17 September 2003
If not us, who?
Europe no longer appears the torchbearer of the Rights of Man, but the peevish advocate of the rights of rulers and of the status quo. At the beginning of our new era, a project for European civilisation is nowhere to be found, so much so that the newcomers from Central Europe and the Anglo-Saxon north are beginning to ask themselves: does the European Union have anything to do with the century we live in?
The UN is faring even worse. Long paralysed by the Cold War, the United Nations is now paralysed by its very nature. The Anglo-American snub in the Security Council over the control of Iraqi weapons did not cause but simply revealed the yawning gap between the UN Charter and its ambitions. This Council, the legacy of the 1945 peace accords, no longer represents what the world has since become: the absence of Brazil, Japan, Germany, South Africa and India means it cannot be considered a legitimate global board of directors. Until this is rectified, it is vain to expect good world governance.
The situation is just as chaotic in the general assembly; its make-up is based on the assumption that every nation is a genuine one and that all leaders enjoy equal legitimacy. Since the majority of these states are kleptocracies at best and tyrannies at worst, it is obvious that the Charter of the United Nations can no longer be considered the basis of any kind of world order. This obsolete text ignores unprecedented situations like Afghanistan or Kosovo; de facto states will multiply, in Central Asia and Africa, as de jure states vanish.
In the meantime, who would exercise global governance if not the Americans, with a few Europeans to make up the numbers? Who would replace them in emergencies? Criticism which is indispensable of this first American empire would be more legitimate if it were associated with a project for the complete overhaul of the UN. Since nobody is proposing one and the tyrants a majority would not want it, the UN, the Red Cross Mark Two, will be confined to humanitarian work. It remains to be seen how it will acquit itself.
And this was published in France, mind you. Admittedly, Le Figaro isn't the biggest name in French publishing think of it as the Gallic version of The Washington Times without the Korean cash flow but you can be certain that a copy of this landed on Jacques Chirac's desk.