The U.N. is a never-ending scandal disguised as an everlasting hope. The hope is that dialogue can overcome distrust and collective security can be made to work in the interests of humanity. Reality says otherwise. Trust is established by deeds, not words. Collective security is a recipe for international paralysis or worse. Just ask the people of Aleppo.
.. Contrary to the belief that the U.N. runs on a shoestring, total expenditure for the U.N. system in 2016 was around $49 billion. That’s up 22 percent since 2010. And the abuse of the U.N. system by states such as Russia to protect clients like Bashar al-Assad is a feature of the system, not a bug.
.. “If you locked a team of evil geniuses in a laboratory, they could not design a bureaucracy so maddeningly complex, requiring so much effort but in the end incapable of delivering the intended result. The system is a black hole into which disappear countless tax dollars and human aspirations, never to be seen again.”
.. The U.N. adopted what were supposed to be landmark reforms more than decade ago. Yet the mismanagement, corruption, abuses and moral perversities remain.
- Iran sits on the executive board of the Commission on the Status of Women. The
- Syrian regime is represented on the U.N.’s Special Committee on Decolonization, dedicated to “respect for self-determination of all peoples.” In October, Zimbabwe’s
- Robert Mugabe was named a good-will ambassador by the World Health Organization, until an outcry forced the director general to think better of it.
.. “Imagine if the U.N. was going to the United States and raping children and bringing cholera,” Mario Joseph, a Haitian lawyer seeking compensation for the U.N.’s victims, told The A.P., “Human rights aren’t just for rich white people.”
I find it hard to imagine a personality less suited by temperament and background to be the leader of the world’s foremost democracy.
On the other hand, as a political scientist, I am looking ahead to his presidency with great interest, since it will be a fascinating test of how strong American institutions are.
.. Americans believe deeply in the legitimacy of their constitutional system, in large measure because its checks and balances were designed to provide safeguards against tyranny and the excessive concentration of executive power. But that system in many ways has never been challenged by a leader who sets out to undermine its existing norms and rules. So we are embarked in a great natural experiment that will show whether the United States is a nation of laws or a nation of men... President Trump differs from almost every single one of his 43 predecessors in a variety of important ways. His business career has shown a single-minded determination to maximize his own self-interest and to get around inconvenient rules whenever they stood in his way, for example by forcing contractors to sue him in order to be paid...He could also have argued that the mainstream media, which thinks of itself as a fourth branch holding the president accountable, is under relentless attack from Trump and his followers as politicized purveyors of “fake news.” Acemoglu argues that the main source of resistance now is civil society, that is, mobilization of millions of ordinary citizens to protest Trump’s policies and excesses, like the marches that took place in Washington and cities around the country the day after the inauguration... I argue in my most recent book that the American political system in fact has too many checks and balances, and should be streamlined to permit more decisive government action... I still believe that my earlier position is correct, and that the rise of an American strongman is actually a response to the earlier paralysis of the political system... His strategy right now is clear: He wants to use his “movement” to intimidate anyone who gets in the way of his policy agenda. And he hopes to intimidate the mainstream media by discrediting them and undermining their ability to hold him accountable. He is trying to do this, however, using a core base that is no more than a quarter to a third of the American electorate... And Trump has not done a great job since Election Day in alleviating the skepticism of anyone outside of his core group of supporters, as his steadily sagging poll numbers indicate. Demonizing the media on the second day of your administration does not bode well for your ability to use it as a megaphone to get the word out and persuade those not already on your side... It is absurd that any one of 100 senators can veto any midlevel executive branch appointee they want. In some respects, unified government will alleviate some of our recent dysfunctions, which Trump’s opponents need to recognize... It is important to remember that one of the reasons for Trump’s rise is the accurate perception that the American political system was in many respects broken—captured by special interests and paralyzed by its inability to make or implement basic decisions. This, not a sudden affinity for Russia, is why the idea of a Putin-like strongman has suddenly gained appeal in America... However, the single most dangerous abuses of power are ones affecting the system’s future accountability. What the new generation of populist-nationalists like Putin, Chávez in Venezuela, Erdogan in Turkey, and Orbán in Hungary have done is to tilt the playing field to make sure they can never be removed from power in the future. That process has already been underway for some time in America, through Republican gerrymandering of congressional districts and the use of voter ID laws to disenfranchise potential Democratic voters.
WHEN an old order is in crisis, something distinctive happens to the men who lead it.
A strange paralysis sets in, a curious mix of denial and resignation. W. B. Yeats’ famous line about the best lacking all conviction captures part of this, but only part. What really goes missing isn’t conviction itself but the capacity to act on it — to adapt swiftly, resist effectively, or both. Instead the tendency is to freeze, like mice under a hawk’s shadow, and hope that stillness alone can save you from the talons.
.. He favors optimistic rhetoric about the American promise, paired with warnings about the perils of identity politics and the enervating effects of the welfare state
.. On issue after issue, from trade to immigration to entitlement reform, a Trumpized party would simply bury Ryanism/Kempism under white identity politics, and swing as far from Kemp’s enthusiastic minority outreach as the G.O.P. could get.
.. Trump would not have gotten this far, would not have won so many votes — especially working class votes — if the Kempian vision had delivered fully on its promises, if mass immigration, free trade, deregulation and upper-bracket tax cuts had really been the prescription for all economic ills.
.. Repeatedly Harwood presses him on whether the party needs to change to address the concerns of the blue-collar Republicans who are voting for Trump. And every time, as The Week’s James Pethokoukis pointed out afterward, Ryan simply returns to a 1980s-era message: cut spending, cut taxes, open markets, and all will be well. Asked about the possibility that some voters might see those policies as “taking care of people at the top more than you’re taking care of me,” he responds dismissively: “Bernie Sanders talks about that stuff. That’s not who we are.”