UN Reform and the United States: Fork in the Road

Europeans may be forgiven for thinking the United Nations just does not matter to Americans. Even political leaders on the side of American politics that supposedly guards the internationalist flame describe it as just one more wrench in the toolkit of American diplomacy.

The World Today Published 1 August 2005 Updated 15 October 2020 6 minute READ

Jeffrey Laurenti

Senior Fellow, The Century Foundation

High ranking figures in the current administration have publicly consigned it to irrelevance, and the modest political attention Washington has been paying this year to the debate on UN institutional reform may be seen as evidence of its marginality. Forgiven, maybe. But they still would be wrong.

The Washington frenzy about alleged corruption in the Iraq Oil-for-Food programme – which has all the fire and indignation, and as much substance, as did the Whitewater scandal a dozen years ago is evidence the United Nations does matter. Critics would not invest so much time and strategy to discredit a truly irrelevant institution. Compare the earnest efforts to reform the moribund Organization of American States – or NATO for that matter. Even the most high-minded editorial writer is hard put to devote space to them.

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