By Nuriel Moghavem
It measured 3.6 on the Richter scale in South Korea, but North Koreaâs successful nuclear test on Monday shook the collective mind of the world, especially that of the United Nations, to a magnitude 100 times larger.
Long exploited by the worldâs superpowers as a tool to manipulate the world, the UN is now being used by a new wave of emergent ârogueâ nations to make those manipulators the manipulated.
These rogue countries, like North Korea, take advantage of the slow diplomatic process inherent in the UN structure to stall for time and the absence of significant consequences for non-compliance allows them to ignore Security Council resolutions. Theyâve realized that the United Nations is nothing but a forum for the exchange of harsh words. They feign agreement and declare persistence and stall for six, 12, 24 months at a time until Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad already has a usable stock of enriched uranium or North Korean Premier Kim Jong-Il conducts underground nuclear testing.
Meanwhile, the five permanent Security Council nations â China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States â freeze like deer in the thermonuclear glow while they bicker and debate and issue their vetoes, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
The Little Boy and Fat Man of Korea, Kim Jong-Il, has become a grandmaster in using the United Nations to manipulate the world.
The Democratic Peopleâs Republic of Korea (North Korea) pulled out of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in early 2003. On Monday, North Korea became the newest member of the nuclear club.
What happened? The world wasnât caught with its pants down â more than 40 months passed between the announcement that the DPRK was driving forward to get nuclear weapons and the declaration that they were ready to test them! How did that tyrant stop the globe from preventing him to hold the most destructive weapon known to mankind?
For over 40 months, the DPRK convinced the world that they would not drive forward to achieve nuclear status, declared to the world that they would enrich uranium to weapons-grade quality, violated the Security Council resolution denouncing their declaration, affirmed a cessation of nuclear ambitions, then did it all over again for kicks. The United Nations declared peace in our time while Jong-Il laughed in his Pyongyang residence, next to the largest collection of Donald Duck cartoons and memorabilia in the world.
The Chinese, Russian, South Korean, Japanese and American delegates were busy choosing which tie to wear to the six-party talks when North Korean scientists were busy building the bomb.
Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was one of the first to use the United Nations to his advantage; the Security Council passed 16 resolutions between the conclusion of the Gulf War in 1990 and the outbreak of the Iraq War in 2003, all unheeded by the deposed dictator. Ahmadinejad of Iran is also becoming increasingly deft at manipulating the world with stalling antics.
This trend will continue into the future until action is taken. The worldâs default in the face of crisis is to turn to a representative of the international community. The United Nations has proven itself inept in dealing with these crises. Resolutions that amount to nothing and negotiations that amount to even less merely give time to the rogue nations to continue their alarming actions.
Either the world needs to turn to regional power brokers â the Arab League, the African Union and NATO, for instance â or the United Nations needs to make significant reforms quickly.
Regional power brokers have the advantage of having much in common with the country in question while still having much at stake.
For instance, if Venezuela suddenly announced nuclear ambitions, a committee made up of strong South American nations â Brazil, Argentina and Peru would all be likely candidates â could connect with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavezâs pan-South American nationalism. At the same time, however, these nations would not have a nuclear Venezuela in their interests, as it would certainly destabilize the region, and would be more successful in dissuading Chavez than the Security Council.
Iran dismisses Security Council calls to stop nuclear production because Ahmadinejad sees the Council as a symbol of western oppression.
If the United Nations chooses to undertake the extreme reforms which would certainly be necessary to effect change, which is unlikely, it would have to be willing to give the Security Council far more power than it currently has. Simple resolutions do nothing and economic sanctions merely affect the poor of the target nations. The Council must have the ability to expel those states that show contempt for the United Nations from the United Nations, though those states should be allowed back if they can demonstrate change.
The post-war mentality of 1945 is preserved in the structure and power distribution of the United Nations, but the peacetime chaos of 2006 necessitates an evolution of its structure and a rethinking of its power.