By Andrew Korybko, Moscow-based American political analyst

The UN: 75 years of false expectations and failure

June 29, 2020 - 12:24

The disunited nations The 75th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations (UN) presents a symbolic moment to reflect on what a failure the organization has been. Its establishment created false expectations among the international community that all nations will finally be treated equally irrespective of their size, but in reality, the UN is dominated by the five most important victors of the Second World War that sit on its Security Council (UNSC) and were also coincidentally or not the first five countries to obtain nuclear weapons.

Those countries pursue their own self-interests; some more ruthlessly than others, but all apart from the US do so under the guise of “international law”. That concept has proven itself to be ephemeral since the UN's crucial flaw is that it lacks any credible enforcement mechanism to ensure compliance with its Charter. The lack of UNSC approval for any given action no longer restrains certain countries which usually exploit the Charter's self-defense clause as a loophole for justifying their unilateral actions or those it does via “coalitions of the willing”.

The 19th-century great power chessboard

The UN hasn't been successful in resolving the Palestine, Kashmir, and Nagorno-Karabakh disputes, among many others, proving what a failure it's been over the years. UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolutions are symbolic because they lend important political support to one's cause, but they're not legally binding, and even if they were, once again, no credible enforcement mechanisms exist to ensure compliance. The UN, while being useful as a talking club, is useless when it comes to resolving major crises.

The lesson to be learned by Iran’s loyalty to the Resistance is that it’s indeed possible to find powerful examples of comprehensive cooperation between states in spite of the international system’s prevailing anarchy. It's useful for countries to have a place to talk with one another and make their cases before the international community, but believing that the UN is anything more is nothing but a self-delusion by whoever holds such views. The UNSC won't ever officially acknowledge this because they essentially regard the world as a 19th-century Great Power chessboard where the Great Powers cut deals with one another at the comparatively smaller countries’ expense while justifying their actions by claiming that they're needed to “support stability”.

The sanctions example

Truth be told, the three Western members of the UNSC are the ones that are mostly guilty of this, but it can't be overlooked how the other two countries agreed to impose sanctions on Iran over a decade ago for example in what was clearly a diplomatic move that came about as a result of backroom deal-making with their peers. At the end of the day, the cold reality is that all countries put their interests before everyone else's, but few openly acknowledge this because it's regarded as “politically incorrect” to do so.

There's a certain logic inherent in that too since each one of them should consciously be aware of the fact that anarchy reigns supreme in accordance with the Neo-Realist paradigm of International Relations but that it’s much more “politically convenient” to pretend that one’s government sincerely believes in the so-called “rules-based order” of the Neo-Liberal model as represented by the UN in order to disarm their rivals and dupe the rest of those states that aren’t smart enough to realize the strategic game that so many others are playing.

Anarchy reigns

Dismantling the UN isn't the answer since that would only exacerbate international anarchy, though institutional reform also isn't the answer unless it results in the creation of credible enforcement mechanisms, which is highly unlikely since no country or coalition thereof is presently willing (nor predicted to be for the indefinite future) to go to war with the U.S. every time that it violates international law. They simply don't have the political will, nor trust others to truly support them if they do. Anarchy reigns and true trust is non-existent.

It's useful for countries to have a place to talk with one another and make their cases before the international community, but believing that the UN is anything more is nothing but a self-delusion by whoever holds such views. Since International Relations are driven primarily by interests in accordance with the Neo-Realist model, it, therefore, follows that the path forward is for all countries to first become consciously aware of this if they aren't already (e.g. some have been brainwashed as a result of long-running Neo-Liberal information warfare campaigns) and then to take all responsible measures needed to improve their credible deterrence capabilities and methods of advancing their interests through all means possible.

Every state for themselves

That's not to say that every country should intimate aggressive intentions to go to war with their rivals, but there’s no denying the fact that the resultant “security dilemma” of these aforesaid moves will likely trigger a serious threat perception from those states which could conceivably be on the receiving end of such policies. No value judgment should be made about this since it’s neither “good” nor “bad” but simply “is”, whether one “wants” reality to be this way “or not”.

Going forward, all countries have the responsibility to educate their public about the illusory nature of “international law” so that they don’t become victims of the ongoing Neo-Liberal information warfare campaign and end up with false expectations that could then be weaponized by external forces for strategic ends once people inevitably realize the cold reality of International Relations. It’s literally every state for themselves, but that doesn’t preclude the possibility of them cooperating with one another in advancing their shared interests.

The importance of ideological interests

Partnerships, coalitions of the willing, and other temporary arrangements will continue to define International Relations as states compete with one another, even with their formal “allies” as is seen by the disagreements within NATO between the U.S. and Turkey over armed Kurdish groups in Syria. The only real alliances that are possible are those between states that share the same ideological goals that convince them to sacrifice material, short-, and medium-term interests in pursuit of their larger shared ones.

All countries have the responsibility to educate their public about the illusory nature of “international law”.It's a lot easier said than done to form such ideological alliances since no member’s commitment to them can be known for sure until they’re put to the test. In addition, gradual changes of perception within each member state (whether naturally occurring and/or the result of external information warfare) can lead to their leadership reconsidering the wisdom of remaining with the said ideological alliance. Nevertheless, such networks are the most efficient for mitigating the anarchy of the international system.

The resistance solution

As a perfect case in point, Iran consistently proves its sincere commitment to its Resistance allies by continuing to help them in spite of the fact that some have argued that such support would be better invested within the country itself, especially considering its ongoing economic hardships brought about by the U.S. increasingly strict sanctions regime. It’s not for pursuit of material, short-, or medium-term gain that Iran supports Syria and Hezbollah, but in order to fulfill their shared long-term anti-Zionist vision of liberating Palestine.

The lesson to be learned by Iran’s loyalty to the Resistance is that it’s indeed possible to find powerful examples of comprehensive cooperation between states in spite of the international system’s prevailing anarchy. Ideology is the interest that usurps all others since it can convince countries to sell their geostrategic and economic interests to foreign patrons like the U.S., but it can also inspire them to work together despite the odds and hardships involved like the Resistance does in order to shape the future according to their shared vision.

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