WASHINGTON, Nov. 13 (UPI) -- Those responsible for the creation of the United Nations conglomerate were idealists, intent on seeking to avoid another international conflict.
They succeeded in the conventional sense. The prospect of another conventional world war is remote, though regional and intercontinental conflicts continue and groups like al-Qaida -- not specifically nation-states though tied to one or more of them -- have emerged to fight a global war against the values and the systems of pluralist democracies.
The Peoples Republic of China is seeking to create a self-perpetuating super state independent of the people as a means of securing its interests. The PRC is supporting a slew of similarly authoritarian structures across the world with missile and nuclear technology.
Several democracies are having to battle against insurgencies and terrorism while AIDS has replaced tuberculosis as the primary killer of the world's poor.
What are the conflicts that the UN has succeeded in preventing?
The threshold of effectiveness appears low. In a few instances the UN system as such -- as distinct from the actions of a few of its member states -- was able to prevent a conflict or stop it once begun. The organization's principal value has been as a talking shop, a pulpit for the preaching of verities. Much of the "work" of the several thousand functionaries is comprised of going from one meeting to the other, organizing yet another "talk-a-thon" after getting through several.
Stripped of verbiage, the UN has value only as a clearinghouse of concepts and policies. It has value in a world in which several countries are below the radar of the attention of the powerful. If there were no United Nations, it would need to be invented -- but not along the lines of how the current organization as taken shape.