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Say Goodbye to Internet Freedom – the UN is Coming

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In a recent meeting of the Working Group on Internet Governance in Geneva harsh words were exchanged between representatives of the US government and representatives of the UK and other European countries over the issue of who controls or should control the internet.

The internet originated in networks established by private and public institutions in the United States and eventually went global, with the regulation of the basic infrastructure remaining in the hands of US-based groups like ICANN.

At this meeting in Geneva there were objections to US control over what is now an international institution of great importance to many nations, some of which literally live or die by internet commerce The predominant opinion seemed to be that the UN should take control of the internet away from America, whether we created it or not.

The UN is all for this idea. Coming up next month is the World Summit on the Information Society – a UN group promoting their Orwellian idea of civil society through the medium of the internet – where they intend to begin to implement a plan put together in 2003 to transfer the internet to the control of a United Nations body which will be answerable only to the bureaucrats of the UN who represent a diverse group of nations, many of them openly hostile to individual liberty, free speech and the United States.

At the Global Forum on Internet Governance UN Secretary General Kofi Annan announced that “The world has a common interest in ensuring the security and dependability of this new medium. The medium must be made accessible and responsive to the needs of all the world’s people.” Which I imagine sounds great to a lot of people, but raises the issues of whose security interests the UN is likely to look out for, and how far the UN would go in sacrificing the freedoms we now enjoy on the internet to serve the needs of member countries for whom free speech and privacy are very low priorities. In their hands the internet could easily be turned from a medium for the free exchange of ideas to a tool through which a global state monitors and restricts the business and private activities of individuals all over the world.

In the Plan of Action issued at the last meeting of the WSIS, they listed 10 goals, which included a single international database of user information and detailed monitoring of internet usage in libraries, schools, univerrities, museums, hospitals and just about everywhere else. They would know what you are doing, where you are doing it, and the security of that information would only be as viable as the good will and competence of the UN, qualities which they are not generally known for. The plan also proposes adapting “all primary and secondary school curricula to meet the challenges of the Information Society,” essentially putting the UN and its agenda and curriculum in every classroom in the world. The Plan of Action is a frighteningly intrusive and comprehensive document, unrealistically ambitious, and promising a huge bureaucracy interfering in every aspect of the internet.

In the past UN groups have expressed a great deal of interest in controlling the internet, especially in the are of limiting free speech. The UN High Commissionar for Human Rights has proposed regulating hate speech and “screening racist propaganda.” The International Telecommunications Union has proposed sweeping regulation of internet practices and conduct. A number of influential UN member nations have draconian internet regulations, ranging from France’s hypersensitivity to certain types of internet behavior and commerce to Iran’s practice of throwing bloggers in jail to China’s total isolation of its own network and extreme limitations on free speech.

In a sensible world the Internet ought to be a way for the freedom and opportunity of the United States to penetrate into the restricted societies of the world, but under the control of the UN it’s far more likely that the extremism and intolerance would become the operating standards of the internet and there would be a serious effort to impose them on American users. With almost 200 member nations, all with different rules on internet usage, the bureaucratic tendancy would probably be towards greater restriction to placate extremists, rather than the freedoms we currently enjoy.

Then there’s the issue of UN inefficiency. The technology of the internet changes rapidly and many experts have serious doubts of the ability of a UN bureaucracy to keep abrest of developments and respond effectively to changing needs and priorities. Under the UN the internet might well fragment and function far less effectively than it currently does.

Finally there’s the inevitable question of internet business and taxation. So far the US has held firm in keeping internet business free from excessive taxation and regulation, and this has led to substantial economic growth both here and overseas. But the UN is always hungry for revenue, and looking for ways to develop income independent of the largesse of major nations like the US. It seems quite likely that under UN control the internet could become a cash cow which they would milk to the detriment of businesses and individuals who depend on it for their livelihood.

When the WSIS meets next month in Tunisia – itself a nation which restricts internet freedom – there’s likely to be quite a struggle. The US Department of Commerce has stated their definitive intent to protect American interests and keep the internet just as it is, and the anti-American factions which have a strong voice in the UN are determined to wrest control away from the people who have built, maintained and grown the system over the years. The bizarre thing is that no one seems to really find fault with the way that the internet is being run, they just all think they could somehow do it better, or more equitably or maybe they all just want a piece of the pie.

