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February 01, 2006 - Image 4

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, February 1, 2006


(Tbe irirn &tt i

Editor in Chief

Editorial Page Editors

Managing Editor



The only
alternative to
American leadership
is a dramatically more
dangerous and
anxious world."
- President Bush, speaking during his
State of the Union address last night.



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Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All
other signed articles and illustrations represent solely the views of their author.


I '

The Future of the UN

n recent years,
attacking the
United Nations
has grown from an
occasional pastime
among American pol-
iticians and intellec-
tuals into an all-out
sporting event. While
previously standing as
the ultimate nemesis
of hawkish foreign policy wonks, the UN is
increasingly becoming a bipartisan punch-
ing bag, with thinkers on both sides of the
divide taking as many shots as they can.
Frankly, they have found much to swing
at. Over the past decade, a series of failed
interventions, corruption scandals and
bureaucratic squabbles have rocked the
organization, emboldening its detractors and
leaving its defenders gasping for air. Brutal
ethnic conflicts in places like Rwanda, Bos-
nia and Sudan demonstrated the limits of
an outside body in preventing human-rights
abuses within a sovereign state. The oil-for-
food scandal and its aftereffects called into
question the principles and accountability
of the UN's officials. Finally - and perhaps
most jarringly - the skirting of the Secu-
rity Council in the 2003 invasion of Iraq
exposed the recurring problem that regard-
less of the alleged existence of an interna-
tional authority, states can and will assert
their own power and bypass the rules when
it's in their interest to do so.
The problem with so many of UN's fault-
finders, however, is not their critiques them-
selves - which are often legitimate - but
rather the narrowness of their vision and the
agenda they tend to hide. Those who spit the
most vitriol at the UN, rather than seeking
critical improvements, often hold deep con-
tempt for the organization itself. These crit-

ics aim for either a drastic increase of U.S.
authority and ability to extend its interests,
or a large reduction in the institution's power
worldwide. The most prominent example of
this type of thinking unfortunately comes
from a rather important member of the orga-
nization, U.S. Ambassador John Bolton,
who once famously commented that the UN
headquarters could lose 10 stories and no
one would notice.
Conveniently omitted from these cri-
tiques, of course, is remote acceptance of
the massive impact efforts from the UN
have on peace and international security.
And who says that the UN has promoted
international security?
Well, we can start with the Human Secu-
rity Report, a yearly publication that docu-
ments the incidence of war and its casualties
worldwide. As the 2005 edition makes clear,
alarmist theories regarding the current state
of international violence and warfare are
largely unfounded. Contrary to the com-
monly held belief that the world is getting
more and more dangerous, both the num-
bers of wars and the civilian deaths they
cause have decreased significantly over the
past 15 years.
While we know that the end of the Cold
War played a significant role in the reduc-
tion of these conflicts, what is less widely
acknowledged is the effect of increased
activism of international organizations like
the UN. Citing a statistic from the center-
right Rand Corporation think tank, the
report asserts that the UN has been success-
ful in approximately two-thirds of its peace-
keeping operations. The rate of success for
the United States in the same category is
50 percent. So while it may be standard
to assail the organization for mismanaged
operations in eastern Europe and sub-Saha-
ran Africa, one finds few accounts of the

successful peacekeeping missions (i.e. East
Timor, Kosovo, Cambodia, El Salvador) that
are more common, statistically speaking.
For all the anti-multilateral rhetoric
streaming from certain intellectual circles
in this country, the ultimate irony may be
that the years to come could see an increas-
ingly co-dependent relationship between the
United States and the UN. While it is clear
that the United Nations needs the United
States as its most politically forceful and
powerful member, what is less acknowl-
edged is how integral the humanitarian aid,
peacekeeping forces and international cred-
ibility provided by the UN are to the future
of our own foreign policy. This paradigm is
currently playing itself out in Iraq, where
deteriorating political support has led to
repeated calls for reduction of American
troops and an increase in the international
presence. Despite the declared illegality
of the invasion by the Security Council in
2003, it appears that in the long run, the
United Nations will have to play a key role
in redeveloping the country and maintain-
ing some semblance of security.
So let's start working on some of these
reforms. Bring them on. There are a hun-
dred ways the UN could increase efficien-
cy, cut down on corruption and improve its
image worldwide. But without a general
understanding of the role the organization
has played - and must continue to play
- in promoting peace, stability and devel-
opment worldwide, our efforts will get us
nowhere. Maybe it's just too painful for
some to admit, so I'll try saying it outright
for them: A future with a strong, active
United Nations is one that all of us - yes,
all of us - should hope to see.
Bielak can be reached
at anbielak@umich.edu.


Send all letters to the editor to
tothedaily@michigan daily. corn.


