Friday 25 April 2014
Advertise  |  Subscribe  |  Register  | 

Close

About cookies: we use cookies to support features like login and sharing articles. Keep cookies enabled to enjoy the full site experience. By browsing our site with cookies enabled, you are agreeing to their use. Review our cookies information for more details.

A highly seasoned critique

By Andrew Gardner  -  22.11.2012 / 03:25 CET
Law professor Kenneth Anderson's zesty account of the UN and its failings

If you want salt, pepper and lashings of vinegar after reading Kofi Annan's memoirs of his time as the United Nations' secretary-general, Kenneth Anderson's “Living with the UN: American responsibilities and international order” is one heavily-seasoned option. 

Anderson, a law professor and visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution, spears the UN with his pen, and provides plenty of lapidary summaries of its flaws. The UN is a dysfunctional, unreformable body paralysed by collective-action problems and tainted by antipathy to Israel that nonetheless seduces many with its social projects and the prospect of global governance. For those seduced, “the chronic promise of tomorrow provides a reason to put up with chronic failures of today”.

Not that Anderson wants to correct those failures. “The stasis that afflicts the United Nations is very often not a bad thing.” Why? Because a more effective UN would “almost certainly be...more effectively anti-American”.

His concern is to find a prescription to make it less effectively anti-American, not by changing the UN but by adjusting the US's approach. His prescription? The US should always engage with the Security Council, engage sometimes with the UN's secretariat, engage “in parallel” with its development work and obstruct, inter alia, the Human Rights Council.

It is a book written with zest – a surfeit of it. Ultimately, it becomes an overlong exploration of one dimension, too prone to push views without enough labour put into convincing the reader. “Perhaps even the Obama administration grows tired of its own global catharsis, prostration and confession of unilateral guilt, followed by assertions of faux modest claims of multilateralism”; the danger with this pitch of tone is that readers become tired.

The result is not a demolition of the UN but rather a mirror of one strain of conservative US thinking. It expounds, clearly, on many of the UN's weaknesses. More clearly still, it shows one intellectual wind swelling anti-UN feeling in the US, the UN's biggest paymaster.

Living with the UN: American responsibilities and international order

By Kenneth Anderson, Hoover Institution Press, 2012, 273 pages, €19

© 2014 European Voice. All rights reserved.
Varrow

Most viewed in Foreign affairs

NATO names Stoltenberg as next chief

Former Norwegian prime minister will head the Western military alliance.

Stoltenberg

Move east, NATO You need an active subscription to read this article

NATO's deterrence needs to be unambiguous.

lucas_nato_270314

Doctor of administration You need an active subscription to read this article

Profile of Ursula von der Leyen, Germany's defence minister.

profilevonderleyen2703
bookrevun
ag_bookrev_221112

Related articles

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who is still NATO's secretary-general, visited Bulgaria earlier this month.

Germany's failure to shoulder responsibility for European defence is dangerous and deplorable.

Former Norwegian prime minister will head the Western military alliance.

NATO's deterrence needs to be unambiguous.

Profile of Ursula von der Leyen, Germany's defence minister.

Advertisement

Comments

 

Your comment
Please note: The fields followed by an asterisk (*) are obligatory fields

Comment*

Name*
E-mail*
Website

Please, copy the code on the left into the box on the right

 I accept the Terms & conditions
 I would like to share my e-mail & website

Advertisement

Cookies info | Privacy policy | Terms & conditions