The question I have to ask is why we should screw with something that works? Since its inception the US has maintained a perfect hands-off policy and allowed the internet to grow and develop without substantial restrictions, and that has benefited everyone in the world who uses the net. What on earth makes anyone honestly believe that the UN – with too many bureaucrats and too many agendas – could possibly do any better? If you’re reading this now, you’re doing it on a system that works. Why roll the dice?

——

For more information on the WSIS see their Declaration of Principles.
For a pro-capitalist take on this issue see Opinion Journal.
For a more leftist view of this issue see The Guardian.

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About Dave Nalle

  • http://xrrf.blogspot.com simon hb

    In order to save time, I’ve started to bail out of blog articles when I hit a phrase that is meaningless nonesense. Genreally, these will involve mention of either Nazis or Orwell.

    ===
    Coming up next month is the World Summit on the Information Society – a UN group promoting their Orwellian idea of civil society through the medium of the internet –
    ===

    Do you actually mean “Orwellian” here – as by that I would take it to mean the sort of civil society that George Orwell would have campaigned for – or do you mean “1984-style”, in which case it would be the exact opposite?

  • troll

    “Orwellian” has a common usage and meaning – context makes the poster’s meaning clear

    take your faux nit picking off my bridge

    troll

  • RedTard

    Great post, I think that control of the internet will eventually be wrestled away from the US by the international community. If we don’t voluntarily give up control the world will eventually create a competitive copy of our system and move to the new standard without us. When we do transfer control we must be smart about it and maintain veto power over any use of the system to generate revenue.

    The capacity to earn money by control of the internet is too great a temptation to be allowed in the hands of the UN. If I could imagine it would start with a small tariff that would go to help disadvantaged African nations. Everybody’s for that, right. Once we are used to taxation on the foundation of the internet, the fees will be used for anything the UN wants. In the end, the US would be paying an unfair share of the burden for the “priviledge” of having UN bureaucrats manage the sytem we created.

    I would love to hear what the left thinks about this. Would we have to worry about a Democratic president handing it over Panama Canal style?

  • Danny Younger

    Unfortunately, the U.S. has not maintained a perfect hands-off policy… please review the recent letters sent to Michael Gallagher, Assistant Secretary of Commerce, by the Center for Democracy & Technology and by the Internet Governance Project that cite objections to U.S. Government meddling with respect to the .XXX domain.

    The URLs:
    http://www.cdt.org/dns/20050930xxxletter.pdf
    http://dcc.syr.edu/signaturepost.asp

  • RedTard

    “Unfortunately, the U.S. has not maintained a perfect hands-off policy”

    True, that was a critical mistake and will be cited as a reason why the US should not be in control. I think the point is not that the US system is perfect, but that the UN would be much worse.

  • Cameron Parrish

    Great posts here but whats new? So the UN is trying once again to establish a defacto global tax structure. Typical UN scheme to make money and grow as all bureacracy seeks to do. This internet approach is pretty sneaky and makes me wonder who is more sneaky the Chinese or the UN.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Very good point about the .xxx issue. I considered putting it in the article, but it’s a whole different kettle of fish. The way it was handled was pretty ham-handed and not really thought out well, but the basic concept was just as debatable as the move to delay and perhaps stop the implementation of .xxx.

    There’s a perfectly reasonable argument to be made that implementing .xxx was the first step towards internet censorship and that stopping .xxx was a move to preserve the status quo and not change a system that’s working.

    Dave

  • gonzo marx

    factual correction…the World Wide Web was created at CERN in Switzerland…not in the US

    carry on…

    Excelsior!

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Not exactly, Gonzo. The internet as we know it today originates in projects of universities in the US and the DoD. The first incarnation of the internet came out of ARPAnet which originated in 1969. The first things which could be identified as akin to the world wide web were networked bulletin board systems like FidoNet (1984) and discussion/news networks like Usenet (1979) – my Fido BBS was online from ’86 to ’91. CERN didn’t even come into existence until 1989, so it was a relative latecomer.

    Dave

  • JR

    CERN celebrated their 50th anniversary last year.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Sorry, I should have said that CERN didn’t get involved in the internet until 1989. Prior to that they were primarily an international scientific research group which had no particular role in the internet.

    Dave

  • melchior

    ITU-T will manage the world’s X.25 internetworking standard. The UN are the supreme rulers!