Kicking out Michigamua
members worsens secrecy
I graduated from high school in 1994 as
a Mound Westonka Mohawk. It was fun
- before big sporting events, hardcore fans
would shave the sides of their heads, although
they looked more like characters out of "The
Road Warriors" than Native Americans.
Still, we all identified as Mohawks, and it
wasn't until 1997 that my school - about
30 miles west of Minneapolis and a thou-
sand miles from the Mohawks' traditional
homeland - changed its name to the "White
Does that make me a racist?
No, but we.did promote racism.
A lot of us have done dopey things that we
didn't realize were offensive until it was too
late. I'm disappointed that Brian Hull chose
to focus on the intent behind Michigamua's
ceremonies rather than their effects in his
piece Michigamua speaks out (01/26/2006).
There's a big difference between passive
and active racism, though, and universally
barring Michigamua members from activi-
ties represents exactly the kind of visceral
judgments we're trying to fight. Moreover,
castigating Michigamua members with an
unforgiving attitude seems likely to lead to
more secrecy, not less.
But most of all, demonizing Michigamua
and calling the various -isms "symptoms of
the small mind," as Mara Gay does in her col-
umn Bigger than Michigamua (01/30/2006),
causes the struggle for greater understand-
ing to seem like a good-versus-evil war.
Sometimes it is, but most times it's not. Ris-
ing above our own preconceptions requires
constant assessment and reassessment of
what we're doing. The danger is assuming
that we've achieved enlightenment and only
those "others" are racists.
Kurt Christensen
School of Public Health

education problems. To realize the potential
of public education, many systemic changes
need to take place, including increases in
public education funding, improvements in
America's social structure and welfare and
increases in public concern and awareness.
And so Singer seems right to question the
motivation of politicians who hope that
sending recent college graduates to strug-
gling schools can replace the many system-
ic - and expensive - approaches that are
needed. TFA should not be thought of as a
comprehensive solution to the shortcomings
our public education system faces.
The reason I was surprised to find myself
agreeing with Singer is that he seems to go
on to blame TFA for this mistaken intention,
as evidenced by his title: "Where Teach for
America goes wrong." TFA does not purport
to be an end-all answer to the hardships of
America's public education system; its mis-
sion is instead "to build the movement to
eliminate educational inequity by enlisting
some of our nation's most promising future
leaders in the effort." As a soon-to-be mem-
ber of the 2006 TFA corps in Newark, N.J.
- where I'll be teaching middle-school Eng-
lish - I certainly don't hold the illusion that
an effort of two years will single-handedly
turn the tide of any systemic shortcoming of
public education. However, I do believe that
in order for public education to reach its full
potential, motivated and ambitious young
Americans must care about and become
involved in the public education system. My
fellow corps members and I will be there to
teach, but also to learn - both from our stu-
dents and from the seasoned teachers we'll
be working with.
In short, Singer is right to argue against
attempts to use TFA as a comprehensive
solution for the public education system's
shortcomings. But he is mistaken to take
this as evidence that TFA has "gone wrong."
Instead, what Singer seems really to be con-
cerned with, and rightly so, is where politi-
cians go wrong (again).
Ross Jensen

accountable, 01/25/2006). Let me affirm
that I have been a revolutionary Trotskyist
for almost 40 years and that I am unalter-
ably opposed to any special consideration
based on race, ethnicity or gender. Let me
also note that BAMN is now frightening
and alienating the populace of Michigan
with its opposition to the ballot as a way
of gauging whether the citizens of Michi-
gan want these special divisive privileges
An article in the magazine Commentary
from the mid-1990s argued cogently that
the Bolsheviks never concerned themselves
with affirmative action and feminism. I
can only recall four references by Lenin
and Trotsky. During the 1902 split, Lenin
derisively spoke of his opponents as having
the "soft hands of a woman." He warned his
girlfriend, Inessa Armand, in 1915 that she
was disgracing herself with so much atten-
tion to women's issues. After the Bolshevik
Revolution, he complained bitterly to Klara
Zetkin that the women's movement was
dissipating energy from the workers' revo-
lution. Trotsky, in his seminal work "The
Revolution Betrayed," refers to a letter from
one of his closest supporters, who blames
aristocratic women for corrupting Bolshe-
viks with their sexual advances. I will leave
it to the reader to analyze why membership
in the Bolshevik Party of October, 1917
dropped to 2 percent women.
Robert Bernard
Sex in the grad library?
Try North Campus
I just read your article about sex in the
grad library. I was thinking you should have
a survey to see what campus locations might
be perfect spots for the sexual activities of
students. My idea would be the Vroom - or
as I like to call it, the Vroom Room. It's a
soundoroof room in the Groundworks Lab


Editorial Board Members: Amy Anspach, Andrew Bielak, Reggie Brown, Kevin Bunkley,
Gabrielle DAngelo, John Davis, Whitney Dibo, Milly Dick, Sara Eber, Jesse Forester, Mara
Gay, Jared Goldberg, Ashwin Jagannathan, Mark Kuehn, Will Kerridge, Frank Manley, Kirsty
McNamara, Rajiv Prabhakar, Matt Rose, Katherine Seid, Brian Slade, John Stiglich, Ben Tay-
I.recir -r-


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