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United Nations: Savage or Salvage?

“As to the UN,” the devil’s own President-elect Donald Trump tweeted ominously after the United Nations Security Council vote condemning Israel for expanding settlements in the West Bank, “things will be different after Jan. 2o.” Indeed they will, one way or another.

The transition between Obama and Trump is looking more and more like regime change in a foreign land. In any case, we have to go beyond the UN and the crumpling international order on which it teeters, or the tweeters it will destroy the human prospect.

Secretary of State John Kerry delivered a long, impassioned, and long-overdue speech on Wednesday on Israel’s slow motion, systematic destruction of the two-state solution. It raises the question: Why is President Obama only now, with a few weeks left in his second term, acting like the president he could have been and most Americans had hoped he would be?

That question will have to left to historians to ponder. There’s a narrow window of opportunity to act before The Donald tweets everything into a cacophony of chirps, a song-less chatter of men and women with hearts and minds no larger than sparrows.

Anyone who says, with perfect confidence, ‘we haven’t got the first idea how the man at the top will preside over it all’ is a scoundrel, a fool or both. Waiting to see what a man holding Molotov cocktails will do, because corroded traditions and absurd proprieties dictate that you can’t call him out as an arsonist until he actually throws his firebombs, is obtuse beyond belief.

Let’s get serious, and have some fun. I don’t mean in the first case to form a gloom and doom group, or in the second to party while Rome burns. Nor do I mean join a “club for people to get together, talk and have a good time.”

The dying embers of empire require that we lift our eyes to the hills, and think together, laughing without bitterness and pouring the foundation without idealism for a true global order, before the international order collapses completely.

My first political memory is the existential fear the Cuban Missile Crisis induced as a boy in the Mid-west. I have a friend who remembers seeing the flash of an above ground nuclear test in the Nevada desert when she was camping in the High Sierra with her parents as a girl. For a few seconds, night became day.

The next above ground nuclear explosion will not be a test, and if a minority of people isn’t ready, it will be a very long night for humanity.

Nowhere is the conflict between sovereignty and self-determination on more painful display than in Israel. Extremists like Bibi Netanyahu continually regurgitate pabulum about Israel’s “historical homeland” and Jerusalem as its “eternal capital.”

Israel will either absorb the Arab population and destroy its democracy through its own version of apartheid, or change course and forge a path toward genuine self-determination for Palestinians.

There are nearly 5 million Arabs living in Israel, including the occupied territories of Gaza and the West Bank. There are about 6 million Israeli Jews, who have babies at a much lower rate than the Arabs. Do the math.

The truth that the elites do not dare to utter is that in our de facto global society, there cannot be self-determination for Jews, Palestinians or anyone else in the context of national sovereignty. National sovereignty has gone the way of the sovereignty of kings and city-states. Humanity is sovereign now, and unless we give tangible form to that principle, there will be no security for anyone.

For decades, UN diplomats avoided a deeper falsehood by repeating the lesser truth: ‘The UN can only do what the member states enable it to do.’ That translated into acceptance of the status quo, which in turn meant domination and paralysis by the so-called great powers, especially the United States, on whose soil the UN was formed and sits.

If the United Nations is not become completely irrelevant, a whipping boy for boys with nukes like Netanyahu and Trump, a new component in the world’s political architecture has to be built.

Before that can happen outwardly however, people who still care about the future of humanity have to bring about a psychological revolution within human consciousness, and effectively end the domination of tribalistic thinking, be it ethnic, religious or national.

All peoples now live in a global society desperately in need of global governance. The historically outmoded and decrepit international order (essentially Pax Americana) cannot stand. Can the UN be radically reformed into an institution of true global governance with limited but independent power to make and enforce laws governing nation-states and city-states?

The foundation for a body of world citizens, having no power but possessing great ethical suasion and creative strategic effectiveness can and must be poured before President Trump totally destroys the UN. We have the technology to catalyze global democracy; only insight, imagination and drive are required.

Obviously an authentically global body cannot be located on US soil. I propose the evolutionary birthplace of humankind, East Africa, specifically Tanzania.

We will either have self-determination in a global context, or the increasing disorder and war of tribalism/nationalism under the yoke of national sovereignty. There cannot be both, for they are now mutually exclusive. The moment of truth is upon us.

Martin LeFevre

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