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    From my reading it doesn’t seem as if the UN wants to work within the existing structure of the ITU. They seem to want to create a new body specifically for the internet, which would presumably be even worse than putting it all in the hands of the ITU.

    Dave

  • melchior

    FAQ 3.2 Who are the organizers of WSIS?

    * The International Telecommunication Union, a specialized agency of the United Nations, has the lead role in organizing the Summit. To assist ITU in its work, the UN Secretary-General appointed a High-level Summit Organization Committee (HLSOC) comprising of Executive Heads of the FAO, IAEA, ICAO, ILO, IMO, ITU, UNCTAD, UNDP, UNEP, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNHCHR, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNU, UPU, WFP, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, UN Regional Economic Commissions, and the World Bank. HLSOC also includes IADB, OECD, UNITAR and UNV as observers. The UN Secretary-General appointed a Special Adviser to WSIS as his representative.

    An Executive Secretariat based at the ITU Headquarters in Geneva has been mandated to support the preparatory process and the Summits.

    Dave, with all due respect, tell me another whopper…

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    I didn’t say the ITU wasn’t participating in WSIS. What I was referring to was statements made by Kofi Annan and other UN leaders which suggest that the internet would be managed by a new agency rather than ITU.

    Dave

  • Danny Younger

    “They seem to want to create a new body specifically for the internet”

    Yours is a correct reading of the situation; the EU proposal:

    “The new cooperation model should include the development and application of globally applicable public policy principles and provide an international government involvement at the level of principles over the following naming, numbering and addressing-related matters:
    a. Provision for a global allocation system of IP number blocks, which is equitable and efficient;
    b. Procedures for changing the root zone file, specifically for the insertion of new top level domains in the root system and changes of ccTLD managers;
    c. Establishment of contingency plans to ensure the continuity of crucial DNS functions;
    d. Establishment of an arbitration and dispute resolution mechanism based on international law in case of disputes;
    e. Rules applicable to DNS system.

    Forum function:

    In order to strengthen the global multi-stakeholder cooperation within Internet Governance, we decide to create a Forum. The task of this Forum is to address multidimensional and interrelated public policy issues, through the exchange and sharing of information and good practices. It shall work on the basis of a clear mandate for a predefined period. It should work with existing institutions or organisations and not try to dominate issues already dealt with elsewhere. It should not perform oversight tasks.”

    http://www.itu.int/wsis/docs2/pc3/contributions/sca/EU-28.doc

  • Heloise

    I also thought that the U of Texas at Austin actually created the www part of the internet. The physicists of the world wanted to keep in close touch and invented the internet part, if you will.

    But the www and internet are actually two separate creations. The www was invented to organize the internet. These are two separate inventions is my understanding.

    Heloise

    I learned this at UT Austin and involvement with physicists, so hope it is correct info.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    God I love the way the internationalist bureaucrats write.

    Dave

  • Heloise

    Translation of that mess: The U.N. wants to control opposition to itself on a global scale. When they put black figureheads at the helm such as Kofi Annan they are the ones that need big watching IMO.

    Heloise

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Well, I know that my first access to the internet was through UT, but I was a grad student there when the internet was taking off through usenet and email in the early 1980s.

    Dave

  • Slim

    “In the Plan of Action issued at the last meeting of the WSIS, they listed 10 goals, which included a single international database of user information and detailed monitoring of internet usage in libraries, schools, univerrities, museums, hospitals and just about everywhere else.”

    Can you tell me where this single international database is in the Plan of Action? I’ve been involved in WSIS planning for three years and this is the first I’ve heard of a UN plan that would do this. I would really like to know how you have come to this conclusion?

    “They would know what you are doing, where you are doing it, and the security of that information would only be as viable as the good will and competence of the UN, qualities which they are not generally known for.”

    Are you sure? Are you getting the UN confused with China? The UN has neither the capacity or the will to set up such a system (does anyone, even the US, on an international scale?!) and member nations such as the US, China, Cuba, Iran and the EU countries would not let it.

    “The plan also proposes adapting “all primary and secondary school curricula to meet the challenges of the Information Society,” essentially putting the UN and its agenda and curriculum in every classroom in the world.”.

    No it does not. That is entirely your reading of the phrase you quote. Saying that the enabling of primary and secondary schools all over the world to deal with online eduction and the issues raised by the Internet in the classroom is putting the UN and its agenda in classrooms worldwide…how do you make the leap from helping kids in developing countries get the most out of the Internet to a new world order run along UN lines? I simply don’t accept your reading of the situation.

