Friday, June 09, 2006

Rightwing Jackass-ery

[Hat tip to my friend JB for the title.]

Since I'm forced to watch Fox "News" on my lunch break, I can't help but take note of their jihad against Deputy U.N. Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown, who had the temerity to point out what the whole world already knows. Namely, that the over-abundance of rightwing shills in the media here is corrupting our public discourse, particularly where international institutions are involved.

Here is an excerpt from, I believe, the Washington Post, though I've lost my attribution blerb:

In the speech, delivered Tuesday, Malloch Brown said that the United States relies on the United Nations as a diplomatic tool but does not defend it before critics at home, a policy he called unsustainable.

He lamented that the good works of the U.N. are largely lost because "much of the public discourse that reaches the U.S heartland has been largely abandoned to its loudest detractors such as Rush Limbaugh and Fox News." The speech was delivered at a daylong conference sponsored by two think tanks, the Center for American Progress and The Century Foundation. ...

Bolton said Malloch Brown's "condescending, patronizing tone about the American people" was the worst part about the speech.

"Fundamentally and very sadly, this was a criticism of the American people, not the American government, by an international civil servant," Bolton said. "It's just illegitimate."

First of all, I must ask: What exactly is Bolton talking about? At no time does Malloch Brown ever insult the American people, unless of course Bolton believes that being called a viewer/listener of either Fox "News" or Rush Limbaugh is an insult. I certainly feel that it is but I doubt most of the "U.S. Heartland" does. As much as it signals the decline of western civilization, it is true that both Fox and Limbaugh have a robust following here in the fly-over states.

Malloch Brown is exactly, totally and in all ways absolutely correct in his statement. Conservatives scorn the United Nations and not for its corruption, which certainly exists. After all, the party of Tom Delay, Duke Cunningham, Jack Abramhof, just to name a few, can't really credibly claim to have a problem with corruption. The problem conservatives have with the U.N., which they've always had, is that the United Nations is not a tool to be used solely for U.S. foreign policy goals. The United Nations has many member states and they all have different interests. Conservatives want the United Nations to essentially be a forum where the United States sets the world's agenda and gets public cover for its actions. Unsurprisingly, many of the other members, Russia and China especially, don't see their role in the U.N. as a rubber stamp for the Bush administration.

The U.N. certainly has corruption issues and needs some reforms. However, those reforms are only possible, or even useful, if the member nations agree. The U.N. has no authority in and of itself that doesn't derive from its membership. Personally, I think the U.S. should withdraw from the U.N. Our Republican leadership certainly isn't interested in being part of the global community, except to dictate foreign policy to other nations. The Bush administration acts unilaterally when it can't get U.N. approval, and then falls back on that same institution for help fixing neo-conservative foreign policy blunders. The only usefulness the United States has to the U.N. anymore is as a source of funds. With our military bogged down in Iraq and deployed across the globe, the United States is really in no shape to be granting much to the U.N. beyond money.

The U.N. does have its uses, particularly in terms of humanitarian aid. Support for that aid, in terms of dollars and elbow grease, is greatly reduced when the American people cease to lend help to the various U.N. causes. A big reason for that is just what Malloch Brown recognizes: a dearth of supportive voices in the United States for the U.N. It's ironic that the conservative media is failing to report the good news from the United Nations, especially since the United Nations, unlike Iraq, actually often has good news to report.

As for Bolton's remarks, well, if he had any shame left he'd be feeling it by now. What a pathetic excuse for an ambassador. If the fragile conservative American ego has become so brittle as to not abide any criticism whatsoever, even as well-deserved as Malloch Brown's, then it certainly doesn't have anything to offer the country as a political philosophy. Nothing but pointless American exceptionalism and comic book aphorisms.

The U.N. may be better off without us.

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