Do The Freakin Math

Liberals and conservatives alike frequently rely on limited evidence, personal experience, religious beliefs or gut emotions to determine solutions for complex problems. From immigration to global warming - taxes to terrorism - or health care to free trade - analytical study is rare. Science based policy making isn’t the way of Washington. And the consequences are catastrophic. Change is urgently needed. Just do the freakin’ math.

Friday, October 24, 2014

UN Day! A day of celebration? Condemnation? Or Education?

Today is UN Day!  Many will use this day to promote this polite global agency that once held so much promise for human kind.  Others will use it to proclaim with some merit that the UN is virtually useless in today’s world of increasing risks and failed states.
Ebola, ISIS, climate change. WMD proliferation, Russian expansion… all competing for attention and world action.   Which US national security threat is the greatest?  Which should we work on first?  If you are concerned at all about these and/or the fate of humanity…or just want to protect your own family and personal fortune, you might be thinking ‘so many threats, so little time’.  It seems hopeless.
But, please note there is one sliver of possibility.  There is one change, a major change, that if we could pull it off, we could best prevent most of the threats we face and most effectively reduce the costs in lives and dollars from most of the other threats we cannot prevent.  This singular change however, requires a clear understanding of what the common thread is that now that sources and sustains nearly all of these threats and several others not listed.
Drum roll….national sovereignty (NS).  NS is the antiquated global governance structure that was first established at the Treaty of Westphalia approximately 400 years ago and enforced today by the founding documents of the United Nations.  NS is essentially, the right of each nation, to do whatever it want, whenever it wants, and to whomever it wants (usually within it’s own borders) without accountability for any gross or minor violations of basic human rights.  The same rights that all nations agreed to in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but have only gotten lip service at the UN by even the most powerful government leaders. 
Unfortunately, the UN has absolutely no power, capacity or resources for the protection of humanities God given rights.  It was designed that way.  All it has is flowery words, comprehensive documents and principled agreements that have no enforcement mechanisms to hold individuals accountable for their crimes.  Crimes against humanity, genocide, war crimes, torture or reprehensible environmental destruction cannot be stopped by any UN institution.  That’s the way world governments like it…most of the time.   The UN only has the force of good ideas and noble summits.  Summits where people of power, knowledge and ‘interests’ can talk.    At best, the UN has hope.  The hope of the world’s people and many working within the UN that nations working together can resolve many world problems.  But all they have now to hold nations, leaders and corporations accountable are war, threat of war, sanctions (which can be more deadly than war), and diplomatic harsh words or feeble actions that are more likely to hurt the citizens of a nation than the leaders who are ultimately irresponsible in their activities.  
The change we urgently need is to move from the current law of force the world now operates under (those with the most force make the rules).  To the ‘rule of law’ --  where laws are created by a democratic process with ‘we the people’ representing far more than nice words in the UN preamble.  Enforceable laws applied equally to all (ensuring justice) and holding individuals accountable for their actions (or lack of action) instead of entire populations.  And most importantly, laws that are primarily for the protection of the inalienable human rights enumerated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Instead of existing national laws that protect those fortunate enough to be endowed with political, economic or military power.
If the universal human rights had been enforced at the end of World War II as intended by the heroic leadership of Eleanor Roosevelt and others also working to prevent another holocaust, world war or usage of unprecedented weapons of mass destruction, the world today would be far more peaceful and free than it is now.  But now, with each passing day, our world is less secure and less free.
Inadequate or nonexistent health care systems in West Africa are now the driving the call by Ebola free nations to quarantine West African nations.   Restricting air travel and increased surveillance isn’t isolated to the Ebola threat. The NSA surveillance powers are focused on ISIS and other potential murderous extremist groups spreading their infectious ideology to receptive ears.   Our best ‘intelligence’ institutions are now pleading with Congress to prohibit social media sites from blocking their backdoor cyber access.  Something they claim is essential to quickly identifying suspects who may wish (or are actually planning) to do us harm.  These agencies appear to lack the wisdom the First Lady had in 1945 - of eradicating the conditions that lead to war (violence between nations), genocide (mass murder within nations) and any global insecurity (abuses by any nation) or horrendous (torture) or murderous (Drone strikes) national tactics where innocent people may be caught in the cross fire.  
Their ‘ideal’ hopes back in 1945 were to create a global social, physical and psychological climate in which the number of sick, illiterate and/or psychopathic extremist individuals would be minimized.  And the numbers of healthy, intelligent and physiologically well balance individuals would be so enlightened, that they would understand it was in their own self-interest to insist on the freedom, security and ultimate welfare of all others -- as well as their own kin.  Unfortunately, we missed that boat in this unprecedented globally interdependent world.
An sound argument can be made that we may be too late to create such a world now that we are in a new era of permanent war, still dragging persistent poverty with us into the future, and maintaining an unwavering dependence on fossil fuels and militaries to ‘keep’ things running as they are.
Fundamentalist Christians assure us that end times are near. Fundamentalist world federalists want the world to know we should instead end any negative self-fulfilling prophecies and act on the same ideals that our own nation’s founding fathers risk their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor for.   Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all humanity. 
Woody Allen once said, “humanity stands at a cross roads. One road leads to utter hopelessness and despair.  The other.  To complete annihilation.”  He said “I hope we have the wisdom to choose the right path”.   I’m gambling that our children, and our children’s children, are hoping we will choose the right path.  World federation, where the fundamental rights of all people are superior to any nation states’ rights.
There is no doubt that things are changing rapidly.  The key question is, “Can we?”.
Chuck Woolery,
Former Chair, UNA Council of Organizations.