    “It seems quite likely that under UN control the internet could become a cash cow which they would milk to the detriment of businesses and individuals who depend on it for their livelihood.”

    Do you really think that this would be allowed to happen by e.g. the US, or China? I’ve been at the pre-summits – the business lobby is extremely strong. Not a chance.

    I think you are right to raise the problems that will come as a result of handing control of the Internet over to the UN. I think the if-it’s-not-broke-why-fix-it angle has some legs here. Saying that, it’s impossible that the rest of the UN member countries will accept control of the Internet remaining in the hands of the US – too many countries now have a interest and the Internet is now an integral part of bureaucracy and governance (and business) everywhere. To be bluntly realistic – I cannot see how these countries can continue to accept the US role as (nearly) sole manager of the Internet. Something has to give.

    So I share your worries about where it’s going. But the paranoid view of the UN? I can’t go with that.

    Cheers,

    Slim

  • melchior

    So this proposed new “Forum” is that euro-slang for blog or for mailing list?

    Moderated or unmoderated?

    I read “not try to dominate issues already dealt with elsewhere” as indicating that vi vs. emacs flame-wars are strictly OT! And I can live with that provision in the charter.

    So where’s the url for this new forum?

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    I think that by forum they mean a big meeting in this case.

    Dave

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    >>”Can you tell me where this single international database is in the Plan of Action? I’ve been involved in WSIS planning for three years and this is the first I’ve heard of a UN plan that would do this. I would really like to know how you have come to this conclusion?< <

    From reading the Plan of Action, actually. It seems implied in many of the propsals they make that there will be some sort of centralized database to support the services they have in mind.

    >>Are you sure? Are you getting the UN confused with China? The UN has neither the capacity or the will to set up such a system (does anyone, even the US, on an international scale?!) and member nations such as the US, China, Cuba, Iran and the EU countries would not let it.< <

    Can we trust benign indifference to protect our rights? Given the nations who are in the UN and who are influential - like China - how can we be sure that in the future the policies will not evolve into something very undesirable?

    >>No it does not. That is entirely your reading of the phrase you quote. Saying that the enabling of primary and secondary schools all over the world to deal with online eduction and the issues raised by the Internet in the classroom is putting the UN and its agenda in classrooms worldwide…how do you make the leap from helping kids in developing countries get the most out of the Internet to a new world order run along UN lines? I simply don’t accept your reading of the situation.< <

    I read it again and it still reads that way. Are you saying there are not people who would like to use the UN this way? What guarantees do we have that people with an agenda like that would not someday be in a position to implement it. If you create the mechanisms to facilitate governmental oppression it's just a matter of time before someone comes along and puts them to use.

    >>Do you really think that this would be allowed to happen by e.g. the US, or China? I’ve been at the pre-summits – the business lobby is extremely strong. Not a chance.< <

    I think that there are many people who'd like to cash in on the internet to make money for their governments, and the UN is certainly one such group. Whether they could pull it off is another issue.

    >>I think you are right to raise the problems that will come as a result of handing control of the Internet over to the UN. I think the if-it’s-not-broke-why-fix-it angle has some legs here. Saying that, it’s impossible that the rest of the UN member countries will accept control of the Internet remaining in the hands of the US – too many countries now have a interest and the Internet is now an integral part of bureaucracy and governance (and business) everywhere. To be bluntly realistic – I cannot see how these countries can continue to accept the US role as (nearly) sole manager of the Internet. Something has to give.< <

    I don't see why not. The US basically does nothing to control, regulate or limit the internet or how other countries might want to make use of it. I don't see how they can imagine that any other system would be more advantageous to them unless it's a system which can be abused to benefit some countries at the expense of others.

    >>So I share your worries about where it’s going. But the paranoid view of the UN? I can’t go with that.<<

    The UN is tainted with bureaucratic self-interest, and no longer serves the needs of the constituent nations as much as it does the needs of their bureaucratic culture. That’s not a formula for success in a project like this.

    Dave

  • Geo

    Good GAWDALMIGHTY another UN conspiracy theory… whew, it’s been a while with all the diversions (IRAQ, AFGANISTAN, KATRINA)….

    Good thing the watchmen are keeping an eye out for us!

