The UN - Too Much Power or Not Enough?

In the Jan. 24 letter, "The UN's threat to the US," Ruth Dollahon of Mothers for America clearly misses the message of the Human Development Report: Governments, UN organizations, and others must rethink national and international policies so that they respond to basic human concerns - a view that I hope Mothers for America would share.

The 1994 report to which Ms. Dollahon refers states that in our post-cold-war world, "human security" should be given just as much attention by world leaders as military and political security. It notes that global institutions are more politically and economically interdependent than ever. No country, not even the US, can tackle such threats as pollution, war, famine, crime, and violence on its own. Contrary to what Dollahon states, the report advocated no world treasury, world currency, or world police force.

The next generation of Americans will need to join forces with people in other parts of the world to resolve our shared problems. Many Americans already recognize this. They understand that even though the US and other countries are sovereign nations, the world's problems respect no boundaries.

Richard Jolly

New York

United Nations Development Programme

I wonder if the writer realizes how much her arguments about the UN's threat to the sovereignty of the US parallel those offered against the creation of the United States of America in 1787-88. Champions of state sovereignty vigorously opposed the creation of a federal government. There were fears that the 13 states would lose their newly won freedom and come under the tyranny of a government controlled by George Washington and his friends. But supporters of the new US Constitution won ratification at state conventions, and the US became a reality in 1789.

Why can't the US use its dominant position in the UN to move toward a democratic constitutional world federation with the kinds of checks and balances that we have in our own US government? Just as our Founding Fathers moved beyond the ineffective Articles of Confederation 210 years ago, so could we now be led to a similar change at the global level. We need an effective democratic government for the global community.

Ronald J. Glossop

Jennings, Mo.

World Federalist Association

The letter suggests the UN's threat to the US, but I see more threat in the UN's inadequacy in dealing with the world's problems.

The US did not become a country until the Articles of Confederation, corresponding to the present UN charter, were replaced by our Constitution. Its genius is that people's needs that cannot be resolved at the state level are the responsibility of the national government, the next layer up.

The UN has no army, power to tax, or authority except to facilitate communications among sovereign nations, subject to the veto of the US and others. The UN could not end the cold war. Neither can it solve today's global problems.

To protect American's future, the US must call a world constitutional convention to explore replacing the UN with a global layer of government to address global issues.

Hank Stone

Ionia, N.Y.

Ms. Dollahon's letter links the World Trade Organization with the UN, but there is little link between them. In its tendency to favor mega-companies while bankrupting small businesses, the WTO poses more threat to the US than the UN.

The letter also quotes the UN report as saying "a basic minimum income should be guaranteed to everyone." If that idea gained credibility, how wonderful! If the writer finds this threatening, what does she want - selfishness and greed to continue?

We must look carefully at what is proposed versus what is being carried out. The suggestions from the report the writer cites are first meant to be considered and debated. Sovereign nations convening as the UN have a higher global purpose: to support justice, protect the innocent from the tyrant, and advocate diplomacy in preference to war.

Grace Braley

Orono, Maine

Letters should be mailed to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, faxed to 617-450-2317, or e-mailed (200 words maximum) to oped@csps.com

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