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News from the tranzis

Posted by Helen Friday, May 13, 2005

There are times when I wonder whether those organizations that are taking it upon themselves to run the world have not become so “drunk with sight of power” that they actually have started to bring about their own destruction.

Take the question of John Bolton’s nomination to be United States ambassador to the UN. You’d think all the tranzi-lovers would jump at the chance. Here is someone who will take the decrepit, corrupt, unaccountable, unreformable organization by the scruff of its neck and give it a good shake with the blessing of the largest donor.

At best, this will reform the UN. At worst, a little more time will be gained to root away in the trough.

After all, what was our greatest fear when the Santer Commission resigned, came back and finally went away (mostly)? That in their wisdom the member states will choose some upright Scandinavian (not the fragrant Margot, of course) who will try to put the whole mess into order, fail naturally, but, in the meantime lose us some time.

Instead, bless their little cotton socks, they chose Romano Prodi, who proceeded to make a laughing stock of the whole enterprise. This does not mean that the Commission or the EU will disappear tomorrow but a good deal of the growing disillusionment can be traced back to that fateful decision.

The row about Bolton, when all is said and done, boils down to the fact that he does not think very highly of the UN or other transnational organization, believes in democracy and thinks international politics should be conducted by individual states, preferably liberal and constitutional democracies.

Up with this the tranzis and their supporters will not put.

Well, they are playing into our hands. If the idea of a forcible reform of that bloated organization is not to be countenanced, then clearly, the best thing to do is to let it stew in its own unsavoury juice until it disintegrates through the disgust of all sane and sensible people.

Many of us think that the UN is unreformable because of its basic structure and assumptions. It is completely unaccountable and its pretensions to some form of world government are laughable. Most of its members do not subscribe to the humanitarian, freedom-loving principles that are supposed to be at the heart of the organization.

Bolton seems to believe that it could, conceivably, be changed back to a peace-keeping organization (though not, perhaps, after its troops’ behaviour in Africa and the Balkans). It is entirely possible that he will not be given the chance even to try.

Well, so be it. The UN is clearly doomed though its putrifying corpse will be with us for some time to come. And its death rattle is being brought about by its supporters in the US and the NGOs. A delightful irony.

Meanwhile, the one potentially useful organization, the WTO also seems to have taken leave of its senses. It selected Pascal Lamy, the former Commissar for International Trade, as the next Director-General.

This may have been part of an agreement between the US and Europe, i.e. France, to get Wolfowitz into the World Bank. Europe spoke with one voice and that voice turned out to be French.

At any rate, the former US Trade Representative, Henry Zoellick, is on record as saying that he thought Lamy would be very good at the WTO. But then Zoellick, now Condoleezza Rice’s Deputy is known as a man who is “sensitive” to the concerns of Europeans and NGOs. The United State government remained very publicly neutral on the contest between Lamy and the Uruguayan Carlos Pérez del Castillo. Perhaps, they have written the WTO off.

The Economist Global Agenda in a tellingly titled piece “Lamy to the slaughter?” commiserates with the incoming Director-General at the difficulties he will be facing in trying to revive the Doha Round and generally enthuse the world with the idea of free trade, when enthusiasm for it “seems to be on the wane”.

Well, now, how interesting. The Doha Round was killed off largely because of the intransigence of the EU. And who was the negotiator? Pascal Lamy, the man who gives protectionism a bad name.

What about this waning of free trade enthusiasm? There are certainly fearsome discussions going on in most developed countries but there are also serious negotiations to create a free trade area across the two Americas.

Developing countries are beginning to understand that it is not aid but free trade that will help them to develop (NGOs permitting).

Yes, there are problems and worries but if there is one segment of the world that is leading the rearguard action against free trade, it is the European Union, with France in the lead. Pascal Lamy is a worthy representative of that school of thought.

Ah well, good-bye WTO. It’s been nice knowing you.

“For frantic boast and foolish word,
Thy mercy on Thy people, Lord!”