  • http://www.templestark.com Temple Stark

    And you directly accuse others – frequently, loudly and unpleasantly – of making a silk purse out of a pig’s ear?

    Can’t beat ’em join ’em – or stop telling others they are doing just what you’re doing here – bending the facts towards your slanted POV. Others do it with more honesty.

    “Say Goodbye To Internet Freedom?” Psh. Sad.

    Are you for a global economy or not? Both if I read your words, here and elsewhere (which I should really stop doing as I get a case of the hubris everytime). Is Europe likely to be more wide open than the US or not? Both if I read your words.

    My kingdom for a logical conclusion.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Come on, Temp. We need our catchy titles.

    Do I think the UN is evil? Of course not.

    Do I think they’re the right group to manage the internet? Probably not.

    >>Are you for a global economy or not? Both if I read your words, here and elsewhere (which I should really stop doing as I get a case of the hubris everytime). Is Europe likely to be more wide open than the US or not? Both if I read your words.< <

    I'm so chimerical, it's scary. I'm for a global economy. I'm not for global government or anything which erodes national sovereignty. From what I've seen Europe and the UN are more likely to be incompetent than the US, but also more inclined to meddle and micromanage. That's a bad combination when it comes to the internet.

    >>My kingdom for a logical conclusion.<<

    There is no conclusion to the article because I have no final perfect answer on this issue. I’m just concerned and think that others should be as well.

    Dave

  • melchior

    Temple,

    Your profile says you’re a journalist. Answer me some questions please: Who runs the American press?

    Do you understand that bureaucrats from nations with state-controlled media have a fundamentally different worldview?

    Suppose the UN got together to hold a meeting on international press management, and asked for technical help only from broadcast journalists. How would the print guys react?

    Now can you draw some logical conclusions? Who do you think really runs the internet? And how is it really managed?

    Where’s the conflict in this story? Is it tragedy or farce?

  • Shark

    Speaking of the internet…

    Congratulations to BLOGCRITICS for the world’s largest, most obnoxious banner ad!

    Nice way to make the Guinness Book!

    And nothing enhances the online reading experience like a gigantic, flashing banner full of young mindless motards starin’ back at ya.

    This is the kind of thing that runs people AWAY from a web site. Great marketing, guys!

    “The universe is over-designed and under-edited.” — SHARK

  • troll

    the napster flash in the main frame has about done me in – unfriendly to dial-up trolls…have to remember to set its quality to ‘low’ on each page load

    even firefox has trouble with it at 48 kbps

    troll

  • http://alienboysworld.blogspot.com/ Alienboy

    I fail to understand why so many political people in the USA seem to feel this enormous hostility towards the United Nations, a body it helped create in the aftermath of the 2nd World War.

    Is it because, being a worldwide organization, it carries a louder, more democratic, voice than the USA itself?

  • http://sussfr.blogspot.com Matthew T. Sussman

    You guys are all evading the pressing question:

    Did the Internet evolve, or was it created by God?

  • troll

    many thanks to the management

    xxxooo

    troll

  • http://alienboysworld.blogspot.com/ Alienboy

    re 32: maybe the Internet was created by intelligent design?

  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    y’mean bill gates didn’t create the internet?

    dang.

  • http://sussfr.blogspot.com Matthew T. Sussman

    Alienboy: “maybe the Internet was created by intelligent design?”

    I have no proof, but I think you’re right.

  • James

    Don’t you guys remember? The Internet was created by Al Gore!

  • http://sussfr.blogspot.com Matthew T. Sussman

    James, a six-year-younger version of myself is laughing its ass off.

  • http://campaigns.ifex.org/tmg tibetibet

    say goodbye to Internet freedom in Tunisia: the host of the WSIS has blocked access to a website that criticises the president: http://www.yezzi.org

    Tunisia blocks many other sites that don’t toe the government’s line. See http://campaigns.ifex.org/tmg

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    >>I fail to understand why so many political people in the USA seem to feel this enormous hostility towards the United Nations, a body it helped create in the aftermath of the 2nd World War.

    Is it because, being a worldwide organization, it carries a louder, more democratic, voice than the USA itself?<<

    Try replacing democratic with a combination of bureaucratic, indifferent and socialist and you might be on the right track.

    The UN is dominated by bureaucrats who are responsible to no one except a body of representatives of nations of dubious character and polititical inclination, and seeks to reshape the world on a model of socialistic imposed equality which discourages enterprise and capitalism.

