Tuesday 24 October 2017

Disunited Nations

Today, 24th October, is United Nations Day, though I haven't heard a whiff of information about it on the BBC news, or seen any mention in the papers.  However, there is no shortage of news about disunited squabbling (Mrs May v the EU and the rest of the world; Donald Trump v North Korea; to mention just two)

I suppose it is no surprise that the British press, and not only the Red Tops, should choose to demonise the negotiators on behalf of the EU and make desperate attempts to turn the fumbling efforts of the Brexiteers  into heroic shots from David's sling against an over-mighty Goliath.  And if we don't get our own way  we'll walk away.  So meuh!

I haven't yet heard a single concrete example of how Britain's economic prospects, political influence or prestige will be improved by leaning the EU: instead  a veritable Tsunami of predictions of woe if we are daft enough to go through with it and leave.  Much of this, agreed, is speculation, but there are also concrete facts, such as the plans of banks to move to Frankfurt or Dublin, postponements of investment by manufacturers, and a humiliating depreciation of the £.

Even more worrying is way the US/North Korea dispute is being conducted via childish Tweets which could make  the average  playground dispute look mature. The US foreign service must be tearing their hair.

The United Nations Organisation was set up to provide a mature and sophisticated  method of solving international disputes and promoting international co-operation.  It is worth remembering that the UK was instrumental in setting it up and is one of only five "super members" with a permanent seat, and veto, on the Security Council.  Today our Brexiteers are desperately negotiating to move us down  into the fourth division.

True the UN needs reform to reflect contemporary circumstances (the importance of India and Brazil, for example) rather than the perceived international league table of 1945.  The UK should be playing a constructive role in this.  Instead we are preoccupied with a childish skirmish in another arena, as well as neglecting the very real domestic problems which are daily taking us further down the international tables..

Some nostalgic buffoons suggest we should have another public holiday and that it should  be Trafalgar Day, 21st October.  (There was a march in London for those obsessed with our "glorious past" rather than our problematic present.).  I'm all in favour of an extra public holiday and suggest yet again that it should be United Nations Day, to encourage us to concentrate on the realities of trying to achieve  a constructive present rather than wallowing in delusions of past grandeur.

PS  Today is also World Polio Day. I'm not familiar with he details but I suspect that the discovery and distribution of the anti Polio Salk Vaccine owes more to public and charitable enterprise than the so-called  "free" market.


  1. One future political scenario could be that when our influence in the world declines though those in power still believe it is there along comes other countries overtaking us on the wings and vote us off the 'super members' slot.
    Equally will the future be that the UN drops the US after looking for new donars cos of Trump. Just a few thoughts.

    1. Reform of the UN opens up a very difficult can of worms. Given the growth in importance and influence of countries such as India, Japan and Brazil it is difficult to justify their "normal " status while Europe has not one but two "super members" (and neither is the most currently powerful European country of all, Germany!) It would have been nice in any reorganisation to trade the British and French seats on the Security Council for one EU seat, but that doesn't now look like a "goer."

      I hope the US is not expelled. Trump won't last for ever and one of the weaknesses of the League of Nations was the fact that the US wasn't a member.

  2. The United Nations Organisation was set up to provide a mature and sophisticated method of solving international disputes and promoting international co-operation

    God lord no. Quite the opposite. It was set up to provide an arena in which states could throw hissy fits without having to go to war.

    If you're in a snit about something that would in previous centuries have led to war, then you can instead have your representative storm out of the chamber and boycott the next few meetings of the security council. Or sabotage a few resolutions with your veto, or some such.

    In a world of nuclear weapons, where conflicts could escalate to the point of threatening the entire human race, this is clearly a useful safety valve to have, and quite possibly might have saved the world on more than one occasion.

    But 'sophisticated and mature' it is not and was never meant to be. It is specifically an arena for states to be childish in harmless ways, as opposed to times past where states being childish would lead to armed conflict.

    1. Well that's another way of putting it I suppose. But still better than nuclear annihilation as the result of an ill-considered tweet.