Sir Brian Urquhart is probably one of the few surviving persons who has been intimately involved in framing and constructing the U.N. since 1945, and he has just given me a great gift.
In the current issue of the New York Review he traces the history of the world body, whose problems have formed the basis of a generalized distrust. But he dares to say what no critics have done, as far as I am aware: the U.N. must become the matrix of a world government.
Giving a boost to the work of Professor Thomas G. Weiss, who has been associated with the UN Intellectual History Project Series, Urquhart traces the history of national sovereignty, whose dotage is at the root of opposition to world government, to the oft-cited Treaty of Westphalia which, in 1648, put an end to the Thirty Years’ War in Europe. Quoting Weiss: “This venerable institution remains a hearty enough virus. It is a chronic ailment for the United Nations, and perhaps a lethal one for the planet,” Urquhart adds: “One can only wonder which of the great global problems will provide the cosmic disaster that will prove beyond doubt, and probably too late, that our present situation demands a post-Westphalian international order.”
Echoing what I have written in A Taoist Politics: The Case for Sacredness, Urquhart notes that although there are 100,000 peacekeeping soldiers in many parts of the world, “no progress has been made toward a standing UN rapid deployment force, which, in an ideal or even rational world, would be the obvious way to provide for the speedy deployment of well-trained troops and civilians in an emergency.”
Noting the weakness of the concept of governance ‘a word used in the absence of any overarching political authority’ Weiss, Urquhart tells us,
‘makes a stirring argument for dropping the current coyness about steps that might lead, in the distant future, to world government and for start-ing to discuss seriously what is needed to establish a stable, peaceful, and unthreatened international society in an age of potentially terminal global problems”.
According to Urquhart, who is ninety-one years young, “what is needed is not to abolish national sovereignty but to reconcile it with the demands of human survival and decency in the astonishingly dangerous world we have absentmindedly created.”
While Obama’s best and brightest struggle to keep all the plates in the air, including those represented by the Tea Partiers’ RINOS, it seems that dinosaurs are not necessarily to be found where we think they are.