    That kind of runs counter to what the US is all about.

    Dave

  • troll

    sort of an world bathist basterdized socialism thing – ?

    next thing you know they’ll be internationalizing the oil along with the internet – !

    troll

  • http://alienboysworld.blogspot.com/ Alienboy

    Dave, that’s what you think, but it isn’t actually true, it’s just some weird pervasive mind pollution that has many people, apparently including yourself, completely bamboozled.

    If you’d bothered to follow the link, rather than your prejudice, you would be reminded that

    “The idea for the United Nations was elaborated in declarations signed at the wartime Allied conferences in Moscow, Cairo, and Tehran in 1943.

    “From August to October 1944, representatives of France, the Republic of China, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the USSR met to elaborate the plans at the Dumbarton Oaks Estate in Washington, D.C.

    “Those and later talks produced proposals outlining the purposes of the organization, its membership and organs, as well as arrangements to maintain international peace and security and international economic and social cooperation. These proposals were discussed and debated by governments and private citizens worldwide.”Wikipedia.

    I hope this odd strand of anti UN sentiment has nothing to do with Republican hostility towards what is in some way seen as a Democratic organization, in that FDR first conceived the idea, or the fact that the USA is hundreds of millions of dollars in arrears on its contributions, so attacking the UN simply becomes another negotiating tactic.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    The origins of the UN have nothing to do with the institution as it exists today, and whether it was supported by FDR or not, the practices and nature of the organization today are what it has to be judged by.

    The fact is that it has become increasingly dominated by an alliance of politically radical governments and entrenched bureaucrats who find them easier to work with than more prosporous and more democratic nations.

    Opposition to the UN has little to do with US domestic politics. Opposition is as strong on the left as it is on the right. It has much more to do with the undemocratic character of the UN, the fact that it is increasingly not answerable to its constituents, and its promotion of globalist policies which work against the best interests of the people of developed nations who are members.

    As for witholding funding, that’s symptomatic of the problem. When given the choice of paying graft to support the UN and its abuses and using that same money for the benefit of the United States, legislators inevitably decide to come down on the side of American citizens. Can’t fault them for that.

    Dave

  • http://alienboysworld.blogspot.com/ Alienboy

    Dave, the UN is a democratic organization. The USA is the most strident defender of democracy. Are you now saying that you only want democracy when it works in favour of your beliefs?

    As for witholding your required membership fees, it is the height of stupidity to force the UN to be underfunded and then complain about the UN’s lack of effectiveness. The funding of the UN is an international agreement, not an option to be played with at governmental whim.

    If there is an organizational problem, why doesn’t the USA, (which by the way is not immune from large scale corruption itself, so you might want to dial back that moral superiority thing) get more involved and shine its wisdom and light more widely there?

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    >>Dave, the UN is a democratic organization. The USA is the most strident defender of democracy. Are you now saying that you only want democracy when it works in favour of your beliefs?< <

    Absolutely. I believe in freedom and opportunity and basic rights. Democracy is not necessarily compatible with protecting these things. The US is a Constitutional Republic, not a Democracy. It protects my rights in ways a Democracy cannot.

    In addition, the structure of the UN is pretty undemocratic. Representation is on a one vote per country basis, with the Marianas Islands and China having the same level of representation. Unless representation is restructured to represent a combination of national GNP and population I can't see it being any kind of fair representative body.

    >>As for witholding your required membership fees, it is the height of stupidity to force the UN to be underfunded and then complain about the UN’s lack of effectiveness. The funding of the UN is an international agreement, not an option to be played with at governmental whim.< <

    I didn't force it to be unfunded. Talk to the Senate about that one.

    >>If there is an organizational problem, why doesn’t the USA, (which by the way is not immune from large scale corruption itself, so you might want to dial back that moral superiority thing) get more involved and shine its wisdom and light more widely there?<<

    Because those currently controlling the UN are actively hostile to the US and its interests. Which might explain why some are reluctant to keep feeding them money.

    Dave

  • http://alienboysworld.blogspot.com/ Alienboy

    Democracy doesn’t come with a sidebar that allows rich people or countries to have more votes than poor ones.

    Why is it that Dubya goes on all the time, in his latest false justification for the invasion of Iraq, about championing democracy, rather than a constitutional republic?

