oh yeah! http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2004/0202/029_print.html Current Events UN: Get Out of New York! Paul Johnson, 02.02.04 The year 2003 was a triumphant one for America. But much remains to be done to make the world a safer, fairer place. One problem: the UN. What's to be done about that nest of corruption, double standards and staggering incompetence? No point in rehashing the UN's unrelieved record of failure, which in Africa alone has cost hundreds of thousands of lives. I am not suggesting, at this stage, that the U.S. should leave the organization (or disorganization), although that may well happen in time. What I do suggest is that the U.S. should give the UN notice to quit. When America was the leader of a successful wartime coalition--and the world wished it to continue in that role--it made excellent sense to place UN headquarters in New York. But those days have long passed. America has accepted its world-policeman destiny, and the UN is merely a minor obstacle to the successful performance of that task. The place has become a mere theater of empty rhetoric and shameless deals supporting a growing tide of anti-Semitism and racism and--let us not be mealymouthed--state crime. It is a place where near-bankrupt dictatorships can sell their votes to the highest bidder. It is also a place where well-connected playboy diplomats from the Third World can indulge in an expense-account lifestyle in one of the richest cities on earth, ignoring the pitiful poverty of their home countries and often using their diplomatic immunity to break the law. This is an insult to the dignity of the human race. As the UN is now constituted, a far better location for it would be in a city near the gravitational center of the Afro-Eurasian landmass. There it would be close to the realities of the problems it ought to be tackling--poverty; bad, cruel and corrupt governments; international lawlessness; civil wars. The place I'd suggest is Dar es Salaam (though I can think of a half-dozen other equally suitable venues). Having UN headquarters there would hugely reduce the cost of running it and its associated activities from New York. It would also deter the playboy element that is one of the curses of the organization and help persuade both staff and delegations to take their jobs seriously. Personally, I fear the UN is a lost cause, incorrigibly frivolous and corrupt and beyond reform. But such a move might conceivably give the UN the fundamental jolt it needs. What Should Replace the UN at Its Site? Americans may despise the UN's community, but it forms an important part of New York City's economy and its departure would be felt. It should be replaced by a proper, law-abiding and practical world security organization, whose existence is already implicit in what the U.S. and its allies are trying to do in the world. Since the end of the 1980s and the collapse of the Evil Empire and communism, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization--perhaps the most successful alliance in world history--has been in need not so much of drastic reform but of actual replacement by an entity adapted to the 21st century. NATO was established for the defense of Europe--that is, central and western Europe--from an imminent military threat from the Soviet Union. NATO's location, logistics, composition and war plans all reflect that object. The threat has, for all practical purposes, vanished, but others have taken its place. There is a strong case for America, Britain and other allied stalwarts' maintaining bases in Germany as staging posts to more imminently relevant military theaters, such as the Middle East. But the actual deployment for war in central Europe makes no sense and is grotesquely expensive. Still more out of date is having NATO's headquarters in Belgium, a tiresome and self-righteous troublemaking country. It is, in effect, a French satellite and is given to passing laws that make it difficult for an international body to do its job there. Sensible Move A transfer to New York, to the extensive sites currently occupied by the UN, would make a great deal of geographical and administrative sense, since the U.S. is inevitably the fighting and diplomatic core of any updated world-security machine. Proximity to Washington and U.S. military headquarters, to weapons stockpiles and transport systems would obviously save time and money. New York is unrivaled as a communications center, something that cannot be said of Brussels. And New York's population mix reflects the teeming variety of all humanity, which the new system would be pledged to defend. New York is also close to the world's effective political center. Europe is a continent in relative economic and catastrophic population decline. The composition of its population has been changing rapidly since it lost control of its frontiers. The Muslim migration makes Europe unsuitable for a world base from which to fight, for example, fundamentalist terrorism. New York, however, is the leading city of a country with a Pacific coast and a glorious pacific future. This is important, for it is vital that a world security organization eventually include all the democratic powers that respect the rule of law--especially small but significant states such as Singapore and old faithfuls in Australasia, as well as India and Japan, which at present do not pull their weight in world affairs. New York, which suffered so brutally in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, deserves to play a key role in devising the machinery to make such tragedies much less likely in the future. Paul Johnson, eminent British historian and author, Lee Kuan Yew, senior minister of Singapore, and Ernesto Zedillo, Yale Center for the Study of Globalization, former president of Mexico, in addition to Forbes Chairman Caspar W. Weinberger, rotate in writing this column. To see past Current Events columns, visit our Web site at www.forbes.com/currentevents.