Discussion: Is there value to the United Nations?

President Obama delivered his first speech to the United Nation this morning. He touched on the usual themes. He said countries should not seek to dominate each other. He said countries must work together. He stressed peace. All things that set heads to nodding.

But it was this line — an applause line — which revealed more about the members of the United Nation:

“For just as no nation should be forced to accept the tyranny of another nation, no individual should be forced to accept the tyranny of their own people.”

Obama paused and waited for the applause. It took a few moments before the General Assembly responded with what applause that can charitably be described as “polite.” But perhaps they were concerned about the grammatical noun/pronoun disagreement.

When he talked about democracy and the rights and dignity of individuals, there was only silence.

Obama came close to apologizing for past U.S. actions in the world.

What’s your opinion on his message and the body to whom he delivered it.

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  • Motoko

    Interesting response (or lack thereof, I guess) to Obama’s speech. I wonder if the body saw his comments as hypocritical or insincere given past U.S. actions?

  • JohnnyZoom

    Actually, that didn’t quite compute. It has the cadence of a memorable line, yet just I was about to nod approvingly, I started and said wait, what did he say?

    Tolkien’s memorable line comes to mind: “I don’t know half of you half as much as I would like, and I like less than half of you half as much as you deserve.

    >> rights and dignity of individuals, there was only silence

    Until that changes (and the noise is not of disapproval), the UN wll be a shell of what it could be.

  • shellacked

    the UN general assembly and security council are almost entirely worthless bodies and of course the representatives of nations that abuse their own citizens (and that would be the majority of nations sadly) aren’t going to stand up and applaud individual rights and dignity.

    on the other hand, there is real potential and/or real good in the work being done by such bodies as the ICJ, FAO, UNESCO, WFP, WHO, UNAIDS, UNHCR, UNICEF, etc…

  • markGardner

    Couple of thoughts….

    1] There is always a delay in the UN. If you observe other speakers the interpretation to native language takes time, especially when the interpreter attempts to put the phrase into proper context (assumption being that they are able to do so).

    2] The General Assembly is no different than the US Congress. Members are totally in favor of whatever action is taken that improves the lives of others as long as it doesn’t require effort or money from the member.

    3] Obama is the new kid on the block, the world is still feeling him out. To date he has much to prove and not much to show.

    4] The real observation you should be making is how many members made sure they were in their seats when Obama spoke vs. other speakers.

    Applause is not the indicator at this point, it’s the level of interest given.