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Human Rights
Member States

Just as communities need counties which need provinces which need nations, nations need a UN. In counterpoint, is the UN charter up to the present crisis? We think the UN will be in a precarious situation indeed if the present administration continues along its "America First" diplomacy without strong backing by the UN.

The foremost challenge confronting mankind is the confluence of nuclear proliferation with extremism as expressed by terrorism. Nothing less than humanity is at stake. This makes the survival of the UN all the more critical. Indeed it must be strengthened while retaining its basic democratic governance.

Of the types of governments that have been tried repeatedly throughout history, democracy now seems to be emerging as working best. The reason for its slow development may be seen in the Middle East today. A democracy requires a complex infrastructure, constitution, and a populace willing to live under a rule of law. Imposing free elections on a Third World nation not prepared in these ways nearly always fails; we can only hope that Afghanistan will be an exception.

Russia and Eastern Europe turned abruptly away from Communism. That is working to the degree the participants had prior experience with democracy. China is using a gradualist ic approachone that is bringing good and dramatic changes to the Chinese people.

Look at the struggle Russia went through; a super power BARELY became nominally democratic. The fact that it did provides assurance that democratization can happen elsewhere. Russia has never known any governance except totalitarian.

Under Kofi Annan, the United Nations has a chance to come of age in the Middle East in an atomic age. The UN needs to marshal solidarity among the nations opposed to terrorism for a time long enough for democratic institutions to take root in the Middle-Eastern cultures. There is evidence that it can happen. The Afghan people, especially the women, feel liberated, and the daily threats to life have been much reduced. But this is only a beginning. Democracy takes some getting used to as an institution. War lords rarely just lay down their arms. Neither will the tripolar grouping in Iraq (Kurds, Shiites, and Sunnis) give up their own identities easily, even if keeping them would lead to disaster.

Iraq has a strong secular government and its women are free by comparison with most other Middle-Eastern nations. Still the Iraqi culture is much more Western than most of us realize. To be sure, Hussein is a despot, and the nuclear component of the equation is frightening. But Iraq is only one piece of the nuclear problem. Already North Korea has announced an ongoing program and has accumulated enough material for weapons. Never mind that many North Koreans starve. Ironically, Iraq has a stronger central government than does Pakistan.

For these and other reasons, we believe the US response in Iraq is misguided. See Nuclear Terror and Nuclear Threat.

A strong UN may just be humankind's last and only hope.


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