[lit-ideas] Re: LAUGH OR CRY?

  • From: "Phil Enns" <phil.enns@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 14 Aug 2008 15:43:01 +0700

Lawrence Helm wrote:

"Phil, I take it you are presenting a progressive idea.  The U.N. was
not intended originally to be as you describe."

I don't know if it is progressive or not.  The U.N. is far different
from what it was originally intended to be.  But then so is the U.S.
I would argue that both are improvements in their present forms.


"I don't recall that the U.N. was supposed to exercise moral suasion.
It was intended to enforce the will of the Security Council through
military force, or the threat of military force."

Regarding 'moral suasion', see the UDHR.  Regarding the UN being a
means of enforcing the will of the Security Council, see anything
about the General Assembly.

Lawrence again:

"I actually don't recognize your 'It represents a projection onto the
global stage of the democratic belief that rules based relationships
are a rational and pragmatic advance on relations structured around
the threat of violence' as an actuality."

The fact that the U.N. does not work ideally can't be a rejection of
the fact that it works towards an ideal.  Consider the ideal of the
U.S. and its reality.


"We don't at present have any globally accept legal rules."



"But if we did, how would they work?  Do you want the U.S. or Russia
to consider themselves the absolute equal of Syria or Costa Rica?"

Yes, in the same way that you and Mike are, in theory, equal before
the law in the U.S.  It is this equality that makes a democracy
possible and without this equality, the U.S. would not be what it is.
Is it too much to think that something similar could be possible
between states so that there would be outcomes that all could consider
fair?  It happens in the ICJ and the various disputes that come before


"I watched a review on CSPAN that described a principle that all
nations have adhered to historically.  When they are weak they want to
constrain the more powerful nations with a set of rules.  But when
they become powerful, they don't want to be so constrained.  This may
not be as it ought to be, but it is as it is."

Fortunately, this is false.  The U.N., founded and maintained by the
powerful, has increasingly worked to introduce a global set of rules
for addressing conflict between nations and human rights abuses.  This
is the ICJ.  None of the important work done by the ICJ would be
possible without the leadership of the U.S.  Sadly, this work has been
undermined by the current administration but there is hope for the
next administration, whether it is Republican or Democratic.


Phil Enns
Yogyakarta, Indonesia
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