smaller countries that have enough economical problems to even waste money on treating human rights accordingly. And let's be honest for a while it COST A LOT of money! If for example China should waste money on taking their human rights on par with UN treaties, more people would starve to death than would be oppressed by the regime.

A False Argument (5.00 / 2) (#74)
by Matrix on Wed May 09, 2001 at 08:34:57 AM EST

Your argument presumes several things:

  1. That the population will be fed if they are oppressed and will not be fed if they are not oppressed.
  2. That it costs more money to not execute those who speak out against the government or attempt to express unpopular political opinions than it does to do so.
  3. That the Chinese government has any interest whatsoever in improving human rights within China. If they don't, a seat on this board isn't going to do a whole lot of good.

I'm not saying that the US deserved their seats - given what they've done to their own population and the natives, they probably don't. I am, however, saying that China is far worse.


Matrix
"...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
- Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]

They may have a lot of work to do but have they (4.50 / 2) (#102)
by hjones on Mon May 14, 2001 at 01:16:01 PM EST

any intention of doing it?
"Nietzsche is dead, but given the way of men, there may still be caves for thousands of years in which his shadow will be shown. And we -- we small-minded weaklings, we still have to vanquish his shadow too." - The Antinietzsche
[ Parent ]
US Congress threatens to withhold all UN payments (5.00 / 3) (#69)
by Delirium on Wed May 09, 2001 at 12:20:43 AM EST

(This should be fun for those of you already pissed off at the US.)

In response to being voted off this commission, a bipartisan group of lawmakers is introducing a bill to withhold all UN funding if the US isn't restored to the seat in next year's vote. It's co-sponsored by the ranking Republican and ranking Democrat on the House International Relations Committee, and seems to have strong bipartisan support, so will probably pass (whether it'll pass the Senate is another matter).

Stories at the New York Times (free registration required) and CNN.

[And for those of you wondering how this is possible when the US already owes the UN a bunch of money, it's because the US still pays most of its current dues. It just doesn't pay them in full, and hasn't yet paid most of the back dues it owes from previous years. What it does pay still accounts for over 20% of the UN's total budget though, so there's significant financial leverage.]

It kind of misses the point, doesn't it? (5.00 / 1) (#90)
by marlowe on Fri May 11, 2001 at 02:54:46 PM EST

I see this episode as yet another wake-up call. Don't try to fix the UN. It's always been beyond repair. A debating society with its membership chosen by political means, and with pretentions of moral authority. Give up on it and get on with our own foreign policy already.

We should've given up on the UN long ago. But our politicians never saw a misconceived program they didn't love. They still think they can make it work. It's like they're codependent or something.

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
Democracy (2.00 / 1) (#94)
by marx on Fri May 11, 2001 at 10:51:02 PM EST

[...] membership chosen by political means [...]

What do you mean by that? If a country is democratic, I guess the representatives have been chosen democratically. Or what do you mean by membership?

The UN is the only institution resembling a global democratic institution. I thought democracy was good, is it somehow bad because people come from other countries? The UN works just like a country, where weak people can vote for things that are hurting them to go away, why should it be different for countries? The only complaint I can see is that the votes are not properly distributed. The veto votes are very undemocratic, but maybe neccessary in the past, and the principle "one vote, one country" makes collections of small countries unreasonably strong. I guess "one man, one vote" will never come to light though, since then south-east Asia would totally dominate (or even just China-India, they have 1/3 of the population). It's hypocritical though, it's like saying "there are too many poor people in this country, if everyone could vote, they would totally dominate our country!", or whatever.

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

How did you manage to miss the point? (none / 0) (#99)
by marlowe on Sun May 13, 2001 at 06:30:26 PM EST

Most of these representatives come from countires that don't have democracy. They most defintely are not chosen by democratic methods.

Did you really not know this?

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
Not central to the issue (none / 0) (#103)
by marx on Mon May 14, 2001 at 01:31:16 PM EST

I must admit I did miss that point, however, I don't think it was in your original post. If "membership chosen by political means" somehow is supposed to imply that, then I don't see it.

Neverthless, it's not central to the issue. The UN as it is now is more democratic and useful than no UN at all. The alternative is to have some criteria for joining, i.e. democracy and capitalism (I'm quite sure that democracy alone is not enough to satisfy the US, see Chile and Allende), but then you'd have essentially what NATO is, and the solution would be war and not peace.