    Incidentally, both Wikipedia and the CIA World Factbook describe the usa as a “federal republic”, of which there are currently 17 in the world, again according to the federal republic article on wikipedia.

    Got to disagree on your view that “those currently controlling the UN are actively hostile to the US and its interests”. That just sounds like paranoid nonsense frankly, just like all those wackoes who fear “the feds”!

    On the other hand, I’m flabbergasted and a little pleased that we agree that democracy has its limits; I’ve long thought it was the best system we had, rather than the best system.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    >>Democracy doesn’t come with a sidebar that allows rich people or countries to have more votes than poor ones.< <

    One of the reasons why it's a problem. But in the case of the UN it's also not even one person one vote. Small countries are enormously overrepresented.

    >>Why is it that Dubya goes on all the time, in his latest false justification for the invasion of Iraq, about championing democracy, rather than a constitutional republic?< <

    Because he's dumbing it down for the masses as he does all too often. In fact, if you read Iraq's constitution it's a constitutional federal republic just like the US - assuming it passes at the end of this week.

    >>Incidentally, both Wikipedia and the CIA World Factbook describe the usa as a “federal republic”, of which there are currently 17 in the world, again according to the federal republic article on wikipedia.< <

    It's also a constitutional republic, because we go by the rule of law rather than by plebescite. The federal aspect is actually sort of less important than the rule of law aspect.

    >>Got to disagree on your view that “those currently controlling the UN are actively hostile to the US and its interests”. That just sounds like paranoid nonsense frankly, just like all those wackoes who fear “the feds”!< <

    You should take a look at who's on the security council, the human rights commission and other major committees then.

    >>On the other hand, I’m flabbergasted and a little pleased that we agree that democracy has its limits; I’ve long thought it was the best system we had, rather than the best system.<<

    Democracy is great as part of a complete system of government. The old Soviet Union was a democracy, but there was only one candidate for each office. You’ve got to have both Democracy and a mechanism like our constitution which protects the minority from the arbitrary rule of the majority. The UN has neither a real constitution nor is it in fact a representative democracy.

    Dave

  • http://alienboysworld.blogspot.com alienboy

    Then it would seem ripe for an overhaul perhaps, but that certainly doesn’t justify the USA’s arrogant attitude towards the organization.

    People like you should be looking to improve the functionality, not threatening to sulk off every time a decision is made that you don’t like, like in the current internet regulation dispute…

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    But the entrenched interests in the UN won’t accept a total overhaul because it takes away their power base. The UN needs to be scrapped and replaced with an entirely new organization just as was done with the League of Nations when it ceased to function effectively.

    Dave

  • http://alienboysworld.blogspot.com alienboy

    I guess that’s one way to go, it just seems odd that the majority of members, including the USA’s traditional allies, seem to find agreement and the US is in the minority.

    That seems suggestive of a different analysis of the situation than your proposal…

    The entrenched interests you speak of are simply country voting blocs that have formed through political negotiation. The USA is presumably capable of the international political game, no?

    I still feel that current American attitudes to the UN are coloured by the novelty of having to negotiate rather than bully and the current US Government’s high-handed attitude to the UN.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    >>I guess that’s one way to go, it just seems odd that the majority of members, including the USA’s traditional allies, seem to find agreement and the US is in the minority.< <

    At the time of the Ameircan Revolution the majority of the people in America - about 2/3 - either actively opposed or were indifferent to the efforts of the revolutionaries to split off from Britain. Does that means we'd have been better off staying under British rule or that our founding fathers were in the wrong?

    >>The entrenched interests you speak of are simply country voting blocs that have formed through political negotiation. The USA is presumably capable of the international political game, no?< <

    Actually, probably not. Because of our unique status it has become increasingly difficult for us to just be 'one of the guys' among other nations and form that kind of coalition.

    >>I still feel that current American attitudes to the UN are coloured by the novelty of having to negotiate rather than bully and the current US Government’s high-handed attitude to the UN.<<

    A lot of people in America have this quaint notion of right and wrong, and this weird reverence for individual liberty rather than embracing the ‘greatest good for the greatest number’ philosophy which the UN holds dear. We’re horribly anachronistic and behind the times. We’re unenlightened, positively barbaric, out of fashion, crude, simplistic and unfashionable. But unlike the UN, we’re right.

