World War i was to have been the war to end all wars. The League of Nations was established at its close to ensure continuing peace. It failed.
Twenty-one years later, a worse global conflict ensued. At the close of World War ii, the United Nations was established to keep the peace. For 58 years, the primary purpose of the UN, as stated in its charter, has been to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind.” Yet more than 250 local and regional armed conflicts have occurred since, and no world peace is remotely in sight. Instead, a new threat to peace exists—global terrorism.
“The United Nations is on the verge of demonstrating finally and fatally its moral bankruptcy and its strategic irrelevance,” wrote the Washington Post’s Charles Krauthammer. “Having proved itself impotent in the Balkan crisis and now again in the Iraq crisis, the United Nations will sink once again into irrelevance. This time it will not recover” (Jan. 31; emphasis ours throughout).
Why has the United Nations so utterly failed?
All Bark, No Bite
The problem is that, akin to all of the great treaties, pacts and institutions created throughout mankind’s history with the noble intention of institutionalizing world peace, the UN contained within it, from its very beginning, the seeds of its own destruction.
On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the UN back in October 1995, Time magazine passed comment. “Never again would one country bulldoze a path of conquest over a neighbor. Never again would the great powers lock in a titanic death struggle ravaging the continents. More than that, the causes of war would be extinguished. Tyranny, injustice and deprivation would never again blot out the light of the world. Governments of good faith would band together under the universal benevolence of something called the United Nations.
“How beautiful. How brave. How naive” (Oct. 23, 1995).
How naive indeed! President John F. Kennedy, addressing the UN in September 1961, pragmatically recognized that if the UN vision failed to materialize, mankind would face dire consequences. “Mankind must put an end to war—or war will put an end to mankind. … Today, every inhabitant of this planet must contemplate the day when this planet may no longer be habitable. … The mere existence of modern weapons—10 million times more powerful than any that the world has ever seen, and only minutes away from any target on Earth—is a source of horror, and discord and distrust. … _Together we shall save our planet—or together we shall perish in its flames!”
Sir Anthony Parsons, British ambassador to the UN from 1974 to 1982, realistically appraised the organization thus: “The UN has been a disastrous failure …. It set the standards and adopted conventions on everything you can think of—torture, women, children, civil rights—but does nothing to enforce them” (Time, op. cit.).
And there is the central core of the UN’s failure. It simply lacks the vision, the motivation, the will and the power to enforce its decisions! Thus it has progressed not one inch, since its inception, toward its primary purpose of “[saving] succeeding generations from the scourge of war.” In fact, in certain instances, it has been cynically used as a platform upon which to further the prospects of that scourge.
The impotence of United Nations leaders to enforce UN resolutions has led to the organization becoming a sounding board for the selfish goals of petty demagogues and tin-pot nations that realize they can hold the chief human benefactors of mankind, the English-speaking peoples, to ransom and work overtly for the destruction of their individual and collective power.
The cruel cynicism of European nations working in concert with Third World nations has ousted Anglo-Americans from key UN posts and committees. In 2002, the UN decided that the U.S. was unfit to serve on the Human Rights Commission, replacing it with Sudan! A brief look at Sudan’s record on human rights reveals it as one of the world’s prime offenders in this arena. Then this year, the UN managed to vote 33 to 3 in favor of electing the terrorist-subsidizing nation of Libya to chair its Human Rights Commission!
Such actions by this pretentious world body do not just render it an abject failure, but leave it a sad laughingstock to anyone with common sense.
To add to its sins, at a time when (despite all the liberal-socialist media and political comment to the contrary) the cia, mi5 (UK intelligence agency) and bnd (German secret service) all possess ample proof of Saddam Hussein’s possession of weapons of biological warfare and mass destruction, the UN has elected Iraq to chair its disarmament committee!
But why worry? What does it matter? If all the UN is capable of is passing ineffective resolutions with no intent whatever of backing up their implementation, what does it matter whether it be Iraq, Saudi Arabia or outer Mongolia chairing these committees? After all, the UN has passed 17 resolutions over the past 12 years demanding the disarmament of Iraq, and had the current U.S. president not had the courage to step out and quell Saddam’s crazy cruelty, who knows where it all may have ended.
What is more, there exists no world body to hold the UN to account. So this toothless tiger, this moribund mass of self-congratulatory, cynical fat cats representing the world’s aspirations for peace, continues on as not more than a gravy train for the world’s diplomatic corps, fiddling away while the world burns in the brushfires of local wars that soon will join in the greatest of conflagrations ever witnessed by man!
