White elephant on Turtle Bay

John devoted one of his Daily Standard columns to the white elepaht the United Nations had planned for its expansion on Turtle Bay: “Trouble at Turtle Bay.” Plans for the white elephant appear to have run into insuperable obstacles. Today’s New York Sun runs an excellent editorial related to the subject: “Plan B.” The Sun editorial first invites the UN to leave New York. It then considers the larger issues raised by the organization’s institutional rot:

What we have come to object to is not the individual U.N. officials – many of whom are warm and idealistic individuals and fine neighbors – but the institution of the United Nations itself. It is largely a grouping of undemocratic states that seeks hegemony over democratic ones to protect, all too often, corrupt ends. When one raises this issue, defenders of the United Nations throw up all sorts of chaff about the constituent elements of the world body – the World Health Organization, say, or the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, or the International Labor Organization. What vainglory to suggest that these institutions, to the degree that they have value, cannot carry on either independently or in a new structure. The ILO was founded in 1919, 27 years before the United Nations. It survived the demise of its original host, the League of Nations. Surely it would survive the demise of the United Nations.
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Without the legitimacy of being in New York, the United Nations would fold like a cheap suit. An anti-American organization could no longer taunt its favorite punching bag from a swanky perch on our own soil. And the site at Turtle Bay would be available for more productive commercial or residential uses or as the headquarters of a new organization of free democracies that could pursue the quest on which the world set out 60 years ago to promote and encourage respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all.

The Sun invites the United Nations to leave New York. It’s about time somebody noticed that the problem of the United Nations goes far beyond Kofi Annan to the nature of the organization itself.

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