    Dave

  • http://alienboysworld.blogspot.com alienboy

    Dave, your American Revolution question is a fascinating hypothetical but not a response to my question.

    Your claim that the USA has a unique status is staggering. Which countries status is not unique? However, if you mean to say that because the USA is currently the most powerful country in the world, international diplomacy is a bit more difficult, then, er, so what? Nobody said the job was easy.

    As to your “quaint notion”, I don’t know if the UN’s philosophy, which the USA largely shaped, can be described that way, but I find it disappointing that you have once again resorted to that oddly unconvincing US drumbeating mentality of yours.

    The USA has it’s own unique blend of social, political and financial problems and does not really present an attractive prospect as “class role model” but is more often thought of as “class jock”, you know, the one who thinks they’re the man, but really they’re not.

    To go on repeatedly, as you do, that the USA is right and everyone else wrong, is merely symptomatic of the larger attitude problem facing the current US political posture.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Alienboy, you don’t understand the US if you can say the kinds of things that you do. The US is indeed unique, and has qualities which only a few other countries share or even attempt to emulate. I’m not drumbeating here, I’m just stating obvious facts.

    The European powers and most of the rest of the world do not have governments which are based on a written constitution and do not have the traditions of free speech and individual rights which the US has. As a group their belief is that most of what we think of as basic rights are essentially priveleges granted by government. They have not enshrined natural law as the cornerstone of their societies as we have. As a result they are much more willing to tolerate corruption, bureaucratic abuses and government exceess than the US is.

    >>The USA has it’s own unique blend of social, political and financial problems and does not really present an attractive prospect as “class role model” but is more often thought of as “class jock”, you know, the one who thinks they’re the man, but really they’re not.< <

    You seem to have gotten this one exactly backwards. Despite the problems that the US has, it remains unique as a country built on basic freedoms which other countries don't entirely accept. It's not a matter of thinking that we are better than other countries, but of being a nation based on objective standards of limited government and freedom which most other countries and the UN do not necessarily live up to or even recognize. Of course, our government doesn't always live up to those standards either, but we do at least have a tradition which recognizes what good government should be and we do try to maintain that standard even when we get sidetracked.

    The countries which presume to judge the behavior of the US do so because we are the most powerful nation, and do so despite the fact that almost all of them commit greater offenses on a daily basis which they are not called to task for. It is much easier for their leaders to attack the US than to address the problems which they themselves are ignoring in their own policies.

    >>To go on repeatedly, as you do, that the USA is right and everyone else wrong, is merely symptomatic of the larger attitude problem facing the current US political posture.<<

    It’s not that the US is right and everyone else it wrong, it’s that we at least try to do right and they have no idea what right is most of the time.

    Dave

  • http://www.yezzi.org NCH

    Thank you Dave Nalle for bringing out the issue of http://www.yezzi.org

    We need every one to help us spread the world with our message.

    Indeed Internet is our unique window of freedom and it must never be under the control of dictaorships. Help us keep it FREE

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    >>Don’t you guys remember? The Internet was created by Al Gore!<<

    Actually, while Al Gore may take credit for it, I was working at the CCF at the time and it was the work of my colleagues and myself which created the internet for him. Or more precisely, we organized the conferences on his behalf at which ideas which developed into the internet were showcased.

    Dave

  • http://www.codexalimentarious.com noanchorbabies

    Only Heloise has gone directly to the heart of the matter: “The U.N. wants to control opposition to itself on a global scale.”

    Annan starts out by saying that does not want to interfere with freedom of expression on the internet, but then qualifies this with one important exception – that no criticism of United Nations policies or programs will be tolerated.

    The hallmark of tyranny is that it disallows any criticism of itself. With control of the root file they will have the power to shut down any website that suggests, for example, that the United States should withdraw from the UN.

    In particular Ron Paul and other Congressmen who advocate such a withdrawal would be subject to having their website “privileges” revoked. In fact the entire http://www.house.gov website could be shut down if Congress refused to force Mr. Paul to stop posting anti-UN statements. Among other things, Mr. Paul has introduced Bills that would provide for the US leaving the United Nations, as well as stripping all UN personnel of diplomatic immunity privileges. Therefore any website mentioning this legislation approvingly would be subject to having its domain name cancelled.

    In fact blogcritics.org would have to implement a policy of censoring any anti-UN commentary in order to be allowed to stay in business.

  • Hamza

    lol