A Providence Journal-Bulletin (Providence, R.I.) editorial that described the UN Security Council as a “hypocritical and ineffectual debating society,” commented, “We hope that some way might be found to make the United Nations … much more effective in dealing with its original core mission—protecting world security …. If such repairs aren’t made, the United Nations will go the way of the League of Nations, whose failure to deal seriously with fascist aggression paved the way for World War ii” (March 18).
That’s a scary statement. Scary—but real, oh so real! And this is not just an isolated view.
Here is international security affairs analyst Stephen Blank’s view: “[T]he UN’s role (or lack of a role) in the Korean crisis indicates its essential uselessness at keeping the peace either there or in Iraq. …
“Thus the UN validates Winston Churchill’s observation that each of the appeasers of the 1930s sought to appease Adolf Hitler and the other dictators in the hope that others would be eaten before their turn came up. …
“If appeasement of those who would rip apart international security continues, something will indeed turn up, but it will not be peace” (Asia Times, Feb. 14).
This astute critic compares the time we are in now to the great time of appeasement in the 1930s that led to the world’s greatest war. Like its old progenitor, the failed League of Nations, the UN has been constantly tested and challenged by petty tyrants, with the same results. In respect of Iraq and North Korea, Blank comments, “Certainly it is obvious to any unbiased observer that the UN is utterly unwilling and unable to confront either of these aggressors of its own accord so it is a useless reed insofar as the defense of peace is concerned” (ibid.).
World’s Last Chance
“I attended the San Francisco Conference in 1945, where world leaders attempted to form a world organization of nations. They called it ‘The United Nations.’ There I heard chiefs of state ring out the warning that this was the world’s last chance.
“But it has failed. The United Nations has no power over the nations. It has no power to settle disputes, stop wars or prevent wars. The so-called United Nations are not united. This effort has degenerated into a sounding board for Communist propaganda. Man has failed his last chance!
“Now God must step in—or we perish!” (Herbert W. Armstrong, The Wonderful World Tomorrow—What It Will Be Like).
Such was the summation of renowned religious leader Herbert Armstrong when reflecting on mankind’s best efforts to obtain world peace. In the final year of his life, Mr. Armstrong, an unofficial ambassador for world peace who visited more world leaders in the decades of the 1970s and ’80s than any other person, was present at the 40th anniversary celebrations of the United Nations. He was one of the only four in attendance on that occasion who had personally witnessed the founding of the UN in San Francisco in June 1945. This wise, articulate and visionary apostle of God looked beyond the inevitability of the failure of the UN to a far better age: “This 40th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations may trigger events to bring on the world’s last colossal world violence and trouble, and usher in at last, after 6,000 years of human trial and error and woes and sufferings, a united one world, and world peace at last—a world truly to be built by the Lord Eternal” (Plain Truth, October 1985).
We are 17 years on beyond that 40th anniversary of the UN. It has passed its 50th anniversary. Looking back, we would have to admit that the intervening time has witnessed some of the most dramatic of UN failures.
“Except the Lord Build the House”
In the north garden area of the United Nations building in New York City rests a sculpture by Russian artist Evgeniy Vuchetich called “Let Us Beat Swords Into Plowshares,” a gift from the then-Soviet Union presented in 1959. The bronze statue, based on the age-old message of Isaiah 2:4, depicts a man forging a sword into a plowshare, representing mankind’s desire to utilize the materials and energy once used for war for the purpose of benefiting all men.
Worldly governments have constructed a towering building to house a world organization to produce and preserve peace. But there is an underlying reason why this structure can never succeed.
Christ said, “Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up” (Matt. 15:13).
Think about it: God did not build the UN. These world leaders have not sought His guidance. Their meetings are not opened by prayer to Almighty God, but by a moment of silence. (Prayer might offend some of the atheistic members.) God has not planted this organization. It shall, therefore, be rooted up. All human efforts to prevent World War iii, apart from God, will prove futile.
A little over 4,000 years ago, men organized to build a high tower to coordinate world domination. God intervened and broke up their building (Gen. 10:8-11; 11:1-9). At the end of this “last hour” of human rule on Earth, God will have to intervene, with force, to save man from the horrifying end to which his failed attempts at world government would ultimately bring him (Matt. 24:21-22).
The UN was doomed from its genesis because it left God out of its plans.
This is the bottom line: No man or organization built by man can ultimately bring about peace. Only man’s Creator can and will! That is the reason the UN is sinking into “irrelevance.”
The good news is that following the ultimate disintegration of the United Nations—which has failed dramatically to guarantee global peace—the united family of God is destined to impose, under the King of kings, Jesus Christ, a new world government, and world peace at last.