Also, requiring democracy is a bit hypocritical, since it's an arbitrary term. When the US was founded, it was democracy. Yet, a majority of the population could not vote (i.e. non-whites and women). I guess by that definition, you could say China is a democracy, i.e. only high-ranking officials in the Communist party are allowed to vote (I'm not sure of the intricacies of the political system there, but I'm sure they have a voting process for determining the chairman for instance). It's also arrogant to think that somehow, this point in time is the peak in democratic and moral thinking. I'm sure that in 100 years they will look back on us and consider us very undemocratic for not giving rights to animals, or having such poor democratic mechanisms (the two-party system in the US is not very empowering for the people for example, they're basically voting against something bad instead of something good), just as we look back and see previous governments as barbaric.

Finally, I find your viewpoint a bit contradictory to your .sig: "I'm not looking for perfection. I'll settle for adequacy." Do as I say and not as I do, eh?

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

Some actual numbers from UN (4.00 / 2) (#72)
by kraft on Wed May 09, 2001 at 06:33:45 AM EST

I worked for the UN Information Centre in Copenhagen for a while, and spent some time reading up on the UN. The US owes over $1.6 billion.

There is SO much misconception about the UN. Have a look at 'Setting the record straigt - Facts about the United Nations', which IMO is the best single source for info about the UN.

Here are some extracts:
- The total cost of all UN peacekeeping operations in 1998 was some $907 million -- the equivalent of less than .5 per cent of the US military budget, and less than 0.2 per cent of global military spending.

- The United States' assessed share of UN peacekeeping expenses -- nearly 31 per cent of the yearly total -- has dropped by over two thirds, from about $1 billion in 1995 to $284 million in 1997. This equals less than one-quarter of 1 per cent of the annual US military budget.

- The USA's share of the UN's regular budget for 1999 is $298 million -- the equivalent of $1.11 per American. Tiny San Marino, by comparison, pays $4.26 per citizen to the UN.


-Kraft

--
a signature has the format "dash-dash-newline-text". dammit.
Why just US (4.00 / 2) (#81)
by strlen on Wed May 09, 2001 at 10:13:37 PM EST

Why not also get rid of United States' puppet, Saudi Arabia? Or Sudan, where there's actually institutionalized slavery? I understand that US commits human rights violations at home (it even fails to implement a proper health care system as demanded by UN; and people are so acustomed to police brutality, very few will trust police). But there's other countries, which are even more horrid in relation to US. Saudi Arabia, with judicial amputatiopns, no women's rights, no religious freedom, corpal punishment etc.. Singapore with corpal punishment, physical interrogations, death penalty for marijuana possesion etc..

Yes, US needs to stand up to its obligations, but so do others.



--
[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
America? (1.50 / 2) (#82)
by uniball on Thu May 10, 2001 at 02:38:46 AM EST

Would the World prefer a U.S. free U.N.? Remember the U.S. is just the personification of Western European colonialism. The sins of the father...

House votes against spending to UN (4.50 / 2) (#87)
by CreamyGoodness on Thu May 10, 2001 at 05:25:43 PM EST

Check it out on CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2001/ALLPOLITICS/05/10/congress.un/index.html Its funny how we react when the democratic process works against us. Steve

Lets not forget Jesse Helms (2.00 / 1) (#92)
by Harrington on Fri May 11, 2001 at 07:11:33 PM EST

For some time now, years, Jesse Helms (R. North Carolina) has been Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Helm's provincial antics used to embarrass only himself and his state. Now as our spokesman amongst the world of real statesmen and diplomates he embarasses the United States. We don't pay our dues, Bush has failed to send an ambassador, we have Jesse Helms to speak for us. And we are surprised when the UN democratically repudiates the US!?

link: "Europe vs. Human Rights" (4.00 / 1) (#101)
by xdc on Mon May 14, 2001 at 11:26:31 AM EST

Nina Shea has written about why the United States lost its place on the UN Human Rights Commission in the article, "Europe vs. Human Rights" (Weekly Standard, 21 May 2001). Shea, who "served as a member of the U.S. delegation at the recently concluded annual session of the commission," offers "four trends that are hastening the commission's decline into irrelevancy." The article sheds light on how the commission has been straying from the effective pursuit of its supposed purpose. An interesting read.

US thrown out of UN Human Rights Commission | 103 comments (100 topical, 3 editorial, 1 hidden)
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